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Travel Tip: Taxis in Myanmar (Burma)

By on April 2, 2015 in Myanmar/Burma

Taxis in Myanmar (Burma) don’t appear to be metered, seat-belts are optional, and the vehicles are in various states of repair.

You will often get approached on the street for a taxi with a ’taxi sir?’, but beware, some taxis are motorbikes.

I found taxis to be much more common in Yangon (Rangoon) than in Mandalay, and they were also considerably cheaper in Yangon (Rangoon). It should be noted that taxis from hotels tend to be more expensive than ones stopped on the street (very few would stop on the street in Mandalay, and I often had to go to tourist attractions or hotels to get a cab).

The first taxi I got in to completely freaked me out. I was at Mandalay Airport, and I got into a cab. The driver was sitting on the right, so I assumed that in Myanmar cars drove on the left. At the first roundabout, the driver went around not clockwise (as cars driven on the right would do) but anticlockwise, and then he shot up the righthand side of a dual carriageway. I was alarmed. I thought we were on the wrong side of the carriageway. Luckily there was nothing else on the road, but I thought it was only a matter of time before we had a head-on. Then I discovered that they drive on the righthand side of the road in Myanmar, with righthand drive cars. It makes no sense. As a result of the poor visibility, there is a lot of use of the horn by drivers.

I tried to find out why everyone (taxis, car, lorries) have the steering wheel on the wrong side. There was no obvious answer. I was told though that the import of righthand drive cars has now been banned.

One final tip — negotiate the price for the trip before you get in the taxi. Often you are not paying for the trip in terms of distance but the time and drivers seem to charge for an hour even it the trip is only 10 minutes.

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
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