A short guide to help the ones that are visiting Yangon for the first time.
Where to sleep in Yangon
After checking a few places, including some new western-style hostel with dorms, the choice was to the White House Hotel… an old school accommodation, basic, cheap and very-very clean. The staff is friendly and helpful. Good location at Yangon downtown, between Sule Pagoda and the Chinatown area…. so plenty of food around at a walking distance.
There are rooms for many prices… but the cheapest ones are without window and with shared toilet. Basic, small and quiet, but is better get one with air-con as the fan maybe is not enough to provide freshness and dryness during the hottest months… but all depends on how long you plan to stay! Hot water shower, with good pressure, clean toilets with toilet paper.
Cheaper than White House Hotel I think there’s only Mahabandoola Guest house, with the same style but not so clean, particularly the bathrooms and toilets.
Moving around Yangon
All downtown of Yangon can be visited on foot… maybe is a too big area to do it in one day, but in three days you can see a lot, and even have time to take a short nap during the warmest part of the day. It worth to wake up early one time to see the early city vibe, that starts really early with market and food stalls start just as the sunrise.
Walk randomly along the streets grid and enjoy the Friday fuss at the Muslim neighbourhood, the groups of monks line by height begging for alms, drink a cold lassi at the Indian area of the city or enjoy a sweet milk tea in one of the Chinese style tea shops.
To visit the Shwedagon Pagoda you can take the bus at Sule Pagoda bus stand (Sule Pagoda Road). The ticket is 200 Kyat, in a air- conditioned bus.
Where to eat in Yangon
At each corner of Yangon downtown you can find some food: fruits, deep-fry snacks, sweets and puddings, sticky rice, noodles soups, mohinga, parathas, noodle salads, juices, stir fry rice and noodles… it looks that each time you find something new to try!!!
But it all depends on the time of the day… so don’t expect to find parathas after 9 a.m. or mohinga after 5 p.m… just walk random and grab what look more attractive, without thinking about hygiene conditions. Choose a place to seat along the street and have your food or tea, surrounded by friendly smiles, and enjoy the contact with local people! They will be happy to have you around and that you appreciate the local food.
Any of this street-food should cost you less than 1.000 kyats.
A mohinga bowl without meat is around 500 kyats.
- Ingyin New South Indian Food Center is a good option.
The famous Nilar Biryani Restaurant suffers a strong upgrade and has a new look and new prices, not anymore the casual biryani place from before, but worth a try.
- Shan food: basically noodle soup cooked in Shan State style, serving also the traditional Burmese food, like tea leaf salad. A bit touristic and busy but with good food.
- Strand Road food market: For an evening meal the place with the more options is the street food market along Strand Road... it starts more or less close to the 30th street and goes on for more than ten blocks… I could never walk until the last stall.
It’s open every day from 4 p.m until 11 p.m. and there you can find every kind of Burmese food, from grill fish to hot pot soups, from fry noodles to noodle soups, from smoothies to lassi, from sweet sticky rice to the delicious rice pancakes!
Despite many stalls serve meat, there’s also a lot’s of vegetarian options.
How to go from Yangon to Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Terminal
This bus terminal is located 20 km north of the city center, on the right side of the Nº 3 Main Road, the highway that connects Yangon to Mandalay.
Note: Most of the buses departure from Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal, but if your destination is the west coast, like Ngwe Saung or Ngapali for example, your bus probably will depart from Dagon Ayeyar Highway bus station.
Dagon Ayeyar Highway Bus Station is located about 22 km far from Yangon city center, on the side of the Yangon-Pathein Highway (west from Yangon, after crossing the Yangon river). A taxi from Yangon to Dagon Ayeyar Bus Station costs about 8.000 kyats.
By mini-van (shared-taxi):
Nearby Sule Pagoda, on the corner of Sule Pagoda Road and Maha Bandoola Road (northeast corner of the square) you’ll find a group of mini-vans that work like a shuttle between the terminal and the city.
They are identified by the sign “Aung Mahar Taxi Cab” and the ride cost 1.000 kyats. The trip can take almost one hour because of the traffic jam that are frequent in Yangon.
The taxi drivers will ask you 10.000 kyats but you can get it for 7.000 kyats. In evening time or very early in the morning maybe you need to pay 8.000 kyats.
Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Terminal
The Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Terminal is huge, and the way it is organized has nothing to do with what we used to call a terminal. Is more like a grid of streets, with yards where each company has their office. There are thousands of bus companies and each bus departure from the parking area in front of the office/ticket counter. In between you have restaurants and others shops, storage areas, a lot of people, hawkers… too big and too confuse for you to manage if you are in a rush or if you have heavy luggage. So is better to ask your taxi driver to drop you at the bus company office from where you have the ticket. You need to pay extra 200 Kyat for the taxi get inside the terminal.
At the entrance of the terminal, there is dozen of hawkers asking you where you go, to try to push you to a certain company. If you already have a ticket you are “safe” otherwise to need to know where to go, or trust in one of this guys.
Where to buy bus tickets in Yangon
- At Hotels, hotels, guesthouse and travel agents that charge a small fee.
- By the internet (http://www.go-myanmar.com/by-bus)
- Directly at the bus company offices at the terminal… if you have time and energy.
- But if you want to check different option in terms of costs and schedules you can go to the small offices of ticket sellers in front of the Train Station. You can reach there by crossing the Pansodan Bridge and turn right when you see a staircase, after crossing over the rail lines. You’ll be at a wide ground, with the station building on your left and the offices on the right side. From here there are also some private shuttles to the Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal, which service can be arranged by the same company where you buy the ticket.
How to go from Yangon to the Airport
There’s a local bus (city bus) that take you close to the airport, and that departure from the bus stops on Sule Pagoda Road (in front of Sule Shangri-La Hotel). Is hard to know the number of the bus, but just ask the people that are waiting and they will point you the bus when it shows up. The ride takes almost 1 hour but can be more because of the traffic, and at rush hours is almost guarantee that you find a jam along most of the way. The ticket should cost around 200 kyats.
Any bus stops at the airport; the nearby bus stop (called Sal Mile Kone at Pyay Road) is about 2 km walking.
If you ask in your hotel you can get a taxi to the airport for 8.000 kyats.
At the streets the taxi driver’s start by 10.000 kyats, but you can negotiate and get it for 6.000 kyats. Take into consideration that if you need a taxi very early in the morning (live 5 a.m. or so) you’ll maybe need to pay a bit more because you’ll not find many taxis in the streets at that time. The same applies to evening rides.
ATMs in Myanmar
The maximum amount of cash you can withdraw at the ATM is 300.000 kyats and is charged a commission of 5.000 kyats.
Not all the ATM accepts foreigner cards but KBZ is a good and reliable option and can be found a bit everywhere.
The ATMs are available in every cities and town.
If you prefer to exchange money, the banks offer a very good rate (sometimes better that the exchange shops) with no commission. But some have a maximum amount of money that each person can change a day (100 euros for example) and your bills must be in good condition, no wrinkles, not dirty or damage and no marks of pen, pencil or stamps.