Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

How To Take The Train From Mandalay Over The Gokteik Viaduct


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Greer Ashby



Welcome to the mesmerizing journey of taking the train from Mandalay over the Gokteik Viaduct, an engineering marvel that offers breathtaking views and an unforgettable experience. This article will guide you on how to embark on this scenic train ride and provide you with valuable tips to make the most of your journey through the beautiful Myanmar countryside.


Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar, is known for its rich cultural heritage and historical significance. The city, nestled on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, was the last royal capital of the Burmese kingdom before the British colonization. Today, it remains a vibrant hub of traditional arts, crafts, and spirituality, making it a must-visit destination for travelers.


The Gokteik Viaduct, located in the Shan State of Myanmar, is a masterpiece of engineering. This iconic viaduct was constructed in 1900 under the supervision of Sir Arthur Rendel, a renowned British engineer. It spans a deep gorge and stretches for 689 meters, making it one of the highest and longest railway bridges in the world at the time of its completion.


Nowadays, the Gokteik Viaduct serves as a vital link in the railway network, connecting the towns of Pyin Oo Lwin and Lashio. Apart from its functional purpose, the viaduct has become a tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world who want to experience the thrill of traversing this architectural marvel.


So, if you’re ready for a remarkable journey, hop aboard the train from Mandalay and brace yourself for an awe-inspiring adventure over the Gokteik Viaduct. The next sections will provide you with everything you need to know to plan your trip and make it an unforgettable experience.


Brief Overview of Mandalay

Mandalay, the cultural heartland of Myanmar, is a city steeped in history and tradition. Located in the central part of the country, it is the second-largest city and serves as a major economic and commercial hub. Mandalay offers a unique blend of ancient landmarks, vibrant markets, and religious sites that make it a must-visit destination for travelers.


The city is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, which is evident in its numerous temples, monasteries, and palaces. The most iconic landmark is the Mandalay Palace, a majestic complex surrounded by a moat and walls. Inside, you can explore the royal buildings, shrines, and gardens, gaining insights into the country’s royal past.


Another prominent attraction in Mandalay is the Kuthodaw Pagoda, often referred to as the “World’s Largest Book.” This pagoda houses a collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist scriptures, offering a unique religious and cultural experience.


For panoramic views of the city, head to Mandalay Hill, a sacred site dotted with monasteries and pagodas. Climbing the hill at sunset is a popular activity, as it offers stunning vistas and a serene atmosphere.


Mandalay is also famous for its traditional arts and crafts. The city is known for its skilled craftsmen who create handmade products like puppets, wood carvings, and gold leaf. Exploring the workshops and markets allows you to witness the craftsmanship firsthand and even purchase souvenirs to take home.


When it comes to food, Mandalay offers a delightful culinary scene. The city is known for its diverse street food, where you can savor traditional Burmese dishes such as mohinga (rice noodle soup), tea leaf salad, and Mandalay-style barbecue. Don’t forget to try the local delicacy, Mandalay mont lone yay paw (sticky rice and coconut pancake) for a sweet treat.


With its rich history, cultural heritage, and vibrant atmosphere, Mandalay is a destination that offers something for every traveler. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient landmarks, immersing yourself in local traditions, or indulging in mouthwatering cuisine, Mandalay is sure to leave a lasting impression.


History of the Gokteik Viaduct

The Gokteik Viaduct, an engineering marvel, has a fascinating history that dates back to the early 20th century. The construction of this awe-inspiring viaduct was a remarkable feat that involved overcoming challenging terrain and pioneering engineering techniques.


The viaduct was built between 1899 and 1900 during British colonial rule in Myanmar. It was designed by Sir Arthur Rendel, a renowned British civil engineer, and constructed by the Pennsylvania and Maryland Bridge Construction Company. The primary purpose of building the viaduct was to connect the towns of Pyin Oo Lwin and Lashio, facilitating the transportation of goods and people across the region.


The construction of the Gokteik Viaduct was no easy task. The viaduct spans a steep valley and had to withstand the harsh weather conditions of the Shan Plateau. The engineers had to overcome the challenges posed by the deep gorge and ensure the stability of the structure.


The viaduct is an impressive architectural marvel, with a length of 689 meters and a height of 102 meters. It was constructed using steel and iron, with massive trestles supporting the railway line. At the time of its completion, it was considered one of the highest and longest railway bridges in the world.


