After studying the car landscape in Yangon, we now travel 650km North to Bagan. If motorcycles were banned in Yangon, they definitely rule the streets of this tiny countryside region famous for its valley counting over 3000 temples, most of them Buddhist. I spent most of my time here in New Bagan which is the closest place to the main temples where most hotels are located. Bagan is still a relatively well-kept secret: a breath-taking amount of magnificently restored temples coupled with an exquisitely friendly and laid-back local population makes it the perfect week-long escape from civilization: wifi internet at Western speeds is a distant memory hence the lack of updates on BSCB for a few days in the past week.
The motorcycle is the default private means of transportation in Bagan, and the Chinese have a monopoly on these. A few brands spotted include Fekon, Dayang, Luojia, Feiling, Kembo, Canda, Yinxiang, Tarbo and JLM. Hadn’t heard of any of these before? Not to worry – me neither. Don’t own a bike? There are plenty of crumbling old Toyota light trucks (Dyna or Liteace) or kei pickups (Honda Acty) to carry you around. Or you can also create your own truck: I have seen a few interesting examples of homemade lego-like vehicles that have one thing going for them: they work!
There are no new cars here, only used imports mainly from Japan as in Yangon. Most of them are MPVs to transport tourists from one temple to another and the Toyota Hiace of all generations – including the ones with the distinctive Japan-only “H” logo on the front grille – as well as the Alphard from one generation ago are the way to go.
There are two types of ‘luxury’ taxis at work in Bagan: the Toyota Mark II Grande and Toyota Crown Royal Saloon with its Mercedes-looking front, as well as a few ‘standard’ taxis wth the most popular being the Nissan AD and its clone the Mazda Familia.
I did spot a couple of King Long MPVs as well as one Jinbei Hiace. Being closer to China, this region’s heavy commercial vehicles are, as are motorbikes, totally dominated by Chinese manufacturers, the most popular being Skat. On a random note, I also discovered a new Japanese nameplate: the Isuzu Filly MPV, a clone of an old generation Toyota Alphard. Finally, I did spot one Thailand-registered current gen Ford Ranger and two Chinese-registered vehicles: a Toyota Highlander and a VW CC.
The next iteration in this Myanmar series takes us back to Yangon where we visit the very first new car dealerships in the country.
The Bagan Photo Report continues below with 26 additional pictures.