Tickets were booked, ho(s)tel was confirmed, now you’re ready to fly to the capital of The Land of Gold: Yangon. But, before you set foot in Myanmar’s capital, let me help you arranging your itinerary. These are 15 things you should know about Yangon, from the international airport, currency, public transportation, daily expenses, and tourism attractions.
- Yangon is no longer the capital city of Myanmar, but it holds its position as Myanmar’s center of entertainment, business, culture, education. It is the largest, busiest, and most modern city in Myanmar, your gate to explore the whole country.
- Yangonites (and Burmese in general) speak a limited English, in a weird accent or pronounciation. So, listen very very very carefully when they speak to you.
- Yangon is best reached by plane from Kuala Lumpur or any South East Asian cities. I took AirAsia for my trip on August 18th and 20th with a reasonable price, about USD 30 – 40. I’ve heard some issues about entering Myanmar by land from Thailand or Bangladesh, so I don’t recommend you to enter the country by land. Also, taking a flight saves your time and energy. Baca Juga: Berkenalan dengan Yangon International Airport, Myanmar
- Myanmar’s currency is Kyat, or MMK in short, an abbreviation for Myanmar Kyats. Each 1,000 Kyat equals to 1 USD.
- Good news, Americans. Both Kyat and USD are accepted in Yangon and the whole Myanmar, similar to Cambodia. USD is used for taxi from airport to city center and hotels / hostels. Daily needs, such as meals (except at the airport, where vendors accept USD), drinks, souvenirs, and public transportation usually use Kyat. Both can be used for tourism attractions (Sule Pagoda, Shwedagon Pagoda, museums, and so on).
- Don’t worry about changing your currency in Myanmar. Money changers can be easily found at the airport, Sule area, or Bogyoke Market with a competitive rate. If you find some blogs urge you not to change your money at the airport, ignore them. Money changers at Yangon Airport are safe and quite good. Meanwhile, ATMs are well spread in the city (and country).
Note for Indonesians: sedikit money changer yang menerima Rupiah karena mata uang kita ini nggak populer di sana. Kalau pun ada, nilai tukarnya jatoh bangeeettt. Jadi banyak-banyak bawa USD atau minimal Ringgit, SGD, atau Baht deh.
- There are 2 telecommunication providers for your smartphone: Ooredoo and Telenor. Both are available at the airport’s arrival hall. I chose Ooredoo. Package starts from 4,500 Kyat for 2 GB of internet connection without calls.
- The weather depends on the month you travel. In general, Myanmar is a tropical country. Unless you go further north near the Chinese or Bangladesh border, expect a hot and strong sun rays. Bring an umbrella or hat, black sunglasses, and sunblock. Choose a comfortable shirt, preferrably short sleeves. Please note, the gloomy rainy season happens on August to October, be ready for flexible itinerary.
- Budget hotels or hostels are mushroomed around Sule Pagoda, but most of them are located in a same building with shops. So, when you’re looking for your place to stay, look carefully. I stayed for 2 nights at Space Boutique Hostel, and i highly suggest you to stay there! Why? Read the full article HERE.
- Also, tourism attractions and iconic landmarks flock at Sule area, such as: City Hall, Immanuel Baptist Church, Mahabandula Park, Chinatown (Street 19), Yangon Central Railway Station, Bogyoke Market, and the main bus stop. Shwedagon Pagoda, Kandawgyi Park, and Karaweik Palace are 10 minutes bus ride (number 36). Chauk Htat Gyi Temple, Nga Htat Gyi Temple, People’s Park and Square, and Inya Lake are also easily accessible from here. Street foods, cafes, restaurants, are just a few steps away, so undoubtedly — this is your place to stay in Yangon, Myanmar.
- Most tourism attractions are free! Just prepare your bucks for Shwedagon Pagoda (8,000 Kyat) and the museums. Sule Pagoda is best enjoyed from outside, on a crossing bridge, no need to enter the temple. Some sources say Kandawgyi Park charges 2,000 Kyat / 2 USD for visitors. But when I went there, I unintentionally entered the park through a parking yard of a restaurant, so it’s free 😀
So was my visit to Chauk Htat Gyi temple. I incidentally entered the temple from the back door. But, actually, when I walked out through its official entry / exit gate, I didn’t see any locket office, visitors are go in and out as they like. The only payment was for the shoes storage, but you may give as much as you like to the box.
- When you’re about visiting temples, dress properly and bring a plastic bag to keep your shoes. So you don’t need to buy plastic bag from locals. In case you forget to bring your plastic bag, just give 100 Kyats to buy one from locals. Temples usually provide longyi for visitors who wear tank top or hot pants, but I don’t know whether you need to pay for it or not.
- Foods and drinks are pretty damn cheap! Street foods usually cost 500 Kyats, such as mohinga. Prepare 2,000 Kyat for a meal at small restaurants. KFC starts from 3,500 Kyat. But I’m sorry, for my moslem friends, I can not guarantee if the food are hallal or no. I think Indian or Middle East restaurants are your best bet for trusted hallal meals. The burmese tea is similar to Thai Tea or Teh Tarik in Malaysia, I love it!
- Beyond my expectation, public buses in Yangon are better than in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (in 2015). Most of them are air-conditioned, some use cashless payment, 2 lines of bus rapid transit systems are in operation. Passengers hop on and hop off at the bus stops. If you don’t have the card, prepare 200 Kyat for each journey.
I tried to download some apps to help finding a right bus route, but unfortunately they’re in Burmese language I couldn’t understand at all. Asking direction from your hotel staffs or any locals are our best hope. Bus no. 36 will be the bus you have most.
- Things you’ll likely find everywhere in Yangon: birds, their shit, and stinky smell of thannaka. Many people splash thannaka on their face as the traditional make-up to give a cool sensation on skin, against the weather. Men wear longyi (burmese style of Indonesian / Malay sarong), and women wear some kind of traditional dress similar to Vietnamese aodai. Most of them are Theravada Buddhists.
How were they? I hope this post helps you. In short, Yangon is easy to navigate. It has no rapid transit, but you may easily access the tourism attractions by walking or taking a short bus ride. If you have further inquiries about Yangon, Myanmar, don’t hesitate to find me on social media (see the sidebar), or hit me a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy learning by traveling!