During World War II, the Gokteik Viaduct played a strategic role. It served as a crucial link in the railway network, enabling the transportation of troops and supplies between Mandalay and the northern regions of Myanmar. The viaduct was a target for allied forces, and it suffered some damage during bombing raids.


After Myanmar gained independence from British rule in 1948, the Gokteik Viaduct continued to serve as an important transportation route. Over the years, it has become a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world who want to experience the thrill of crossing this iconic structure.


Today, the Gokteik Viaduct stands as a testament to the engineering genius of its time. It is not only a vital transportation link but also a symbol of Myanmar’s rich history and heritage. Crossing the viaduct offers a unique experience, showcasing the country’s natural beauty and the sheer brilliance of human ingenuity.


Planning Your Journey

Planning your journey to experience the train ride over the Gokteik Viaduct requires some careful consideration to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential tips to help you plan your trip:

  1. Choose the right time: Myanmar has a tropical climate, so it’s important to consider the weather when planning your journey. The cooler months from November to February are generally considered the best time to visit, as the temperatures are more comfortable for travel.
  2. Train schedule: Check the train schedules for departures from Mandalay to the town of Pyin Oo Lwin, as this is where you will board the train for the journey over the Gokteik Viaduct. Trains usually depart in the morning, so plan your day accordingly.
  3. Duration of the journey: The train ride from Mandalay to the Gokteik Viaduct takes approximately five to six hours, depending on the train and any delays along the way. Keep this in mind when planning your itinerary.
  4. Comfort and amenities: Train travel in Myanmar can be quite basic, so be prepared for simple seating arrangements and limited amenities onboard. Bring essentials like water, snacks, and a light jacket or scarf, as the train can get chilly due to open windows.
  5. Booking train tickets: It is advisable to book your train tickets in advance, as the popularity of this route can result in limited availability, especially during peak travel seasons. You can either book through a travel agent or visit the train station directly to secure your tickets.
  6. Camera essentials: The journey over the Gokteik Viaduct offers stunning views and photo opportunities. Make sure to pack your camera or smartphone with extra batteries and memory cards to capture the scenic landscapes and the viaduct itself.
  7. Travel documents: Don’t forget to carry your identification documents, such as your passport or a photocopy of your passport, as they may be required during ticket purchase or at security checkpoints.
  8. Local customs and etiquette: Familiarize yourself with the local customs and etiquette of Myanmar, including appropriate dress and behavior at religious sites and while interacting with locals.

By considering these factors and planning ahead, you can ensure a well-prepared and memorable journey over the Gokteik Viaduct. It is an experience that will surely stay with you long after your visit to Myanmar.


Buying Train Tickets

When planning to take the train from Mandalay over the Gokteik Viaduct, purchasing your train tickets in advance is essential to secure your seat and ensure a smooth journey. Here are some tips to help you with buying train tickets:

  1. Online booking: Myanmar has made significant progress in recent years regarding online services, and train ticket booking is no exception. Check if online booking options are available for the Mandalay to Pyin Oo Lwin route and purchase your tickets conveniently through reliable travel websites or official Myanmar Railways websites.
  2. Travel agencies: If online booking is not available or if you prefer personalized assistance, consider contacting travel agencies in Myanmar. They can help you arrange your train tickets, provide information on train schedules, and offer additional travel services if needed.
  3. Train station: If you prefer to buy your tickets in person, head to the train station in Mandalay or Pyin Oo Lwin. Ticket counters are usually open a few days in advance, so plan your visit accordingly. Be prepared for potential language barriers and some waiting time, especially during peak travel seasons.
  4. Class selection: Myanmar trains typically offer different classes, ranging from basic seats to more comfortable seating options. Understand the different classes available and choose one that fits your budget and comfort preferences.
  5. Seat selection: Depending on availability, you may have the option to select specific seats. If possible, choose a seat on the left side of the train when traveling from Mandalay to Pyin Oo Lwin, as it offers better views of the viaduct when approaching it.
  6. Booking window: Train tickets for popular routes like Mandalay to Pyin Oo Lwin can sell out quickly, especially during peak travel seasons. It’s best to book your tickets as early as possible to secure your preferred travel date and time.
  7. Flexibility: Keep in mind that train schedules and availability may be subject to change, so it’s advisable to have some flexibility in your travel plans. Allow for some extra time before and after your train journey to account for any potential delays.

