Some years ago, it was very simple, you avoid any time Myanmar Airways, and take only the private airlines.
Now it is a little more complicated (or simple). Myanmar Airways has new planes (ATR and Embraer), has improved a lot its security so far, that now, we can say that all compagnies are the same (on the French Governemen website, no airline is recommend or on the black list).
Nevertheless, from a commercial point o view (respect of time schedule, service etc..) we strongly recommend to stick to the private airlines (Air Mandalay, Air Bagan, Yangon Airways, Asian Wings, Golden wings etc....)
But for some destination, you still have to take Myanmar Airways.
Special note : Do not focus so much on the name of the airlines, they more or less belongs to the same people...
Prices : Air tickets in Myanmar are much more expensive (August 2003) than other parts of South East Asia. It is not cheap to take a plane here, expect more than 130 USD for a Yangon Mandalay (August 2013), and even more for longer flight.
Even with a direct flight ticket from A to B, do not be surprised if your plane is making one or two or three additional stop on the way.....
If happens a lot here, especially from Heho to Yangon, or Kentung to Yangon, or Heho to Ngapali (very often via Yangon)...
Unfortunately, there is no way to know in advance if your direct flight will become a 4 stops flight....
- During the last two years, we had tremedous improvement in the bus quality and road.
- Bus is always the cheapest way to travel between cities, really cheaper than plane,or car.
The big air-conditioned buses of the main companies are now in very good conditions, most of them are brand new Scania buses.
- You have now day time buses (thanks to the improvement of the road), you can do in one day, Yangon Mandalay, or Yangon Pwin Oo Lwin.
- The small local buses are funny for short trip, especially if you stay on the roof. The road
safety, especially during the rain season is more random, or
bad. You have to be brave to take a small pick-up on a long way (up to 30 people, of which the half on the roof
during 10 hours...) In short, we strongly do not recommend travelling like this and we do not propose this kind of transport to our
friends. (but we recommend the big air con buses)
Travelling by train is not especially dangerous but the maintance is not so good. They already were important derailments in
remote areas of Myanmar.
The major problems are the
very frequent delays.
- You have even more delay during the rainy season (monsoon), we do not recommend the train during that time, especially in August and Septembre (flooding... very long delay).
- The Shipaw-Mandalay line is charming enough to use it (one day for 150 km). The landscape is superb and if you have to make one trip on train in Myanmar, choose that one.
- Yangon Mandalay line is expensive, always very late. Take the bus.
- Yangon Bagan is new, with a convenient time and sleeping couch (suppose to have) but it is often delay a lot. (and the buses are now faster and cheaper)
This is the best way to discover Myanmar (except walking) if you are more than 2 people
BUT it is extremely expensive
The renting fees are however higher in Myanmar
than elsewhere in Asia because of the shortage of spare part and the
cost of the gasoline.
As writtent in the latest edition of Lonely Planet, a standard renting price for a good car for "highway" drive between main city is around 60 to 100 USD (minimum). It is almost the same for a 5 or 7 seaters car, save money and charge the cost of the car.
Rent a car - Driving yourself
You can not rent or drive a car in Myanmar and do not put
yourself , your guide or your driver in one very very bad
situation trying to drive.
do not need a 4x4 vehicule in Myanmar, even during the monsoon, except if you go to remote place and/or you know that the road will be in bad/very bad condition.
Four wheel drive cars are very very expensive (more than two times the price of a normal car) and you also need an experienced driver...... stick to the normal car.
Check carefully your driver and if the car is in good shape. You should know that you buy your driving licence in Burma (no exam !)
Ananda Travel Yangon can propose to you a vast choice of vehicle for
your trip in Myanmar. Usually, you can forecast that our
vehicles fit: 3, 5, 9, 16 people and all are air-conditioned.
Contact us for more information.