|Inside of the bus - locals love Burmese comedie drama on TV. On the way to Mawlmaine, Burma
Bus companies - Choosing bus company as an individual traveler is quite difficult as there are numerous number of travel agencies out there and you never know which travel agency is suitable to your travel needs. During the trip, we came across one bus company for the trip from Inle Lake (Shweyanung) to Mandalay, which was really terrible where many men vomitted on the way(not the one above photo). It was only one of nearly 10 long distance bus trips, and that was only one bad experience. So if happens to you, that would be lucky experience!
Another thing on travel on bus is that that most bus companies are private owned. It is said that some of the fees are believed to be paid to the government (under the form of registration fees or license fee), but it seems to be smaller contribution to the government than other forms of transport, such as trains and gov-owned airline MIA.
One any bus trips, we did not encounter any delay, breakdown etc in any routes – buses came on time and left on time although most of times, the bus arrived at the destination much earlier than the scheduled time, like in the middle of night or early morning like 3-4 oclock (luckily, guest house receptions usually open at 5:30-6:00AM across Burma). We had to sleep out one morning because of that! Buses stops quite frequently for pick up and drop off locals + 30 mins 'dinner' stop usually. One of the service stations was huge and people call it 'Burmese version Las Vegas!'.
For your info (at the time that I travelled):
- Yangon - Kalaw: K15,000
- Inle Lake (Shwenyaung) to Mandalay: K10,000
- Mandalay to Bagan: K8000
- Bagan to Yangon: K15,000
- Yangon to Kyiktiyo: K8,000
- Kyitiyo to Mawlamyine: K7,000
- Mawlmyine to Hpa-n: K1,050
- Hpa-n to Yangon: K5,000
Obviously there is 'tourist' prices for bus tickets as well, and usually it is 150% more than the local price. Places like Hpa-n obviously offers a local price, which is quite random to me. You CAN negotiate with the agent or bus ticket sellers, but the most effective way to get tickets at the local price is to get your Burmese friends to buy tickets for you!!