Getting there and routes dependEnt upon length of stay in Myanmar
From EU /UK etc cheapest way is fly to Bangkok return with middle eastern airlines
Avoid Kuwait Airlines, and although jet airways are ok Mumbai airport is chaos and corrupt immigration will remove all your duty free airside liquor in transit
TOP OF LIST :
Emirates etc check out www.cheapflights.com
Airasia do cheap flights in and out of Myanmar and a good way is to fly from DMG (Dom Muang Bangkok) into Mandalay and out Yangon although now you can enter and leave by land into Thailand, from Kawthung in south after Moulmein.
Also Myrwaddy to Maesot from Bago –Hpa an by pick up, opposite the Emperor Hotel and definitely not the touts at the Emperor Hotel Bago where they will overcharge for their services
I paid 5am 3,000kyat to Hpa by pick up and then overnight here and onto Maesot border Thailand for 10,000 kyat (around $10) with shared taxi arranged by the Hotel.
5 – 7 days
Fly into Yangon early am flight and after leaving immigration change some of you $100 bills ie $100 for a 5 day stay and maybe 4X $100 for 3 or 4 weeks. At the moment the best exchange rates are always at the airport you can change €uros and thai baht etc but check out their exchange rates as $US is always king, you will also need $ ‘s for many Guest houses and entrance fees although many now take other currencies but maybe not at a good rate of exchange.
Walk out of airport to the road, turn right 20 metres from terminal exit and you will be accosted by cheaper taxis ie $6 to railway station, share if possible with those on the plane or baggage carousel and avoid the two main Guest houses that tout for custom at the airport ie Take the taxi to railway station car park is where all the bus companies operate from and close to centre of town.
Now prebook your same day the overnight bus from here to ie Mandalay, Bagan or Inle lake once unless you do not intend to return to Yangon for your flight out, as I always suggest leave Yangon to the last day and night on your short itinary.
Once you have chosen your overnight bus, make sure you also prebook the $1 shuttle to O Mingalar bus station, this will take you direct to your bus later on in the afternoon and a lot cheaper than the $10-$12 taxi fare for the 17km ride.
Now head down to Sula Pagodo past the traders hotel turm left in fron t of the green and on right is MTT for Free DPS maps. If they don’t have any then go to DPS office close by 165/167, Rm.4, 1st Flr., 35th Street, Yangon, Myanmar and try and get separate maps ie Yangon street map, Bagan, Inle and Mandalay. Bagan is the best one especially if you want to hire a bike to do the circuit.
Now with maps in hand enjoy central Yangon Bogyoke market (close to Trader hotel) and also see shwedigon temple before having a good meal and joining your shuttle pick up to the bus station.
If time of essence then maybe fly direct same morning to Bagan and go to Inle from here by 730am tourist bus direct to Inle lake Naungshwe as opposed to the junction at shweaung.
Your Guest house will prebook it for you. And the scenery plus teakwood timber yards near Thazi make the bus well worth while and a lot cheaper than the flight to Heho + taxi onto Inle.
After Inle head Back to Kalow spend day exploring the monastery on top of the mountain with the sat dishes near the station and also the Bhudda caves and then same evening after dinner take the overnight bus back to yangon maybe afternoon flight back to Bangkok etc.
You can leave luggage at the bus ticket office responsible for your bus to yangon. Useful route for say 10 to 30 days (overstay is $3 per day + $ 3 for paperwork at airporrt Yangon)
First best way is to fly into Mandalay, it is a lot cheaper than overland say via Maesot etc which for me was a great way of leaving Myanmar this year as the road to the border from Hpa an has opened up (cost from Hpa an to border is $10 pp shared taxi but great scenery and road make sure you exchange your Kyats in Hpa an before leaving for the journey just leaving enough for lunch. The shared taxi from Mandalay airport to your Guest House is 4,000kyat per person or free airasia bus to near the railway station.
Routes now vary, dependent upon how long you have, ie less than 2 weeks then take route Mandalay – Inle –Kalow –Bagan-Yangon (or bago and leave to hpa An and maesot) if heading out to Thailand via maesot then take the pick up from bago to Hpa an early am costs around $4 or 3- 4,000kyat.
