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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ogre Island comprises over 60 villages amidst green vegetation, most scenic along the main “highway” leaving the port.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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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*** 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?
Accessible DIY travel to more distant locations via multiple connections or longer forms of public transport
Visited in May 2014