unexpected train rides through Myanmar

Trains in Myanmar. You either love them or hate them.

After reading plenty of train horror stories, my Mom and I were a little apprehensive to travel via train from Yangon, but incredibly curious about how it would be. So what did we do? Buy train tickets to Mandalay of course!

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We bought two tickets for upper seats (one class above the most basic class and one class under the sleeper cabins) for 9300 kyat each (that’s about $9.30).

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the car

Our train was scheduled for 5pm, but we were told to come at 4pm. The gates to the track were closed up, and at 5, the train came and the gates opened. A man helped us find our seats. Although most people I have come across in Myanmar are genuinely trying to be helpful when they come up to you, this guy expected 1000 kyat each person (about $1 each). These men sure go after tourists for some pocket money, so if you don’t want to pay up, avoid getting any help boarding the train. As frustrating as it was getting told to pay up, you have to remember that just $1 for us is pocket change, but it can go a long way here.

The train itself was pleasantly surprising. The seats were soft and they reclined to a comfortable angle (except for mine, which was broken). It was really warm at first, but once the train got moving, the fans went on and the breeze from the outside cooled us off.

Looking out of the train window out into the countryside, was simply elating. The countryside is such a stark contrast from the cities- an absolutely beautiful contrast. The sunset from the moving train was simply stunning. Words cannot do the feeling of watching the golden light fade into pink, then orange, then darkness, any justice.

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The night on the train was a little less spectacular than the initial feelings experienced. Once it got dark, it was incredibly cold. The train would screech unbelievably loudly, and the car would jolt from side to side. I didn’t sleep a wink and I woke up freezing. My mom was in her down jacket and she woke up cold as well.

There are bathrooms on the train, and you get a free bottle of water! If you want food or snacks (or soda), people walk through the train and sell them. They also sell coffee, which is soooooOOOooo welcomed in the cold morning, but the train ride is so rocky, I can’t imagine not spilling it!

It’s also worth noting that I also picked up some bed bug bites, but no one else seemed to.

That being said, I loved the train. Sure, it was a sleepless night, but it kicked off trip to Myanmar with great views and an unbelievable little adventure.

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40 thoughts on “unexpected train rides through Myanmar

  1. Sounds absolutely amazing! I’m heading to Myanmar either late this fall or early next year on my trip to SE Asia with my husband. I just got so much inspiration from your beautiful photos and description – especially those sunset photos! Also, I’m with you that coffee sounds perfect on cold mornings! I’ll be partaking in that for sure! Thanks for sharing! Xx

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  2. Yes! I’ll be in Asia for the next year and a bit and that’s the type of inspiration I was looking for! You gotta love the way a train ride lets you see the country from a different angle. Thank you & happy continued travels!

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      1. Yes, I’ll heading to Mandalay. looking forward to your post. i’m studying places and transports there. seems quite a lot of options and attractions to discover 🙂

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  3. There is definitely something magical about train journeys. I think train travel is real travel, where you can really savour each moment, each mile, connect with the landscape and the passing sights. Lovely sunset pictures.

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  4. Sound like quite an adventure, and how lucky for you to get to with your Mom! I have to admit the whole be bug bite thing gave me a big shudder…I can only imagine the hassle if one were to pick up the pest and track home via luggage or clothing. Still, the sunset sounds like it was a great experience, but I’m glad you weren’t in the sleeper cabins!

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  5. Your experience on the train sounds great, I’m happy to hear from someone that they actually enjoyed it. I was in Myanmar last month and wanted to take the train from Yangon to Bagan, too, but we ended up taking the bus because we had some trouble booking the train ticket. After all the horror stories we heard about the train, we were actually quite happy with our bus experience (overall: punctual, efficient and rather comfortable). But now that I read your post I thought daaammn, maybe the train would’ve still been the better option 🙂 Either way I had a great time in Myanmar and seems like you did, too! I’ll go back one day and make sure to take the train this time 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Cheers and safe travels!

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  6. That sure sounds like one great experience. It’s great when you just do the thing you were not “that sure about”, right? It always turns out to be THE story to tell. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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  7. Hey you brought back some good memories to me because i also took the train in Myanmar few years back. (the circular one for less than 1 dollar back then). Your pictures are truly amazing especially the ones with the sunset. I know there can be ups and downs about going with this trains in Myanmar , and not only for the bugs , but per total for me was a good experience. Cheers !

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  8. Sounds like you had a great adventure! Those sunset photos would definitely make the trip worthwhile! Sorry to hear about the bed bugs bites and the cold, but then it wouldn’t be an adventure, right. Those are all part of the package, and you seem to enjoy it sans a few discomforts.

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