By considering these tips, you can successfully purchase your train tickets for the journey over the Gokteik Viaduct. Remember to plan ahead and be prepared to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience during your time in beautiful Myanmar.


Boarding the Train in Mandalay

Once you’ve secured your train tickets for the journey from Mandalay to the Gokteik Viaduct, it’s time to prepare for boarding the train at Mandalay Station. Here are some important things to know:

  1. Arrive early: It is recommended to arrive at Mandalay Station at least 30 minutes before the train departure time. This will allow you enough time to find your platform, locate your carriage, and settle in comfortably.
  2. Confirmation and tickets: Make sure to have your train tickets and any necessary confirmation documents readily available. This will streamline the boarding process and prevent any last-minute confusion.
  3. Porter assistance: If you have heavy luggage or prefer some extra assistance, there are porters available at the station who can help you with your bags. Be prepared to tip them for their services.
  4. Security checks: Similar to most train stations, Mandalay Station may have security checks before boarding. Make sure to comply with any security procedures and have your travel documents readily accessible.
  5. Platform information: Check the details of your train, such as the platform number and departure time, and locate the designated area for boarding. Information boards and station staff can guide you if needed.
  6. Be mindful of the gap: Exercise caution while boarding the train and be mindful of the gap between the platform and the train. Take your time and use the handrails if necessary to ensure a safe boarding process.
  7. Find your seat: Once on board, locate your assigned seat or berth. Look for the seat number on your ticket and find the corresponding space. If you have any difficulties, the train attendants can assist you.
  8. Stow your luggage: Store your luggage in the designated areas, either above your seat or in the luggage racks provided. Ensure that your belongings are secure and will not obstruct the aisle or inconvenience other passengers.
  9. Comfort during the journey: Adjust your seat or make yourself comfortable for the duration of the journey. Keep your essentials, such as water, snacks, and any entertainment items, within easy reach.

By following these guidelines, you can navigate the process of boarding the train at Mandalay Station smoothly. Prepare in advance, ensure you have all necessary documents, and embrace the excitement of embarking on a memorable journey over the magnificent Gokteik Viaduct.


Train Ride towards the Gokteik Viaduct

Once you’ve boarded the train in Mandalay, get ready for an exhilarating ride towards the Gokteik Viaduct. As the train chugs along the tracks, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Myanmar countryside. Here are some things to expect during the train ride:

  1. Scenic landscapes: As the train leaves Mandalay behind, you’ll be greeted by picturesque rural landscapes. Lush green fields, rolling hills, and quaint villages will unfold before your eyes, providing a sense of tranquility and beauty.
  2. Open windows: Most trains in Myanmar have open windows, allowing fresh air and panoramic views to fill the carriages. Take advantage of this and relish the gentle breeze as you take in the natural splendor passing by.
  3. Interactions with locals: One of the unique aspects of train travel in Myanmar is the opportunity to interact with locals. Strike up conversations with fellow passengers, exchange smiles and greetings, and immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of the Myanmar people.
  4. Vendor visits: Throughout the journey, vendors selling local snacks, drinks, and fruits may make their way through the train. Sample some of these treats to get a taste of Myanmar’s culinary delights.
  5. Comfort considerations: Keep in mind that train travel in Myanmar may not offer the same level of comfort as other modes of transportation. The ride can be bumpy at times, so make sure to hold on to your belongings and adjust your seating position for a smoother experience.
  6. Photography opportunities: The train ride presents numerous opportunities for capturing stunning photographs. From the vibrant landscapes to the charming rural scenes, keep your camera or smartphone handy to capture the essence of Myanmar’s countryside.
  7. Approaching the viaduct: As the train nears the Gokteik Viaduct, excitement builds among passengers. You may feel the anticipation in the air as everyone prepares for the grand moment of crossing this iconic structure.
  8. Awe-inspiring views: Finally, as the train crosses the Gokteik Viaduct, be prepared to be amazed by the breathtaking views. The deep gorge beneath, the towering steel structure, and the stunning natural surroundings come together to create an unforgettable sight.
  9. Celebratory atmosphere: Crossing the Gokteik Viaduct is a highlight of the journey, and passengers often express their joy and enthusiasm. Celebrate this special moment with your fellow travelers and revel in the experience of this incredible feat of engineering.

