Note: This is a travel advice post. The purpose of this is simply to help future travelers on their trip, not necessarily a narrative like my other blogs.
When you arrive in Yangon downtown you will see a lot of travel agencies to book these bus tickets. A good example is 31st Street where I got mine. There were at least 3 travel agencies between Bogyoke and Anawratha road. Indeed there are travel agencies on every other side street. Moreover, every hotel also has ties with at least one travel agent who can get you booked.
When I booked mine, prices ranged from 18-22k Kyat for a VIP bus. I didn’t get the feeling that any travel agent was trying to gouge us. Prices were pretty uniform. That was the general flavor all across Yangon. Agents were honest.
About the buses. There are 2 kinds. 2+2 config, and 2+1. 2-2 means each row was 2 seats, an aisle, and 2 more. 2-1 means 2 and then 1. Obviously, the 2-1 seats are wider. They are the VIP seats. The non-VIP buses all cost around 15k.
I checked around a bit. A few companies have Scania buses. They are the best. I ended up taking Thit Sar Oo company which was the cheapest at 17.3k for a 2-1 config. But their buses are older and not Scania. They were bumpy. I would not recommend them.
All the buses from all companies congregated at a highway food court for dinner. There I got to see which companies had the good Scania buses. This is the list I gathered:
- JJ Express (Joyous Journey)
- Elite Express
- Mingalar Minn
- Shwe Yaung Ye (sp?)
There were a couple more but their names escape me. Just ask for Scania coaches and you should be good.
All bus journeys take around 10-11 hours. The later they leave the better. My bus left at 7 and dropped me at Kalaw at 5am! The bus that left Yangon at 5pm dropped their passengers at 3!!! No matter what time you reach Kalaw, there will be taxi drivers waiting to take you someplace. Also, it might feel like the bus drops you in the middle of nowhere, but its actually the main street of Kalaw! And a 2 minute walk (about a 100m) from the stop will get you to see all the hotels. You can wake them up to get a room. Seint hotel was the closest one to the bus stop.
All buses that go to Inle lake have a stop at Kalaw where they wake you if you have notified them prior.
People get off at Kalaw to do the awesome scenic 2 or 3 day hike to Inle. I hear you can also do it from Inle to Kalaw, but that one is harder as you’re walking uphill for the most part. Kalaw to Inle is downhill for the most part. You can read more on our hike in the next blog coming soon!