Our first overnight bus experience was in Myanmar. We weren’t sure what to expect but the 12 hour bus trip was quite nice. Below are the details on our trip from Yangon to Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake), we hope they will be a help to others looking to travel the same route.
Our tickets were arranged through our accommodation in Yangon, Millennium Hotel. We let them know the day before and had tickets in hand right before we had to leave the next day. The first class ticket price was 46,500 Kyat (~$18 USD) each. The company we booked through was JJ Express, Joyous Journey Express.
-Bus tickets from JJ Express-
Getting to the Bus Station
The bus left at 6pm however we had to leave our hotel at 3:30pm to get there taking into account traffic. We paid 8,000 Kyat (~$6.17 USD) for the taxi ride and another 200 Kyat (~$0.15 USD) to get to our gate at the station. We arrived to the bus station around 5pm.
The Bus Station
There was a desk to check into upon arrival. We showed our tickets and passports and they signed us in. There were two buses leaving for Inle Lake at 6pm. We were on Bus 2, our bags were tagged to show this and we could keep an eye on them to make sure they were loaded on the correct bus. There were plenty of seats and a lady was also serving complimentary drinks (tea/coffee) to waiting passengers. Bathrooms were very basic, the women’s room had one stall which to my dismay was a squat toilet. The men’s room had five urinals and two stalls, also squat toilets I would assume.
-View from inside JJ Express’ terminal at the bus station-
The bus was in very nice condition inside and out. The seats were two by one. The side by side seats had about a foot in between so they weren’t shoulder to shoulder. There were leg rests that could be positioned up and the seat backs reclined. We had no passengers in back of our seat so we were able to fully lounge out. We also had seat back entertainment which was an unexpected bonus. The entertainment offered X-Men, Transformers, Independence Day, Battleship, Interstellar, Despicable Me, and many more. There was also a mix of music selections. Headphones were hanging on suction cups on the window if you didn’t have your own.
-Our overnight bus…looks fast and luxurious standing still-
-Comfy first class seats to relax and sleep in on the trip-
-Entertainment for the trip. Plenty of movies, music and games for the ride-
There were many people on board to make sure our journey was joyous as the name describes. I believe there were at least two drivers and two attendants. The attendant made sure we were buckled in and give us heavy blankets. She then got on the microphone to welcome us in Burmese and English. Shortly after getting underway the bus stopped roadside so they could bring food on. We received a box with a cake dessert and what looked like a black bean steam bun. A bottle of water was also included. The seats had tray tables to eat on that folded into the arms.
The bus stopped more times than I expected, sometimes it was for the drivers to switch off, other times it was for roadblocks, there was one half hour stop at a large rest stop. The rest stop had large, clean bathrooms with toilet paper and western toilets, YAY!
-Rest stop bathroom with a western toilet!-
We were in the front and heard beeping a lot which made it hard to fall asleep. I had to put music on in my headphones to drown in out. Earplugs are a good idea.
THE BUS IS COLD!!! Bundle up and bring some covers, the blanket they give you is thick but will not be enough. The temperature gauge in the cabin showed it was 16 degrees C at one point (60 degrees F) which felt a lot colder than it sounds.
Around 5:30am we were woken to pay the $10 USD Inle Lake tourist fee. We received a slip of paper in return. We did not have to show it to anyone during our stay.
-Inle Lake Entrance Pass-
Arriving in Nyaung Shwe
We pulled into town between 5:30-6am. There is no official bus station, we pulled over to the side of the road. After getting our bags from the underside of the bus we walked to our accommodations.
There was one tuk-tuk available to take passengers to their guesthouses if they needed a lift. We were also approached several times by motorbikes.
We stayed at the Inle Inn which was gated when we got there but someone must have heard us and woke up to let us in. I am sure it’s a daily occurrence for them to be woken up by bus passengers but we still felt bad arriving at such a time. I was happy to have booked a room for the previous evening as the Inn was full and we would have spent the next several hours on a couch waiting for someone to check out.
There are many ways to get from Yangon to Inle Region, if you are considering the options I’d give my vote to the bus. The next day on Inle Lake was well worth the 12 hour journey!
-Inle Lake Fisherman striking a pose as we get to the lake-