As usual when we arrive in a new country we like to take the easiest route even if it is a little more expensive (within reason.) On arrival at the airport, we asked the information desk the best way to get to Downtown. “Taxi” was the immediate response.
“At this time of day (8am) don’t even think about taking a bus.”
We took their advice and caught a taxi (fixed rate for all journeys) – direction downtown. 20km and almost 1 and half hours later we arrived in Downtown! Chaos is the best word to describe traffic in Yangon. No scooters or motorbikes are allowed = gridlock.
We started our search for a hostel along MahaBandoola Garden Street, Downtown where a large number of ‘cheaper’ hostels could be found. We ended up staying at Chan Myaye Guesthouse. Not exactly cheap costing over 20$ for the two of us in a dorm, but the bed was super comfy, AC and electrical sockets in each cubicle, nice breakfast and friendly staff. It ended up being the most expensive accommodation we stayed at whilst in Myanmar.
After an early start and tiredness starting to take over we decided to just wonder around Downtown, visiting the famous Bogoyka Market (1200 mini shops all selling the same things of course, Jade, other
jewellery, silks, paintings and beautiful Longyis but there was no hassle from anyone-paradise – unless you wanted to eat somewhere!!) as well as our local Pagoda Sule nicely situated in the middle of a roundabout surrounded by little shops.
The whole area of the city was incredible. Old brightly coloured colonial buildings completely run down but full to the brim with families, small businesses, big businesses, hostels, cafes and restaurants. It had a really great feeling to it. The only worry was the electricity cabling but we didn’t have any power cuts so clearly the carnage works.
Late afternoon we decided to make our way to Shwedagon Pagoda – THE pagoda in Yangon and in my opinion the whole of Myanmar. We read in a blog the best time to go was at dusk so you could see it lit at night too.
We ended up spending 2 hours at Shwedagon Pagoda – It was breath-taking! We ended up walking round and round and round. Not only was there a beautiful golden pagoda but it is surrounded by a whole complex of temples, shrines and heaps of Buddha in all shapes and sizes.
Dusk was definitely the time to visit. The differences in colours and the lighting when finally dark were spectacular, plus the Burmese come to pray and meditate at this time so the whole place felt really special. A great end to our first day.
The next morning we booked our bus tickets to our next destination – Bagan (for that evening), and spent a couple of hours planning our whole Myanmar adventure just so we felt a little more under control for the next few weeks.
Late morning we took a lovely (but long and hot) walk around Kandawgyi Lake with views of Lake Shwedagon and a little escape from the craziness of Downtown. We spent the rest of the day on foot walking and walking and walking. Eventually our feet said STOP we’ve had enough. It’s too hot and we’ve walked too far. We headed back to the hostel had a shower, picked up our bags and went to catch our bus to Bagan.
The magic of Myanmar is you can take night buses to almost any big town in the country. Saving you money so you don’t have to pay for a nights accommodation and your being more time efficient – moving whilst sleeping….or trying to sleep. Yangon to Bagan was our first experience of this system and we weren’t disappointed. We opted for the cheapest bus to Bagan – there were lots of VIP option. We wanted bog standard.
It cost us 11 euros each for an 8-9 hour journey. This is what we got…….
Individual television screens, 2 snack boxes each, coke and sprite to drink, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a bus stewardess in case we needed anything. Luxury – Very impressed. A little different to Indonesia!