Jan 29-31, 2020
Exploring Mawlamyine, Myanmar
Location : Mawlamyine, Myanmar
A Boat Ride?
After 4 days in Hpa-an, it was time to pack-up again and venture out. When I heard that there is a pleasant boat ride from Hpa-an to Mawlamyine, my next destination was penciled-in. What's in Mawlamyine? I don't know, I just wanted the boat ride.
I could have done a DIY on getting the boat ride (I was told it was only MMK 8k) but I just let my hotel, Parami Motel, take care of it - MMK 10k including a car pick-up. A bus trip would have cost me only MMK 1.2k but a boat ride is much more pleasant. Furthermore, I heard from some travelers that the bridges en route are not that strong, so bus passengers have to disembark on every bridge crossing - which adds more travel time and could be aggravating.
As a last hurrah, I wrote to a few established hotels in Mawlamyine about a barter deal, but no response. Worse case, I can check-in at Agoda's cheapest lodging for only MMK 7.5k ($5/day) - Breeze Guest House.
The Boat Ride
It was a pleasant 3.5-hour boat ride along the calm river. I saw many stupas erected on the summits dotting both banks of the river. The boat motor wasn't too noisy either (unlike the boat motors of the Philippines), making way for conversation amongst the travelers. There was a 15-minute stop-over almost near Mawlamyine, into a sleepy village. Not sure exactly why, since there was nothing there.
It was 5 pm when we arrived. I grouped with 3 others from the boat to split a jeep ride to Breeze Guest House. It was fully booked! We proceeded to a nearby guest house - Aurora Hotel. Fortunately, I got a room for MMK 10k. The others tried their luck at Cinderella. At least I had a place for the night. I talked to Ulayte, the owner, for a possible barter deal for the rest of my stay, but communication was so poor, nothing came out of it.
Unexpectedly, I received a reply from Attran Hotel about my proposal, which led to a one-night stay in their chalet-style hotel. This is probably the best-located hotel in Mawlamyine - right by the riverbank. They have an expansive open-air bar on wooden decks, just by the river. Sunset viewing with draught beer (only MMK 900) is perfect here. The rooms are big with luxurious amenities - fridge, flat-screen tv, a/c and a cabinet. Buffet breakfast comes with the room. Reception speaks English and they are helpful, especially the little requests - document printing, trip planning, clothes drying, etc. Their city location is also handy as it's near the 3 major attractions in Mawlamyine - Zeigyi (Central Market), Kyeik Tha Lan Pagoda and Kyaik Thoke Pagoda.
The main attraction of Mawlamyine is really the river. Fortunately, the city has a long promenade along the river bank where you get the view on one side and many eating places on the other side. There is always a coffee shop to break the long walk and delectable street food/house food for the hungry.
I have already abandoned my earlier plan to do my Vipassana (Goenka) in Yangon. It became too challenging - I would have to go back to Thailand and come back for a fresh 14-day visa. This means added transport cost, added lodging cost in Mae Sot, and additional travel time of 12 hours. It didn't make sense anymore.
But as fate would have it, there is a Vipassana center in Mawlamyine - the Pa-Auk Monastery. I would stay there for my remaining visa days. I guess I will have to explore the attractions of Mawlamyine if and when I visit again.
Because I had been doing so much computer work, developing landing pages on this site for every new destination to advertise my hotel sponsors, my eyes got really strained specially while using my phone. And because I'm traveling alone, I often default to Facebook videos to while away the time. At one point, while watching a video, I had a double vision. I panicked like crazy! I closed my eyes and did some eye exercises. Immediately, I deleted my Facebook app. This helped a lot in easing my eye strain. At some point, I would also like to delete my FB account...not just on the phone.
I wish I had more time to stay here in Mawlamyine. It seems that I have only scratched the surface. As one 3-year German resident told me, Mawlamyine is the next Thailand - friendly, affordable, good food, great history and culture, etc. Additionally, he added that the values haven't yet been corrupted by crass tourism. I can see that happening. I think 2 years from now, all of Myanmar would be ready for full-scale tourism - the major highways would have been finished, perhaps all hotels would be able to accept foreigners, and many more destinations would be opened up for travelers (to date, there are still places in Myanmar where foreigners are allowed). The future looks bright for Mawlamyine and for the rest of Myanmar.
