In my research, I found that many sources on the Internet have conflicting information about the boat from Mawlamyine to Hpa An in Myanmar. It was confusing for me when I was planning my trip so I decided to provide an update for all those who are interested in taking the boat. Here’s my latest and greatest updated guide (as of February 2015) on how to make this trip seamlessly.
As of 2012, the government ferry from Mawlamyine to Hpa An was discontinued. As a result, local guesthouses have begun to charter private boats making the trip in both directions. Here’s how I made the trip!
Booking Your Seat
Purchasing a ticket for the boat ride is fairly simple. Just go to Breeze Guesthouse (the guest house that organizes the tickets), which is a big, blue colonial-looking house located on the riverfront road (Strand Road) in Mawlamyine. I would recommend going a day or two in advance to secure your spot, as the boats only hold a handful of people. When I was there in February, the boats were running every day between the two cities. During the low season, schedules may be more intermittent. You may also be able to schedule the same boat ride through your own guesthouse, but be warned that secondhand booking often includes paying extra in commission fees.
When I reserved my seat, I booked one day ahead of time and paid upfront. It cost 10,000 kyat, or about $10 USD.
The Boat Ride
Breeze Guesthouse organized a truck from the guesthouse to the ferry pier, which leaves at 8:30 AM. It’s a good idea to arrive a few minutes early to make sure everything is set in stone for your departure. There were seven people on my boat, and the maximum capacity for most boats is eight (hence why it’s a good idea to reserve in advance!). On the boat, the chairs were simple and made of plastic so if you get uncomfortable sitting for a while, I would recommend purchasing and bringing a cushion or pillow.
I greatly enjoyed the boat ride, as it was breezy and cool and very picturesque. The boat drifts past small villages where local children yell and wave as you pass by, the homes interspersed with sparkling golden pagodas and some nautical plant life. I napped for about two of the six hours, which was surprisingly easy despite the uncomfortable sitting arrangements.
The ride itself lasts about 6 hours, so you’ll arrive in Hpa An in the mid-afternoon. Bring a good book or a solid playlist, because the scenery does get somewhat repetitive. Also, on my boat ride there was no toilet break so don’t drink too much water beforehand.
When You Arrive In Hpa An
As you disembark in Hpa An, you’ll probably see a few tuk-tuk drivers waiting to offer you a ride to your guest house. I strongly advise you to take a tuk-tuk, as the place where we arrived was pretty far from the main guesthouse area. We paid 500 kyat (50 cents USD) per person, split between five of us. Four of us girls who had been chatting on the boat stayed together at the Galaxy Motel, which I highly recommend. It costs $15 USD a night and is supposedly much cleaner and better value than the infamous backpacker option, the Soe Brothers Guesthouse. Unless it’s the very high season, you can usually shop around a few of the guesthouses and decide for yourself.
Hpa An to Mawlamyine
Since I didn’t travel in the opposite direction, I don’t know the specifics, but I overheard a few people talking about making the trip in the opposite direction for 12,000 kyat ($12 USD). This can be organized through most guesthouses in Hpa An, and I would recommend inquiring well in advance since the trip in the opposite direction is not as common.
The Bottom Line
What: 6-hour boat ride from Mawlamyine to Hpa An in Myanmar
Price: ~$10 USD
Booking: Breeze Guesthouse on Strand Road (riverfront road) in Mawlamyine, book in advance
Note: This post is based on my experience in February 2015. As Myanmar is currently developing its tourism in many cities, the times and tips listed here may change. If you experienced something different, please comment or send me an email so I can update this article accordingly. Thank you!