Sunday, 6 July 2014

Markets in Yangon

Most places in Burma are well-stocked with markets (known as zei or zay). Every town, no matter how small, has at least one regular market (sometimes a market will rotate between half a dozen small towns, spending one morning a week in each of them).

In addition to the dozens of small markets across every corner of the Yangon suburbs, there are several large, well-established markets in Central Yangon.

Bogyoke Aung San Market (AKA Scott Market)

The most touristed market in Yangon. This is an indoor market, with vendors spread over a large, central building which is set back from the street, tucked behind a two-storey set of shops. Further shops hover around the rest of the perimeter. 

Expect to see: jewellery and souvenirs along the central aisle, clothing and fashion accessories (lots of flip-flops and plastic hair grips) in the front of the market, fabric and housewares towards the back. Money changers hang around in front of the market, but there's no reason to use them now the official exchange rate has been loosened, so I'd avoid.

Don't miss: avocado shakes from cafes on the West side.

Good to know: there are pay toilets at the SE and SW sides.

Bogyoke Aung San Market's avocado shakes
Looks weird, tastes amazing

Theingyi Zei

Less than five minute's walk from Scott Market, this is another world, and largely non-touristy. 

Expect to see: dark, crowded aisles with filthy floors (scuttling with cockroaches). Vendors sell lots of housewares, textiles and dry goods (beans and pulses, spices and herbs, dried fish). This is not a place to buy souvenirs.

Yangon's wet morning market
Sharing the space - flat baskets in the morning market allow cars to pass up the street

Morning market

Next to Theingyi Zei, this wet market covers a narrow, but still used, street.

Expect to see: fruit and vegetables laid out on flat round baskets, for quick movement out of the way when a truck comes down the street. Live chickens in wicker cages, and live fish flopping desperately in the bottom of basket. Puddles and entrails.

Good to know: don't wear long trousers that potentially brush the ground, or you will end up with filthy, wet hems.

Yangon's wet morning market

Birds for sale in Yangon's wet markets

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