Air Asia, an excellent low cost airline, travels from Bangkok to both Mandalay and Yangon.
My flights were on time!
In Mandalay, the airline offers transportation by bus between the airport and the city centre.
Nothing great about this tip other than an updated piece of information as of February 2013. The airport in Yangon is tiny but they country is gearing up for a massive boom in tourism so they are starting to get organized hence the price of the taxis from the airport. The 35 minute drive from the airport to downtown is set by airport authorities or you can bargain but it will end up with you paying from 8000 Kyats to 9000 kyats with a US Kyat exchange rate at 855. Not a bad deal but remember too that the average person only makes a few dollars a day.
At the moment you can fly from several different cities in Asia to Yangon. When i have decoded the abbreviations for the different companies i'll add the schedule as well.
You can fly to Yangon from Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Kunming, Kolkata and Gaya (the flights to and from India are as far as i know only during the winter season when many Myanmar go to India for a pilgrimage).
From January 7th 2010 Bagan Air flies from Chiang Mai to Yangon.
Lately, flights have become quite full so if you want to get here on a certain date, book on time. It used to be easy to fly whenever you wanted, there were usually enough empty seats available. Now, you sometimes have to wait a week before you can get a flight if you're late with bookings...
Effective 26 April 2012, guests that require visa to enter Myanmar can get their E-Visa in 4 easy steps.
Step 1 :
Go to http://www.myanmarevisa.gov.mm and fill out the secure online application form
Step 2 :
Confirm and pay with your credit/debit card
Step 3 :
Receive your approval letter (within 5 working days)
Step 4 :
Receive your visa upon arrival in Myanmar
For more information, logon to www.myanmarevisa.gov.mm
HORSE AND CARTWITH DRIVER
A few times in Burma I hired a horse and cart with a driver for the day and found it to be just really a great relaxing way to slowly get around..Seeing that I was'nt in a hurry this mode of transport suited me just fine. One thing I found hard to deal with sometimes was the most oppressive heat. This I found while out on my bicyle..riding in the cart was comfortable as it was covered and was most relaxing.There were cushions to relax and stretch your legs .
I always carried a plastic bag with me which I could put in my hat anthen pour water into it for the horse...There were a few days that I noticed that the horse was exceptionally thirsty and was not given water. Quite often they are left to stand in the one place for long periods of time. .so make sure to carry LOTS of water with you..Hiring these horses for the day can be arranged by your Hotel or hostel. .Sometimes you will also find them at the bus stations as well..They are cheap to hire and a different experience in transportation...to say the least.
I arrived in Yangon from Bangkok by an Air Asia flight. All further flights that I took within Myanmar were with the Burmese Airlines of Air Bagan and Yangon Airways. These airlines are controlled by the military Government and receive all their profits...Anyone flying within Burma must use one or both of the internal airlines. I found both of the airlines to be excellent as I used the both of them. They were efficient courteous, on time and just good airlines. I must say that I was very surprised and wouldnt hesitate to use them if/when I return to Burma.
Bicycle hire is definately the way to go.I always hired a bike when possible as I found that " day hire "was extremely cheap and affordable. Your Hotel manager can usually organise a bicycle for you and if he has none available will certainly find you one for hire close by. Like everything ,the price is negotiable and of course that will depend on your own bargaining skills. Walking long distances around the cities is rather testing also.Due to the extreme heat and humidity here in Burma its imperative to replace fluid losses with fresh bottled water. When hiring your bicycle also enquire about a local roadmap..so you can get back!!
DON'T forget your water
DON'T carry your handbag in the basket of the bicycle.!!.
i would recommend booking tickets on line, the price on line is about half of the published fare. depending upon the time, they can get booked. recently burma introduced visa on arrival and that has spurred a spurt in tourist arrivals.
there are lots of tips on burma/myanmar on VT and there are quite a few Myanmar Experts on VT.
If you can get hold of a book called From Myanmar with Love it is a compilation by one of the Vters of travellers stories and helpful hints.
Yangon has the best kept british colonial architecture and the burmese people without doubt are the most gentle of all asian people. also the land is a tribute to the living buddhism and almsot all people who visit Burma/Myanmar fall in love with the place.
good Luck and Enjoy Myanmar
The rules apparently have changed again. Now you can enter Burma again overland at either Kowthoung or Tachileik (and exit there too) but you need to get a special permit (aka a package tour-thingy) to do so. You can get permits (or info on them) by emailing to them. From Tachileik you have to fly on since the overland route is closed to foreigners and if you come form the south then either take a flight from there to Yangon or take the boat to Myeik (around $25 one way). After that you'll have to fly to Yangon with either Air Bagan or Air Mandalay. Both charge $87 dollars for a one-way ticket (all prices are from before the price rise of august 2007). If you want to do this trip overland you'll need a special permit which you need to apply for 2-3 weeks in advance. And you can never get the permit just by itself. It is always part of a package tour and therefore quite costly. The MTT people told me that it would start from around $500 for a 3 night/4 day trip incl. transport and lodgings but still that is a huge amount of money.
