When you get to any new country, all the usual forms of transportation come up: cars, buses, and planes. You tend not to think about the alternatives beyond the standard options, even if they offer a unique opportunity to experience the country.
The newly-emerging country of Myanmar presents a perfect opportunity for alternative adventures on unusual transportation, although as with everything in the country - it pays to be well prepared. The following information should help, for more in-depth Myanmar transportation advice take a look at the MyanmarBurma.com site.
Trains in Myanmar
Yes, many other countries have this as a means of transport throughout the country, but Myanmar’s rail network is a relic of the 19th century when Myanmar was a colony of the United Kingdom and British India.
By the early 1900s most of the railway was completed, but after Myanmar’s independence, much of the existing routes began to be rebuilt and expanded. Even now, there is construction still ongoing from 2009 to reach further out into the country.
The available cabins range from wood seats and open windows to sleeper cabins with a private toilet and bedding.
Here are the available routes:
· Yangon – Bago- Nay Pyi Taw – Thazi –Mandalay
· Yangon – Thazi – Kalaw – Shwenyaung (to get to Inle Lake)
· Yangon- Bagan
· Yangon-Bago-Kyaikto (to get to Golden Rock) – Moulmein – Ye – Dawei
· Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin – Gokteik – Hsipaw – Lashio
· Mandalay – Kalaw – Shwenyaung (to get to Inle Lake)
· Mandalay – Bagan
· Mandalay – Kawlin – Myitkyna
· Yangon Circular Route – trip through Yangon, its suburbs, and back
For the more adventurous types, taking a motorbike or a bicycle through a country is the only way to experience it properly. Fortunately, with the government changing the rules about crossing the land borders between Thailand and Myanmar, it seems to be possible now for travelers to rent a motorbike/bike in Thailand and ride it into Myanmar.
You can also rent a motorbike or a bicycle within the country, but the quality and standards of maintenance can be inconsistent. At the very least you should check the state of the tyres and inner tubes before riding off.
A word of caution: riding through Yangon on a motorbike is still illegal, but there is talk about that rule changing soon. Another warning – keep an eye on the distance to the next guesthouse – currently, it’s illegal to camp in Myanmar.
Cruises in Myanmar
With the Irrawaddy River and its tributaries, there is also the option of taking a cruise along this major waterway and visiting the many cities that have drawn its life from it.
There are a variety of options for an Irrawaddy River cruise that will take travelers down the River, ranging from half a day, to a whole day, to a multi-day journey.
Ayravata Cruises – Mandalay to Bagan (5 nights) and Mandalay to Pyay (10 nights)
Amara River Cruises – Mandalay to Bagan and the Chindwin River, and Bhamo
Orient-Express – Mandalay to Bagan, Bhamo
Irrawaddy Flotilla Company – Mandalay to Pyay, Yangon to Mandalay
Dora – private boat in Yangon delta area, departing from Yangon
RV Mahaythi – private boat to Yangon to Twante, Pathein, sunset cruises
Irrawaddy Princess II – private boat to Mandalay and Bagan
Inland Water Transport (IWT) Cruise Transport
Malikha and Malikha II – express ferry between Bagan and Mandalay, Sittwe, Ngapali beach, Mrauk U
Shwe Keinnery – Mandalay to Bagan
Padonmar/ Ponnapyan – Mandalay to Bagan, used by locals to transport goods
Pyi Gyi Tagon – Mandalay and Bhamo