We arrived mid afternoon in Yangon, and I had heard random reports about a circular train, and knew I wanted to attempt to find this train and do a lap. So we set off from our hotel with a bottle of cold water, a basic map and some very basic instructions.
I had heard the cost was $USD1, but I heard other reports it was 200 Kyat, we took both options with us, they ended up taking the Kyat (about 20c each). But better to have both just in case.
There are 2 entrances, but for ease I will describe it as if you are coming from Alan Pya Pagoda St, you cross over the bridge with the train station to the right (as in the picture, we are on Alan Pya Pagoda St) take a right hand turn after the bridge, when you come across the station take the second main entrance, and go up the stairs, and across to and back down the stairs to platform 7.
When you walk down the stairs in front of you is a ticket booth, and they will help you buy a ticket, when we were there no-one spoke English, but we all managed to understand what we were after and buy a ticket.
There is a big step getting from the main platform to the train, and vice versa, not all stations are level with the train, and this is one of them, but rest assured there were plenty of people around giving help to each other.
I heard reports some carriages were air-conditioned, this was not the case with the train we were on, although all the windows opened allowing a lovely breeze through the carriage. Unfortunately when it started to rain, (and it was more of a deluge) this came in through the window as well, and the lovely couple next to us were soaked, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone, the guard/police, we couldn’t really work out what he was, came through and helped people close the windows for about 5 minutes and then the rain stopped and everyone wanted the windows opened again.
Make sure you sit next to a window, the scenery is vast and amazing, one minute you are looking at blocks of flats, then you are in the middle of paddy fields, and then you pull up to a station and there is a market.
There is plenty of entertainment and fresh food being sold on the train as well. One guy selling limes proceeded to rip one open and squeeze the juice all over the floor of the carriage. The aroma that filled the carriage was so crisp and sweet, I wanted to take a bag home to make cocktails out of. There are plenty of vendors selling peanuts, sweets, boiled eggs, and all sorts of delicacies if you get hungry along the way.
It’s hop on hop off, so if you get tired of sitting, as the seats aren’t that comfortable, jump off at one of the stations with a market and have a wander, or if you are bored and don’t want to finish the journey jump in a taxi back to your hotel. I loved looking out the window and couldn’t believe how quick the time seemed to fly.
There are 38 stops along the way, and you do travel very slowly throughout the country side, so you are able to sit and watch the life of Yangon drift by.
We were a little concerned when we got to one area as most people had started departing, and looking at our map it did look like the train did a right turn, did we need to get off? Trains can’t do sharp turns can they? We didn’t want to go straight on, I didn’t know where we would go. But rest assured there was no sharp turn as there is in the map, and we barely even noticed the train slowly turning to take us back into the city.
Trains start running at 06:10 and the last departure for the full-circle line stops with a 17:10 departure. Probably best to go during daylight hours, I can’t imagine you would be able to see much at night, and the scenery is the best part. I think the trains depart every half an hour, but this isn’t easy information to find out, when we got there we had just missed one train, but only had to wait about 20 minutes for the next one.
If you have the time, this is definitely something worth taking the time out to see, relax and enjoy.
If you have done the circular train, let me know your thoughts or any hints for other travellers in the comments below.