Avoid the Emperor Hotel bus touts and management offering so called tickets to Moulmein and golden rock etc. Overnight bus not to Inle junction at shweaung where they all used to stop but direct to Naungshwe town centre Inle.
More than two weeks and up to Three to 4 weeks
Again the the main four must sees are Mandalay –Inle-Kalow -Bagan –yangon but gives you plenty of time for side journeys ie from Mandalay
Side journeys from Mandalay
- To Kyaukme or Hsipaw heading east
- West from Mandalay take bus to Monwya -Kalewa in Chin and Haka onto Bagan.
- After bagan if you want to visit Mrauk U you can go direct from Mandalay and Bagan to Mrauk U via Magwee then by bus direct via An, again beautiful scenery through mountain jungles.
- Another side trip might be to Katha where George Orwell wrote Burmese days $1copies available most tourist sites then back to Mandalay by boat and after either boat down to Mandalay or bus to Shwebo etc. A few years ago one could take the overnight train from
- Mandalay (foreigners must pay $s ordinary class was $7 to Hopin and truck ride over the mountain to Indawggyi lake then onto Myiktyina BUT! At the moment because govt troops operating against Kachen rebels in this area, they have blocked down river boat for now, Myiktyna to Bhamo and also the bus route is blocked to foreigners limiting what you can do in area
- Also from Paye you can take the overnight bus direct to Taungok and pick up to Thandwe Ngapali beach) then great overnight bus ride/experience to Yangon from Ngapali (Thandwe) via Gwa
- Another side trip is when arriving into O mingalar bus station Yangon early am, head straight out by taxi ($8-$10 ) to western bus station and 7-8am buses go direct to chaungtha beach when you arrive at bus station don’t take first bus offered to you as some say only Pathein and then you might have to stay there overnight before landing on the beach the best Hotel and cheapest is first one you arrive at on beach now expensive twin wooden rooms on the beach for $35 two people BUT full board cheaper is in town with a short walk to beach but despite being a cheapskate for me on beach is a must. If single then share with someone else from bus etc and team up .
- The last side trip is from railway station to Mawlamein (Moulmein and an interesting rail journey get the early 630am train as the later 1 hr is the old local rickety one and overcrowded again $6 ordinary class if you want Hpa an and Golden rock do it on the way back unless you intend to go further south and exit Thailand via Kawthung overland which is also now open to foreigners . Although the land border is open for entry and exit at Tachilek / Maisai you will not be allowed overland on the minivans to Taungyy and onto Inle you will have to fly from tachilek or Kengtung to Heho Taungyyi or mandalay
Mandalay to Hsipaw or Kyaukme /Pynaloowyn there is an overnight bus direct to Inle lake and kalow overnight. Also taking 730am day bus from Kalow to Bagan or alternatively Kyaukme back to Mandalay to Monwya to Bagan and Bagan to Inle back to Kalow and then overnight buses to Yangon as an alternative route
Although if 4 weeks more side trips can be made ie Bagan to Magwee and then the bus via Ann direct to Mrauk U and onto Yangon from there avoiding the three day travel ie overnight bus Paye to Taungok then boat to Sittwe and Sittwe to Mrauk U by boat from Sittwe or even going onto Ngapali beach from Sittwe by air if the road Ann to Ngapali hasn’t opened to tourists by then.
This year 2014 in Sittwe there has been some hostility to foreigners visiting Sittwe as they don’t want you to see the violence orchestrated against the rohyngha who they say are no part of Myanmar yet have lived peaceably in Rhakine state for over hundreds of years.
They don’t want you seeking information on the govt perpetrated violence against the Rohyngha. One can also visit Loikaw now from Yangon and onto Aubang / Inle and Kalow though blocked until just last year to foreigners. The whole of Chin state is now open by bus from Magwee /Bagan and Monwya to Kalemo and out through India is now possible overland, with places like Haka opening its doors to tourists . The Hotels in this area have now up marked up their prices to foreigners to around $25 B&B for single/doubles Also best ride to Moulmein Moulamein is the train journey out and bus back