There’s no better way to experience local life than on the slow train from Dawei to Mawlamyine – find out why travelling in Myanmar is more about the journey than the destination. Traveling by train in Myanmar is a wonderful way to observe Burmese culture, meet the locals & enjoy the scenic countryside. For an off-the-beaten path adventure, jump aboard Myanmar’s slowest train from Dawei to Mawlamyine. The 369km journey takes 16 hours and costs 2000 kyat ($2.00) – so what you may lose in time, you make up in savings!
The Friendliest Country in the World
Foreigners are unlikely to have to pay for a ticket anyway. As one of the friendliest countries in the world, Myanmar welcomes tourists with open arms. While travellers may be met with shy smiles & curious eyes they also receive special attention`, for better or worse. Train conductors often refuse to accept payment and passengers will give up their best seats. It’s similar treatment that the Burmese offer to monks! Experience the best of local hospitality, scenery & culture on the train ride from Dawei to Mawlamyine.
Departing Dawei at Sunrise
The train to Mawlamyine departs from Dawei at sunrise, slowly but not so softly… The carriages rock hard from side to side as the train crawls on the narrow-gauge tracks. Branches and leaves brush against the sides and spill into the window – be sure to watch your head! The green countryside rolls by, a landscape of bushes, trees, shrubs and plants. The train seems to stop at every village along the way. Happy children smile & wave while vendors with trays on their heads rush to sell food & drinks.
Meanwhile more & more passengers step onboard and soon all the seats are taken. The aisles & floor of the train are packed with people & luggage, as everyone settles in for a long journey. Locals share food and fruit amongst themselves, chatting to each other as family & friends. There’s camaraderie between the passengers that is a beautiful reflection of Burmese society. With the rickety train still rolling along, the train comes to alive with noise, chatter, laughter, movement and colour.
Into the Night to Mawlamyine
The train from Dawei to Mawlamyine stops at Ye where passengers need to switch trains. As the journey continues, the landscape also changes. The verdant green vegetation of the countryside is replaced with swampy marshland, open fields, swaying palms and village settlements. As the sun goes down, bugs appear and the humidity becomes inescapable. Stars light up the darkening night sky while trackside homes are mostly lit by candlelight or single light bulbs. Father away only the scattered golden tops of stupas can be seen in the night. The 369km journey from Dawei to Mawlamyine spans a broad stretch of Myanmar, geographically & socially. Onboard for 16 hours, it’s a chance to experience the slower pace of life in Southern Myanmar and contemplate the cultural differences between the East & the West.
Things to do in Dawei
Before taking the train to Mawlamyine, spend a few days in the sleepy, tropical town of Dawei. It’s a quirky town with thatch-roof bungalows, old wooden houses and colonial era brick mansions – all set amongst sugar palms and banana trees. The main attraction is Tweinwa Kyaung, a monastery with glimmering stupas and green & gold rooftops. An outdoor, 74m long Reclining Buddha can be found on the outskirts of town. Further afield lies the wonderful fishing village & black beaches of Maungmagan.
Things to do in Mawlamyine
On arrival in Mawlamyine, experience the rich colonial history of that, 100 years ago, inspired George Orwell & Rudyard Kipling. Orwell trained with the Burma Police Force in Mawlamyine in 1926 and much of this experience was included in his novel “Burmese Days.” “Moulmein pagoda” from Kipling’s “The Road to Mandalay” refers to Kyaikthanlan Paya, a huge temple complex of stupas and seated Buddhas.
Mosques, temples and churches can also be found in the old port town, along with colonial architecture along the waterfront. Stay an extra day and take the ferry across to Ogre Island. Take a local motorcycle tour around the island and meet the Mon people, one of the earliest settlers in Southeast Asia.