Enjoy every moment of the train ride towards the Gokteik Viaduct, savoring the sights, sounds, and unique experiences along the way. This journey offers a captivating glimpse into the scenic beauty of Myanmar and the incredible achievement of the Gokteik Viaduct.


Crossing the Gokteik Viaduct

The highlight of your train journey from Mandalay is undoubtedly the crossing of the awe-inspiring Gokteik Viaduct. As the train approaches this iconic structure, prepare to be amazed by its sheer size and architectural brilliance. Here’s what you can expect during the crossing of the Gokteik Viaduct:

  1. Suspense builds: As the train approaches the viaduct, you may start to feel the suspense and anticipation building among your fellow passengers. All eyes will be fixed on the scenic masterpiece that lies ahead.
  2. Heart-stopping views: Once the train begins its crossing, hold your breath and be prepared for breathtaking views. The viaduct spans a deep valley, and you’ll have the opportunity to admire the rugged landscape beneath your feet.
  3. Engineering marvel: As you marvel at the incredible engineering feat of the Gokteik Viaduct, take a moment to appreciate the ingenuity and craftsmanship that went into its construction over a century ago. The viaduct stands tall as a testament to human innovation in the face of challenging natural terrain.
  4. Photographic moments: Ensure your camera or smartphone is ready to capture memorable photographs of the Gokteik Viaduct as the train glides along its steel tracks. The combination of the viaduct, the surrounding landscape, and the train itself creates a stunning composition for photography enthusiasts.
  5. Adrenaline rush: The experience of traversing the Gokteik Viaduct can be both thrilling and exhilarating. The slight vibration and the swaying motion of the train may add a touch of excitement to the already awe-inspiring moments.
  6. Majestic views from the window: If you’re lucky enough to have a window seat on the left side of the train when traveling from Mandalay to Pyin Oo Lwin, you’ll have a front-row view of the viaduct. This provides an exceptional vantage point to capture the sweeping scenery and the imposing structure.
  7. Reflecting on its significance: Take a moment to reflect on the historical and cultural significance of the Gokteik Viaduct. It has not only served as a crucial transportation route but has also become an iconic symbol of Myanmar’s engineering prowess and the enduring legacy of its colonial past.
  8. Shared experience: The crossing of the Gokteik Viaduct creates a sense of camaraderie among the passengers. You’ll likely find yourself exchanging smiles, exclamations of awe, and even striking up conversations with your fellow travelers, all captivated by this remarkable spectacle.

Crossing the Gokteik Viaduct is an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after your train journey has ended. It allows you to witness firsthand the engineering marvel that connects Myanmar’s picturesque countryside and invites you to be a part of its rich history.


Experience at the Other End of the Viaduct

As the train completes its exhilarating crossing of the Gokteik Viaduct, you will find yourself on the other end of this architectural marvel. Here, you can immerse yourself in the surrounding area and continue your unforgettable journey. Here’s what you can expect at the other end of the viaduct:

  1. Savor the moment: Take a moment to reflect on the incredible experience you just had crossing the Gokteik Viaduct. Allow yourself to fully appreciate the magnitude of this engineering masterpiece and the breathtaking views you were privileged to witness.
  2. Enjoy the scenic beauty: The region beyond the Gokteik Viaduct is known for its stunning natural landscapes. As the train continues on its route, you’ll be treated to mesmerizing vistas of lush green hills, valleys, and charming villages. Soak in the beauty and tranquility of the countryside.
  3. Interact with locals: As you disembark at the station on the other end of the viaduct, you may have the chance to interact with locals who reside in the surrounding area. Engage in conversations, learn about their way of life, and embrace the warmth and friendliness of the Myanmar people.
  4. Explore the town: Depending on your itinerary, you may have the opportunity to explore the town near the Gokteik Viaduct. Pyin Oo Lwin, for example, is a charming hill town known for its refreshing climate, beautiful gardens, and colonial-era architecture. Take some time to wander through its streets and discover its unique charm.
  5. Sample local cuisine: Treat yourself to the flavors of Myanmar by trying some local cuisine in the town near the viaduct. Whether it’s a simple street food stall or a cozy restaurant, indulge in traditional dishes like Shan noodles, tea leaf salad, or samosas, and delight in the diverse culinary offerings.
  6. Embrace adventure: If you have more time and a spirit for adventure, consider exploring the surrounding areas beyond the viaduct. Embark on hikes, visit nearby waterfalls, or discover hidden gems that offer glimpses into the beauty and culture of Myanmar’s rural landscapes.
  7. Capture memories: Throughout your experience at the other end of the viaduct, don’t forget to capture the memories. Use your camera or smartphone to document the sights, the people, and the unique moments you encounter along the way. These photographs will serve as lasting reminders of this remarkable journey.

