Myanmar 2016

Discussion in 'Myanmar - Motorcycle Trip Report Forums' started by martins, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. #1 martins, Sep 18, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
    Some years have past since I did my SE Asia trip 2008 from which you can find reports here. By then Myanmar was not accessible with my own bike. So I saved that for later, and now in 2016 it was the time. I moved to Thailand in 2011, buikdt a house in Isaan and since did a lot of touring in Thailand. Here is the short story of my recent Myanmar trip.

    By Google I find a British fellow renting out bikes and living in Mandalay, he is running an English school for kids which he inherited from his parents. His name is Tim Gibson and his company is Mayamar bike rental (MBR). A really pleasant contact, he had a lot of information about the paths around Mandalay and took the time needed to explain. I choose a 200 cc UV bike equipped for roads and I was very happy with that. There was no really big bikes, Shadow 400 cc was the largest.

    So I took a flight from Bangkok to Mandalay and picked up the bike at Tims office after a good nights sleep at a nearby Hotel called Triumph, a really good place with pool and excellent breakfast. The staff really made the stay to something special and It was definitely affordable, I returned to Triumph on my way back.

    I sat down with Tim and discussed about different possible paths. Not all was possible, there still are gerilla soldiers in some areas. His opinion is that it is actually not dangerous and he had some customer driving those paths. But as he also say, you never know the status of the day. There might be a war going on.

    I choosed the safe road going northeast into the Shan state, heading for the small mountain village called Hsipaw. I did a short first day and stopped after 65 km in a small town called Pyin oo Lwin (funny names though). There was som small rain on the way and I got really wet, monsoon period (September) was apparently not a good time for touring. This town has been the summer town for all the Brits residing in Burma. A cool refreshing climate on 1000 meters height. A stayed at a resort from the old colonial times opposite the military university.

    Prices for a good Hotel is appx. 25 US$ so a little bit cheaper than Thailand. But there is places for 250 US$ as well so don't chose the first one you run in to. There been a sharp decline on amount of tourists since the country opened up some years ago, probably due to high prices and low standard. I believe they will tune in to something that works for everyone.

    After a great breakfast and some shopping I headed northeast again, there was a hughe inhouse market in town. On the next leg I had bout 70 km transport roads and then a dramatic descent/ascent thru a ravine with a river. The roads were ok, but somehow serpentines and there was a lot of large trucks heading to and return from China. So the roads was pretty worn out, especially in the curves and sometimes tricky to pass the long trucks who needed the full road when turning. Up to Pyin oo Lwin there was double separated lanes but after the roads was ordinary.

    There was a lot of nice views in the mountains and I arrived to Hsipaw after a 6 hours drive including lunch. There was a descent from last town and the tropical heat was back. The town is a typical small mountain town with a Main Street with all the shops and small groups of farmers houses around. There was a nice place called Mr Charles Hotel that I been recommended. When talking to the hotel staff they claimed that it was not allowed for foreigners to go up in the mountain alone, they had a special sign on the wall with this message from the authorities. They had guided tours by foot that took you to mountain tribes.

    So I hired a young guide going with me on my bike uphills, to start with descent roads but it get more and more worse. A heavy rain the night before made it impossible with my bike more equipped for roads. We had to turn back half way up to the village as the water tracks became too deep. Before that we met some fully armed guerilla soldiers appearently searching for someone. They did not look nice!

    So we went up on better roads on the other side of the valley and visited a lake and a mountain village school. A little bit more civilized. The evening was spend in the city with a nice typical Shan dinner with 12 different plates, really delicious.

    The next day I headed back to Mandalay with an overnight stop in Pyin oo Lwin. Unfortunatly I had an accident on the flatland after the deep ravine. There was a light rain falling but not much, more like fog but the road become wet. In a long light left curve the front wheel suddenly lost ground attachment, probably due to an oil leakage from one of the many Chinese trucks. I did not have a chance to react before I was laying on the road with the bike over me. The speed was moderate and the clothing solid (as usual) so there was no injuries other than a broken mirror. I got help from some nice people on the road side and continued.

    After a night stop I started to descend to Mandalay and it was amazing how similar the environment in town was to Indian towns, folk life, vehicles and streets. And it was a big difference from the mountain landscape that was more like Thailand. However I lost my will for the next tour south after the accident so I returned the bike and headed home after a day tourism in Mandalay. I can recommend the Mandalay hill with an amazing view over Mandalay.

    Summary: Touring on Myanmar is possible with some restrictions and hotel and food pricing is decent. Lowland is very much like India in vehicles and culture and the mountains more like Thailand. The traffic however was much more calm everywhere than the hectic pace in Thailand. Something for explorers!

    A note; Due to the law you should transfer your International driver license to a Myanmar one to drive in Myanmar. I skipped that step though as the police accepted any license and I had a Thai one.
  2. Cool, Glad You never got Hurt. I heard You can Rent the Honda CRF250L there but haven't looked into it?
    I have been on one Tour there and found the place OK. Sad Hotels and Food but Beer Myanmar was Great specially if You got a Cold One Ha Ha!
  3. I didn't see the Honda, but Maybe there are other rentals.

    Oh, I forgot about the beer! Splendid beer in Myanmar, especially the Myanmar brand, better than Thai beer in my taste!
  4. Nice report and thanks for the tip off on
    Mayamar Bike Rental
    Myanmar Bike Rental - Book a motorcycle today!

    Honda Click 125cc
    Yamaha YBR 125cc
    Chinese Scooter: Anbo Hero 125cc
    Chinese 200cc: UM DSR 200cc
    Chinese UM-Hypersport 200cc
    Honda Shadow 400cc

    Maybe worth checking out for some guys.
  5. FYI i did my trip to Hspaw by bike as well, Mandalay-Hsipaw-Mogok-Mandalay was able to get up north to Namsham (80 kms 4 hours) than back to Hsipaw for the night, next day and headed back to Mandalay,
    At Kyaaukme we asked about heading to Mogok an was told..."why not" so off we went, arrived 6 hours later to be turned away from the only hotel in town because we DID NOT have official permission to be there. It was a fantastic/hard ride thru the mtns in the rain.
    Ended up at the Golden Butterfly resort ( thye allowed us to stay but did not register us an asked us to leave at first light so they did not get in trouble for allowing us to stay and us getting arrested) in the hills overlooking the valley of Mogok.
    Next day was a 6 hour ride down to Mandalay
    Next time will get permission an spend more time exploring the gem mines that produce the finest rubies and sapphires in the world!!

    American Zach rents 125 and 250 honda off road bikes Mandalay Motorbike Rental and Tours: The Bikes
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