Getting around in Myanmar is not as efficient or as cheap as some of its neighbouring countries. Let's take a look at the best options to get around on a future trip to this fascinating country:
Transportation in Yangon
Yangon is one of the most vibrant cities to visit on the Myanmar customised tours with plenty of things to see and do, such as its museums, pagodas and temples.
Travelling by foot is a great way to get around the city of Yangon. Even though Yangon isn't the most bike or pedestrian friendly, once in the downtown region, there are several must-see attractions that are within a short distance from each other.
A cheap form of transportation to get around the city is the bus. Most bus services have a schedule in place to let the fare goers know the wait for a particular bus. However, the travel experience isn't the best with buses often quite crowded and the roads can be jam-packed with other vehicles for the slow journey times. The cost of a single, one-way journey is in the region of $0.50.
The most comfortable option to get around in this jam-packed city is riding in a taxi. It is likely to be the best way to get around. If travelling with several companions, it can work out to be relatively cheap. The cost of a short distance journey is in the region of $1.50/$3.00. For the slightly longer journey, such as the city centre to Yangon airport, the cost is closer to $4.50/$7.50.
Transportation in Mandalay
Mandalay is seen as the country's administrative, cultural, and commercial capital. This bustling and sprawling city has a population of over 1.5 million and posses plenty of worthwhile sights. Also, it is a major transport hub, so likely to make a stopping point for many tourists on the Myanmar tour packages.
A great way to get around in Mandalay is by motorbike taxi which is a more cost-effective option compared to the car taxis. The typical cost to travel within the city is in the region of $3.50.
In addition to the taxis, there is also the option to hire a car for the day if planning to travel around Mandalay or nearby attractions outside the city, such as Pyin Oo Lwin which is a very picturesque town and well worth visiting on a day trip. The typical hire cost for the day is about $75, but this can vary with the length of the journey and number of passengers.
Travelling long distances in Myanmar
Travellers on the Myanmar family tours have plenty of options to get around the country, including by bus, train, air and minibus.
The overnight bus is a popular option for travelling the long distance in Myanmar. They are particularly favoured for the trip from Yangon to popular tourist destinations like Inle Lake and Bagan. Plus, there is a regular bus service between cities, such as Taunggyi to Loikaw and from Mandalay to Inle Lake.
The line-car (converted trucks) is a further option to get around and typically quite cheap to travel in. For instance, a trip over a hefty distance, such as Taunggyi to Nyaungshwe (30 km) in a line-car can cost $1.50/$2. However, the open nature of the vehicle, bumpy roads and hard seats will likely mean your body will be a little achy and dusty after completing the journey.
However, in some of the major cities, the line-car is being replaced with a modern minibus for more comfortable and enjoyable journey.
A cheap and adventurous way to get around is by train, but the conditions aren't the most comfortable unless you book a first-class seat. However, this is a very cheap form of transport with the cost of a ticket often in the region of a few dollars.
The quickest option to travel the longer distance is by internal flights, but the arrival of the budget airlines is slow to materialise in Myanmar. For instance, a flight via Air Asia from Bangkok to Myanmar can cost in the region of $50, but a domestic flight once in the country is more likely to cost about $100. For travellers in search of the most efficient, fast and reliable travel option, flying is certain to be the answer.
Other transportation options
Beyond the most typical transportation options, there are other options to help tourists on the Myanmar tours better appreciate the powdery beaches, spellbinding Buddhist temples and emerald landscapes.
A great way to see the best of Myanmar is a river cruise that can take place on an endless list of boats. There are the luxury cruisers that travel from Bagan to Mandalay, the ferries in Yangon, the canoe-like engine-powered boats in Inle Lake and the live-aboard boats in Myeik. Even though the boats aren't the most efficient option to get around, they do give the opportunity to see and appreciated some of the glorious scenery that would otherwise be overlooked when travelling by road or air. Also, it makes it possible to interact with some of the local people that are still removed from everyday western life.
A hot air balloon ride is a wonderful way to explore the vast plains of Bagan with its thousands of historic and interesting temples. The ballooning season is relatively short and runs from mid-October to mid-March to coincide with the cooler air and calmer winds. The balloon rides are a major attraction to draw more tourists to Myanmar and the views are quite stunning and span across the finest temples and stupas in the region. But, the cost of the hot air balloon ride can be quite expensive. The cost for a 1 hour ride in Bagan can cost in the region of $300/$400 (varies with the company and number of passengers in the balloon).