How to Get Around Myanmar by Air - Internal Flights

How to Get Around Myanmar by Air - Internal Flights

By Wendy Updated May. 14, 2021

Taking an airplane is the best way to get around Myanmar, especially if time is limited and you want a more comfortable experience. The domestic air service has expanded rapidly over the last few years with new airlines, new aircraft and a wider network.

Quick Facts

  • The most convenient way to travel around Myanmar is by air
  • There are more than 40 airports in Myanmar, among which Yangon International Airport is the largest
  • Domestic routes are mainly operated by 7 airlines
  • Most aircraft take off early at dawn to start their circular route, so they can return to their home base with early evening flights
  • Most airlines fly small planes such as ATR 72, which can seat up to 78 passengers and fit on smaller airstrips
  • Yangon to Mandalay is the most popular route, with about 8 flights per day
  • All domestic flights are fully booked during the Thingyan Water Festival in April

Why Take an Airplane to Get around Myanmar

Although the roads in Myanmar have improved, it still takes a long time to travel by road. Road travel can be both slow and bumpy.

Rail travel is a little more appealing, as it provides a more relaxing way to see the beautiful views along the route. It’s slower than taking a bus, however, and fares are much more expensive.

To cover long distances, air travel is by far the most comfortable and time-saving option. For example, to reach Mandalay from Yangon, it takes about an hour by plane, 7 hours by car, and 15 hours by train. So in most cases, travelers would prefer to catch a plane between key destinations.

If you have more time and want to find a more scenic way to travel round, cruising on the blue waterways is a good option. This is, however, the slowest way to travel — it takes about 3 days to get from Yangon to Mandalay.

Booking Domestic Flight Tickets in Myanmar

Online booking is available on any of the airline websites. Most airlines support online payment by credit card, and issue e-tickets. You can examine plane schedules and book online, but the process is far from seamless.

Tickets are more reliably purchased via a travel agent, for the same price as the published fare. Agents have the schedules of all the airlines. They’ll learn of any flight changes and inform you accordingly, and help you with itineraries.

Sometimes flights may be changed or cancelled a few days before departure, so do reconfirm your flights and flight times and take note of any changes.

Airports

There are three international airports in Myanmar — Yangon International Airport (RGN), Mandalay International Airport (MDL) and Naypyidaw International Airport (NYT). Other popular domestic airports include Bagan in Nyaung-U (NYU), Inle Lake in Heho (HEH) and Ngapali in Thandwe (SNW).

yangon airport yangon airport

Airlines

Several private airlines serve domestic routes, in addition to the state-run Myanmar Airways — not to be confused with Myanmar Airways International (MAI). They are Air KBZ, Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, Asian Wings Airways, Yangon Airways, Golden Myanmar Airlines, and Myanmar National Airlines.

Foreign visitors usually prefer to avoid Myanmar Airways, due to its poor safety record and Air Bagan, which still uses old aircraft.

Although some private airlines were involved in some safety issues in the past, now incidents are few. With the introduction of new and modern aircraft, the safety record has improved greatly.

In terms of standards, there is little to choose between the different airlines. Most airlines have code share with other airlines, which means that they may regroup passengers from different flights onto one joint flight.

For example, if you have booked with Air Mandalay, your flight may be consolidated onto an Air KBZ flight at a similar time.

aircraft aircraft

Schedules

Most domestic airlines serve the main tourist sites on a circular route. Aircraft are often based in Yangon. They take off at dawn from Yangon and stop off at about 3 airports before returning to Yangon in the late morning to start another itinerary.

Once they have finished their afternoon schedules, aircraft will fly back in the early evening to their home bases, to spend the night there.

cabin cabin

Because of limited aircraft, they depart from Yangon early in the morning. Beginning around 6 am, aircraft depart at 5-minute intervals. Most of the flights go to Mandalay or Nyaung-U. For example, they may operate as follows:

High Season (November to April)

  • Yangon(RGN)—Bagan(NYU)—Mandalay(MDL)—Inle Lake(HEH)—Yangon(RGN)
  • Yangon(RGN)—Mandalay(MDL)—Inle Lake(HEH)—Bagan(NYU)—Yangon(RGN)
  • Yangon(RGN)—Inle Lake(HEH)—Mandalay(MDL)—Bagan(NYU)—Yangon(RGN)

Low Season (May to October)

  • Yangon(RGN)—Bagan(NYU)—Mandalay(MDL)—Inle Lake(HEH)—Yangon(RGN)
  • Yangon(RGN)—Inle Lake(HEH)—Mandalay(MDL)—Bagan(NYU)—Yangon(RGN)

There are more options on flights and airlines in high season, while the option is quite limited with fewer flights and less carriers in low season. In case of not suitable flights to arrange, Asia Highlights will prepare another plan for you to make sure a meaningful experience.

Prices

As many airlines fly at the same time and on the same route, the ticket prices of different operators are much the same, with a fluctuation of around 10—15%. There won’t be huge discounts.

heho airport heho airport

Prices are for full service, including 20 kg checked luggage and 7 kg hand luggage. Fees will be charged for ticket changes and refunds. Check the ticket policy before booking.

The following are some one-way single fares for key routes. The fare for the opposite direction is the same.

From To Price Nostop flight time
Yangon Mandalay US$ 120 1h
Yangon Bagan (Nyaung-U) US$ 120 1h 20m
Mandalay Bagan US$ 70 30m
Mandalay Inle Lake (Heho) US$ 70 30m
Bagan (Nyaung-U) Inle Lake (Heho) US$ 100 40m
Ngapali (Thandwe) Yangon) US$ 120 50m

International Connections

lt’s much safer to arrange to stay in Yangon or Mandalay the night before your international flight, to be sure of catching your flight the following day. Domestic flights can sometimes be delayed due to weather conditions, so don’t risk missing your connection.

Domestic Departures

As there are no departure boards in most airports, it’s a good idea to stay near the gates after check-in, to wait for your flight to be called. An airline employee will walk around shouting out the flight number and the corresponding boarding gate. Listen out for your flight and then go to the gate for boarding.

heho airport heho airport

Domestic Arrivals

When you book a tour with us, you’ll find our guide waiting at the exit with a welcome board displaying your name. Your driver will help with your luggage.

nyaung u airport nyaung u airport

Visit Myanmar with Asia Highlights

We provide tailor-made tours to Myanmar. Tours typically start or end in Yangon or Mandalay and last approximately 9 days; visiting Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.

Why Travel with Asia Highlights

  • Tailor-made experience: All of your ideas/needs will be carefully considered to create your ideal trip.
  • Worry-free planning: Every step of your trip, you will be looked after by your 1:1 travel consultant based in Asia.
  • No-risk booking: We refund as much as we can and adapt flexibly to unexpected changes.

9-Day Private Myanmar Highlights Tour

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