The thing with early morning flight is waking up and the fear of missing the plane. I needed to be in the airport earlier than usual to exchange those crispy US Dollar note.
Not many people was at the money changer at that hours, had my money changed within 10 minutes. Sweet!
Flight from Singapore to Yangon (SIN-YGN) takes around 2 hours only, reasonably short flight. Surprisingly , there is timezone difference in Yangon, MST (UTC+6:30). When it is 6pm in Singapore, it is 4.30pm in Myanmar.
One needs to fill up a Passenger Declaration Form when entering Myanmar. The airline provided me this form during my flight. It is recommended to fill this on the plane up to save some time during immigration.
My flight arrived on time, immigration and luggage collection was done in 20 minutes. A lot faster than I have expected.
While waiting for my luggage, I looked around the money changers available right beside the luggage belt, there were at least 5 money changer offering similar rates. Remember to look for the best rates available.
To my surprise, Singapore Dollar (SGD) is actually accepted by the money changer. I changed one of my $50 notes which is not considered mint as far as Myanmar’s standard is concern, the rates are reasonable good too.
My advise is if you have some Singapore Dollar, there is no need to change to US Dollar.
Myanmar’s airport offers free Wi-Fi, knowing that Wi-Fi is precious here, I decided to hang around ensuring all my data are downloaded and synced in my phone.
What to do at the airport
- Ask for a free map at the information counter
- Ask as much direction and information needed for your trip
- Hangout for the Wi-Fi to ensure all is good
- Chat with other tourist who are waiting for their departure flight to listen to their Myanmar’s Highlights.
- Grab a cab to the city centre which cost K7000. I stopped at the City Hall Building
Yangon City Half Day Walkabout
It took 40 minutes from the airport to the city centre. You can see most of the tourist attractions and old buildings over here.
Sunblock is a must! Myanmar is Humid and Hot!
Loitering around with my offline map, a little bit of instinct and some faith…
There is a lot of recommendation from the Internet about this shop – 999 Noodle Shop. It took a while for me to locate it. Due to the amount of foreigners visiting, they now have English menu.
I ordered a Double Fried Toufu which means that the bean curd is deep-fried twice and Shan noodle. Not knowing what the outcome will be, I am feeling adventurous!
I finished everything! Not too surprise with the taste of the food, but this may be because this shop has adapted to make their dishes more foreign friendly.
Oh ya, if you feel like going to the washroom, the one at 999 Noodle Shop, is exceptionally clean!
The walk continues
Once the stomach is full, more walking around. Considering my bus to Bagan leaves only at 7pm, I still have half a day to explore Yangon.
First stop – check out the local supermarket to get some biscuits, cup noodle, and water. My assumption is that there should be more choices of biscuits in Yangon than other places. Turned out I am actually right.
Circular Train Experience
They say the easiest way to experience the local’s life and culture is to do what the locals do, and in Yangon it is getting on Yangon’s Circular Train which runs for 3 hours.
The station is not far away from the City Hall building, it is approximately 25 minutes walk. I would suggest this walk as this is what the local does.
Yangon Central Railway Station was built in 1877 and then destroyed and rebuilt between 1947-1954. I like the traditional architecture style!
This is where you get your inter-city train tickets. If you are coming from the airport, ask the taxi driver to head down here straight, get your Bagan sleeper ticket then continue to explore the town.
Worry not, working ATM is also available here!
To take the circular train, just go straight not the railway station, tickets are sold at platform 8. Local pays K100-K200 while we pay US$1 (~K1000). That’s 5 times the price local pays. Soon enough, you will realise that travelling in Myanmar is all about the money.
While waiting for my train to arrive, I was able to capture snapshot of life in Yangon.
The Circular Train Ride
Having been in to trains in country such as Singapore and Malaysia to “experience” the local life, this ride is certainly feels a lot more “local”!
AUng MIngalar bus station – JJ Express to Bagan
The taxi driver stopped me at the main entrance of the bus station, I requested him to stop me there instead of paying an “entrance fee” of K300. No, that’s not a lot of money, I was just not sure if that was genuinely needed. So I alighted from the taxi and walked to JJ Express. Everyone knows JJ Express, so locating it was fairly easy.
There have a high reputation of good service and safety, that was the reason I wanted to ride with them. I booked my tickets via JJ Express’s Facebook page and asked to pay at the bus station. Being a bit worried at the beginning, now I am confident to say that it is save and alright to book from them via the Internet.
JJ Express waiting lounge provides slow but possible to WhatsApp Internet quality. Considering it was unexpected, I am happy with it. There is also water station provided free for guess too. The overall personnel are friendly too.
The bus ride was good, no bumpy ride! If I recall correctly, there were 2 stops altogether, both 30 minutes and you can get decent food and washroom is clean too.
I would recommend JJ Express. I took the Business Class Bus – 2+2 seater because First Class Bus 2+1 was sold out. Having taken both Business and First Class during my Myanmar adventure, I would be happy to take the Business Class again if First Class is sold out.
Next up: Bagan.