We arrived in Yangon airport just after midday from Ho Chi Minh City. We had already applied for our Evisa online so went straight to immigration, we had to fill in an arrival form which hadn’t been given to us on the plane so after a bit of confusion and then a long queue we were through immigration with a stamp in our passport (i was hoping for a visa that covered the whole page like for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos but unfortunately it was just a little stamp) we collected our bags and then met Sarah who had flown in from Bangkok. I met Sarah last year in Thailand and travelled through Asia with her for 2 months so i was looking forward to seeing her and spending the next few weeks with her!
While planning the trip to Myanmar i knew accommodation wasn’t going to be its strong point, due to the Country only opening to tourism in 2011 there is a lack of accommodation and the prices sounded like they would be high for the standard of accommodation you get.
We stayed at Motherland Inn 2 in Yangon who picked us up from the airport which was very handy and the drive took a good hour and a half to the guesthouse as the airport is pretty far from the city centre but that gave us lots of time to catch up.
We booked 2 double rooms which cost $35USD each per night, this was pretty expensive and it made me worry about how much we would pay for the rest of the trip but in the end this was our most expensive place (ill do another blog post soon with a breakdown of costs in Myanmar!), the rooms were pretty average but the staff there were so helpful and friendly.
Jess who i had met in Prague earlier in the year was also joining us so we met her at the guesthouse and quickly decided that we would leave Yangon the following day on a nightbus to Bagan so that afternoon we just checked out the local neighbourhood and i must say i really felt like i was in Asia here. There was a distinct sewage smell that was wafting about, the buildings were all pretty run down and we saw some people living in shacks by the abandoned railway.
It wasn’t all negative though, it was just a shock compared to the other Asian cities I’ve visited and one thing i did like was that people didn’t seem bothered by us, they were just getting on with their daily lives and barely even looked up at us white foreigners.
The one thing i wanted to see in Yangon was the Shwedagon Pagoda, the largest temple complex in Yangon.
Things are quite spread out in Yangon so we got a taxi there which was very cheap between 4 of us.
The lead up to the temple was a little stressful as there were ladies and children trying to sell us things and give us plastic bags for our shoes once we were in the temple (we just put our shoes in our own bag), but once we entered the stairs that lead up to it we weren’t hassled at all, even by the market sellers that lined the stairs.
The entrance fee for the temple is 8000k/ £4.15 and it is very impressive! I found myself describing it as a playground for Buddhists as it was full of lots of little temples and pagoda’s, all different sizes, shapes and colours.
There was a picture museum which was interesting as it had some detailed photos of what is on top of the pagoda’s.. basically lots of jewellery and bells and things that didn’t really make sense to be up there as they can’t be seen! We were also looking for the date it was built but many of the photos claimed they were from the ‘olden times’ which was pretty funny!
We spent a good hour and a half there just taking in how pretty it was and just how much gold there was! Soon the sun started to get too hot so we left and headed for the lake outside.
We had a bit of trouble crossing the road.. one thing we had noticed is that Yangon seems to be all cars and no mopeds (totally different to Vietnam!), and these cars don’t stop or slow down for you to cross the road, a long with that and the fact that there are no pedestrian crossings we found ourselves waiting to cross for quite some time which is strange in Asia as usually you just walk and they dodge and slow down for you!
Anyway we had a walk around the lake for a bit which was pretty but again it started to get very hot so we then took a taxi back to near where we stayed and went for lunch at Lucky 7 which is recommended in the Lonely planet and is a popular place, i got a curry for 600k /£0.30 (soo cheap!) which was very yummy!
We headed back to the hostel to use the not so fast wifi (wifi in Myanmar is not that great!) and then we had to catch a taxi at 4:30pm to the bus station for our 7pm bus to Bagan. The bus station is also pretty far from the town and is actually really close to the airport so that was a little annoying and also different from other places in South East Asia as they usually pick up closer to the city centre. The bus cost 15,000k/ £8.00 so pretty reasonable and cheaper than a nights accommodation!
Although i didn’t spend long in Yangon i felt i saw a good amount, the temple was one of the top things i wanted to see and i definitely wasn’t disappointed and with only 12 days in the country we didn’t want to spend too long in Yangon.