Myanmar: Yangon with kids

We arrived ready to explore Yangon with kids! I had high hopes for Myanmar, but my first impression was disappointing and didn’t really improve over the 3 days we were there!
It’s a developing country so accessibility was more difficult. I generally found Yangon to be lacking in ambience and character. But that’s ok, as not everywhere will be what we expect.
Accommodation was expensive for what it was and there wasn’t a huge amount to do. There were lots of people milling arrive the streets, but the city lacked a little vibrancy.
And the traffic!!! Oh my goodness, whenever we went anywhere you were permanently in a traffic jam. Needless to say, we tried to walk wherever we went.
I know I probably sound like a whinge bag here, but I was really looking forward to visiting here.

Arriving in Yangon

We flew into Yangon international airport.  It was a nice enough airport. Not very big, considering this is was previously the capital.  (Fun fact: Yangon, previously  known as Rangoon, was the capital until 2006 when the new capital was declared as Naypyitaw).
SIM card – as you leave arrivals there is a row of internet providers.  We opted for a Telenor and Mynet sim card, to ensure the best coverage during our visit.
We also used the ATM machine to get out money before we then headed to the bus stop outside to catch the local bus.
We’d read the were 2 buses, one to Yangon train station and one to Pyay road. We needed to get off at St Johns mall. A kind gentleman directed us to the bus we needed. The kids were free, but Keith and I need to pay 500 kyat. Bargain!! But just make sure you have small notes as no change is given!

Things to do in Yangon with kids

Shwedagon pagoda

A beautiful collection of buildings, stupas and temples. We arrived and we directed towards the foreigner entrance to pay our 10,000 kyats.
We had to take our shoes off and ensure we were appropriately dressed with knees and shoulders covered.  Once you enter, there are escalators taking you up to the main entrance. I have to admit I was a bit nerve racking getting on them with no shoes on!
Once we reached the top there in front of us was the huge gold sparkling pagoda. It was surrounded by lots of smaller statues and temples. The area was very busy with locals presenting offerings and completing rituals. It felt a little like the golden temple in Amritsar. A very sacred place!
We wandered around between searing hear and downpours of rain. The tiles became very slippy when wet so you had to watch your footing!
We spent a good hour wandering around with only a handful of locals approaching us for photos. The fascination was more with the boys though!

Bogyoke markets

A great place to go when the heavens open as it’s under cover. There’s plenty of stalls offering local crafts and a huge jewellery area.
We were a bit peckish and decided to sit at one of the food stalls outside. Luckily we just had time to grab a bite to eat and a drink before the rain came!  We had no idea what we were order (as usual) but it was certainly a qwerky little place!

Malls

There are a number of malls around the city. Having an air conditioned place to visit in the heat can be quite a relief.
We visited st Johns mall a could of times, namely because it was close to our hotel and there was a fabulous food hall on the top floor! We had a delicious Indian and they even served huge dosa’s for just £2! Winner!!

Walking the city

For the most part we explored the city on foot. There are a lot of dogs here, roaming around! They are all harmless enough but I was just so surprised to see so many!
We wandered through side streets and markets to get a feel for the city. But it just didn’t captivate me like other places have. It was just huge ugly old tower blocks! It didn’t feel very appealing.
Even the waterways were dominated by huge shipping containers.

Yangon circle line

Currently this is under construction. But we had read reviews that it was a great way to see city life. At the moment, you can only do half the circuit. I believe it is due to open in 2020 and be much quicker!
But as we are planning a 20 hour train journey, we decided against this activity.

Bogyoke gardens

We had planned to forms a few hours, near sunset strolling around these gardens. But unfortunately the monsoon rains decided to arrive that afternoon and have us quite the downpour. So instead, we took the opportunity to catch up with some much needed admin!

Where to stay in Yangon

We stayed in MGM hotel. I wouldn’t recommend it! The people were nice, but it was a soulless place and we were situated on the 11th floor.  It did give us splendid views over the city, surprisingly though, we could still hear everything happening in the street. That’s because the windows weren’t very secure!!
We did have breakfast included in the hotel price. But it was mediocre at best, but we weren’t about to turn down free food!!

Where to eat in Yangon

This caused us the most difficulty. Nothing was easy to find in this city and the places which we recommended were really not that good. I have realised that it’s difficult to rely on reviews here!!
We are one night in at Soe Pyi Swar, a vegetarian restaurant. The food was very bland. Not really what we expected, but at least we ate in it first night and I vowed to research a little better next time!
We did try a snack stalls near the bogyoke markets, which was ok. But very oily!
I really wasn’t having much luck and as I mentioned we ventured to St Johns mall on two occasions to have a delicious and cheap Indian meal!
It’s disappointing as we like to try local food and eat in local restaurants. But for the life of me I couldn’t find a suitable one! They were either over priced, traditional Chinese restaurants with intestine or brain on the menu  or were attempting to cook expensive Western food!  None of which appealed!

Conclusion

As I mentioned above. The city hasn’t quite worked out it’s place. There are only a few highlights within the area and the city wasn’t the easiest to get around.
The shwedagon pagodas were the highlight of our visit and I would have regretted not visiting this area. But it’s not somewhere we would return to.
Yangon is ok for just a couple of days. But it’s also a great base to explore places like Bago or the golden rock at Mount Kyaiktiyo.  I just wouldn’t plan a long visit – a quick hello will be enough!

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