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Central Myanmar


Global Mark : 12.83

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


3 3 1 3 3 3 3 2 3 10.67

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
9 100% 44% (4) 100% 9 to 19 15.00

Description :
A medium sized town with medium sized attractions

Comments : It is not really worth coming here especially but it makes a pleasant transit point.

What to do ? Get a map of the area at Pan Gaba GH / Reserve a bus seat at the bus station (K15) / From there, walk for a while along the train track toward east, passing a market (5mn, right, morning only), Phayagyi Pagoda (10mn, left), some flower cultures (15mn, left) and, if time and sun cream, a small village with restricted streets (30mn, right) and finally Hmawza (maybe 45mn) / Back in town, climb the stairs of big Shwesandaw Paya (free) or, if exhausted from the above walk, take the lift (K5) / Walk the main street, north of the statue and check out the few temples & canons / Then loose yourself inside the market to smell the fish / Finally, walk alongside the river 

What you may not like ? Walking hours under the sun on a dusty road to see nearly nothing of the old city (I walked for 45 mn from the train track one way to see an ugly half restored "gate" & cubic Bebe Pagoda from a distance only) / The horny vehicles / As a foreigner, not being allowed on a bike outside town / The sign : "To all foreigners. Not allowed to go through" / The dirtiness outside town / 

How long ? A few hours for the inside, a bit more for the outside

Where to stay ? No place to really recommend here but a few acceptable ones if you need to spend a night

  • Pan Ga Ba Lodging House, 342 Merchant St, from train station, turn right at statue, second left, then third right / A favorite with tuk-tuk drivers / Room w. AC $3(1) or $6(2) / incl. Breakfast / Go there for the acceptably sized rooms w. mosquitoes net, the quiet location, the map & tips from the owner / What you may not like : the mosquitoes, the not so clean atmosphere, the irregular dirty AC, the sleepy owner
  • Aung Gabar GH (22743), 1436 Bogyoke St, opp. statue / Sgl $3, Dbl $8 / incl. Breakfast w. Dbl only / Go there for the relatively clean rooms and to see the size of the Dbl / What you may not like : the tiny Sgl, the fan only, not getting breakfast w. Sgl and the noise
  • Swe Myo Daw GH (21990), 353 Lanmadaw, turn right at the statue, just before temple on the right / Small room w. AC $4(1) or $8(2) / Go there for the acceptably clean rooms / What you may not like : the size of the rooms & not getting breakfast for that price

Where to eat ? At the night market, west of the statue of Bogyoke Aung San

The ancient city of Thayekhittaya ? It sounds like the major attraction of the area but it is tricky to go to and even trickier to visit as the ruins are far between in a huge area. Beside, it officially cost $4, there is no guide attached with the ticket, the map of the area is rather useless and the best stones have been moved to Yangon. If you are not discouraged (I personally would recommend skipping it in favor of the town), the best way to go is to take the No64 train at 6:15am, arriving at Hmawza Station half an hour later. You can also negotiate a "tour" with a bicycle rickshaw for around K500 incl. 2 hours waiting time. Taking a taxi at least one way would let you spot Payama Pagoda.

 << Discover two temples

Leave Pyay ? 

To Yangon, there should be no need to go to the bus station to reserve a seat as Asia Exp has got two offices in town : south of the statue and north of Pan Ga Ba GH on Merchant Rd. There is also an express train at 22 arriving at 5am but ordinary class cost $9.

To Bagan, the boat is real slow (up to 4 days 3 nights in the dry season) & rather expensive at $9 ordi class or $18 upper deck. If interested by the adventure, it leaves on Mond, Wed, Frid & Sund. A better alternative is to take a bus bound to Mandalay and get off at Kyauk Padaung (K1200 to K1500 depending on negotiation skill as companies usually charge the same price as to Mandalay, even so it is a 4 or 5 hours shorter trip). From there regular buses to Bagan are coming from Yangon or Mandalay. If all full, pick up were reported leaving irregularly (at 10am and 14 ?) and fully packed (31 adults passengers counted inside !) : K200, 2.5 long hours. 

To Inle Lake, you will have to get off at Meiktila and change bus there for Taungyi.


Bus Schedules :

Yangon via Gwa Asia Exp ? 400 AC 7:30,9:30,13:30,21:30 4
Yoma Exp 22448 400 AC 8:30, 9:30,14:30,21:30 4
Sun Moon Exp 21993 400 AC 5:30,7,8,9,10:30,12,19,21 4
Mandalay Aung Naing Thu Exp 22479 1400 AC 17 12
Myat Mandalar Htun 21993 1500 AC 17 12
Man Awe Pyi 21993 800 cargo bus  12,15 12
Mandalathon 21968 800 cargo bus  12,16 12
Thandwe Yoma Thit Sar 21968 1700 ordi 21 12

Notes : D = duration / other destinations on the way to Mandalay = same price / To Thandwe via Taungup K1500

The trip to Mandalay : SSS / L&R / B1400 / 21.5 hrs / Broken AC

Another interesting adventure : leaving at 5pm, we were supposed to arrive at Mandalay at 4am. Instead, we reached destination at 13:30 !

The first doubt about the bus condition started half an hour after departure when the engine had a 30mn urgent operation requiring the artisanal cut of a can of drink. Not being treated correctly, it went back to the examination side road at 8pm, this time for one complete hour. At the dinner area at 21:30, I ask the driver : "Is it Ok now ?" - "Yes, no problem !" But to be sure, they spent another 30mn on the motor so we left at 22:45. 
Strangely, this mechanical "no problem" had an effect on other circuits as well : the air cond had been turned off soon after departure, the TV refused to display the scary American movie and at one point, during surgery on the side of a deserted road, all lights went off. Scary enough ?

What happened after, I do not remember as the reclining seats were working fine. I was awaken at 5:30 by a loud prayer which lasted 45mn. Apparently, things did not go fine : my fellow western passenger was still next to me. He should have arrived at 2am. He finally got off at Kyauk Padaung at 7am, not a bad time for him actually...

We were real late but this was not an argument to speed things up : we had a long breakfast followed at Meiktila (10am) by other snacks and drinks. I had previously a heated conversation with the bus staff just after being told we would be 9 hours late. - "Why did you not stop in a proper garage instead of having to improvise every couple of hours ?" I did not get any answer at that time but was offered two drinks soon afterwards. This, plus the apologies of the staff of the company at Mandalay, certainly helped me to accept my lost morning. 
We arrived at the Kywe Ser Kan Highway Station at 13:30. The town center was another 11km north. Buses were going for K30 but I really preferred the option suggested by the bus staff : ask for an hotel to pick me up. 

See also the trip from Thandwe / Ngapali