As during my third time in Myanmar I was willing to spend more time on trains, I decided to go from Dawei to Mawlamyine by train. During my third time in Myanmar, I had only been on the train from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin, so I was missing this must have experience in Myanmar.
I realize that in total I have made a lot of train journeys throughout the country. I have been from Inle Lake to Thazi, from Thazi to Bago, from Bago to Kyaiktyio, from Yangon to Mawlamyine, from Naypyidaw to Thazi, from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin and now from Dawei to Mawlamyine. I’m an expert on Myanmar train rides, haha. They were all so different from each other and I would do them all again.
I knew from the beginning that the train from Dawei to Mawlamyine is the slowest train in Myanmar although I thought that was the one from Inle Lake to Thazi.
The train departs at 5 am from Dawei and it has only 3 wagons. With help from my hotel, I booked a tuk-tuk in advance to pick me up before 4.30 am. I know it is so early, but I have missed already other trains because of schedules, so this time I wanna go on this train ride no matter if it is still very early.
It’s still completely dark outside and I’m the only one at the train station. I guess I arrived way too early. I waited inside, at the ticket counter. I’m the only one there. The man that will sell my ticket is not there yet. While sitting I noticed this constant message I keep seeing in all train stations: “Please take care of the tourists” and they do. I never felt afraid or helpless when its time to board trains. Maybe also because they don’t have many other westerners to take care of, and they are glad to help. This train from Dawei to Mawlamyine, however, is different from all the trains I have been before in Myanmar. The seats aren’t the usual green comfy ones.
I bought an upper-class ticket for 5900 kyats. The train changes in Ye at about 14:14 pm and reaches Mawlamyine at about 20 pm.
From Dawei to Ye
I’m the only one on board of the upper class that has grey seats that don’t look as comfortable as usual. The wagons are not connected to each other, so it means that I will not see the hustle and bustle that I love to witness on trains. I’m a bit disappointed. Meanwhile, there are 3 other foreigners on board of the Upper-class carriage. I get even more disappointed as I wanted to have an experience with locals, not with foreigners that were the only people on board for a very long time.
The train departs at 5 sharp. It is totally dark and the lights turned off. You can’t see a single thing outside. It remains like this for more than 1 hour until the sun rises. It was my first sunrise on a train. Before it, I slept on two of the few empty seats. The carriage was very small. It is cold inside, so make sure to bring some comfy and warm clothes. After sunrise and a long time after we departed on this Dawei to Mawlamyine train, Burmese people start to be seen. But only a few, not like usually, a loud crowd of locals. The train is so slow that it decelerates for people to jump off or in, in the middle of nowhere. The train is extremely slow, not so comfy, and very boring. There is no such thing as beautiful sceneries to watch through the window. I guess the railway is so poorly maintained that all you can see are bushes and trees. They stand too close to the railway and allow no sight at all. That’s why this train ride was so boring, but it changed once we reach Ye.- Beware of the many tree branches that might hit your face.
To move about 160km from Dawei to Ye, this train took 9h. 9 F*CKING HOURS!!! Besides no view, there are not many Burmese, that also means not a lot of food options. So, once you see a living soul-selling food just buy it. You have no idea when you will have another chance to buy something before you reach Ye. For this reason, I don’t advise this part of the ride. If you are in Dawei, don’t hop on the train just now. Instead, go to Ye and hop on the train there. You must be there before 2 pm and you’ll be fine. There is only 1 daily train from Dawei to Mawlamyine and it is this one.
From Ye to Mawlamyine
Once you change trains in Ye everything changes. Basically you are switching from an old decadent train to a newer one, the one I have been used to in Myanmar, with the comfy green wide seats.
The train that comes from Dawei stops in Ye for the passengers to change trains. You have about 10 minutes to do so. From now on, the train is faster, with beautiful sceneries, filled with people and food and drink sellers. It swings from side to side as if wanting to shake you off. Just a normal train ride in Myanmar.
Once I sit in my upper-class seat I’m in heaven. The views are wonderful, I’m enjoying a cold drink, I can put my head outside the window for a while and enjoy the sun in my face as it goes down. What a beautiful way to watch the sunset. On a Myanmar train.
Beware when putting your head out of the window, mainly from Dawei to Ye. Because of a lack of maintenance, there are too many tree branches and even with my head fully inside, I was hit by a tree branch in my face. Be very careful! I’m telling you, this part of the ride is just not fun at all, you can’t even feel the wind on your face. Just skip it.
Only when we switched train in Ye I started to feel like this was a worthy train ride. I would do it again, but only from Ye to Mawlamyine. This way I wouldn’t advise doing the full train journey from Dawei to Mawlamyine. I have been to Mawlamyine train station before, with a bicycle at that time, and I remember that there were no cars outside to take us to our hotel. More than 1 year later, it was no different. Only motorbikes to take you where you want. No tuk-tuks either. But this time they were checking train tickets. I needed to hand over mine once I left the station. Also during the train journey from Ye to Mawlamyine, there were some checks, so don’t think you can ride this train without a ticket. And why would you? It is cheap and you are not robbing a poor country. I didn’t mind paying my ticket at all, but I can’t say the same about the other 3 foreigners on board that train. They didn’t buy a ticket- that’s what I’ve listened from their conversations. Later, when we left in Ye, they had to buy one. Maybe for that reason, I didn’t talk to them all the journey… I don’t like it when locals take advantage of us foreigners, or when it happens the opposite way.
Once in Mawlamyine, I slept on the only Hostel in town. I remember back then, there were no hostels in Mawlamyine. This one is new. I only went out for dinner and then slept. Dinner was super tasty in a street food stall, but the next day I was feeling pretty bad, a situation that got even worse once I reached Mae Sot in Thailand. After so long, I had food poisoning again, and it was in Myanmar, same as 2 years ago haha.
See my video fo this day: