As mentioned in my previous post, I flew to Yangon, Myanmar from Bangkok, Thailand. The flight was supposed to be at 7:30 in the evening but it was delayed for an hour. It was an hour and 15 minutes flight.
After passing through the immigration, I exchanged some dollars and bought a sim card. Then I booked a taxi through Grab to get to Backpacker Bed & Breakfast. The hostel is a 30-minute drive from the airport. After checking-in at the hostel, I rested a bit then went out to find something to eat. I had a sandwich before my flight but I was feeling hungry again. Good thing there was a convenience store about 4 blocks away from my hostel that has a cafe on the second floor. I ordered spicy chicken with rice which was good and very cheap. After having dinner, I went back to my hostel to rest.
The following day, after having free breakfast at the hostel, I checked out. But I left my backpack at the hostel because my trip to Inle Lake was in the evening. I only spent a day in Yangon because I was visiting Inle Lake, Mandalay, and Bagan as well. But I was flying out of Myanmar from Yangon too so I planned my Myanmar trip in such a way that I’ll explore the rest of Yangon on my last 2 days in Myanmar.
Before doing some sightseeing on my first day, I looked for a money changer first, then headed to Sule Pagoda. Just wanted to mention that the night before, the streets were empty and very quiet. I was surprised when I went out in the morning because the streets were super busy. I found it too chaotic.
Sule Pagoda is located at the center of downtown Yangon. It is within walking distance from my hostel. According to legend, this pagoda was constructed before Shwedagon Pagoda. If you have very limited time, you can skip visiting this so long as you don’t miss Shwedagon Pagoda.
Tip: Bring a plastic bag to put your footwear so that you won’t need to leave your shoes with the locals at the entrance of the pagoda.
Beware of people approaching you when you visit this place. This is the only place where I feel I got scammed during my 6 weeks backpacking trip. When I got inside, a guy approached me and started talking to me. I didn’t want to be rude so I talked to him. Then he started showing me around. I didn’t know how to send him away politely so I just went with him.
Then he brought me to a Buddha statue. There he brought out a notebook and started asking me for a donation for the statue. He showed me a list of donations given by people who visited the place. What’s worse is that he was forcing me to give MMK 10,000 which I think is too much. I didn’t know how to get out of the situation so I just gave him MMK 5000 and told him that’s all I have.
After that, I decided to leave. When I was getting my shoes at the entrance (you need to leave your shoes outside when entering a pagoda), he was asking me to pay him for guiding me. I told him that I never asked him to guide me and he never told me about any fees when he approached me. In the end, I just gave him MMK 1000, left, and never looked back.
Maha Bandula Park
From Sule Pagoda, I walked to Maha Bandula Park. The park is located across Sule Pagoda. It is a very nice park with an obelisk commemorating the Burmese Independence from the British in 1948. The obelisk can be found at the center of the park. It is surrounded by important buildings such as the High Court, Sule Pagoda, and Yangon City Hall.
You can see many colonial buildings from the Maha Bandula Park. Yangon used to be the capital of Myanmar until 2006 and is the largest city of Myanmar. It has the highest concentration of colonial buildings in all Southeast Asian cities. Myanmar used to be a colony of Britain from 1824 until 1948 and they made Yangon the Burmese capital in 1885. During that time they constructed a great number of majestic buildings in Victorian, Queen Anne, Art Deco, British Burmese, and Neoclassical style. Many of these structures now stand in a bad state because after the country’s independence, it was run by a military regime where no infrastructure improvements were made.
Even though it was super hot that day, I went around the city center to see and take pictures of the colonial buildings. When I couldn’t stand the heat anymore, I started looking for an air-conditioned restaurant where I can eat lunch. I wanted to have Burmese food but I couldn’t find an air-conditioned Burmese restaurant in that area so I decided to have lunch in a Japanese restaurant. I don’t regret eating there even if it was a bit pricey for my budget because the food was really good.
After lunch, I continued walking around again. But it was really super hot that day, so I decided to go to an ice cream house and had ice cream. I stayed there until it was time to go to the bus station which is about a 1-hour drive from the city center.
As mentioned in my earlier posts about this backpacking trip, my challenge was to try to live on a US$ 20 per day budget. I brought US dollars for the trip. The official currency of Myanmar is the Myanmar Kyat (MMK). When I arrived at Yangon Airport, I only exchanged US dollars enough for a day. They have better rates at the city center so it’s where I exchanged most of my dollars to spend for the rest of my stay in Myanmar. The conversion rate at the airport was MMK 1490 for US$ 1 while at the city it was MMK 1510 for US$ 1. Just to be consistent with my earlier posts, I’ll be using the conversion rate of Php 52 for US$ 1 for this post (it was the conversion rate for Php to US$ when I was on the trip).
Airfare from Bangkok to Yangon (Nok Air)– US$ 48.57 (Php 2525.57)
Sim card- US$ 7.62 (MMK 11500)
Grab to the hostel- US$ 5.17 (MMK 7800)
1 Bed in 4 Bed Female Dormitory Room at Backpacker Bed & Breakfast– US$ 4.38 (Php 227.85)
Dinner (Spicy Chicken with rice and coke)- US$ 1.19 (MMK 1800)
Sule Pagoda- US$ 2.65 (MMK 4000)
Donation- US$ 3.31 (MMK 5000)
Guide- US$ 0.66 (MMK 1000)
Lunch at a Japanese Restaurant- US$ 8.61 (MMK 13000)
Ice cream- US$ 1.32 (MMK 2000)
Grab to the bus station- US$ 7.55 (MMK 11400)
Toll fee to the bus station- US$ 0.13 (MMK 200)
Pringles- US$ 1.32 (MMK 2000)
Water- US$ 0.17 (MMK 250)
Bus to Inle– US$ 10.88
Total Expenses: US$ 103.53
Even if I don’t include the cost of the airfare and the bus fare in my budget, I still didn’t pass the challenge. That lunch at the Japanese restaurant was expensive. Also, I got scammed. But it’s part of the trip. The important thing is that I didn’t let it spoil my mood.
If you have any questions regarding this trip, feel free to leave a comment. Subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss any of my posts. And please follow my Facebook page @iwentanyways and like my Instagram accounts @iwentanyways and @tnadeperalta for updates. You can also check out my backpacking highlights in my IG @tnadeperalta.