Trishaws (or Side-car as it is known in Myanmar) are the easiest and most convenient mode of transportation in Myanmar, especially outside of Yangon. Although buses are the major mode of travel in Yangon, very few buses run the streets of other major cities and towns in Burma. In smaller towns in Myanmar, there is no public bus service. People in these smaller cities and towns have to rely on trishaws as the major mode of public transport.
Trishaw is indeed a Burmese invention. First introduced around 1930 in Mandalay, the second city of Burma, it became the most popular form of public transport in colonial Burma. It had become very popular and successful all over Burma, even replacing the electric tram in Rangoon and Mandalay, forcing their closure and eventually bankruptcy.
Burmese design of trishaw is different from those of other Asian countries. Trishaw from other Asian countries are three wheel vehicles with a passenger seat directly behind the paddler. The Burmese trishaw is essentially a bicycle, with a passenger side car attached to it. Thus the passenger seat is not behind the paddler, but on the side of the paddler, just behind him. The seat is smaller and more compact, thus the whole trishaw is practically smaller, more compact and easier to ride. It can also travel through small streets and back streets, making it ideal vehicle for Myanmar towns. It is also quite strong and durable, which is a necessity for all the vehicles running the streets of Myanmar.
There are two seats in the passenger compartment – one seat in the front and another one in the back. Thus the two passengers are sitting back to back. Another passenger can still ride on the back carrier seat of the bicycle. Usually, this carrier seat is used for carrying things.
Trishaws can be found everywhere in Myanmar – Yangon, Mandalay, cities, towns, even in some large villages. Passenger fair is also quite cheap, around 200-300 kyats (0.15 to 0.25 US$) for short distances. Indeed, trishaws are the most basic and essential public transport in Myanmar.