Main roads or ‘highways’ in Myanmar are -in general- in adequate to good conditions. Some stretches contain potholes, some can be quite narrow, sometimes the asphalt contain coarse grains, but the majority is just in proper condition for cycling. The biggest problem is traffic density: in 2012, the first days on highway 2 (Yangon towards Pyay and further) were quite stressful with a lot of big freight trucks, passenger buses, the then incidental SUV’s passing us closely with speeds varying from slow to frightful. The additional frequent honking scared us as well, not yet knowing that all Burmese drivers using the honk more out of habit and courtesy instead out of coerciveness – like we are used to in the Netherlands. This misunderstanding and unacquaintedness certainly raised our stress levels during the first days. Gradually we got used to the honking, and as soon as traffic became less heavy, we became at ease with the Burmese driving style: a soon as there was space available on the road most drivers passed us in a relaxed manner. Moreover: occasionally drivers even stopped to hand over a bottle of fresh, cold water to us!
In 2018, we took highway 8 from Kyaiktho towards Thanbyuzayat, and from there, smaller roads towards Lamaing and Ye. Conditions on bigger roads were similar to our experiences in 2012 (on highway 2) regarding the courtesy of drivers when there was space, but traffic density and driving speeds seemed to have become higher. In addition, on some stretches roads condition have improved in terms of surface and width.
The increasing accessibility of mobile internet enabled us to use navigation apps, of which we chose maps.me. It gave us the opportunity and confidence to deflect from the big roads, ending up at smaller sealed or unsealed roads that served us an infinite quantity of smaller and bigger adventures.