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How to buy train tickets when in Burma

  • You can buy train tickets in person at the station ticket office, it’s easy.  Reservations are not computerised, but based on hand-written reservation lists, so bookings can only be made at the station where your journey starts, not for journeys starting elsewhere.  Every main station has a clear information board showing train times & fares for foreigners in English
  • Upper class bookings open 3 days in advance.  Ordinary class bookings open just one day in advance.  You can’t buy tickets before bookings open.  At some smaller stations you may be told to come back and buy a ticket just before departure.
  • Apart from the train times & fares for foreigners boards there are relatively few signs in English, but don’t worry – just ask at the first available ticket window and as a foreigner you will normally be invited inside the ticket office (!) and told to sit down while someone is called to help you.  You will need the names, nationality and passport number of each passenger as these will be written on your ticket.
  • I’d recommend buying your ticket at least the day before departure if you can, but it’s usually not difficult for a foreigner to secure a Upper class or ordinary class seat on the day of departure.  All passengers get a reserved seat, the coach & seat numbers will be written on the ticket.  Sleepers are in short supply on the main Rangoon to Mandalay route as there’s only one sleeping-car per train, so book a day or two ahead if you can.  But you’re unlikely to have any trouble getting a sleeper on the direct train from Rangoon to Bagan even on the day of departure.
  • To buy train tickets in Rangoon on the day of travel itself, go to the station.  Tickets for trains leaving the same day are sold at the station.  Take your passport and enter the station by the right-hand main entrance and for tickets to Mandalay or Bagan look for the first ticket window on the left.  You’ll find a money changer and several ATMs at the station if you need them, as well as food kiosks and a cafe.
  • To buy train tickets in Rangoon 1-3 days before travel, go to the Advance Booking Office.  Take your passport, and go to the Advance Booking Office which is not in the station itself but in Bogyoke Aung San road on the south side of the tracks, opposite the Sakura Tower and diagonally opposite the Traders Hotel.  Look for the entrance sign shown in the photo below.  It is open daily 07:00-15:00.  It looks more like a farmyard than a reservations office!  Walk off the main road, 30m down the track into the booking hall proper, and you’ll see a row of about 10 ticket windows.  The window for booking trains from Rangoon to Mandalay is the first one on the left.   You may also be able to book train tickets through your hotel.
  • In Mandalay, to buy train tickets go to the ticket office on the first floor of the station, above the tracks.

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