Burma (Myanmar)


Transportation - Get In

By plane

The main international airport of Myanmar is located in Yangon, the largest city and the main economic center. Regular flights depart from Yangon to several major cities in China, India and Southeast Asia. For travelers from outside the region, the easiest way to get to Myanmar is to fly from Singapore or Bangkok, both well served by the world's cities, and receive daily flights to Yangon. because of its Burmese population. abroad.

Myanmar also has a second international airport in Mandalay, which has several flights from China and Thailand.

For a current list of airlines and destinations, see Airport of Yangon

By land

Myanmar has land borders with five different countries, namely China, India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Laos. As of 2013, restrictions on foreigners entering the border with Thailand have been lifted, and foreigners are free to travel by land from Thailand to the heart of Burma, provided that their Myanmar visa is in good standing. However, entering Myanmar from other land border crossing points is a different story. At least you must apply for special permits in advance, and you may need to take a guided tour to get the permit.

  • Thailand - There are four border crossings between Myanmar and Thailand at Tachileik / Mae Sai, Myawaddy / Mae Sot, Ban Phunamron / Htee Kee and Kawthoung / Ranong. Starting in 2013, the four border crossings are open to foreigners, and there are no restrictions for foreigners traveling to the heart of Burma from any of the four border crossings. However, there is no arrival visa available, so make sure your Thai (if necessary) and Burmese visas are in order before trying this.
  • China - Foreigners may enter Myanmar in Lashio through Ruili (Yunnan), although a permit (in addition to a visa) and a guide are required. It is likely that you should participate in an organized tour, with a cost of CNY 1,450 in January 2009. In April 2009, it is impossible for foreigners to cross Ruili, even for the day, without a visa in Kunming, for example. , for a travel group. Crossing in the opposite direction is harder to organize and details are uncertain; However, it is possible to fly from Mandalay to Kunming, and there is even a Chinese consulate that issues visas to Mandalay.
  • India - There is a land border crossing between India and Myanmar in Moreh / Tamu. Confirmed reports have been received from travelers crossing into Myanmar from India (and vice versa), with their own transport and with pre-arranged permits. It is no longer necessary to have a permit to visit the Indian state of Manipur, but an MTT permit is required to enter or leave Myanmar in Tamu. This permit is available at MTT in Yangon (which will ask you to book a tour guide) or at other agencies (which will not) for USD 80-100 per person. Most agencies require 20 business days to organize the permit (but in some cases they can do it faster) and they can send it to the border so they do not have to return to Yangon to pick it up.
  • Laos - The friendship bridge between Myanmar and Laos connects Shan State in Myanmar with Luang Namtha province in Laos.
  • Bangladesh - it is currently not possible to independently cross the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Transportation - Get Around

The infrastructure of Myanmar is in poor condition. As a result of the political situation, Myanmar has until recently been subject to trade sanctions by much of the Western world, and this can cause problems for unsuspecting travelers. Traveling to certain regions is prohibited; for others, special permits must be obtained, and a guide / interpreter / guardian may be required, even if these "guides" accompany him to take care of him or to prevent him from going to places that the government does not want him to see. It is debatable.

Restricted areas

Much of Myanmar is closed to foreign travelers, and many land routes to remote areas are also closed (for example, to Mrauk U, Kalewa, Putao, Kengtung). Therefore, while travelers can travel freely in the heart of the Burmese majority of Bamar, travel tends to be restricted or circumscribed elsewhere. In theory, any tourist can request a permit to visit any restricted area or to travel on any restricted terrestrial route. In practice, it is unlikely that such permission will be issued in a reasonable period of time, or at all. Permit requests can be made locally in some cases (for example, requests for the land route to Kalewa can be made in Shwebo) but, in most cases, the request must be made in Yangon. Applications to visit restricted areas should be made at the MTT (Myanmar Travel and Tours) in Yangon (Number 77-91, Sule Pagoda Rd, Yangon). Applications for local permits can often be made at a local MTT office or at a police station. When writing this, local permissions are available only for the following places and routes:

  • Kengtung - Tachilek. This used to be simple, but availability is now uncertain.
  • Mrauk U Chin/ Zomi village tours. Easily available in Mrauk U, but must be visited with a guide. Your hotel or a local tour company can arrange this for you.
  • Myitkyina - Indawgyi Lake. Easily available in Myitkyina, but must travel with a guide. Your hotel or a local tour company can arrange this for you.
  • Shwebo - Kalewa. A permit is necessary if you are going by road. It is not clear if one is required if you are going by boat.

All other permits must be obtained in Yangon.

Permits can be obtained for places like Putao, but it is necessary to request them in advance

Myanmar is not North Korea, and you are free to walk, go to stores and interact with the locals. That said, with many of the most remote places and places restricted to foreigners, it is better to organize your internal visa in advance.

