As a traveller I’m always curious about other traveller’s plans and itineraries. It inspires me or brings back memories. I love to share ideas or give some advice about must see’s and well kept secrets, hidden at the end of a non-beaten track.
OK, to be honest: you can’t call Yangon ‘off the beaten track’, but according to me this former capital of former Burma is often underestimated by travellers. Many visitors of Myanmar use Yangon just as a stepping stone to other destinations in the country. On the arrival- or departure day, they visit the Shwedagon pagoda, Bogyoke Market and some food stalls. Nothing wrong with that but Yangon has so much more to offer. Enough for a few unforgettable days. My advice: forget about Yangon as a stepping stone and consider it as a real destination in your holiday plans.
Recently I visited Yangon for a few days and I loved it. On Friday evening a taxi brought us straight from the airport to our convenient hotel downtown Yangon. The area around 19th Street is perfect for BBQ-lovers (with a cold beer). Choose whatever you like and how much you like; just fill your plastic basket and hand it over. Every street restaurant knows exactly how to grill your meat, fish, vegetables, eggs… you name it. A perfect place to start and to meet other people.
For the next morning I booked a bicycle tour on bamboo (!) bicycles. In the beginning this tour is a bit of a hassle (but do-able) because of heavy traffic. Within 10 minutes you reach the river with the ferry to the other side. On the ferry you feel a change of atmosphere: it’s getting more relaxed. The other side of the river really amazed me. It is so quit, so beautiful and easy going. Cycling here is great! You’ll see daily life, colourful markets and many friendly people. This tour is a 100% must do in Yangon.
Back in Yangon it’s time for lunch. This time I choose the cosy food stalls near Maga Bandoola Park. In the afternoon I zigzagged my way home to my hotel. Unbelievable how many cultures and religions live close together. Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims: all with their pagodas, churches, temples or mosques. You’ll see influences from India, China and England. I felt like being in the centre of the world and it felt great.
When 19th Street is too predictable, I have an alternative destination for a nice evening with locals: the San Chaung area. This is the place to be for young locals to hang out. This area is a bit more upmarket and perfect for good food and nice pubs.
The next morning I made my way downtown Yangon which is actually more a huge open market. This was a perfect morning for shooting pictures. Nice people, fresh fruit and vegetables, herbs, fish, meat. What an experience: just walk around, have a chit-chat an enjoy all the different fresh fruit.
After usual suspects as Sule Pagoda and Bogyoke market it’s time to move to Shwedagon Pagoda. Around sunset is the best time to visit this unbelievable complex. For me it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
After two nights of street food it was time to change the menu. Burma Bistro is a perfect place for dining in colonial style. I enjoyed tasty food in great style and I realised that I did so much in so little time. 3 days in Yangon and still a lot to do. See you next time.