July 11, 2012
We purchased our tickets for the bus from Mandalay to Hsipaw directly from a ticketing agency located only a couple of blocks from the Silver Swan Hotel. The name of the bus company is Dothawaddi (means small river) and the tickets cost 5,000 Kyat/person. The departure time was 2:30 PM with an estimated arrival time of 8:00 PM. We arrived at the ticketing office at 1:00 PM for their ferry service to take us to the bus terminal. They call it a ferry service though it is not a boat, but a bus transport to the bus station. We sat around until 2:00 PM before we were taken to the bus station.
Originally the ticket company told us to be there at 1:30 PM but then later said to be there at 1:00 PM. Well, from our experience, you don’t need to be there until at least 1:30 PM. At that time an old rickety transport type bus showed up and we thought we would be on our way soon but instead they began loading produce and other miscellaneous wares onto the vehicle so we thought that maybe this wasn’t our ferry. However, after filling the center isle with stuff they asked for our bags. So we all handed our luggage to them and they piled them into the back. Then they disappeared and we waited until 2:05 PM before the jammed packed ferry full of passengers and cargo was on its way. It took about 15 minutes to get to the Pyi Gyi Myat Shin bus station and when we got there the employees quickly loaded our luggage into the bus and we boarded. Right at 2:30 PM we were on our way.
The bus was only about 1/2 full but within a few minutes the bus stopped and let in a bunch of rowdy locals who filled all of the empty seats and when those ran out the bus is outfitted with center isle seats that fold out and those began to fill. We stopped a couple more times within the next few minutes and more locals filled the bus. So now we had a very full and loud bus. Not just from the locals but mainly from the Burmese movie that was on volume 10+.
The bus was air-conditioned but below the quality level of the bus we took from Yangon to Mandalay as it was older and the interior dated, but there was enough space in the overhead area to place our daypacks and the seats reclined a fair amount. The air-conditioning took a while to cool down the bus but once it did (after a couple of hours) the temperature was comfortable.
At 4:00 PM the bus arrived in Pyin Oo Lwin and we stopped at a restaurant/bathroom place for 1/2 hour to let people get a meal, snacks or use the restroom. The place had a good variety of snacks and meals available. Also the bathrooms were clean enough and free.
At 4:30 PM we were on the road again and we began to climb higher and east. The scenery is beautiful for most of the ride and if wasn’t for the loud movie and music it would have been a very pleasant journey.
As we approached Hsipaw the bus began to stop frequently to let off passengers or deliver cargo and by 8:00 PM we were in Hsipaw. The bus station is really not a station at all but the side of a road. We shared a tuk tuk with a few other passengers to Mr. Charles Guesthouse, which was just around the corner, but we were still charged 500 Kyat each for the ride! I guess it pays to know where you are going so you don’t get cheated.
1 – No need to arrive at the bus ticket office too early. 1:30 PM is plenty early enough.
2 – There is also a 3:00 PM air-conditioned bus if you prefer a little later start.
3 – There is also an early morning bus but we were told that it did not have air-conditioning, which is a must in the Myanmar heat.
4 – Pack some earplugs unless you like your Burmese movies extremely load and like to listen to Burmese music!
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