From Yangon to Thaton
Travelling overland from Yangon to Thaton you have to pass via Bago and Kyaikto, covering in total about 260 km. There is no airport in Thaton – easily reached by both train and bus from Yangon, Thaton sits at the crossroads and serves as a convenient hub for journeys further south to Mawlamyine, Ye and Dawei, a detour to Hpa-An or an overland hop to Thailand which you can enter via Myawaddy–Mae Sot border crossing.
From Yangon to Thaton by train
There are three trains a day from Yangon Central Station travelling via Bago to destinations in Mon State including and Kyaikto, Thaton and Mawlamyine with one train proceeding further down to Dawei.
Trains cover the stretch between Yangon and Thaton in 6½ hours, and schedule-wise the most convenient one is train #89 leaving Yangon at 7.15am and arriving to Thaton before 2pm. The two other departures (#175 at 6.25pm and #35 at 9pm) bring you to your destination in the small hours and are handier for travelling to Mawlamyine than to Thaton.
None of the trains between Yangon and Thaton has sleeping carriages and offers passengers a choice between cheaper hard seats in ordinary class and slightly more expensive soft reclining seats in upper class. Do go for the upper class ones if you can afford spending a couple of bucks more – you will appreciate the comfort they offer during this rather long journey. Tickets can be cheap if bought at the stations, though buying from abroad expect to pay mire. Upper class seats may cost you anywhere from MMK6,000/USD5 to MMK20,000/USD17.
In Yangon, Yangon Central Railway Station is located in Kun Chan Road, opposite the stadium.
Thaton railway station sits one km west of the main road, down the lane from the Old Myoma market. If you are planning to spend a night in Thaton, take a motorbike taxi to Blue Cloud Guesthouse (in the north of the town) or more upscale Aung Thitsar Resort east of the town off the road to Hpa-An. A ride to either of them should cost you approximately USD1.
From Yangon to Thaton by bus
To get from Yangon to Thaton by bus, take any of the southbound buses, e.g. Yangon–Mawlamyine bus.
Buses to Mawlamyine leave from Highway Bus Station in Yangon, aka Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal. It is located well out of the city, 500 m east off Aung Mingalar Highway, between Sat Hmu Street and Sa Gaing Street; further 7 km northeast from Yangon International airport. A seat in a shared taxi from the centre of Yangon to the bus terminal should cost MMK1,000. Bus tickets can be purchased in the city from counters by the stadium, north of Yangon Central Railway Station.
Yangon–Thaton tickets cost from MMK6,000/USD5 and up depending on the company you travel with and the type of the bus.
In Thaton, buses from Yangon stop at the roundabout in Mawlamyaing Road.
Why go to Thaton
Yes, it is true: Thaton does not rank high in Myanmar guidebooks and you hardly find there any sights in the full sense of the word. Yet the town makes for a pleasant stop for those interested in catching glimpses of everyday life in Myanmar. You will find a breezy hill top pagoda; a lively market to browse for local delicacies; and a collection of fascinating colonial homes you would not expect to step across in a town like Thaton. Thaton also serves as a base for a day trip to Hpa-An, further 50 km east, but frankly speaking other than that there is little else you can do in Thaton.
Onward travel from Thaton
Strategically straddling the main highway from Yangon to Mawlamyine and further south, Thaton can be a logical stop to split your overland travel to Dawei in the south or to Thailand in the east.
Trains from Thaton to Mawlamyine leave at 1.45pm, 1.15am and 3.30am and take from 2½ hours to 3½ hours to reach the latter. Buses plying the same route are numerous and take less than one hour to get to Mawlamyine. They are incredibly cheap (USD1) but hardly comfortable.
If you need to travel further to Ye or Dawei, take train #175 at 1.15am. It reaches Ye in the morning at 10.30am and delivers you to Dawei the same day by the evening (7pm).
It takes 1½ hour to get to Hpa-An (MMK2,000/USD2)from Thaton and there are plenty of departures throughout the day.
In Thaton, buses leave from the roundabout in Mawlamyaing Road by Shwe Sar Yan Pagoda, but actually you can flag down the bus you need anywhere down the road leading from the roundabout if you are heading to Mawlamyine and along the road passing by Aung Thitsar Resort if you are planning to get to Hpa-An.
Buses to Myawaddy travel via Hpa-An. If you fail to spot one in Thaton, just hop onto any bus to Hpa-An where change to Hpa-An–Myawaddy transport. Options abound.
Travelling back to Yangon, you can again rely on trains and buses. The morning train #90 passes via Thaton at 11.30am reaching Yangon by 5.30pm. Train #36 leaves at 10pm and arrives rather inconveniently at 4am. Both originate from Mawlamyine. Train #176 originates in Dawei and picks up passengers in Thaton at 11.40pm getting to its terminus at Yangon Central Station by 6.30am the next morning.
Tip If not buying tickets with stated departure time via 12go.asia, please check the train schedule before planning your trip.