Replies: 17 - Last Post: Feb 19, 2013 5:37 AM Last Post By: choudoufu
Feb 1, 2013 6:08 PM
cycling myanmarIn two weeks 4 of us will land in Mandalay to do some riding. Two for 2 weeks and two for 3. All leave from Yangon
We average about 80 km/day and like to mix up the riding with some normal tourist things.
We are used to paying about $20/single a night in Vietnam to give an idea of accommodation needs.
If needed we are prepared to use train, bus, truck or whatever if necessary.
Bagan and Inle lake are certainties and of course Mandalay and Yangon are included as entry and exit points.
What should we do in between?
What are the tricks to getting trains, buses etc with bikes?
Any other info about bike specific problems?
Feb 3, 2013 12:37 AM
1I was in Burma a couple of years ago and actually left my bike in Bangkok, it is a wonderful country with great people but was told it is difficult to get between approved guesthouses which are up to 160 km apart in 1 day. I met a cyclist in Rangoon who confirmed this, I hired bikes locally and took the bus between them.
The places you mention are all worth a visit and it might be worth thinking about doing this if you are returning to the same place as you flew in from.
Guesthouse prices are similar to Vietnam.
Feb 3, 2013 5:28 AM
2Guesthouse prices have increase significantly in the past year and November to March is the peak tourist season. The existing tourism infrastructure is almost overwhelmed by the demand, especially at the budget end of the market. I spent 17 nights in the country in November 2012 and paid up to USD 50 per night for a room, and one one occasion paid USD 15 to sleep on the floor of a motel. You cannot camp or couch surf. Go to the country branch for discussion of current costs.
I have no idea whether you can import cycles to Myanmar, or hire them for cross-country travel, but I observed that most locals travel between locations by bus, truck or train. In Bagan you can hire cycles by the day for local touring.
Feb 3, 2013 2:43 PM
3Thanks for your inputs.
We are committed to take our bikes. (maybe we should be committed). However some of the distances and the quality of roads might be to much eg Bagan to Inle
I am also wondering if it is common to see bikes on buses? or on trains?
Feb 3, 2013 3:27 PM
Feb 4, 2013 4:53 AM
5I cycled Mandalay to Yangon via Bagan & Golden Rock 3 years ago, it took me 3 weeks. Above is correct, some big days to get to Licensed places but do-able.
My fav section was to the Golden Rock & that's easily do-able in 2 days from Yangon with o/night in Bago & both days would be about 80km or less. Then back to Bago & bus or train up North. If u do a search you'll find I posted my route on here a couple of years ago.
I loved it but some distances were hard.
Feb 5, 2013 2:44 AM
Plenty of cycle tourists have been to Myanmar, taking their own bikes with them, and travelling around by the local transport.
Mandalay region to Yangon is not an interesting ride, with some long gaps between guesthouses. The western route is more or less impossible, the police will pick you up recognising you can't ride 200 miles in a day, or whatever the big gap is. The eastern route has been done, though has some long hard gaps. Better to take transport to Yangon. It's very straightforward if you arrange your itinerary so you can end your trip around the north in Bagan or Mandalay, so you can take the overnight bus to Yangon. In principle you could pick up the bus in Meikthila, but it might be full by then.
As people have said, the tourists have suddenly turned up and overwhelmed the infrastructure, so you will have problems cycling where you will and finding somewhere to stay, as I did.
Feb 10, 2013 5:52 PM
7Thanks for the advice.
We were thinking of doing the Meiktila to Kalaw but now I am worried because we were going to Go from Mt Popa to Meiktila the previous day.
Is it possible to find some private transport for four people with bikes
No hotels for foreigners will be a major problem for us I think. Are there any other options?
Feb 10, 2013 10:47 PM
Feb 11, 2013 3:48 AM
Feb 11, 2013 8:06 AM
10Sorry, I have confounded Kyaukpadaung and Meiktila into one place in my brain. It is 4 days ride from Bagan to Nyaushwe, with nights at KP, M (or Th) and Kalaw. It is Kyaukpadaung that is close to Mt Popa and which has places to stay, though possibly not very many. As far as I am aware, it is less than 60 miles from KP to M, and fairly flat. Set off early and with determination, and you'll probably have time to proceed to Thazi, same day, bearing in mind that it is it is very flat from M to Th. Better than than adding those 19 miles to the next day when you have an alpine-size climb at the end of the afternoon.