Companies that can help with internal visas:

By plane

Sample fares between important destinations (through local tourist agency)
From To Approximate fare
Yangon Mandalay USD95
Yangon Bagan USD85
Bagan Heho USD65
Heho Yangon USD85

The poor condition of the roads and railways of Myanmar make flying, by far, the least uncomfortable option when traveling long distances.

The state-owned Myanma Airways , which should not be confused with Myanmar Airways International (8M) "MAI", is known for its poor safety record. Even the locals prefer to avoid it whenever possible.

There are also three privately owned airlines that serve the main national routes in Myanmar. They are Air Bagan (W9), Air Mandalay (6T) and Yangon Airways (YH). While they are more expensive, they are a safer option and will take you to all the main tourist destinations from Yangon or Mandalay.

Private airlines usually arrive on time, and even leave early (10-20 minutes), so arrive on time and reconfirm your flight and flight time 1-2 days before departure. Sometimes, the itinerary may be altered a few days before departure (which means that it will still fly to its final destination at the scheduled time, but with an aggregate or eliminated between stops, for example, Yangon-Bagan becomes Yangon- Mandalay-Bagan). This usually only affects your arrival time. Route stops have only 10-20 minutes of time on land, and if it is not your final destination, you can remain inside the plane during the stop.

Important for Yangon: Yangon International Airport serves all domestic flights from the old terminal building. This building is about 200 m further along the road than the main (new) building of the Yangon International Airport. When you take a taxi from downtown to the airport, mention to the driver that you are on a domestic flight so you do not end up in the wrong terminal.

By train

Train travel times/fares between destinations
From To Time Ordinary Upper Sleeper
Yangon Mandalay 16 hr MMK4600 MMK 9300 MMK13000
Yangon Kyaiktiyo 6 hr MMK1200 MMK2500 None
Mandalay Pyin U Lwin 4 hr MMK550 MMK1200 None
Pyin U Lwin Hsipaw 7 hr MMK1200 MMK2750 None
Pyin U Lwin Lashio 16 hr MMK1900 MMK4400 None

Myanmar has an extensive and old railway network. The trains are slow, noisy, they swing to the left and right, they go extremely punctual but are often delayed in the journey. Electric blackouts are increasingly rare, but it is never assumed that air conditioners, fans or the electrical supply itself will work throughout the journey. Most trains have high class and ordinary class. The ordinary class has wide-open windows, benches and can be packed with the locals who transport their products. The upper class has upholstered chairs, fans and is less crowded. Be careful to stick your head out the window, as it is very likely to be hit by a branch. The vegetation grows so close to the tracks that a good amount of crushed leaves are usually found in the seats. Tickets are cheap and tourists pay the same price as locals. But keep in mind that tourists still can not buy tickets on the train. At smaller stations, you may have to search for the station manager or use an interpreter to buy a ticket. Your passport is required when buying.

A train trip is an excellent way to see the country and meet people. The train ride from Mandalay, the fork folded to Pyin U Lwin, and then through the mountains and the famous bridge in Gokteik, is one of the best train journeys in the world. The trains in the lower Mandalay, Yangon-Pathein and Yangon-Mawlymaing, are small communities with street vendors selling everything imaginable. Sleepers are available on many express trains during the night, although in the high season you may want to book a few days in advance. Tickets go on sale three days in advance. In some stations there is a separate counter for advance reservations, or even a separate building (for example, in Yangon). Food service is available at the express in both directions between Yangon and Mandalay.

Except for the new bridge and the railway line that connects Mawlamyine with points on the west side of the Salween River, the rail network is exactly as it was in the days of the British. The most used line is the 325 km line from Yangon to Mandalay with several trains per day. It is the only double line in Myanmar, and also the only one that is competitive in time with buses. Keep in mind that the fastest trains take 15 hours to travel the 385 km, an effective speed of 25 km / hour. A second line connects Yangon with Pyay, 9 hours for the 175 km trip, with a fork that goes to the city of the Pathein delta region. These tracks, the oldest built, are in poor condition. With the construction of the bridge over the Salween, it is now possible to go by train from Yangon to Mawlamyine, 8 hours for the 200 km journey, and up to Ye and Dawei. From Mandalay, trains continue to Myitkyina in the state of Kachin, 350 km in 24 hours, and to Lashio. There are also rail connections between Yangon-Bagan and Mandalay-Bagan, but the bus or ferry are better alternatives: 175 km from Mandalay to Bagan takes 10 hours.

There is rail service between Yangon-Bagan. 16 hours, first class USD30, upper class USD40, sleeper USD50. (check new prices)

The attached table summarizes the travel time and prices between some popular places in Myanmar. Note: train tickets can no longer be paid in USD.

By boat

There is also a large network of river ferries. Both are largely managed by the government, although there are now some private ferry services. The trip from Mandalay to Bagan lasts most of the day, from Bagan to Yangon it lasts several days.