For info on the permits/package tours contact the ministry of Hotels and Tourism. firstname.lastname@example.org
These truck-buses run everywhere (much like the pick-up trucks). Again they seem more in the 'short range' business but I've been in buses like this for 5 hours and more (even once for about 13 hours when we went to Namhsan. In the back on bags of something. With 9 people occupying a tiny bit of space(don't get me started on that one)). A bus like this runs the Mandalay-Bagan route. Or from Mandalay to Monywa or Hsipaw. From Pathein to Chaungtha we were also in a bus like this (though these pictures I took in Yangon itself where they were running as city buses). In the bus from Pathein to Chaungtha we were seated somewhere in the front. The bus was so full that my boyfriend exited through the window. We also unloaded our luggage through there. Me, I didn't want to go through the window so I painstakingly made my way through the overcrowded bus. I Was midway when the window started to become very attractive as exit. But by that time the way back was as bad as following through with my exercise..
In many small communities the bullock cart is THE way to get around. Of course, nowadays you can also go by bullock cart for tourist purposes and these rides are offered at the known places like Mingun and Bagan (at least I've seen them there). For us it was a genuine cart, used by some villagers to bring us to the next place we wanted to go. Thankfully it wasn't too far because no matter how picturesque it looks, comfortable is quite different. It looks like the cart goes real smooth until you're actually sitting in one....
As said in the title, do bring a good sense of humour and a lot of patience. This country is definitely not run on time. And especially with transport you can find that the original 15 hours (or so) can turn into a lot more if there is something along the way that will hold up your bus/pick-up/whatever you travel with. Local buses and pick-ups especially have a tendency to leave only when full. And this can mean sometimes that your still there an hour or more after the official departure time.
Buses and pick-ups are usually also packed up to an absolute maximum and then some. Not the long-distance buses but the local ones. 30 to 40 people in and on a pick-up is also not at all uncommon so be prepared to be a bit uncomfortable sometimes. This doesn't mean that it is going to happen, it means that it can happen.
In the case of the broken shock breaker we were about 6 hours away from Bagan when the bus broke down at around 9 pm. The owner tried to get a bus from a place closer by but eventually a new bus was send for us from Bagan itself. The driver must have gone quite fast since he arrived 7 hours after we had the emergency stop and this time also included one of the bus-employees hitchhiking to the nearest place to make the call and the owner trying to find a new bus. Anyways, somewhere in the early morning we transferred to the new bus and finally continued our way to Yangon.
Air Asia nowadays offers two flights daily to Yangon, a morning flight and an afternoon flight. One way flights can be got for as cheap as $ 21. (excluding airport tax and such). Check their website www.airasia.com
Planes are well kept and seats comfortable but do keep in mind that the following comes on top of the quoted fare online:
- admin. fee
- airport tax
- fuel surcharge
- credit card use
It is still a road less traveled (by tourists that is). Many people think it is almost impossible to cross the border between China and Burma. It is only a trip to the travel agent in the Camelia Hotel in Kunming (they are the only one at the moment who have permission to handle these kind of trips) and you have to go through them since you need a special permit. This will be the bulk of your money. We did a small calculation project and figured out that with the bus to Ruili (the border) and the fee to the travel agency we would pay the same as for a plane ticket from Kunming to Mandalay and besides having a big preference for traveling overland we also found this a lot more adventurous. From Kunming you take the night bus to Ruili where you'll meet your guide (or the next day as we did since our bus had so much delay...). The border crossing was something that we had mentally prepared for, thinking it would be a hassle. Nothing of the kind, it was a breeze. It did cost a little bit of time since many papers needed to be filled in (both at the immigration office and later at the office of the travel agency) but since our guide handled most of this all we needed to do was soak in the ambiance and enjoy ourselves. After all was arranged it was a 5 hour trip to Lashio by car. An excellent way of entering Burma.
I found out from the MTT office here in Yangon that apparently it is now also possible to cross from Burma into China. You need a special permit (and therefor a 'package tour' but here it'll just consist of a tour guide, car & driver like when you cross the border from China into Burma). All for around $200. (though check with the MTT office or a local travel agent since prices do change and I am not always aware of new prices). Permits need to be applied for about 2 weeks in advance in Yangon at the ministry of Hotels and Tourism in person or per mail: email@example.com
Oh and before i forget... there is a Burmese embassy in Kunming as well. Very convenient.
If you want to travel through Burma on your own, but don't have time to use public transport (bad connections, slow, unreliable) then hiring your private driver is the perfect option. We hired a car with driver for 14 days for only $550 (in 2007). This was the total amount for the 3 of us. This fee included the car, gas, driver and driver expenses. Our driver Tony was a very friendly man who spoke english very well. He was our guide at the same time showing us the best spots for taking photos and helping us getting the right price when we wanted to buy something. Having our private car was very comfortable as we could go and stop everywhere we wanted to. Where groups pass little villages we could have a stop and chat with the locals, taste their watermelons and other food. Although we were in the care for 8 hours at some days we enjoyed every second of it. Even with the massive holes in the road ;-) Some travels took long because of the very bad roads, so be prepared on a bumpy ride.
Where to get this private driver?
When you arrive at the airport you will find loads of travel agents waiting for the new load of tourists. Just pick one. We went to Burma on ticket only, nothing arranged in advance and this way of travelling in Burma was as easy as in Thailand. You can also ask in your hotel for a travel agent.
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Good for: Couples
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