Myanmar Train Travel

Myanmar (Burmese) train travel

The British introduced railway (train) travel to the country and managed to make it very popular for longer journeys but here was another short distance version already before the British moved in Mandalay.

Myanmar train travel

In Mandalay they had the first streetcar in Asia already before and at that time Myanmar was "au par" with the Meiji Dynasty in Japan all this was stopped by the English who streamlined the country to function as a raw material source only. 

Myanmar railway frontend

The most spectacular train journey in Myanmar.

The most spectacular train journey in Myanmar. (Burma) is from Mandalay to Lashio in "Upper Myanmar" via the Gokhteik viaduct.
Gokhteik viaduct
Gokhteik viaduct (1)

Myanmar railway backbone

Getting around in Myanmar by train.

Getting around in Myanmar by train is not easy travel but if you have plenty of time and not many claims for comfort it make it manageable. The train and bus travel to Mandalay today starts in Yangon City.

One of the positive experiences is undoubtedly the contact with the local people because somewhere there is always someone who speaks English and thus allows a communication. The people of Myanmar have a better education than in neighboring Thailand where it is rather difficult to find anyone speaking English although many pretend they do but its a lie or Thaiglish which is their version of English. This is also one of the reasons why one often deals with Myanmar in serious jobs in Thailand. 

There was continuous trouble between them and the King because the Brits stole a lot under the cover of the crown which owned the British East India Company notable they stole teak and rubies plus oil and plenty of agriculture products. 

After they were beaten by the Japanese they run away to India and left the mess behind and came back in the entourage of the US they came back did some more silly things until they left for good and not enough. At about 2xxx they together with the US imposed an economic embargo to Myanmar's because they didn't do what the English commanded.

Remains of the Old Yangon Railway Station it's been renovated

The Old Yangon Railway Station downtown

Tram or Street car in Mandalay

Tram (street car) in Mandalay imported from Europe.

in the countryside a diesel locomotive

Myanmar train travel (1)
Myanmar train travel (2)

Train food between the tracks

Future of train travel in Myanmar

Currently (2018) they lay out a plan with Japanese help the Thai do the same with Chinese help as they say but the only talk they never really start. 

The most interesting leftovers from colonial time in Myanmar is a still somehow functioning rail system and the architecture of the railway station they built notable in Yangon the  former Rangoon. 

Another of this sort is the river travel mainly on the Irrawaddy River and Delta but only fragments of the old network of river and coastal ships services are still working  If someone wants to use a train the best is to visit the newer Yangon terminal. The brick structure visible here is hollow inside but for sure a pretty leftover. 
old ministers office in Yangon Rangoon
As it looks right now (mid-2018) they started to do some renovation work actually a great idea lets hope that there will be a short term result. But the real problem for Myanmar are the continuous problem 

There are several other old buildings in the city the most interesting is the "Minister's office" cluster at Anawrahta Street right in the city center see the link below.

Main railway routing today is Yangon - Mandalay  another is - Bago - Taungoo - Naypyidaw  with several runs a day.

Mandalay was already a large city and travel hub.

new mandalay palaceWhen the British occupied the country and moved the capital to Yangon Mandalay in upper Burma lost its importance. The British did a lot of destruction and the town became "the rest" when it was bombed by the Japanese who dropped bombs on the palace which burned down completely. In the late 198x the palace was rebuilt after the military convinced the rich guys (mainly Chinese) to contribute funds for creating a new Mandalay Palace.

Steam Train in upper Myanmar
Chinese locomotives
Old locomotives from the 19 th Century
Seems to be almost a locomotive museum
One of the most intriguing aspects of visiting Myanmar and particular by train travel is to tour a part of south east Asia (ASEAN) which is still the way it was during the British colonial times.  You won't find McDonald's and KFC on almost every corner either actually you won't find any at all. Which has some positive aspects but also negative since the local food is often prepared not hygienically at all the same is with street food. Just watch the photos above to see how this is handled at most train stations.

About the mobile phone.

Since the mobile phone reached large parts of Myanmar / Burma its even possible to buy a SIM card and do your own communication. To get ready for all the new things visit Anawrahta Street in down town Yangon before leaving the former capital for upcountry.
Train is passing a Pagoda platform
Ox Cart travel in Myanmar
Old Myanmar steam locomotive

Myanmar is a travel destination for old fashion train journeys. 

Although there are air and bus links to all mayor destinations. The roads are not in a good condition but the Myanmar's have been hardened to live with plenty of obstacles this can also experienced in the hotel and accommodation business as an example if traveling in the remote country and there is no hotels or similar it is always a good idea to ask if there is a monastery around they usually give shelter to travelers just don't forget a small donation when leaving. 
almost exhausted steam machines
Sunset behind the railway station
the train to the south