The taxi is a good idea when you are going around in a city, at least it will protect you from the traffic and weary feats, save you time and might be comfortable.
If you have only been in a taxi in Europe you think of taxis as a uniform experience, forget it in Myanmar where taxi quality is very different.
A frequent taxi is a Toyota Corolla from the late 1980’s or a newer low cost Toyota Probox. For old on the odometer has probably been the full clock around more than once, but the engine is still ticking and the horn works, so it’ll go on. Of course you can imagine or remember that a medium car from the 80’s did not have all the equipment we find in a contemporary car. Items you’ll lack is:
– seat belts in the rear
– seat belt in the passenger seat where original fitted but is now removed
The Probox lacks the same, as it is a lowcost vehicle aimed at the Asian marked.
Either the years has worn down upholstery or it has never been rich, seat will be of the hard type.
The car will be clean on the out-side and the driver may have tried to get it clean internally, but driving with open windows in dusty environments don’t give many chances to be clean.
The two typical Toyotas are fine if you only is looking for a short ride. I would not recommend them for an all day tour.
You’ll find fewer taxis that are almost new and they will display contemporary features. Don’t be surprised if you find the car was originally equipped with seat-belts in the rear, but they are not operational due to alterations. Most of the taxis are smaller cars than we see in Europe, but they can be comfortable enough for both a short trip and full day tour.
Prices for taxi do not seem to vary based on the vehicle. Most are fitted with a meter, I’ve never seen one switched on. The price must be negotiated before before you enter, if you get the hotel to book a taxi you can have them arrange the price as well. Sometimes hotels gets better prices than you do and other times the opposite. All tours are paid with cash – like most other things in Myanmar – try to have an amount close to the agreed amount. If you only have 5.000 Kyats you can experience that the driver is short in change, so you end up paying 10.000 instead of 6.000.
I’ve seen a few limousine class cars run as taxis, they are usually booked through hotels. But can occasional be found in the line at the air-port or on the street.
Sometimes you’ll meet shared taxi’s, the Burmese apparently shares taxi all the time, the principle is simple. If you are going in the same direction you can split the fare or sometimes the driver arranges the sharing and will charge you per seat. Remember you’ll still pay foreigner price and the Burmese local price. So don’t be surprised if you pay 5.000 Kyats for a trip that a Burmese pays less than 1.000 for. For a trip from Mandalay we were directly asked if we wanted 2 seats or a full taxi on another occasion a Burmese just entered the seat beside the chauffeur and rode along the most of the trip.
What the Thais will call a Tuk-Tuk may in Myanmar be considered a taxi, so sometimes when you need to be driven you can be presented with an open lorry or a three wheeler with a motorbike in the front and a lorry in the back as the opportunity.