When it comes to the idea of interesting destinations for budget travellers in Myanmar, Yangon is probably the best choice.
Since 2012 when the country opened itself to tourists, the cost of travelling to Yangon lowered, from an average of USD60 to about USD30. This is in part due to the wider choices of hostels and competitive services.
Apart from the general guide to visiting Myanmar, this guide goes further with specific details about Yangon
- Flights to Yangon, Myanmar
- Airport transfer to Yangon city
- Getting around Yangon, Myanmar
- Where to stay in Yangon – Best hostels in Yangon, Myanmar
- Top things to do in Yangon, Myanmar
- Where to Eat in Yangon, Myanmar
- Beyond Yangon – Day trips from Yangon
- Travel onward from Yangon to Bagan
- What to Pack for Yangon, Myanmar
Flights to Yangon, Myanmar
Air Asia has the most flights to Yangon from popular flying hubs in Asia including Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. You will easily find very good deals if you book far in advance or in summer.
Vietjet Air provides short flights from Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi to Yangon. The airfare can be as low as USD1 on certain days of the year. You can keep a close eye on their website for such rare deals!
Airport transfer to Yangon city
Beginning from June 2018, Omni Focus Bus Company will operate the transfer from Yangon international Airport to Central Railway station in the heart of the city. This comes at a price of only 500 kyats, equal to less than USD 1 for 1 ticket.
This bus service will soon add 20 stops on the way, which means you have more choices to access your accommodation or the city from the airport at cheaper prices.
In case you prefer comfort, a taxi is a good choice to share between 4 people. The service will set you at around USD 9.
Getting around Yangon, Myanmar
Before you book any form of transportation, plan your visit to Yangon well to minimize the cost of travelling.
For example, if you commence by downtown, group all the attractions like Sule pagoda, Chinatown and City Hall, so you can take a walk before moving to another area like Shwedagon which is best combined with Royal Lake.
If that is the case, to get from one township to another, you should take a taxi. Each ride should set you at about USD 3 or less.
Local buses are not really recommended since the quality is still not so good so far.
If you fancy a nice way to appreciate the different parts of the city, try the hop on hop off bus that costs only USD 9 per person.
Where to stay in Yangon – Best hostels in Yangon, Myanmar
Yangon has the largest number of hostels and guesthouses amongst all of Myanmar. These are some of the top backpacking hostel choices.
Located in the vibrant downtown, Hostel9 is locally owned. The advantage of this property comes from the cheap stay starting from USD 5 per night. Its rooftop bar surely will draw your attention for a leisure moment too.
Opened in 2017, Babao has been gaining reputation thanks to its friendly service and different options for sleeping. Prices start from USD 11 with breakfast included.
This hostel is converted from a building remained from the British era, which means you can appreciate not only the service but also a small part of Yangon history. A room night starts from USD 7 with complimentary breakfast.
Top things to do in Yangon, Myanmar
Yangon boasts a wealth of cultural heritages. Some notable sites you should not miss are:
1. Shwedagon Pagoda
This giant stupa can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. It showcases the highlights of a Buddhist architect with sparkling spires, spacious grounds, and sacred praying halls. This is a perfect place to photograph the locals.
2. Circular Train
For those who want more than just a glimpse of local life, you can soak it up here. The circular train gives you a chance to experience the local life in different towns in the outskirts of Yangon. For USD 1, you can photograph the friendly street vendors, and watch as they busy themselves opening markets on the side of the railway tracks.
3. Karaweik Palace
Find yourself in a world of Myanmar’s rich culture at Karaweik Palace. Be entertained by authentic traditional performances, arts and crafts, great food and the Myanmar hospitality in what appears to be a majestic setting.
Quite distinctly recognisable in Myanmar, Karaweik Palace is easily spotted by the pair of gold Karaweik birds that float on the serene Kandawgyi Lake.
Chinatown exposes an exotic atmosphere. It is an exciting place to try appetising street foods.
Things you should see here include the Chinese temples, 59th Street which is full of BBQ restaurants and the national museum.
5. Chaukh Tat Gyi Pagoda
Chauk Tat Gyi is home to the biggest Reclining Buddha Statue in the country.
6. Scott Market
Named after the hero of Myanmar, this market houses some 2000 stalls ranging from meticulous handicrafts to artworks, and even precious stones. If you want to pick up something for a souvenir, Scott Market is the place to do so.
Where to Eat in Yangon, Myanmar
Yangon houses different ethnic groups, hence its cuisines are diverse. No matter how much your budget is, you will still find something delicious to feed your stomach.
1. Aung Thu Ka
This restaurant is considered as one of the best place to savour authentic Burmese food with very reasonable prices.
2. Aung Mingalar Shan Noodle
From 1,500 kyat (about USD1), you can enjoy their famous Shan noodle!
3. Feel Restaurant
This is probably the best restaurant voted by both the locals and tourists alike. All the specialities are on the shelves and you just have to pick what you feel like eating. The entire selection is not at all pricey either.
Beyond Yangon – Day trips from Yangon
To experience the spirit of rural Yangon, venture further beyond the ordinary tourist trails. These spots will charm your way into the local life.
1. Dala town
If you fancy a bike ride through the lush land of the Yangon delta, hire a bike in Yangon downtown then cross the river to Dala town. This spot is getting more familiar with travellers who want to absorb something more than just cities or pagodas.
This off-tourist path town is really friendly. Wherever you visit, be it the floating Yele pagoda, pottery village, or the fishing village, you will encounter smiling and curious welcomes from local.
Thanlyin treasures include one of the last Portuguese churches remaining in Myanmar.
Travel onward from Yangon to Bagan
There are different ways to access Bagan’s archaeological wonders from Yangon – by plane, train, bus and even a long river boat journey. Amongst those options, overnight bus is the best to maximise time and minimise cost.
Ideally, the bus leaving Aung Mingalar Bus station at 8pm will take you to Bagan at 5am, where you will be in time to catch the sunrise over Bagan.
The whole trip costs about USD 19 with JJ Express Bus. The bus is comfortable and air-conditioned. Do not expect internet connection like in Vietnam, but you can still catch some movies!
What to Pack for Yangon, Myanmar
The best part about Southeast Asia is that it’s summer all year round.
The best principle is to pack light but sufficiently. You do not need to carry tons of clothes. Some pants, swimsuit, hat and some cream to protect yourself from the mosquitos and the sun.
The most important things to pack are basic medicine for diarrhoea, food poisoning, fever and other common ailments, since Myanmar is very backward in terms of healthcare.
You can find my go-to summer packing list in this post.
Because of the influx of tourists, be wary of scams when you visited touristy places in Yangon (or even Myanmar in general). Credit cards aren’t widely accepted in Myanmar, so be sure to bring a wad of USD in cash and exchange it at the airport.
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