Yangon

Arriving in Myanmar means arriving at the Yangon International Airport. Recently finished renovations make arriving in Yangon that much smoother. Unfortunately, they didn’t add more customs counters or officials to man person them. When you finally pass through customs your bags will be waiting for you or will be arriving very shortly on the carousel. Your best, easiest, option for getting to your hotel is taking a taxi, for around $10 USD you can go anywhere in the city.

Myanmar is full of expats, you can’t swing a loose longyi without hitting one. Yangon is a sprawling yet crowded city, the population is estimated to be between 4 and 7 million people. The 3 million person discrepancy is due in part to the Myanmar governments lack of reliability and their overabundance of inefficiency.

Yangon is a bustling city with many interesting sights and attractions. Some of our favorites are Shwedagon Pagoda, Kandawgyi Lake, Sule Pagoda, and the secret Chinese restaurant downtown.

Yangon is big enough that everyone has a completely different experience when they live here. I live on the edge of downtown and rarely travel north of Golden Valley, my friends who live north of Inya lake rarely travel south of Golden Valley. Golden Valley is an area near the center of the city that is residential. It has narrow winding roads and is not easy to navigate.

Problem Solvers

Everyone knows someone who solves a particular problem, whether it’s the person who comes to your house to walk your dog, a tailor, a crepe chef, or even just that one driver you like. Below is a list of individuals who excel at what they do.

  • Jack Zaw Min Oo – Tour guide and organizer, vehicle rentals, drivers for hire, and casual translator.
  • Lisette – French Crepe Chef. What more do you need in life? Lisette runs an occasional pop-up crepe dinner in her home, she is also available for parties. She has a transportable setup to cook crepes fresh at your location.
  • Victoria Milko – Multimedia journalist and journalist extraordinaire. Follow her on Twitter for compelling insight into Myanmar news. Bonus points for subscribing to her mailing list for weekly insights into Myanmar’s complex geopolitical situation.

Restaurants

This is a favorite topic of mine. There are some amazing places to eat in Yangon, From German to Japanese, Thai to high tea, Chinese and Korean. Myanmar food is especially tasty, although it took time for me to appreciate. Below is a sampling of a few of my favorites, or go here for a longer list. Craving a burger? I recommend Burger King, The Hard Rock Cafe, or Lotteria.

Medical Facilities and Services

No one wants to get injured or spend time as a patient in a hospital, this is especially true in Myanmar. Most expats head to Bangkok for long term care or major health issues, but if you need urgent care or don’t have the choice to travel these are some of your best options in Yangon.

Miscellaneous Services

Euthanasia doesn’t exist in Myanmar because; Buddhism. Friends who have dealt with sick and dying pets have told me horror stories of watching their pets suffer because veterinarians in Yangon are unwilling to do what needs to be done.

  • Su Zin Pet Hotel –  offers an array of pet services including a pet spa, day care, transportation, cremation, and burial.

Spa’s and Salon’s

This is a favorite topic of mine. I love a good massage. in my pursuit of the best massage in Yangon, I have encountered spa’s with service that ranged from “never again!” to “how soon can I go back.”

Party Planning

  • Balloon Crazy – Balloons, balloon decorations, and helium.
  • Kira Kira Hobby Mart – Costumes

Souvenirs

Finding that perfect memento to remind you of your time in Myanmar doesn’t have to be a challenge. There is a glut of social enterprise shops that go above and beyond to teach real and usable skills to people in Myanmar who could use a leg up.

  • Hla Day
  • Pomelo
  • Chu Chu’s
  • Eden Jewelry

Furniture and Antiques

  • Augustines
  • Chinditz
  • Helping Hands
  • Mangosteen Mansion

Further Reading

Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle – Published in 2014 and reprinted in 2014, Burma Chronicles is a first-hand account of life in Yangon from the perspective of a stay at home dad who works as a comics writer. The book is an illustrated series of comics about day to day life in Yangon. Guy Delisle offers a frank view of life in Myanmar as an expat.

Burma/Myanmar by David I. Steinberg – Last updated in 2013, this book still has a lot of accurate insight to give about the history of Myanmar. It describes the path that Myanmar took to earn its independence and become the pseudo-democracy it is today.

Insight Guide Myanmar – This is the book you buy several months before your first visit. The insight guide gives a broad overview of places to visit, their history, and why they are important.

Useful links

For travel warnings and country, details visit Travel.State.Gov.