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Ground transport in Burma

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Dec 28th, 2012, 11:58 PM
  #1
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Ground transport in Burma

We are planning to go to Burma Dec 2013/ Jan 2014. Many of the very informative trip reports include internal flights.

I have never enjoyed flying but the recent Air Crash in Burma has made me even less likely to enjoy it! Besides, I think we miss a lot by flying over. We will have 4-6 weeks so may have time that others have not had.

Does anyone have any information or suggestions re ground travel - trains, buses (often a bit dodgy in Asia), or hiring a driver?
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Dec 29th, 2012, 09:40 AM
  #2
 
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To start, you can't stay 6 weeks in Burma. Max time allowed is 28 days.

Trains are notoriously uncomfortable, though a short train ride in the norther where there is some spectacular scenery would be worthwhile. Buses are quite variable. By next year, I expect there will be more of the modern buses available.

Hiring a car and driver is certainly an option, though ground travel in Burma is quite slow. Road conditions aren't great, and in the north the mountainous terrain makes for slow travel. If you want to hire a car and driver for your trip, I would do so though a local agency in Yangon, making arrangements well in advance.

While hearing about a plane crash makes people nervous, remember that statistically, the flights (even in Burma) are safer than ground transport.
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Dec 29th, 2012, 08:23 PM
  #3
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Already I've learned something (re time limit)! - Thanks for that. I understand that statistically there are more road crashes than plane crashes but ......
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Dec 30th, 2012, 09:36 PM
  #4
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We just returned from 24 dqys in Burma--fourteen days on our own and ten days on a Pandaw cruise down the Irrawaddy . We traveled by plane, car, bus and boat. Without knowing what your budget is--or where you hope to go within Burma, it's hard to suggest modes of ground travel--but there are many ways to travel by boat, which was wonderful, which aren't that expensive--and others which are more pricey. Our cruise stopped each day at villages and places inaccessible except from the water.

We did one long bus trip at the end of the Pandaw trip--the distance wasn't that great, but it took seven hours to go 179 miles--with three 20 minutes pit stops. The bus was a charter--much nicer than most of the passenger buses we saw--and it was by no means luxurious.

Don't know anything about the trains, but you could combine different modes of transportation--there are several cycling trips offered now; trekking certainly allows you to see the country; boat, as I suggested, and some car, bus, train--AND plane.

It would make sense to try to figure out your itinerary and then start focusing on how you want to travel--with a strong caveat: destinations do close dependent on what's going on in the country. One of our fellow travelers on the Pandaw cruise was scheduled to go to Ngapali Beach after the cruise and was informed the day before she was to go that it had been closed to travel because of the disturbances in that area.

Good luck.
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Jan 5th, 2013, 03:39 AM
  #5
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Thanks 520 - since we will have roughly the same amount of time as you did, I'd be interested in your itinerary. We are middle aged budget travellers who make occasional splurges!
We are also interested in a river cruise (maybe over Christmas). If you were to repeat your trip, would you take the river cruise? Any advice on how one would choose a cabin? Did you have enough time in Bagan on the cruise or did you return?
Did you use a travel agent?
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Jan 17th, 2013, 03:55 PM
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A couple of my trip reports may be relevant.

On buses and trains: http://loraltravel.blogspot.com.au/2...-to-kalaw.html

On the river and boats: http://loraltravel.blogspot.com.au/2...-mandalay.html

Both relate to specific trips, but will give some idea of quality and comfort.

Cheers, Alan
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Jan 20th, 2013, 02:26 AM
  #7
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Thanks Alan. It seems that we will probably follow your suggestions as we like to travel on local transport. I have enjoyed your blogs and will refer to them as we plan further. Keep the words flowing!
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Jan 30th, 2013, 10:20 PM
  #8
 
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Roads are atrocious in Burma, but safer than airlines. I just about kissed the ground when we landed from Mandalay to Rangoon a couple of weeks ago. Having said that, local buses are also horrible, hard bench seats, feet can't touch the floor, so keep your bags down there as footrests.

Burma is old-Asia, travelwise, but if the generals can keep their fingers out of visitors' wallets the standard should pick up soon, just as it did in Thailand and Vietnam over time.
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Jan 31st, 2013, 07:51 AM
  #9
 
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maree, you might feel safer on the terrible roads than flying, but statistically, flying is safer than ground transport - even in Burma.
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