Remember, the crossing of the Gokteik Viaduct is just one part of your overall adventure. Embrace the opportunities presented at the other end of the viaduct, and allow yourself to be fully immersed in the rich culture, natural beauty, and warm hospitality that Myanmar has to offer.


Returning from Gokteik Viaduct to Mandalay

After experiencing the marvels of the Gokteik Viaduct and exploring the town on the other end, it’s time to make your way back to Mandalay. Here are some key details to keep in mind for your return journey:

  1. Train schedule: Check the train schedules in advance to ensure that you have the most updated information for departures from the station near the viaduct back to Mandalay. Take note of the departure times and plan your day accordingly.
  2. Ticket purchase: If you didn’t already purchase a return ticket, visit the ticket counter or make arrangements to secure your tickets before the departure time. Arrive at the station with sufficient time to avoid any last-minute rush or availability issues.
  3. Comfort and amenities: Remember that train travel in Myanmar may not offer the same level of comfort as other means of transportation. Bring along essentials like water, snacks, and a light jacket to stay comfortable during the journey.
  4. Enjoy familiar vistas: As the train moves in the opposite direction, enjoy another opportunity to admire the scenic beauty and familiar landscapes that you encountered on the initial leg of your journey. Revisit the captivating views and reminisce about the experiences you’ve had.
  5. Connect with fellow travelers: Reconnect with fellow passengers who may have shared the initial part of your journey. Share stories, exchange contact information if desired, and enjoy the camaraderie that train travel often cultivates.
  6. Prepare for disembarkation: Pay attention to the announcements and prepare to disembark the train upon reaching Mandalay. Gather your belongings and be mindful of any personal items stored in the overhead compartments or luggage racks.
  7. Extend your adventure: If you have time and are eager to explore more of Myanmar, consider using Mandalay as a starting point for further travels. The city serves as a gateway to other beautiful destinations in the country, such as Bagan, Inle Lake, and Yangon.
  8. Reflect on your journey: Take some time to reflect on the incredible experience of crossing the Gokteik Viaduct and exploring the area on the other end. Cherish the memories, the sights, and the lessons learned during your time in Myanmar.

As you return from the Gokteik Viaduct to Mandalay, you’ll bring with you the experiences and the awe-inspiring moments that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression. Treasure this unique adventure and the beauty of Myanmar as you continue your travel journey.



The train journey from Mandalay over the Gokteik Viaduct is truly a remarkable experience that showcases the natural beauty and engineering prowess of Myanmar. From the bustling streets of Mandalay to the breathtaking views while crossing the viaduct, this adventure offers a unique perspective on this enchanting country.


By planning your journey, buying train tickets, and boarding the train in Mandalay, you set the stage for an unforgettable ride. As the train makes its way towards the Gokteik Viaduct, you’ll witness stunning landscapes, interact with friendly locals, and relish the excitement of approaching this architectural wonder.


Crossing the Gokteik Viaduct itself is a moment that will take your breath away. The magnificent structure towering above the deep valley is a testament to human ingenuity and serves as a reminder of Myanmar’s rich history. Capture the surreal views, share the experience with fellow passengers, and reflect on the significance of this engineering marvel.


As you arrive at the other end of the viaduct, take the time to explore the surrounding town, interact with locals, and savor the unique flavors of Myanmar cuisine. Embrace the adventure, capture your memories through photographs, and appreciate the natural beauty and cultural heritage that Myanmar has to offer.


Returning from the Gokteik Viaduct to Mandalay allows you to reflect on your journey and cherish the moments you’ve experienced. The train ride and the scenery will stay with you long after your departure, serving as a reminder of the captivating beauty of Myanmar’s countryside.


In conclusion, the train journey from Mandalay over the Gokteik Viaduct is a captivating adventure filled with awe-inspiring views, cultural encounters, and unforgettable moments. It offers a unique perspective on Myanmar’s landscapes and showcases the remarkable feat of engineering that is the Gokteik Viaduct. So, hop on board, embrace the journey, and let the magic of the Gokteik Viaduct and the beauty of Myanmar unfold before your eyes.