The Slow Train to Thazi – Myanmar Railways


Our day taking the Slow Train to Thazi started well.  The taxi arrived on time at the fabulous Zawgyi Inn (details and prices here), we were heading for the train station in Shwe Nyaung – just 8 km away from Nyaung Shwe on the shores of Inle Lake, to catch the first of two trains. With any luck our first train would get to Thazi on time and we’d catch a second train to Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital and get in by 2200. If it didn’t, well there was a second train that got in around midnight.

The Slow Train to Thazi-Shwenyaung station

We’re taking the advice of the ManfromSeat61 again – the Slow Train to Thazi is one of those train trips not to miss.

The Slow Train to Thazi-upper class ticket counter

And so, as our taxi driver makes sure that we have a ticket (2,950 kyat US$2.30), makes sure we are in the right seats in our Upper Class carriage we wait for the train to depart.

Slow Train to Thazi Timetable Shwe Nyaung

We’re the only Westerners we’ll see all day. It seems to please our carriage conductor, he makes sure to stop by each time he travels past and check that we’re ok.

the slow train to Thazi upper class ticket

 

The Slow Train to Thazi-Upper Class Seats

The train takes all day. Literally. We set off 10 minutes early at 0750.   And it’s very, very, basic.

And at first we’re on our own.

 

The Slow Train to Thazi-9939

 

Later the train fills.

The Slow Train to Thazi-9940

This is definitely the locals train. It’s fabulous.

 

Aung Ban Station - The SLow Train to Thazi

 

The Slow Train to Thazi - Aung Ban Station

Many station platforms that we stop at are covered with fresh produce.

 

Myanmar Tomatoes

It looks like chaos. Everyone has a distinct job and collectively they’re trying to get all this produce into the goods wagon that’s behind our carriage.

 

Burmese Vegetables
Cabbages, pumpkins, onions, tomatoes. They’re all packed into bamboo baskets and bags. Sealed, and then weighed. It’s a woman running the show with her clipboard and notes.

 

Produce on Burmese Trains
Then a team of four load, two of them pick up the loaded bag and roll it onto the back of a lean, incredibly well muscled heavily sweating man. He balances it across his shoulders, and stalks towards the goods wagon. A run up the ramp and it’s in. His colleague takes the next bag.

 

Manual Labour in Myanmar
It’s an amazingly well oiled, incredibly organized machine. This is not chaos as we know it.

 

Fresh product in Myanmar
The train fills and empties and stops and starts. We’re not that much of a curiosity, people are just getting on with their lives. Each platform we stop at has its fair share of women.

 

Railway Platform market

Their children tied to their backs with scarves, they’re buying and selling produce, food, laughing, smiling. This seems an incredibly happy society.

 

Myanmar Woman and Child

Most of the women and small children paint their faces with Thanaka Paste – its the ground bark of the Thanaka tree, used as a protection against the sun and to help keep their skin young.

 

thanaka paste
There are switchbacks here on this route, like there were when we took the train over the Gokteik Viaduct – another must do train trip we heard of from the ManfromSeat61. It’s quite lovely countryside here.

 

Zit Zat Reverse A Slow Train to Thazi

 

Burmese Train Views Slow Train to Thazi

Burmese Train Points

Manual Points Myanmar Trains

Burmese Train Station

Burmese Train Points Burmese Train Points
And so it goes on until we arrive, on time, into Thazi at 1900. Our friendly conductor waylays another man (randomly it seems) and tells him (we assume) that he has to take us to the ticket office to get a ticket to Naypyidaw, that we want to catch the express train. So we do as we’re told and trot off following him and buy a ticket.

This train will continue to Naypyidaw, but only after a rest of three hours and it is, after all, the Slow Train to Thazi.

The Slow Train to Thazi Resources

 

 

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Got Something to Add, Or a Question?

4 thoughts on “The Slow Train to Thazi – Myanmar Railways

    • ASocialNomad Post author

      Myanmar was one of my favourite countries in SE Asia. Genuine, friendly, and not too much on the beaten track to be, well full of banana pancakes. Of course we went in the off season, which also helped! Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did!

  • Papa

    Hi there,

    Great write up!
    Due to time constraints we need to get on board the slow train in Kalaw coming from Bagan. I wonder which seection is nicer, Thazi to Kalaw or Kalaw to Shwenyaung?

    THANKS,

    • ASocialNomad Post author

      Thanks and hallo! The Thazi to Kalaw section will give you the zitzat reverse – the mountains and some of the locals on the platforms – the views are really nice. Kalaw to Shwenyaung – which we did in reverse was interesting for us, because there was a lot of time spent at one station while the produce for market was loaded – but if you’re going S to K, then you wouldn’t see that, so I would go from Thazi to Kalaw (although it is nearly twice as long as the Kalaw to Shwenyaung trip). A lot of folks hike from Kalaw to Shwenyaung (and Inle Lake). Hope you enjoy the trip, we had a great time!