A Glimpse Into Local Life On The Yangon Circle Train
If you’re ever in Yangon, you will find yourself being asked by fellow travelers if you have taken the Yangon circle train. Essentially, it is exactly how the name sounds, a train, on a circular route. As it travels in this circular route you can grab a seat, sit down and watch the world go by until you arrive at the same station you departed from.
Though, after riding the Yangon Circular Train you will realize the journey is so much more than this. Rather it is an glimpse into the daily life of many Burmese people, seeing them commute to work from their villages and witnessing what the real Yangon looks like out of the city.
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How To Get To The Yangon Circle Train?
To get the Yangon Circle Train you will need to make your way to Yangon Central Railway Station. It is a easy walk from Downtown Yangon otherwise you can take a taxi. Once at the Central Railway Station head to platform 6 & 7. This is where you will find a ticket counter where you can purchase your ticket and find out when the train is departing.
How Much Does The Yangon Circle Train Cost?
It is super affordable to ride on the Yangon Circle Train and the experience itself is worth way more than the price. The ticket costs just $0.15 / 200 kyat for the three hour circular train journey. This ticket price even includes the tourist tax that us foreigners are often charged. The locals who often take the Yangon Circle Train pay even less than this.
When Does The Yangon Circle Train Depart?
The first Yangon Circle Train departs at 6.10am, with a final departure at 10pm. Though, the last full circle line ride is at 5.10pm, so don’t go after this time as you will have to take a taxi back to the city center. It is well known that the best time to take the Yangon Circle Train is shortly after dawn, when everyone is doing their morning activities before the day heats up.
After you purchase your tickets hang around the counter. This is where they ‘collect’ all the foreigners. Once the Yangon circle train arrives they will walk you over to it. Just because you are standing on platform 6 & 7 does not mean that is where the train will arrive. We had to do a mad dash across the tracks to another platform.
Though, keep in mind these departure times given are extremely approximate and everything in South Eats Asia always seems to be delayed. Our train was meant to arrive at 1.40pm and it didn’t get there until 2pm. Though, don’t worry too much as the Yangon Circle Train runs on an hourly schedule so you should come across one eventually.
What To Wear On The Yangon Circle Train?
You will want to dress in light clothing on the Yangon Circle Train as it will be extremely hot. The ceiling does have oscillating fans and the train itself does not actual windows, but it moves so slow it just produces a little breeze. Plus the temperature can be so ridiculous warm the fans just circulate hot air.
What To Expect On The Yangon Circle Train?
While on board the train you will see a more agricultural side of life for the Yangon locals. Riding through fields, alongside rice paddies and through small villages. Makeshift rail guards and placed down when the train crosses a road, with locals lifting them up and down as need be.
With people constantly walking up and down the carriages you will have plenty of opportunities to purchase food. Though, if nothing there takes your fancy one of the stops on the Yangon Circle Train also happen to be a market. It is pretty easy to tell when you have arrived as the train stops literally right in the market. With locals and their stalls set up along the tracks, they are selling everything from fruit and vegetables to clothing and toys. If you are thinking about getting off on this stop, just be aware that the next train will be in an hour later. So, you may have to wonder around killing time for a bit.
Sometimes you will also have to change trains at this stop. This was the case while I was on the train. It stopped at the market station for a good half an hour, filled up with locals, then they announced (not in English) that everyone needed to change trains. Luckily, a lovely Burmese lady assisted a group of us foreigners. Letting us know the situation and even saving a seat on the replacement train.
Do I Recommend The Yangon Circle Train?
While in Myanmar I heard very mixed reports on whether the Yangon Circle Train was worth doing. The three hours is a long time, especially if you get delayed and need to switch trains. Our trip was nearly four hours. Though costing only $0.15USD / 200 kyat, it is a good way to kill a free afternoon. Just be prepared for a long trip on a hard seat.
If after a couple hours of bumpy tracks, the noise and the heat are becoming too much just jump off and catch a taxi or a rickshaw back to Downtown Yangon. Your ticket allows you to jump on and off the train at various stops and there are plenty tea shops around which gives plenty of chances to converse with locals.
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