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Travel Guide > Asia > Burma/Myanmar > Yangon > Yangon

Yangon Getting in & out

  
 
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November 2010: You must arrive with hard currency. There are no ATMs and no apparent way of getting dollars , euros or GBP. Few hotels accept credit cards: this one used to that one used to. You are limited to few expensive hotels if you need to pay by card.

By plane

Yangon International Airport (Mingladon) (RGN) is located approximately 30 minutes north of the city centre. Currently undergoing a major upgrade and renovation of existing facilities, it contains both international and domestic terminals. There is no accommodation in the immediate vicinity of the airport. The easiest way to get to and from the airport to the city is by taxi (US$6) but it is also possible to get a pickup or public bus from outside the airport (both can be very crowded!) for under 50 kyat.

International

There are direct flights to RGN from Bangkok, Chiang Mai,Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Gaya, Kolkata, Kunming, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Taipei. International Airlines servicing RGN include Thai Airways, Bangkok Air Malaysia Airlines AirAsia Korean Airlines, Silk Air, Vietnam Airlines and Air India. Coffee, tea and very basic snacks (packaged biscuits and single serving cakes) are available inside the security area. Arriving passengers should not change money at the airport because the official exchange rate bears no resemblance to the black market rate. It is easy to convert at the black market rate in the city (or anywhere in the country) and travellers don't need kyat because they must pay for their (pre-paid) taxis in US$. There is a US$10 international departures fee, payable in foreign currency. (A new international terminal opened in the summer of 2007)

Domestic

The domestic terminal is 200m further along the road than the international terminal, and is old and tired looking. Facilities are minimal (coffee, tea, and basic packaged snacks are available) but, as a consequence, check-in is simple and quick and bags arrive quickly from arriving aircraft. Ancient buses ferry passengers to their aircraft. Pre-paid taxis are available, pay at the taxi counter inside the baggage claim area, but it is easier and cheaper to exit the terminal and negotiate directly with the Taxi Czar who controls the taxi trade at Mingladon. Try not to allow porters to carry your luggage, as they will demand specified tips and hassle you. This is especially a problem in the domestic terminal as there is no customs to pass through with your bags. If a porter has not attached himself to a hapless tourist, he may take random bags off the luggage cart, hoping someone will follow him.

By train

There are several train lines that connect Yangon to the rest of Burma. Several trains daily connect Yangon to Mandalay via Bago with connections to Bagan and the Inle Lake area at Thazi. Because of a bizarre timetable change in 2006 (apparently to ensure that trains arrive at a reasonable hour at Pyinmana, the station for the new capital), most trains leave early in the morning (2, 3AM) and arrive late at night. Yangon-Mandalay fares for a sleeper are US$35-50, for a seat are US$30-40 on First Class and US$10-15 on Second Class. There is also a direct train line between Yangon and Bagan (US$35/13) but trains take almost 24 hours for a bumpy journey and the change at Thazi is a better bet.

The oldest line in Burma is the Yangon-Pyay line and it shows its age. But, the nine hour journey (US$15/6) along the Irrawaddy basin is well worth it. The Mawlamyine line is equally bumpy and the 9 hours express (6:15am, $17/$11) and 11 hours slow train (7:00am, US$14/$5) is slightly longer than by road. (Note on this trip in upper class you get your own seat and it's slightly less crowded, but there isn't much else different between the classes) Trains also run to Pathein in the Irrawaddy delta but are very slow and the bus is a better alternative.

By boat

A hundred and fifty years ago, boats were the way to get to places from Yangon and IWT (Inland Water Transport) passenger ferries still ply the major rivers. Yangon to Mandalay takes 5 days with a change at Pyay (3 days) and the return trip (downriver) takes three days. A luxury ferry (the Delta Queen) recalls the days of yore on the Yangon-Pathein route (about 20 hours, US$170/person). The IWT ferry to Pathein takes 15 hours for the over-night trip (US$35/10).

By bus

(Recent travellers, please update bus fares!)

Most buses depart from the Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal, a bit out of the city and beyond the airport, on the Pyay Road. Buses for the Irrawaddy delta region, however, depart from the Hlaing Thar Yar Bus Terminal across the Bayintnaung Bridge. Buses to Mandalay, K11,000 (15 hours) and Bagan (14 hours, 20,000 kyat) depart in the evening. Tickets on AC buses with reclining seats are about 18,000 kyat (seats in the last row do not recline). Buses to Kyaiktiyo (Kinpun) leave in the mornings (4.5 hours, 6000 kyat). Buses for Mawlamyine (6 hours via the new bridge) leave in the mornings and late nights (8000 kyat). Buses to Sittwe and Thandwe (Ngapali Beach) are also available but the road is bad and the journey long.

Thanks to the new bridge and upgraded road, buses to Pathein take less than 4 hours and the journey is comfortable. Add 45 minutes by taxi to get to the Hlaing Thar Yar Bus Terminal though. 6000 kyat.

Out

  • Bago (Pegu) - an important town with pagodas and monasteries located 60km north of Yangon and an easy day trip.
  • Mandalay - overnight buses, and expensive government trains, leave for Mandalay daily. Bus tickets can be booked at the number of travel agents just north of Yangon railway station.
  • Pathein (Bassein) - famous for its paper umbrellas and stunning religious architecture, and an overnight boat ride away (or 4 hours by rented car, more by bus) to the west. From Pathein it's only a few hours by bus or pick-up truck on to the beaches of Chaungtha and Ngwe Saung.
  • Taukkyan - about an hour's drive (35km) from central Yangon, and site of the Taukkyan War Cemetery.
  • Thanlyin - once an important city on the Irrawaddy Delta, and gateway to Kyauktan (Syriam), a small island in the Yangon River, which is the site of the 4th century Ye Le Paya.
  • Twante - the most accessible delta town from Yangon, and makes for a nice half day or full day trip.
  • Mawlamyine - A pleasant sea-side city with a few daytrip possibilities. 9-hour express train runs here each morning about 6:15am (and an 11-hour slow train at 7am). Ordinary tickets (with no seat reservations) cost foreigners $US5, while upper class tickets are $US14. You get your own seat and it's slightly less crowded, but there isn't much else different between the classes.




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