Travel date — 2012

Yangon Airport to Central Yangon

The tourism information desk at the Yangon International Airport told me I could find the local buses to downtown at the “10 miles market,” which was a 15-minute walk away from the airport.

After exiting the passenger terminal, I followed the road to the right until reaching the entrance/exit gate of the airport complex.

Then, I took another right turn and followed the road for a few hundred meters, crossed the street, and waited for a bus to the city center. The walk was fairly long, not recommended for passengers with heavy luggage.

I was told that all buses that passed through the “10 miles market” bus stop proceeds to the city center. Getting confirmation was easy since all the conductors were yelling “Sule,” which referred to “Sule Pagoda” located right at the heart of Central Yangon.

The bus to Sule Pagoda took around 30 minutes to 45 minutes and cost only K150. I had to stand half of the time because the bus was full.

Yangon Hostel Search

I got very disoriented navigating Yangon’s extensive road grids using the not-so-fabulous street map I picked up at the tourism information desk. I eventually junked it and walked along random roads until I came across Zarchiwin Guest House (37th Street, Kyauktada Township).

Zarchiwin Guest House

The single room  (shared TB) was priced at US$8 per night. The room had a wall fan in addition to the centralized air-conditioning. They also served breakfast: simple menu of toast, eggs, and coffee. No WiFi.

The hostel was a bit dingy (especially the bathrooms) but bearable. Only one toilet stall had a western toilet and the rest were gasp squat toilets.

I loved the novelty that Zarchiwin Guest House was located on the second floor of Yangon’s “vintage” colonial-era apartment buildings. Physically, the area seemed a bit seedy, which was a common sight throughout most areas of Yangon anyways. I actually thought it felt safe after spending more time to get to know the city.

The hostel was almost fully occupied the whole time. All of the guests that stayed there looked Burmese or Indian, I honestly couldn’t tell the difference. I didn’t recognize other foreign tourists/backpackers the whole time I was there.

My whole stay at Zarchiwin Guest House wasn’t totally awful, decent for a cheap hostel. The staff was friendly. I’d recommend it as an option for travelers looking for bare bones cheap rooms.

First day in Yangon

After checking-in at Zarchiwin Guest House, I went around a few blocks to find places to eat. I still haven’t eaten a proper breakfast after my Bangkok to Yangon flight and was very exhausted since I wasn’t able to sleep the previous night.

I wanted to try the side-street eateries I passed by earlier that had bowls of yummy-looking curries but was instantly turned-off after seeing the food literally hand scooped to the diner’s plates. I wasn’t ready for that kind of “local” experience :)

I ate my first meal in a cheap restaurant that served Shan noodles and Chinese-inspired short orders like Pork buns (Siopao) and dumplings (Siomai). Not bad. I have to say, though, that I’m not a big fan of noodles made from rice, which made up the Shan Noodles. Same goes for noodle dishes I ate in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam.

I slept the entire day until evening when I went out again for dinner. All the currency exchange shops were already closed and the black market street peddlers (found near Sule Pagoda) wouldn’t accept changing small US$ bills. I was running low on Kyats and definitely regretted not changing more money when I arrived at the airport.

Anyways, until I was able to change my money the next day, I was sustained almost exclusively by Samosa, very cheap, tasty kinda filling yet extremely oily Indian snack food.

Other Yangon Hostels

I checked-out other hostels during my walking tour of Yangon.

Tokyo Guest House (200 Bo Aung Kyaw St.) was rather promising since they offered cheap single fan rooms under US$10, and free WIFI! They also had a charming breakfast nook. Tokyo Guest House was also located on the second floor of a seemingly seedy building (two blocks away from Zarchiwin Guest House). I wanted to transfer there on my second day but all the singles were fully booked.

Mahabandoola Guest House (2nd floor, 93 32nd St.) was another promising hostel for independent travelers on a tight budget. Their rates were the cheapest I found and they were conveniently located across the Sule Pagoda.

There was another hostel along 32st St., near Mahabandoola Guest House. I think its name was Garden Guest House. All their rooms were air-conditioned, so the rates were higher than the hostels I’ve already mentioned. The rates were still affordable though at around US$20+ for doubles. The place seemed a lot more cheerful than the others.