Surprisingly small Monywa is the proud owner of its own airport (code NYW), located just to the north of the town centre. It doesn’t appear however to have any scheduled flights. Arrivals: zero. Departures: zero. According to rumours, flights between Mandalay and Homalin may stop here if there’s sufficient demand.
Monywa’s tiny station is located not on Station or Buta Road, a short walk from the Bogyoke statue. As usual with small provincial Burmese railway stations, there’s zero English-language information available and staff tend to be present only shortly before and after train arrivals. (Otherwise scour the nearby tea shops.)
The only departure we could confirm was a daily 05:45 train in the direction of Mandalay, stopping at Sagaing. Fare is 700 kyat, ordinary class only, and it takes around 6 hours. Check at your hotel reception if you are considering the train.
While our map indicated a line continuing north, the station attendant we were lucky enough to find told us that for stops to Myitkyina, we should go to Shwebo station instead.
Monywa’s main bus station is located a couple of kilometres down Bogyoke Road on the south side of town. A tuk-tuk to or from downtown is 1,000 to 1,500 kyat.
The most useful destinations for visitors are:
Mandalay: Non-air-con bus departs frequently between 05:00 and 16:00 for 2,000 kyat. Air-con minibuses depart 05:00-09:30 for 3,000 kyat, and shared taxis leave anytime they have enough passengers for 3,000 to 3,500.
Pakokku: Several daily departures by regular buses and air-con minibuses, with some continuing on to Nyaung Oo, (Bagan). Standard fare is 2,500 kyat air-con and 4,000 to Pakokku or Nyaung Oo. Regular buses for Bagan were advertised at 06:00, 09:00 and 12:30.
Shwebo: Numerous departures throughout the morning but rare in the afternoon. Allow 2.5 to 3 hours and 2,500 kyat.
For towns north of Monywa, we assume the roads can’t be too hot since boats up the Chindwin seem to be far more popular, even for locals. Furthermore it may well be that authorities aren’t too keen on having foreigners wander too far off the beaten track north and northwest of Monywa, where you’re on the borders of both Chin State and Naga territories. River transport to designated towns further north of the Chindwin seems to be okay though.
Judging by the popularity of river travel to northerly destinations, we guess road conditions aren’t great. Daily departures serve Kalewa, Mawlaik and Homelin, though as with any river travel it is weather dependent. Travel times we were quoted are rainy season ones and we’ve had reports it can take much longer during drier months. Boats all look similar at first glance, but they can vary so try and ascertain in advance which one you’ll be on; you definitely need to book in advance anyway. Seating arrangements on some are more cramped than others.
You have a choice of lower or upper class seats, and while on some boats lower didn’t look too bad on others they appeared worth paying extra to avoid. The rows of padded upper seats seemed comfortable enough under the circumstances though other boats idea of upper class were claustrophobic wooden metre-high boxes or ‘cabins’. Considering the time you’ll be on board for, we recommend purchasing the most expensive seat possible and trying to check out the boat in advance. Listed below are the private boat companies but larger government boats do depart once or twice a week, according to season. These are much larger and have more space to walk around, they are slower .
At time of writing in mid-2016 there is no downriver service since roads are good. If you want to travel to Bagan by boat you’ll have to go back to Mandalay.
Private services officially depart at 04:00 and advertise the below prices and times:
Kalewa: Lower seat 12,000, upper seat 30,000, 10 hours.
Mawlaik: Lower seat 16,000, upper seat 30,000, 13 hours.
Homelin: Lower seat 24,000, upper seat 36,000, 24 hours .
Tickets do in theory include basic meals though snacks are generally available enroute.
Tuk tuk fares are approximately:
Downtown to train station, Win Unity, Monywa Hotel, boat jetties: 1,000 kyat
Downtown to bus station: 1,000 to 1,500
Town to Po Win Taung Cave Temples or A Myint: 20,000 to 25,000 return
Town to Bodhi Tataung and Thanboddhay Paya: Around 15,000 return
Opposite bank of the river to Po Win Taung Cave Temples: 15,000
For moto-taxis, fares can vary considerably:
Town to Po Win Taung Cave Temples or A Myint: Around 15,000 return
Town to Bodhi Tataung and Thanboddhay Paya: Around 12,000 return
For taxis, ask your hotel to call and negotiate your fare. Expect approximately:
Town to Po Win Taung Cave Temples or A Myint: 40,000 return
Town to Bodhi Tataung and Thanboddhay Paya: 35,000 return
Opposite bank of the river to Po Win Taung Cave Temples: 25,000 return
Monywa to Mandalay: $50-60 one-way
Boat fares from Monywa to the opposite bank should be 5,000 per foreigner, each way.