It has been 6 days since we have landed in crazy Yangon, Myanmar and it still hasn’t sunk in that I quit my job and I wont be returning home anytime soon. I didn’t know what to expect to see in Myanmar (Burma), but I didn’t expect to be as surprised as I was considering I have spent 8 weeks travelling through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. The first thing that amazed me was how very little tourists there are here in Yangon, walking down the overflowing streets its rare to spot another tourist here which makes this place 100 times better not seeing a westerner every two minutes. Most of the women and children here wear a white paste on their faces called “Thanaka” which they use for sun protection, whilst the men wear a “Longyi” long skirts tied at the waist. All the people here are so friendly and so happy to see you in their country and will always go out of their way to help you, even if you both speak a completely different language to one another. In Myanmar there are over 100 ethnic groups here so walking down the streets is nothing like i’ve ever seen before, and theres nothing better than watching all the Monks walking freely down the streets in their orange gowns.
We are staying at the 20th Street Hostel in “Chinatown” which is smack bang in the hustle and bustle of Yangon, we have our own room with a double bed, air conditioner and desk which is pretty good for $30AUD a night. The hostel is really clean and the staff are friendly and are always trying to make your stay better. There is hardly any wi-fi anywhere in Yangon basically only at the hostels and hotels, the wi-fi in our hostel is quite good.
Click here to make a booking.
As for food here in Yangon, restaurants aren’t common but there are vendors selling street food every where you look. The food here what I would typically like to eat; as they like to eat random cuts of the meat like the chicken head and feet, and when you order a traditional meal like noodles and chicken the chicken is minced but it surprisingly tastes alright. It costs around 2000 kyats for a meal and a beer ($2.13 AUD) and western food is very scarce so don’t even bother looking for it. 19th Street is the place to eat at night, it is a busy street with a whole heap of open air restaurants that offer barbecue (vegetables, fish, grasshoppers, chicken), that you choose straight off the cart and is barbecued for you instantly. We tried the local meal which is a fish caught straight from the Yangon river that is rubbed in herbs and spices and then barbecued, the fish is served to you in a whole and you use chopsticks to pick the meat straight from the fish. This fish will cost you around 4,000 kyats ($4.25AUD) and I find is the most filling meal you can find in Yangon.
Myanmar has only been open for tourists since 1992, so there aren’t heaps of “touristy” things to do, so the best thing to do is just walk around and enjoy the ever changing sights of Yangon. The other day we bumped into another tourist Dan from Minnesota who was going on the Yangon Circular Train and seeing as we had nothing to do we joined him and it was an amazing. We jumped on the circular train at Yangon Central Railway Station our ticket cost us 300 kyats (0.32c) for our train ticket and we got on a very clean air conditioned train for a 3 hour round trip. This was not the train we wanted to be on, we wanted to be on the old open air train that all the locals catch, so we jumped off halfway through at the “Mingaladon Bazaar” a huge market where all the fresh produce is sold and ate some lunch (rice and meat that we have no idea what it was), and got back on the old colonial open air train. All the locals on the train just look at you and smile, I bought a corn on the cob (300 kyats/32c AUD) and the guy who sold it to me showed me how to peel it and then just threw the skin out the window. The circular train is a really fun way to see the Yangon country side and spend a day interacting with the locals and seeing how they live.
Yangon is the best of both worlds you have the hustle and bustle of the city and within a couple of minutes you feel as though you are walking through a lush rainforest. Everything here is relatively cheap and the beautiful people of this city make you love it even more.
Small train station in Yangon
Yangon Circular Train
Yangon Central Railway Station
A house on 20th Street, Yangon
Bengale Sunni Jamae (central) Mosque next to a heritage building in Yangon.
Yangon street food at night (barbecue)
Yangon at night