I'd say that 75 miles is a long ride for me too, I prefer to ride only 55 a day when on tour. Unfortunately, you have to be prepared to ride 75 miles or so in a day in Myanmar, it is difficult to arrange otherwise, I think I did more like 90 a few times, including extended dirt sections and cobble sections. At least it is mostly fairly flat and this does make it a bit more doable. (Once you are up at Kalaw, it is surprisingly not very lumpy on top of the high plateau.) Since the locals are routinely up and about and having breakfast in teahouses before 5am, it is little problem to get an early breakfast and be on the road at the crack of dawn if it looks like you have a long day ahead of you. And it helps to be of a mind that puts purpose into completing your set task for the day.
Distances in Myanmar are marked in miles (and furlongs), hence abandoning my usual metric usage.
Feb 11, 2013 1:39 PM
Feb 11, 2013 2:07 PM
12I've cycled that route. Mandalay-Monywa is a long way, so to make it shorter stay the night in Sagaing, which is well worth half a day or so to look around - very romantic with pagodas on the hill ridge and walkways between them. There's also a huge pagoda in the shape of a queen's breast but its a short way on the road to Monywa and I didn't find it till the morning and correctly reckoned I didn't have time. It's still a long hard day from S to Monywa, so set off at the crack of dawn. You will want to visit the amazing temple with a zillion buddhas that is a few miles before Monywa, I kept an hour for that. Good road all the way to my recollection. Places to stay in Monywa.
At Monywa you have to cross the river. The ferry was supposed to start at dawn but there was no sign of it happening, so I paid to cross in a little motorboat, was still cheap. Road is truly awful for quite a long way, unpaved, very bumpy for quite a way, then deep soft dust in places, then suddenly it was paved for the last third or something, which was more than the map showed, so I ended up getting to Pakokku about 4pm or something. There wasn't anywhere official to stay in Pakokku but there was a place, which found me, and it seemed to be all right, though the owner was a smooth talker inventive in encouraging you to give him things he fancied from your luggage, etc. Stayed there a few days as some people made friends and entertained me. However it was a centre of the monk's uprising a few years ago and there was a heavy crack-down so whether it is still the nice easy going place I found, I cannot say.
From P to Bagan you go on the boat, takes a couple of hours. Ferry point is a bit tricky to find unless you get someone to show you, its was a bit further from the centre than I was expecting, not walking distance. You need to keep a good couple of days for cycling around the sights of Bagan, the area is truly huge and there is an unbelievable amount to see.
I rode Bagan to Popa and back in a day, but it was quite hard work, and the road was one of those where due to insufficient bitumen it's rather like cobbles for quite a lot of it. And of course it is quite a hill to climb at the end. I got there in time for lunch or something. I think it was something like 40 miles each way.
Feb 11, 2013 10:35 PM
13Great information - thanks
My tourer has tyre size 700 x 32c which I run at 90 PSI,
What do you think about changing my Tyres to 700 x 38c at 75PSI.
Am I getting paranoid about lack of accommodation for foreigners. My original assumption that it would be like Vietnam and Cambodia is obviously false. It sounds as if you are a lot fitter than I am and these distances on poor roads my be a problem.
Is it likely that we can find other solutions for accommodation?
Will trucks stop and give you a lift if you flag them down?
After we finish at Inle Lake I think we will try to get a bus or something to Yangon ( any hints) where two leave to return to Sydney and the other two of us have another week. I thought of getting the train to Mawamyine and ride back through Hpa-An to Yangon.. Any help with this
Feb 12, 2013 5:46 AM
I didn't get paranoid about it, basically you can just be fairly rational about it. If you arrive somewhere and there is no licensed accomm, the question is, can they get rid of you to somewhere you can stay, or do they have to put up with you? So when I arrived in Kyaukse at dusk, being on the main Yangon-Mandalay road about 35 miles from Mandalay, thinking this is a rather big place ought to be somewhere to stay, in fact there wasn't, the guesthouses wouldn't accept me without police approval, and the police indicated I had to get a bus/truck to Mandalay, which was straightforward as they were running all the time. Probably the sensible thing to do anyway. When I arrived at Ywa-ngan at dusk, they couldn't get rid of me (at most one bus a day) so after the local secret policeman had taken my details I stayed. The guest house wasn't going to let me in without the police approval, but once I had got it they were fine. Amusingly, another cyclist had stayed there just the previous night. Now there was a secret policeman hanging around at the junction of the road to Ywa-ngan (between Pindaya and Kalaw), who suggested he would prefer it if I didn't go that way, but he wasn't very definitive about it and he was only a young chap. It was about lunchtime so I bought some lunch from a stall and when I'd eaten it he'd gone so I went that way anyway, and the most beautiful road I cycled in the entire country it was, especially beyond Ywa-ngan.
I was fairly fit in those days, I confess. But I've never been fast, just persistent. I think a lot of it was about setting off early, not hanging about, and cycling within myself so I could keep going. Yes, you will be zonked the first few times you do that, but you'll get used to it.
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