2 important points for those indending to cycle anywhere in Myanmar.
1) Under Myanmar law those traveling under tourist visa’s are obligated to stay in guesthouses. Due to the distances between towns this may not always be practicle for those traveling by bike and so we strongly recomend you do not camp but rather find accomodation in the nearest monastry.
2) From time to time you will be stopped by police and asked for ID, this is just because they are in a period of change and they are themselves a little unsure of what to do. Typically they will ask for your passport and then offer you some tea and ask to take their photo with you. Sometimes they will ride with you for 3 to 4 km to ensure you are alright, they do this in a very casual and social manner.
The following trip report is a compilation of Blogs Mr L who cycled through Myanmar as part of a world trip from England to the American Great Divide and Mr U Naing captain of the Dawei MTB club, Mr U Naing has cycled all 14 states in Myanmar. we welcome further contributions…..
Left for Myanmar at 6 am from Mae Sot Thailand.
Thai officials may tell you that you cannot ride across bridge and have to arrange transport of bike
Tell them you have a full visa and it is no problem
I arrived at Myanmar side at 7 am the process was easy and they were very helpful just asked where I was going.
I was told I could not ride that day as traffic was flowing from west to east was an odd day of the month. essentually the road is narrow and runs one way on even days and the opposite on odd days.
I told them I would stay over night and leave the next morning but in fact I just carried on, as i could ride on the verg against the slow moving traffic. As it was so early I could not change dollars to kap which later caused a problem as the nearest town to change is Mawlamyine so if you are leaving early try to get some Myanmar currency. The road is quite good up the start of the climb then it starts to get worse quite bad inplaces. I was stopped at the start of the climb by police but they just wanted to make a copy of passport. They were very nice and just said be careful going up and over. The climb is not hard just lots of hairpins and you must concentrate. Going down there are some road works in place and again the road is not great. There are plenty of places to buy water snacks etc on the climb.
The other side of the mountain is flat and the roads are quite good. I was stopped again by the police for copy of passport and where was I going.
I decided to go to Mawlamyine, about 13 km past Kyondo on the left is a dirt road that takes you Mawlamyine, it is not bad a bit dusty but save some KM and takes you away from the main road. A long day about 150 KM.
In Mawlamyine I stayed in Breeze guest house, its ok a bit basic !! $7 the next day I took the boat to Hpa an $9 plus $2 for bike, its quite nice about 3.5 hours. I stayed in Soe Brothers guest house $7.
The next day I went on the organised day trip which seemed good value $5 for all day some entrance fees $3 for cave and $1.5 for boat.
I stayed annother night in Breeze guesthouse then left the following morning for Setse beach to the west of Thanbyuzayat.
As you leave Thanbyuzayat the road divides left for the main road ,I took the left road which is very quiet and basically follows a railway line, the road is not great in places but ok to ride.You go through some small villages the first being Panga then follow the road south,the road is not shown vey well on the map the last village I went through was Anin,on the left hand side in the village is a small pharmacy where you can find a young guy that speaks English, he is very helpful as I was asked to produce my visa etc here and he came with me. I then took a road back to the main road,he showed me the way.
I was told there was a guest house in Lamaing next to the railway station.I did not go there as I stayed in a monastery. Just before the village called Mawt Ka Nin on the main road where you turn right for Lamaing is where the monastery it. On the left hand side.
The next day I stayed on the main road heading towards Dawei, The road is good in places but mainly bad, I found it quite hard going and did not cover the distance I thought I would. Lots of villages to buy food and drink. I camped in a rubber tree plantation about 97 Km from the monastery on the right hand side of the road. You pass through a small village then you pass it set back on the right hand side. It is a wooden building.
I left early to get to Dawei in good time, the good news is the last 80 Km is tarmac road with the small sections of dirt. I was stopped by the police as leave Mon and you cross over into Thanintharyi province, this is at the top of a small climb and at the bottom is where the tarmac road begins.
I stayed at the Dream Emperor guest house next to the police station in Dawei $10 room with hot water and good wi fi. I stayed for two nights as I found the town quite interesting.
I am heading for Myeik (220 Km)) and plan to stay at the Dolphin guest house a bit expensive $25 but not much choice. All other accommodation in between Dawei and Kawthoung will probably have to be monasteries. – will post the rest of my blog once i get down there.
bye for now
It took three days to get to Myeik due to being constantly stopped by people to eat and drink with them. I am sure it can be done in two days if needed. I stayed in monasteries, there are plenty on the route. The road is a mixture of good and bad but nothing terrible. I was stopped a couple of times by police and had one ride behind me for a while.
I stayed in the dolphin guesthouse $25 very expensive but not a lot of choice. About 28 Km before Myeik you have a river crossing, there are smaller boats that will take you across but I arrived as they were loading the big boat with lorries,I took this one I don’t know how much the crossing should be as they did not charge me.
About 12 Km from Myeik you come to the junction on your left for Kawthoung so if you want you can save yourself some time by not going into Myeik and then having to come back to the junction.
I rode to Tanintharyi Township about 72Km again the roads are good and bad but not as bad as I had imagined. I stopped there at a guest house $8 very basic !!!!,as you cross the bridge just before the town you take the left turn and follow the road into the town the guest house is on the right.
So far no problems with police.
The road again is good and bad with hilly sections that are quite hard to ride as there is a lot of sand on the road. After a while you will see road distance markers on your left, I am sure they are in miles. The first one I saw was 80,opposite distance marker 100.2 I stayed in a monastery, it is set up on a small hill, I was visited by the police to take details but no problems to stay there. I don’t know the name of the village.
The following day I wanted to ride to Bokpyin about 75 Km. I was followed by a policeman on a motorike. As I approached Lehnya I was stopped by the immigration police who asked for my permission to travel in this restricted area. I did not have it but after a while it seemed as if they would let me through. Then I was told I must return to Myeik and take the boat to Kawthoung, this was because there had been two people killed by a rogue elephant and they were worried about my safety. I m sure if the elephant had not been a problem they would have let me through.
The Boat ride through the islands is very beautiful and the permitted method of transport. From Kawthaungh it is very easy to get a longtail boat over to Ranong Thailand, the border is open very easy. If you wish to stay in Kawthaungh the coastal road up to the waterfall is well worth a look and a very scenic daytrip.