Myanmar(the old name was Burma) is a country that is increasingly opening up to tourism. With its many admiring temples, wonderful landscapes and a warm population, there is no doubt that the country has all the assets to become one of the major players in tourism in Southeast Asia. However, the country is in full development of its infrastructure, in particular transportation. The means of transportation in Myanmar are already diversified but in bad condition; however, the authorities are now working to improve services and networks; therefore, Burma holidays can be much more wonderful if tourists experience all types of transportation.
Air transportation in Burma
At present, air transport is the most frequent means of transport for foreign travelers in Burma. Yangon International Airport is the main entry point to Myanmar to which direct flights to Burma from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Singapore, Kolkata and Kunming arrive.
As far as domestic flights are concerned, Burma is rather well endowed. The biggest national airline is Myanmar Airways, but the country also has regional airlines for domestic flights and some selected international ones. You can also easily reach your favorite tourist places such as Bagan, Mandalay or Heho by plane.
Be careful though: it is not uncommon for flight schedules to change without prior notice. In addition, we advise you to book your flights in advance especially during the peak tourist season, as group travel is more frequent during this time.
Rail transportation in Burma
If you want to interact with the locals and take in the scenery during your Myanmar vacation, a train ride will be the most atypical Burmese experience. A train from Yangon to Mandalay can be a great experience.
As a legacy from colonization, train journeys in Myanmar are not as fast or as cheap as bus transportation, but they can prove to be very rewarding and interesting. They allow you to get closer to the Burmese population and take you through sumptuous landscapes.
Frequent delays and cool nights should be expected if you take a night train. You can buy train tickets either at the train station or ask your hotel to do it for you.
Means of transportation in Burma: The road network
During your Burma trip, you will surely have to travel through the Burmese road network at least once. In general, this means of locomotion is quite unpredictable, or even completely chaotic because the road infrastructure still needs a little refreshment.
Buses are the most suitable vehicle for long trips. Most buses in Myanmar belong to private companies. They are faster and cheaper than trains; however, a journey in a bus can be long and quite uncomfortable at night. You will have access to either buses with air conditioning or without. The latter are usually used for small trips. Remember that the journey will not be always comfortable. It can get quite cold in the buses with air conditioning, especially when you are traveling at night so bring a jacket or a blanket with you.
About prices, a travel from Yangon to Mandalay is about 10USD. You should book the bus tickets in advance or ask for help from your hotel.
Traveling by car is also available only if you pay great patience and adaptability because indeed most vehicles are quite old, and the roads are in poor condition. However, if you are seeking for a pleasant escape from the crowded buses, which can be a serious asset to enjoy your Burmese experience, a private chauffeur and a new car with air-conditioner (100USD per day approximately) is a good choice.
Furthermore, according to Burmese law, you will not be allowed to drive a car by yourself unless you go through lengthy administrative negotiations with the local authorities; therefore, renting a motorcycle or scooter for around US $ 10 per day is much more preferable. Remember to wear a helmet and take out travel insurance accordingly and notice that motorcycles or scooters are not allowed in Yangon.
There are also many taxi companies in Burma. True taxis have a green or white license plate and driver’s identity on the dashboard.
Finally, you will find other means of transport available in Burma: pick-up trucks, trishaws, horse-drawn carriages, or bicycles. These are available in major cities and most guesthouses. You are not always asked to wear a helmet, but pay attention to your travel insurance.
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Means of transportation in Burma: The boat
Travelling on a boat in Burma is a long but very pleasant journey especially on Inle Lake or Irrawaddy River Cruise where you can enjoy the picturesque landscape and life on the lake or the rivers. You can take a public ferry or rent a private boat.
If you want to make the most of your trip to stop and visit the surroundings, including temples or small fishing villages, do not hesitate to ask travel agencies. These often offer towers which is a great way to enrich your Burma trip.
Although often being in poor condition or not to the extent of comfort we expect, the means of transport in Burma are part of the charm of this country. You will definitely find the one you enjoy the most.