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
Reader Comments:Cristina Lark
(Jan 30, 2020) Oh wow, you're back in Myanmar!
(Jan 30, 2020) Reading TheLoneRider now...you're in Myanmar? I'm in Sagaing now. Go as far as Kawthaung. There will always be a time...we'll definitely catch up sometime somewhere...safe travels!
(Jan 30, 2020) Nice!
(Jan 30, 2020) You here?
Next stop: Vipassana: 6 Days of Monastic Life at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery
Mawlamyine FYI / Travel Tips
- Hpa-an to Mawlamyine - departure 1:30pm, arrival 5:00pm, 3.5 hours, MMK 10k including car pick-up from hotel
- Hpa-an to Mawlamyine - by BUS, MMK 1200k, disembarking on every bridge crossing
- Yangon to Mawlamyine - Man Dalar Minn Express is also a popular and reputable bus company
- Yangon to Mawlamyine - PTT bus (War Dan St., 01-221479, 01-221472, 01-212131), 7 hours, special seating, MMK 8000, departure 8pm and 9pm, arrival 3am and 4am respectively.
- Mawlamyine to Yangon - Mawlamyine to Yangon is MMK10k, departing 9pm and 10pm, and arriving Yangon at 4am and 5am respectively. $16 USD for upper class seats at Mawlamyine train station counter #7
- Yangon to Mawlamyine - 2 trips daily, depart 6:00 am (two stops at Thaton and Kyaitiyo), arrive 3:30 pm (9.5 hours), next service leaving Yangon 7:15 am, arriving Mawlamyine at 6:30 pm.
- Mawlamyine to Yangon - 2 trips daily, depart 6:00 am (two stops at Thaton and Kyaitiyo), arrive 3:45 pm (9.75 hours), next service leaving Yangon 10:00 am, arriving Mawlamyine at 8:00 pm (10 hours).
- motor cycle commute - pay only MMK 500 for short distances
- motor cycle tours - I was quoted MMK 20,000 for half-day tour covering 3 attractions
MOTORBIKE WITHIN MAWLAMYINE
- Pa-Auk Tawya Meditation Centre - Theravada Buddhist monastery practicing both Samatha (tranquility) and Vipassana (insight) meditation. Take bus bound for Mudon, ask the driver to let you off at Pa-Auk Tawya (the bus goes right past the main gate of the monastery on the way to Mudon)
Tel (95) 57-27853 / (95) 57-27548 | Email: email@example.com
- Zeigyi (Central Market) -
- Gaungsaekune Sandawshin Pagoda -
- Night Market -
- Kyeik Tha Lan Pagoda -
- Kyaik Thoke Pagoda -
- Win Sein Taw Ya - Reclining Buddha -
- Death Railway Museum -
- Bilu Island -
- Thanbyuzayat World War II Cemetery -
Mawlamyine Cost Index
- As a general rule, local food much like its neighbors Hpa-an and Myawaddy, is inexpensive in Mawlamyine. It is delicious, safe (I never had a tummy issue with any of its street food) and all over the place. You can get a decent local noodle meal for MMK 500 ($0.30).
USEFUL INFORMATION(as of Jan 2020)
Myanmar FYI / Travel Tips
- accommodation - not all destinations in Myanmar can accommodate foreign travelers. Walk-in hotel guests could be refused. Better make an online booking, or make sure the hotel you wish to stay, at is listed in the online booking sites (Agoda, Booking.com, etc.)
- local time - adjust time 30 mins behind from Thailand (if arriving from Thailand)
- Burmese people - Burmese people are new to what's happening to Myanmar - being opened-up to the rest of the world. They remain friendly, helpful and curious. Tourism being new, the culture is not yet corrupted by it.
General Travel Tips
- arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
- put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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