Bus Trips from Yagon
A bus trip out of the city can be a rewarding and exciting experience. Far less developed than Yangon, smaller villages offer a snapshot of daily life for the vast majority of Myanmar citizens. Still new to visitors, you’ll be greeted with curious stares interrupted by warm smiles when eye contact is made. Locals know a bit of English, and hotel concierges can help plan your daily activities and translate with taxi drivers.
Famous for its caves and Mount Zwegabin, Hpa-An (pronounced pa-ahn) is a rural town highly affected by rainy season with several caves to visit in its outskirts. It is reachable by bus, and in our case, a 6-hour overnight bus departing from the Yangon bus station at 8 pm. We were two of the only non-locals and were glad we had packed socks, scarves, and sweaters for the ride because the air con was cranked up to full blast. Just as Helen and I had bundled up and were settling into our seats for a nap, the rain began leaking through the air conditioning vent directly above me. The driver eventually noticed and forced us both to relocate to other empty seats.
The bus parked at a rest stop around 11:30 pm, and everyone was required to exit the bus in order to lock it. Riders may use the facilities and are encouraged to purchase food or snacks from the locally owned restaurant. Groggy and a bit unnerved by my first Asian midnight rest stop, I ordered a bowl of piping hot ramen and veggies (Myanmar: kauq sweh pyouq a-ywet net). Back on the bus, we arrived in Hpa-An a little after 2 am, where a taxi driver was waiting for us. We hadn’t booked accommodations in advance, so the driver brought us first to the Soe Brothers Guest House (highly recommended in my guidebook), but they were full. Next we tried the Galaxy Motel, and they, fortunately, had a room available for us, but unfortunately, their power was out. We caught a few hours of sleep then awoke at 7:30 am to start our day of caves.
The concierge at Galaxy Motel couldn’t have been more helpful. She provided a map and arranged a tuk-tuk driver for the entire day for 25,000 kyat to bring us around to the caves. Since it was raining, we opted out of climbing Mount Zwegabin, but I hear it involves a lot of stairs.