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What to do in Yangon

I only spent a couple of days in Yangon, I liked it, its a pretty city, with a nice amount of busy-ness and interesting normality happening around you. Good streetfood and a good vibe.

1) If you only do one thing while in Yangon make it the free ‘Yangon City Walk’ with Australian expat guide Gino or his prod-ogee Sandy.I can’t recommend this enough! Informative, interesting, and funny, I learnt so much from this walk around the city, and it’s free! So no excuse!

You’ll learn about the stories behind the old buildings, where to go for the best happy hour (The Strand Hotel can you believe!), the cheapest yoga and Indian food in town and tons of history both old and new about Myanmar in general and why he believes things shouldn’t change too much now the country has opened up. I go into more detail about the tour here if you’re interested {LINK}.

2) Take a trip on the circle line. It’s cliche and every blog says it, but it’s true, it was great!

Market on platform and tracks

It will cost you 2000kyat/$2 (foreigners price) and you can do the full loop or choose to hop off whenever you fancy.

The full loop took almost 2 and-a-half hours, the train is very slow, and that last half an hour draaaaaged but it’s worth it.

The scenery of city turning to paddy fields and back to city again is great, as is the people watching of locals getting on and off the train or seeing how people live on the tracks. There was often laundry laying out to dry on the rails, and a huge market was happening on one train platform we stopped at.

You can blend into the normality of the hustle and bustle of Yangon and the experience felt authentic. I didn’t see any other foreigners on the train, but did meet some lovely locals who were very keen to chat and ate some great food from the market sellers who boarded the train just long enough to be able to sell me some.

3) The Shwedagon Pagoda – obvs. It’s one of the most sacred places in all Myanmar and it is pretty spectacular to see this huge golden stupa surrounded by hundreds of baby golden stupas. I’ve gone into more detail about it here if you really need convincing.

The nameless indian restaurant on 37th Street gives you free refills of everything for 1500kyat! I went back twice, and had the Chicken Curry, the first time it was spicy, second time it wasn’t. The curry is average, the potatoes are yummy, the rice is plentiful, and for that price, no complaints!

Eat the streetfood in Yangon, from the stalls close to the Sule Pagoda, it’s the best food I had in all Myanmar. My favourite was a great noodle soup, sometimes with egg if you were lucky, from a random stall with a name written in Burmese. Here is a picture of it, go find it!Yangon StreetfoodThe lovely owner of the hostel I was at warned me against eating the streetfood as he’s seen many people suffering at the hands of some noodles, I was fine though, so maybe just keep an immodium handy if you have a sensitive stomach.

High Tea at The Strand Hotel
Feel like you have gone back in time to the colonial days of Kipling when you sit in this old hotel that probably hasn’t changed much since then, it looks and feels old, in the best way! Sure $20 seems expensive for some Scones, cake and tea but it’s likely the cheapest high tea you will find anywhere in the world and for the atmosphere and feeling like an aristocratic English explorer for a few hours is worth it.

Stay at Yangon Backpackers Hostel run by a lovely man named Simon. Talk to him about all the good stuff he does like running an orphanage.

He runs a great, clean, place in an ok location and for a decent price.The rest of Myanmar was full of hotel rooms rather than dorms, so it’s nice to stay in a hostel/dorm just once in Myanmar to have a chance to meet other people and share stories or buddy up for the hotels later in the trip. Most people will be going the same way or will have just come from where you are going so it makes for interesting interactions, story sharing and tips.

Don’t panic when there is a power-cut and you are stuck in the elevator of the hostel building. There was a power-cut at least once a day, and the briefing on arrival was that we wouldn’t need to wait longer than 10 minutes to be rescued from the elevator.

Don’t bother to try to find nightlife in Yangon, it’s not really a party city. A quiet beer on a tiny plastic stool, maybe, the odd crazy expat party, certainly if you have the right contacts. But the average traveller will walk around the city for an hour and a half looking for a scene, find nothing and end up having a wild night in eating ice-cream (that is what happened when a group from my hostel went out looking for nightlife in Yangon).

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