By bus

Buses of all kinds travel the roads of Myanmar. Luxury buses (relatively speaking) make the Mandalay-Yangon, while smaller vehicles can take travelers to other places. The fares are reasonable and in kyat and the buses are faster than the trains. Many long-distance buses assign seats, so it is best to reserve seats at least a day in advance. Because the roads are bad, avoid the back of the bus and try to sit as far forward as possible. Long-distance buses also have a supplementary seat that blocks the aisle and, because it is not securely attached to the chassis, can be uncomfortable (which also means that there is no side seat where taller travelers can stretch their legs) . A window near the front of the bus is always the best option.

Even budget travelers will find themselves buying more tickets through their hotel or an agency instead of going to the bus company to buy it directly. Their offices are often located far from any tourist location and the cost of going back and forth will most likely be greater than the commission their hotel will receive for selling the ticket. Compare prices and compare prices before buying your ticket, as some providers include a free pick-up service at your hotel.

A scam about bus tickets seems to be currently popular in Yangon. While many make a stop in Bago, they are told in their guest house or at the bus station that it is not possible to buy tickets there in the direction of Mandalay. In a country where everything could be possible in terms of transportation, some people fall in love with this. Actually, this is not the case and it is not necessary to trace back to Yangon a bus ticket to the north. Bago has a bus terminal with several bus offices. Buying your ticket in Bago can be a bit cheaper (depending on your negotiation skills) and gives you more freedom for the rest of your trip.

The accompanying table summarizes travel times and approximate fares among major tourist destinations in Myanmar (Note: most bus fares have gone up with recent increases in fuel prices, the rates shown are rough estimates).

By pick-up

The old trucks go everywhere in Myanmar, transporting men, women, children and monks from one place to another cheaply. The back of the truck turns into a canvas-covered living area with three benches, one on each side and one along the center of the truck (some smaller trucks have only two rows), and the running board is lowered and fixed in place that provides space for six or more people to stop (holding onto the frame of the truck). The collections are ubiquitous in Myanmar and each city has a central point somewhere from where they depart to places near and far. Tourists who leave the established route will find them indispensable because often the only alternative is an expensive taxi or a private car.

The basics of pickups are quite simple, wait until you are reasonably full before you leave. On well-traveled routes (Mandalay-Pyin U Lwin, for example), they fill up quickly and travel is fast. On less traveled routes (Bhamo-Katha, for example), passengers arrive (early, usually around 06:00), mark their place and then stay drinking tea and chatting until the truck is full. When the pick-up moves, it can be delayed or diverted in the hope of picking up more passengers. The interior of a truck can be hot and uncomfortable. The passengers, packed like sardines, look from the windows (which are very small) to the truck. Standing on the step can be exhausting and hard on the arms! On the other hand, the side seat next to the driver's window is very comfortable and it's worth the extra little you have to pay, so it's better to go early and book that seat.

By car

You can hire a private car and a driver at reasonable prices to visit independently. Guides authorized at Schwedagon Paya in Yangon can arrange for a driver with a car to find you at your hotel. Another way is to organize a car through a travel agency, although it can be quite expensive. You can "test" the driver and the car by driving around the city for 10 or 15 minutes. If you are satisfied, you can negotiate a departure date and time and rates per day (including gasoline). Some guides are willing to travel with you to serve as interpreters.

Traffic moves to the right in Myanmar, but confusingly, Myanmar has a mix of left-hand and right-hand drive cars, and most vehicles are driven to the right as a result of second-hand imports from Japan or Thailand. .

Road trips to tourist destinations are generally safe, although some roads can be difficult. Highways are often two-lane, and cars are often recklessly driven. That said, driving habits are not as aggressive as they say, Vietnam. Allow two days to drive from Yangon to Bagan in good weather. Pyay is a good point of scale. Allow a day to drive from Bagan to Inle Lake.

In cities, it is considered illegal to cross an amber light without stopping. Despite having crossed 3/4 of the way, you will be asked to stop in the middle of the road and turn inside out.

Accidents and deaths are common. It is not recommended to travel at night on the road, and medical facilities are limited in rural areas. In government hospitals, bribes may be required for services. Make sure the needles are new or carry your own. HIV is a major problem in Myanmar.

All taxis (and by extension, all vehicles for the transport of people and goods) have red / white license plates, while private vehicles have a black / white. Vehicles owned by tourism agencies have a blue / white license plate.

By motorbike

In Yangon, riding motorcycles is illegal. The streets of Mandalay, on the other hand, are full of both.

By bicycle

In many places you can rent a bike for around MMK 1500 per day to move at your own pace: Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake

On foot

Cars and pedestrians may not follow established rules, and crossing the road can be difficult. Drivers will almost never give way to pedestrians, even on striped pedestrian crossings.

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Burma (Myanmar) - Travel guide

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