The ferry from Mawlamyine to Ogre Island is a fascinating local day trip – find out why it’s as much about the journey as the destination.

The largest island off the coast of Mawlamyine, Ogre Island (Bilu Kyan in Burmese) is home to approximately 200,000 people, most of who are of Mon origin.

From one of the 8 ethnic groups in Myanmar, the Mon people were also one of the earliest to settle in Southeast Asia.

Practitioners of Theravada Buddhism, they introduced the religion to the region, particularly Burma and Thailand.

Here at DIY Travel HQ I loved the very local experience of the Mawlamyine to Ogre Island day trip – it was one of my best experiences in Myanmar.

Kids of Ogre Island

Kids of Ogre Island

Ferries from Mawlamyine to Ogre Island

Ferries to Ogre Island depart from the jetty opposite OK Hotel at the northern end of Strand Road.

Departure: 8:30 – 8:45am and 10:45am

Price: Foreigners pay 2,000 kyat ($2.00 in 2014) at the ticket office onboard

The trip takes over 1hr. Foreigners are not allowed to stay on the island.

The last ferry or longboat from Ogre Island back to Mawlamyine departs at 3pm.

By longboat, the trip takes 40mins. Foreigners pay the local price, 1,000 kyat / $1.00.

Longboat to Mawlamyine

If you miss the last ferry, you should be able to get back to Mawlamyine by longboat

Onboard the Mawlamyine to Ogre Island Ferry

Crossing by bridge from the Mawlamyine jetty, setting foot on the waiting platform/ferry aptly marks the distinction between land and sea.

Rubbish is strewn everywhere, everyone has somewhere to go, on or off the ship.

The hectic environment and atmosphere is much different from the mainland’s relative realm of relaxation, in retrospect.

Ogre Island pier Mawlamyine

Ogre Island ferry pier in Mawlamyine

The local ferry is a big, bulky vessel – bedlam on a boat.

A double decker, the lower level has no seating, occupied by passengers travelling with large cargo:

  • bags and boxes
  • sacks and sachets
  • cartons and containers
  • packages and packet
  • almost anything apart from animals, or live animals anyway….
No seats on lower deck

No seating on the lower deck of the ferry

Passengers on the upper deck are seated, splayed or spilled across long benches.

Still, there are ever more people on the floor or sat on portable plastic chairs – it reminded me of the train journey from Dawei to Mawlamyine.

Upper deck on Ogre Island ferry

There are seats on the upper deck but it’s still crowded with people sprawled everywhere

Up and down on both levels, vendors sell food, fruit and flowers from their heads and hands, and from conventional counters even.

Following the initial chaos of boarding and departure, the boat settles into a calmness matching the rhythm of the river. It is smooth sailing for an hour, until the chaos commences again as the shoreline approaches.

A crowd of men stand in anticipation on the dock.

Men waiting at ferry dock

Friends, family & touts eagerly await the ferry arrival on the dock

The ferry finishes and disembarkation and disorder descends.

It’s a true sight of mass migration as the people debark and cross the bridge onto the island, many with two hands full and a heavy load on the head.

Getting off Ogre Island ferry

An amazing sight to see people getting off the ferry

Getting off Ogre Island ferry

Many people have two hands full and a heavy load on the head – wow!

Ogre Island Motorbike Tour

Once you arrive on Ogre Island, all forms of transport await to whisk you away: pick-up trucks, horse carts, motorbikes and bicycles.

A tout approached me for a tour of the island, for 10,000 kyat / $10.00.

I offered 5,000 kyat / $5.00 and he accepted.

It lasted 2.5hrs, as I had to return for the last ferry, but the time was adequate.

Motorbike guide on Ogre Island

My motorbike tout driver/guide for Ogre Island

Ogre Island comprises over 60 villages amidst green vegetation, most scenic along the main “highway” leaving the port.

Ogre Island highway

The main “highway” on the island is lined with trees

  • 1st stop: Rubber factory

A large portion of the vegetation comes from the many rubber plantations and fittingly, the first stop was a rubber factory (or rather, a rubber band house).

Rubber factory on Ogre Island

Rubber factory

Natural rubber is garnered from the latex of specific trees.

The latex is a sticky, milky substance, collected through tapping of the tree.

It is then turned into rubber for commercial production.

Rubber band factory in Mawlamyine

No-one speaks English so there are no explanations but it’s still a fascinating visit

  • 2nd stop: Wood-carving workshop

The second stop was a wood-carving workshop, another important industry on the island.

In a raised house, with the workshop below, I was invited upstairs for tea and wafers, along with the obligatory wooden objects viewing/purchasing.

Wooden pipes cost 8,000 kyat / $8.00.

Woodcarving studio on Ogre Island

Tea & wafers as you shop in this studio – wooden pipes are 8,000 kyat

  • 3rd stop: wood-carved walking stick workshop

The third stop was another wood-carving studio, this one specializing in walking sticks.

I fell in love with a kooky Mary Poppins stork – handmade, 3 days work, able to be dismantled into 3 parts, 10,000 kyat / $10.00.

Walking stick wood factory

Buy handcrafted walking sticks for 10,000 kyat or less than $10

  • 4th stop: Coconut fibre ropes

The last stop was to look at coconut fibre ropes on the ground – not too much to say about that!

Ogre Island is a fantastic daytrip from Mawlamyine, with the ferry experience a destination its own right!

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Ferry to Ogre Island: Mawlamyine Day Trip

 

*** The Final Word – The day trip from Mawlamyine to Ogre Island is a must-visit in Southern Myanmar! ***

Did you take any other day trips from Mawlamyine?

3 Shovels

Accessible DIY travel to more distant locations via multiple connections or longer forms of public transport

Visited in May 2014