Traffic in Yangon is extremely heavy. The city’s infrastructure simply isn’t adequate for the number of cars and motor bikes. In general, we thought the drivers in Yangon were courteous to each other but they tended to drive straddling across two lanes. We suspected this was an endemic pattern as we noticed bumper stickers promoting driving within a single lane.
Parking and the direction of parking by bystanders is something of an art form in Yangon. It was very common for our driver to find a space that we might think was too small to fit into and a parked taxi driver or just someone walking down the sidewalk would stop and take great pride in the giving of directions enabling the driver to fit into the space.
There is plenty of traffic in Mandalay but not to the extreme of Yangon. Traffic was no problem at all during our time in Bagan or in the Inle Lake area.
It is also possible to hire a car and driver for longer transfers between cities. In traveling to Inle Lake, we had read about the incredible scenery and experience of taking the “slow train from Thazi” but were concerned about spending 11-12 hours on the train. As an alternative, we got a bit of the best of both worlds by getting off the train in Kalaw after about 6½ hours and were met by a car and driver who took us the last leg of the drive to Nyaungshwe. We enjoyed the train ride immensely but for a total of about $40 USD for 3 people (less the $6 we saved on the lower train fare) we exchanged an additional 5 hours on the train for a ride of about 1¼ hours in a comfortable air conditioned private van. While you would miss the atmosphere of the slow local train, it is possible to hire a car all the way from Thazi to Inle Lake and cut the entire journey to 3½ hours. You can read more in detail on the train portion of that trip in the “Train” section below.