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I reached out to travel agency based in Myanmar to look into reserving train tickets from Yangon to Mandalay, and they came back with this:

[The request] will be submitted to the ticket issuer a maximum of one week ahead of travel, and then tickets are issued up to three days ahead of your travel date.

Is it really true that tickets are not available for sale more than a week in advance in Burma?

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That is more or less correct. Tickets are available starting 5 days before departure and have to be bought in person. Travel agencies can act as a proxy to buy on your behalf, but they also have to physically go to the train station to buy your ticket.

I would guess this agency's specification of dates has been simply padded a bit to cover things like holidays, weekends or such that might delay buying or sending tickets.

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