Myanmar organises overland rally

YANGON, 30 May 2017: For the fourth year running, Myanmar will host its Myanmar Heritage Trail Tourism Rally, 3 to 7 June.

The car rally is an opportunity to take a road trip through some of the lesser-known places in Myanmar.

This year’s edition takes drivers south to open up an area of the country that will one day be home to Southeast Asia’s top beach resorts as tourism develops.

At present progress is slow, but more resorts are opening, roads are improving and airlines are adding flights.

Media will also cover this year’s rally to increase the visibility of the event and build local awareness.

Myanmar’s Tourism Marketing (MTM) says the main purpose is to promote Myanmar for the benefit of the entire tourism industry.

Through the rally, MTM hopes to increase public awareness of lesser-known tourist destinations in Myanmar in the southern region, although there are serious concerns that mass tourism could damage the sensitive environment of islands and coastal bays where hotel development is planned.

In recent years, the roads in Myanmar have been improved to all-weather surfaces that keep them open during the monsoon season.

Despite the improvements road travel is considerably slower than neighbouring Thailand with average driving distances of around 60 km per hour.

The rally will start in Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon. The former capital is home to the country’s iconic heritage attraction, Shwedagon Paya, one of the most important Buddhist stupas in the world.

Yangon is also known for its colonial buildings in its downtown district, which is packed with food and book venders, open-air markets and temples, mosques and churches.

The first stop of the rally will be the seaside town Dawei. Dawei is an upcoming town that is the site of a Special Economic Zone, which will consist of a deep-sea port that could one day compete with Singapore as a marine cargo hub.

From Dawei, the route continues to Myeik, a peninsula in the Andaman Sea. Myeik has been an important international port for over 500 years. The rich history of the city is also reflected in its architecture. It is also home to a large fishing fleet and is the centre of the pearl industry of Myanmar and tourism gateway to the Myeik Archipelago.

After the important port city of Myeik, the next stop is the small port of Kawthoung, which is the southernmost point of Myanmar’s mainland. It is separated from Thailand by the Pagyan River. Just as Myeik, Kawthoung is another gateway to the Myeik Archipelago.

The next stop will be Mawlamyine, located between hills and the Thanlwin River. The city is well known for its colonial buildings, churches and mosques. This place was also the inspiration for famous writers George Orwell and Rudyard Kipling. Kipling wrote his famous poem ‘Mandalay’ after visiting Mawlamyine. Orwell, whose mother was born in Mawlamyine, used it as the setting for his stories ‘Shooting an Elephant’ and ‘A Hanging’. The area around Mawlamyine has a lot of attractions as well, like beaches and caves.

After the stop Mawlamyine, the rally returns the way it came back to Yangon.


  1. Interesting. A better question though is when will Myanmar open up to foreign motorists? At present, even vehicles from neighboring ASEAN countries like Thailand aren’t permitted to drive more than a few km inside the country without special permission secured weeks or months in advance, along with a compulsory guide. This is similarly the case for vehicles registered in non-ASEAN India and China. This is a holdover from the days of widespread insurgency. However, with peace returning to much of the country, it seems the present restrictions may have more to do with creating a revenue stream for local taxi drivers and the government, which can then control where tourists go. However, being able to drive one’s own car into the country could actually boost tourism and generate additional revenue. The Myanmar government’s paranoia about freely roaming foreign motorists is affecting one of it’s most important sources of income – tourism.

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