Yangon: By night bus from Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station - Vikingess Voyages

Monday, October 10, 2016

Yangon: By night bus from Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station

After having spent a couple of days in Yangon visiting downtown Yangon, the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Royal Lake Kandawgyi our next plan was to travel to Kalaw for a 3-day hiking trip. We had bought tickets with the JJ Express through a local vendor (you can find ticket vendors all over Yangon) a day in advance, but for travellers visiting Myanmar during the high seasons one might want to order tickets even earlier.
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The bus station: Aung Mingalar
The bus was scheduled to leave at 6 pm from the Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station, which is located around 20 km north of the Yangon city centre and around 7 km from the Yangon International Airport. If there is not much traffic one might be able to get there in about 45 minutes, but with all the traffic it could also take 1 1/2 hour. As the time it takes to get there depends a lot on the traffic we decided to head out there a bit earlier to avoid any risks.

This bus station is used for buss companies departing from Yangon going towards the north and east areas of Myanmar, including the major tourist destinations Mandalay, Inle and Bagan. As the main bus station in Yangon the whole area was filled with a variety of busses and local travellers perhaps on their way home to their distant villages.

When we arrived we tried to find a place offering wifi so that we could check up some information about our upcoming destinations, but to our disappointment we couldn't find any place in the vicinity offering wifi at all. We walked around the area for a little while, but there wasn't much to do either so ended up on in local bar.

We didn’t want to risk anything with the street food, so since we didn't find any tempting restaurants in the area we ended up buying cup noodles at the only convenience store we could find in the area, plus some fruit from a local vendor to bring with us for the ride.
Locals waiting for their transportation

The bus trip with JJ Express:
After a couple of hours in Aung Mingalar it was finally time for our departure. The JJ Express was the only bus company we could see in the area that had a proper waiting lounge for guests, and after having relaxed in the lounge for around half an hour or so it was time for check-in.

JJ Express operates with 3 axle busses for extra safety

The JJ Express bus had 3 seats per row, and the seats were fortunately quite spacious and comfortable, with the possibility to lay back the seats. Also, all the seats had a personal TV where one could watch a decent variety of Western movies (we later learned that this was not the case for their overnight bus from Inle to Bagan though, so this might just be applicable for busses going to and from Yangon). The service on the bus was also good; We got clean warm blankets and the bus staff even brought us some delicious pastry to eat on the way.

The only minus about the bus was that, as typical in a lot of warmer countries, the air condition made it all a slightly cold experience despite the provided blanket. Fortunately I had packed some extra clothing in the bag I brought with me on the bus, and ended up sleeping with a spare T-shirt covering my head to keep warm.

Beside the issue with the temperature on the bus everything went fine with the trip. We had one stop on a local service area where we got 30 minutes to eat a light dinner a couple of hours after the departure, and after that we were free to sleep until the arrival in Kalaw. The bus staff had asked us in advance about our destination, and kindly woke us up when we arrived in Kalaw.

One thing to be aware of is that the time you are scheduled to arrive at your destination very likely will vary from your actual time of arrival. We were told we would be in Kalaw around 6 am, but instead our buss arrived in Kalaw around 4:30 am. At the buss stop there were some locals greeting us asking us if we needed a place to sleep, but we ended up going to the one and only local cafe/bar/restaurant in town where we killed time until morning. I’m not sure if this place usually stays open at 4:30, but at this particular day Barcelona was playing a soccer game, and a number of locals had gathered around to watch the game.

All in all the JJ Express was a very good option for getting to Kalaw in a fast and safe manner. If you end up traveling with JJ Express I would recommend bringing some warmer clothes for the ride and be aware that the arrival time might diverge from what they’ve told you in advance.

That’s all for now! Thank you so much for reading and feel free to leave any comments/questions below.

Basic Info
  • ・Name: Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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