Bhamo is a city in Kachin State, Northern Myanmar.
Bhamo is a small scenic city notable as a stop for boats travelling on the mighty Irrawady. Travel bans for tourist going further north into Kachin by boat have broken the once popular route, leaving the town as not quiet a destination and not quiet on the way to anywhere and tourists are now mostly Chinese.
For locals several vans connect Myitkyina to Bhamo. For more comfort there is a bus departing Myitkyina at 08:00. It takes around 6-7 hr. The ticket is 12,000 kyat.
The river trip is probably the best reason to visit Bhamo, travel down the Irrawady River is romantic and captivates many travellers, but it is often unreliable and passengers should be flexible. It is highly advisable if taking a local boat to buy supplies before you leave, as local "fast boats" often do not stop and shop-boat keepers are dishonest.
In any case check the weather and ask locals or hotel staff, sometimes river travel is not possible if the river is too low.
Boats to and from Mandalay take between 1 and 3 days, depending on the boat and the season (faster during the wet season when water levels are high). Boats are leaving Bhamo M, Tu and F. A ticket for a shared cabin (2 beds) is US$60. You can choose to sleep on the deck, which is much cheaper (US$12). You may need a sleeping bag as it gets cold and humid during the night.
There are fast boats from Katha that takes foreigners. The price is 8,000 kyat for locals and 16,000 kyat for foreigners. The fast boat takes 7-9 hr. At high water levels it leaves in front of the Ayawady Guesthouse and at low water levels at the jetty close to the jail at 09:00.
There are a few flights to Bhamo from Mandalay and/or Yangon. Traveling from Myitkyina there is only one flight a week, Myanmar Air leaving at 13:00 Monday's. The flight is only 25 min and as of Feb 2018 the cost was US$86 with taxes and travel agent fees. Travel by tuk tuk from the airport to town, though very short, was 2,000 kyat per person.
Bhamo is small enough to walk around. Unless you have lots of baggage it's a short walk to the jetty (10 min from the Friendship Hotel) otherwise a tuk tuk costs 2,000 kyat/person.
- Bamboo Bridge (Around 4 km north of town in Old Bhamo). The bridge has to be rebuilt every year after the rainy season. It is fully built out of bamboo. On the other side of the river is a small town.
The main bazzar has most common products as well as some interesting Chinese imports.
Huge bundle of leaf cigars cost less than cigarettes and are widely available.
Souvenir knives and swords are available at street stalls, but don't plan on using them for anything.
Choices for travellers are limited because of government restrictions, and only a few of the cities hotels are permitted to take foreign guests.
- 1 Friendship Hotel, ☏ , fax: . Decent rooms with shared bathrooms for US$10 and larger rooms with bathrooms for US$25 (higher rates for double rooms). A buffet breakfast is included. They also give out bags with water and some food and a map of Bagan and Mandalay when you depart. US$35/double with bath/shower.
- Grand Hotel, Post Office Road. While they could not accept foreigners in past years, as of January 2015 foreigners are allowed.
- Paradise Hotel. The Paradise Hostel has clean and new rooms with air-con. A breakfast is included. Next to the hostel is a restaurant with the same name. Breakfast is there. US$28 (28,000 kyat for locals) for a double room and US$18 (18,000 kyat for locals) for a single room, both with bathroom.