Myanmar Bus Travel Tips
Planning a trip to Myanmar (Burma)? It’s a great destination for a travel adventure. The country is rapidly changing but bus travel remains one of the easiest and most economical means of transpiration within the country. Here are a few Bus Travel Tips.
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased on-line in advance using web sites such as Myanmarbusticket.com. You can also purchase tickets at ticket booths located in various locations in cities. If you wait until you get to the bus station to purchase your ticket you may not find a seat available. Best to plan in advance.
Bus Stations: Inter-city buses depart from a highway bus terminal which is typically on the outskirts of town. In Yangon for example the highway terminal is north of the city near the international airport. You will likely have to find transportation to get you to the terminal so be sure to allow yourself enough time to get to the terminal prior to departure.
Travel Breaks: Buses make comfort stops every several hours. Some stops are in very large and modern highway rest stop areas while others are more modest local stops. In either case restroom facilities are available as well as food, snacks, and refreshments.
Large Highway Rest Stops
Smaller Local Bus Stops
Standard Buses: Locals and many travelers use the standard buses in Myanmar. The cost is minimal, currently as low as $10 from Yangon to Mandalay for example. These buses have rather small seats, similar to economy class airline seats. The people of Myanmar tend to be short. If you are a tall traveler, then your knees might get a little cramped. The buses can get crowded and frequently when all seats are filled the bus attendant or driver will place additional plastic stools in the aisle for more seating. So if you want a seat – get to the bus station early. It seems all buses have air-conditioning and it is always running which can make it a bit chilly. Plan accordingly. Bring a sweater, jacket or wrap. Frequently standard buses have TV monitors at the front and sometimes mid-bus also. These are used to show recorded Burmese TV shows – soap opera or comedy types of programs it seems. Even if you don’t speak Burmese it can still be interesting to watch and try to figure out what is happening. But if that doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, or if you want to take a nap, you might want to bring along your earphones and smartphone so you can block out the TV and listen to some of your own favorite tunes.
First Class and VIP Buses: For a modest uncharge, first class or VIP buses are available on many inter-city routes. The overall fare is still very reasonable. For example, the fare for a VIP bus from Yangon to Mandalay is currently listed as $19.00. (Keep in mind this is a long bus route of roughly 9 hours minimum duration.) These buses tend to be larger and more modern and are nicely appointed. Seats are larger and more comfortable with reclining adjustments. Many of buses in this class are “2+1” meaning that with larger seats, there are two seats on one side of the aisle and only one seat on the opposite side. Fewer people use these buses and they are less crowded. There are no temporary seats placed in the aisles. You will likely still encounter the Burmese television programs. Air-conditioning is still on constantly but if you get chilly the bus attendant will provide you with a blanket. Frequently you are also provided with bottled water for the trip.
Night Buses: Personally, I prefer to travel by bus during the day. It gives you the opportunity to enjoy the views of the countryside and I get a much better night’s sleep in a real bed. For many budget minded traveler’s however, the night buses of Myanmar are a great option. Night buses head out late at night and arrive at their destination early the next morning. If you are trying to save on hotel bills by sleeping on a night bus I would suggest you seriously consider the much more comfortable VIP bus experience. And even then be sure to bring along the proper gear – jacket, ear plugs, eye shade and pillow.
Take the Bus……………….And Enjoy The Adventure!
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