I find when living in a country I somehow find myself doing the same thing every weekend, instead embrace the days off, change things up and visit some alternative things this city has to offer.
Hlawga National Park: It’s about 22 miles north of Yangon just west of Pyay Road, so a managable cycle ride for the fitter readers out there. The 1540 acre park offers a mini safari with a hop-on hop-off buggy, you can feed the monkeys and hippo’s. There is also a zoo, but I wouldnt recommend it as it’s a fairly traumatic experience. There are elephant rides, boat trips, jungle treks all available, although most visitor go to enjoy a walk and a picnic in a shady spot. Makes for a nice day trip.
You could also combine it with a trip to the British War Memorial on your return. Almost 27,000 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaigns in Burma have been remember there. The majority of whom have no known grave. There are some very emotive messages inscribed on the gravestones. It’s a lovely, peaceful place and immaculately kept.
Taukkyan War Cemetery, about 21 miles north of Yangon on Pyay Road.
Grab a couple of cold beers and go for a stroll down by the dock. A cool place which is particularly popular on a Sunday afternoon is Warden jetty. There’s a lovely atmosphere of people loading and unloading their boats, trishaws meandering up and down, a few old ladies selling veg. If you go about 5.30 the dock is set alight by this fabulous pinky orangey glow.
Warden Jetty is at the end of Wa Dan Street, between 4th and 5th street.
The Drugs Elimination Museum: An enormous building packed to the brim with stuff. Some interesting things like a picture of a guy with a bullet in his head with the caption, he died from an overdose… Makes for a surreal experience but worth the visit. $3 entry fee.
On the corner of Hanthawaddy Road and Kyun Taw Road, in front of Junction Square.
Dala: Hop on a boat to Dala across the river, despite it being only a 10 minute ferry ride across, you enter a completely different world on stepping off the boat. It’s a very poor and shockingly underdeveloped place considering you’re so close to Yangon. Jump on a trishaw, be taken through bamboo villages to the market, and stop off in Aung San Suu Kyi’s township office. 1000 kyat ferry fee for foreigners each way.
The Zoo: A surprising collection of animals. Some amazing birds straight out of a child’s imagination. The cats corner was fairly traumatic, a leopard kept in a 2x2m cage. Some beautiful tigers who have obviously lost their minds there. A group of elephants with a scarily open home, I wouldn’t want to be there when one goes on a rampage. Having said that I was expecting the animals to be kept in worse conditions. On the whole it’s really well kept, they obviously have an extensive group of gardeners sweeping and trimming all day long. It’s a nice way to wile away an afternoon. 2000 kyat entry fee.
Inya lake: In the early evening it is a lovely place to go and see groups of Burmese musicians strumming on their guitars, youths throwing glowing balls shooting into the sky before plummeting back to earth and the young loved up couples holding hands. The higher path catching the breeze, and offers a lovely respite from the pounding heat of the day. Finish off your stroll by going for a drink in one of the beer stations which looks onto the lake. It bursts with life on a Sunday evening when families join the medley of people going for a casual wonder. Where Pyay road meets Inya Road.
Kandawgyi Park: Amble down the long wooden bridge in Kandawgyi park, ending on the far side of the lake that offers a stunning viewpoint to see the sun slip off the horizon illuminating Shwedagon as it slowly crawls down the sky. 2000 kyat fee for foreigners.
National Museum: Despite it’s appauling lighting and display cabinets, it actually has got some real gems. The Lion throne which belonged to King Thibaw Min is very impressive, as are the jewel encrusted beds, ivory kitchen chairs, breath-taking ceremonial dresses. I would quickly wizz round the other floors which are underwealming. Although the top floor has got some lovely traditional outfits from the different regions in Myanmar, and there are some cool instruments. $5 entry fee.
66/74 Pyay Road
Circle Train: This commuter train which circles the city bursts with life and there’s a myriad of scenes unfolding before your eyes. It does get very crowded with people cramming on bags of produce to take to market, which I found enchanting but I appreciate it’s not everyones cup of tea, but it’s easy enough to hop off at the next stop if you’ve had enough. The easiest is probably to pick it up from the Yangon’s central train station. $1 a ticket.
Thiri Mingalar Market aka the Night Market: It’s a 24 hour fruit and veg wholesalers market, although it’s always open it really comes alive at night. It streaches out for miles, and is divided into sections of produce, for instance the cauliflower section, banana section, etc. There are also plenty of places to grab a curry or some noodles. A unique and thrilling way to end a nightout in Yangon. Thiri Mingalar is off Bayint Naung Road, (not to be confused with Thiri Mingalar Old Market).
If you’re wondering what to do when the sun goes down have a look at our Nightlife guide.