Photo: Muangmakan beach, near Dawei.

Transport



Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Dawei.


Air

Dawei Airport serves Myeik and Kawthaung as well as Yangon. KBZ have flights to Kawthaung for $116 or Myeik flights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for $72, departing at 08:25. APEX has 09:30 flights to Kawthaung for around $100 while Myanmar International Airlines has daily 10:15 departures from $97. When we checked neither MMA nor APEX were stopping at Myeik. (We do realise flights in the other direction are much cheaper but this is what they told us!)

For Yangon, KBZ were also asking $116, with APEX ones at a bargain $65 going up to $110 depending upon time and day. Myanmar International’s varied from $115 to $130. As usual in Burma flight schedules can change at very late notice and prices vary widely so it is essential to double check.

Mawlamyine’s airport was closed as of early 2016, so bus or train are your only options to get there.

Airline offices and travel agents are on Niban Road though your hotel can check current schedules and prices for you.

Dawei’s airport has the old Tavoy code TVY and is located a couple of kilometres out of town on the northeast side. A moto fare is around 2,000 and a tuk tuk 3,000. You’ll find plenty located in the carpark in front of the numerous tea shops and restaurants.

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Train

The end of the line for now, Dawei does have daily train departures in a northerly direction stopping at Ye, Thanbyuzayat, Mawlamyine, Bago and on to Yangon. The town has two stations: Dawei and Sagaing. If you already have a ticket you can in theory board at the former, but tickets are only available at the latter.

Now although train transport is often an attractive alternative to cramped and lengthy bus rides, you will no doubt by now have read a bit about Burmese trains. It is worth noting that even according to Myanmar Railways, Dawei to Ye is officially the slowest train in the entire country and some say the world. (And that’s if it’s on time!) The longer route all the way to Mawlamyine is therefore the second slowest and what’s more you will have change from the clapped out ancient rolling stock at Ye, since that’s as far as it makes it, onto clapped out ancient rolling stock with a VIP (tourist) class carriage for the second stretch to Mawlamyine and points further north.

Due to the paucity of buses in a southerly direction, this may work out to be an option getting to Dawei but is probably best avoided when leaving.

Prices for Mawlamyine are 3,500 kyat or 6,500 ‘VIP’ class. The former is, as you’d imagine, the stuff of folklore with rickety seats, passengers sleeping on the carriage floor, vendors every which way, chickens and so on. The latter has surprisingly comfortable reclining seats. In the past foreigners were obliged to take the first class carriages only (along with the monks), but this seems to have been relaxed now and we've heard reports of some tourists being given the choice. Others we met had to feign sickness to obtain first class seats since they were all full. Nor these days do you need to purchase tickets in advance. So, as with much in these parts, rules are in a state of flux.

Now the fun bit: scheduling. The once-daily train leaves Sagaing at 05:40 and the semi-derelict hut that serves as Dawei Central at 06:10, officially arriving at Ye at 14:38, where you have to change trains, and Mawlamyine at 20:25. According to our calculations that’s 14 hours 15 minutes for the 370-kilometre journey. Confirmed masochists can continue to Yangon where the arrival time in theory is 06:30 the following morning.

The problem isn’t so much the carriages but the narrow gauge tracks, constant side motion and worrying noises and yes – they do occasionally derail. If you want to experience Burmese trains – and they can be a lot of fun – we’d recommend shorter trips such as the Yangon Circle or the two-hour Yangon to Bago route, for example. Good luck!

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Bus

Between Mawlamyine and Kawthaung there is only one road, linking Myeik, Dawei and Ye with buses and minibuses departing from all these towns and Yangon as the terminus, dropping off on the way, or Yangon as the starting point. For some reason we are unable to fathom, they will drop off but not pick up en route.

South to north travel in south Burma is straightforward and easy, as any town will have a stack of departures for Yangon and you can just jump off wherever you want to. However in the opposite direction, once you are outside of Yangon it’s a different matter. There are very few buses doing, for instance, Dawei to Myeik only. All these buses heading from Yangon through Dawei on their way to Myeik for example, will not pick up passengers in Dawei, even if travellers are vacating seats by alighting there. Frustrating as it is, as of early 2016 that was the situation.

For example, if you stand on the highway outside little Ye you can wait there and watch Dawei to Yangon or Yangon to Dawei buses drop off passengers all day but without a freak stroke of luck none will pick you up. You have to go back into Ye town and find either one of the numerous dedicated Yangon buses stopping at all points north or the single daily service for Dawei which originates in Ye.

From Dawei this means that while there are 10 or so daily services for Mawlamyine, from Mawlamyine to Dawei we could only find one night bus -- Dawei to Myeik is a similar situation.

(Warning: This might not be the case for much longer, but we were obliged to provide a photocopy of our passport at Dawei bus station. This was the only spot in the entire south where we needed to do this.)

A bewildering array of companies and departure times ply the route, but below ought to give you the general gist.

Dawei to the Thai border at Htee Klee is 22,000-25,000 kyat by 12-seater minibus. The first of several morning departures is at 08:00. Buses take four or five hours and will pick up at hotels. You need to book this in advance.

A minibus to Myeik is 25,000 kyat, and takes roughly seven hours. We found 05:00 and 17:00 departures, though there are likely more.

A profusion of buses – 12-seaters and large ones – head north for Yangon and will drop you at Ye or Mawlamyine. The company we used charged 9,000 kyat for Ye and 12,000 for Mawlamyine on an air-con bus. The first section of the journey takes around four hours and the second approximately 3 hours 30 minutes, including stops.

You’ll find bus ticket offices on Niban and around the crossroads leading to Shwe Taung Zar Pagoda.

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Boat

As of early 2016, public boats between Kawthaung, Myeik and Dawei are not running.

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Getting around

Most of Dawai is easily walkable, though local style tuk tuks and moto-taxis are on hand to whisk you up to the bus station, airport or further afield. Getting to Maungmakan, for example, should set you back 10,000 kyat or 15,000-20,000 return. If you wish to hang around for a day, count on 30,000 kyat. Around town is 1,000 kyat maximum.

Dawei’s quiet streets and scenic surrounds are conducive to motorbike hire and conveniently you can find the excellent Focus hire shop on Pakauku Kyaung Street just down from Shwe Maung Hotel. New Hondas in excellent condition go for 5,000 kyat manual or 6,000 kyat automatic through to 8,000 kyat for a 24-hour period. Coconut at Maungmakan also rent bicycles and motorbikes, though the small travel agent Parami on the road into the village offers better deals at 9,000 kyat per day.

Focus Motorbike Rental Service:688 Pakauku Kyaung St, Dawei; T: (094) 2219 0130, (092) 6303 0844; open daily 08:00-20:00.

Parami Motorbike Rental and Taxi: Maungmakan Village between the turn off for Coconut and the main village, Dawei; T: (094) 2221 7604, (097) 9019 2488; open daily 07:00-18:00.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Dawei? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Burma_myanmar.


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