မင်္ဂလာပါ။ Myanmar22 October 2018
travel food digitalnomad Myanmar Burma
I covered Myanmar in multiple trips. I’ve had this drafted for more than a year now but thought it would be a good time to post this hidden gem of a country.
While the city didn’t offer too much in terms of tourism, due to population it does have a good amount of expats (and also usergroup meetups, and co-working spaces). Usually most people come to this city to work (or play due to some of the bars). This place is the place to be if you are after events as well. Also the prices for food is quite reasonable (1000 kyats or less than 1 USD for a meal at a restaurant).
My main highlights are as follows.
Ohn no khao swè အုန်းနို့ခေါက်ဆွဲ
This is where the Northern Thai dish Khao Soi ข้าวซอย originated from.
I’ve tried two different variations of this. One with less broth and one which was actually served as part of a free breakfast at the hostel I was staying at.
This is a street where you can find cheap street food, as well as drinks (think mojitos for less than 1 USD - cheaper than cocktails from drink carts in Pub Street Siem Reap!)
Yangon Circular Railway ရန်ကုန် မြို့ပတ် ရထား
For about 300 kyats, and 3 hours worth to do a full revolution (you may hop on and hop off, at several stops along the way) the railway offers an insight on urban and country life (on the outskirts) of Yangon.
The train also provided a lot of good people watching from all walks of life. As far as entertainment is concerned, it’s just interesting riding on the train (as interesting as it is to the locals watching foreigners take the train too!)
During the 3 hours, you also have the opportunity to buy (very cheaply) from vendors on the train too. I had a noodles dish mixed with curry for less than 30 cents US.
Sule Pagoda ဆူးလေဘုရား
This was more a landmark for me, mostly “where you take the bus too” if you are heading towards the downtown.
If you want a true local experience, you can actually take a bus from close to the airport (Bus Stop “se mai”) which goes all the way to “Sule Paya”.
Botataung Pagoda ဗိုလ်တထောင်ဘုရား
This looks similar to Shwedagon Pagoda, but located downtown. It was one of my first ports of call as I was staying downtown.
Entrance fees for foreigners is about 3000 kyats.
Shwedagon Pagoda ရွှေတိဂုံဘုရား
This is the biggest pagoda and a must see place in Yangon. The pagoda is made out of pure gold.
Entrance fees for foreigners is 8000 kyats (or a little less than 8 USD).
Other less notable stuff
I made two trips to Yangon in 2017, the first trip it was mostly to check out Myanmar for the first time. The second trip I decided to slow travel - meaning I would hang out and also check out what locals / expats and remote workers do.
Here are so of my favorite places:
- Project Hub Yangon - This is Yangon’s first official co-working space. There’s actually a startup scene in Yangon (complete with a startup weekend event!). And yes, you can also use Grab and Uber in Yangon too.
- CRAFT - This is a cool cafe (located around the same area as the Project Hub coworking space). Serves good european style coffee, and many south east asian dishes. The pricing is a bit closer to the pricing in a developed country, but the wifi is quite good.
Next phase of the journey it was on the way to Bagan. Opted for a sleeper bus, through JJ Express where for 20 USD a very generous recline was offered plus a free snack and bottle of water.
The bus arrived just before the crack of dawn and it was time to check out the first sunrise and savor this opportunity.
The key highlights for my Bagan trip are:
- Shwezigon Pagoda ရွှေစည်းခုံဘုရား
- Bulethi Temple (Especially at Sunrise)
- Ananda Temple အာနန္ဒာဘုရား
- Thatbyinnyu Temple သဗ္ဗညုဘုရား
- Nan Myint Tower
- Shwesandaw Pagoda ရွှေဆံတော်ဘုရား
- Pyathada Temple
- Dhammayazika Pagoda ဓမ္မရာဇိကဘုရား
As a summary for Bagan, it’s a good place if you like:
- Architecture and Photography
- Sunrises / Sunsets and Photography. The sunrise is the best. It’s actually quite easy to get around even at sunrise, as most of the e-bike stores actually open very early in the day.
Bulethi Temple (Sunrise)
The first port of call was Bulethi Temple or better known as the “Sunrise Temple”.
From this temple, there was an opportunity to see the hot air balloons as well. You can ride on them for 300 USD, but that costed 3 times more than the flight. But everyone says its worth it. I guess theres always next time.
Shwesandaw Pagoda ရွှေဆံတော်ဘုရား
This temple is known as the sunset temple, although you can also see the sunrise here.
Ananda Temple အာနန္ဒာဘုရား
Shwezigon Pagoda ရွှေစည်းခုံဘုရား
Aparently this was based on Shwedagon Pagoda (or the other way round). This is right in the town of Nyang-U
Thatbyinnyu Temple သဗ္ဗညုဘုရား
This temple is close to Ananda Temple. It’s a another good temple for capturing the sunset or for magic hour. Not to mention it’s close to Old Bagan.
Nan Myint Tower
Even those this tower is only 13 floors tall, it still offers great panoramic views of the Bagan area. Cost is about 5000 kyat or 5 USD (can also pay in USD)
I discovered this temple while exploring some of the dirt roads, which has a nice rooftop and made a commitment to check out the sunset at a future date
Dhammayazika Pagoda ဓမ္မရာဇိကဘုရား
This temple complex is quite large, and has a nice rooftop temple behind.
I purchased a copy of “Burmese Days by George Orwell” from a vendor for less than $2, theres also a lot of vendors around this temple too for local handicrafts.
As there is no public transport, the options for getting around is either to hire a driver for a car or horse cart.
However, the best and cheapest way (and fun!) of doing so is by electronic scooter (petrol scooters are forbidden to rent for foreigners in Bagan aparently -> though it somehow doesn’t stop some enterprising locals renting them out for extra money).
The batteries for the E-Scooter last all day, and some of the newer models go up to 80 km/h so it’s just as good as a petrol scooter (There’s not too many gas stations in Bagan).
Costs is around 5000-8000 kyats a day (so around 5 bucks). (but for a few hours you can bargain it down more.).
Highly recommended that you approach one of the rental places outside of where you are staying as it would be a lot cheaper doing so. My favorite bike rental place is right in the middle of Old Bagan. The bikes are quite new.
Tea Leaf Salad လက်ဖက်သုပ်
Tea Leaf Salad or “Lahpet thok” (လက်ဖက်သုပ်) is one of the must try dishes in Myanmar/Burma.
This may or may not be a dish from another part of Myanmar, but I was definetly recommended this at some random roadside restaurant.
The Moon - Be kind to Animals restaurant
Along the way, I was somehow in the mood for vegetarian and came across this place