Traveling is a lot about experiencing how people who live in other countries live their life, what they do on a daily basis, what they eat, and where they go. And local markets are where everything local happens, as traditional markets are the windows into the lifestyle of the people. Many local markets remain a vibrant part of the social and commercial scene today. Markets have always been a gathering place where people engage with each other, whether it’s by trading tales or trading merchandise. By bringing together the people who grow and make things with the people who will use them, markets build a sense of unity and tie together people and products into one community. Practice your haggling skills with the Burmese locals in a traditional local market in Myanmar!
Visitors might run into a market anywhere from a remote fishing port to the middle of downtown Yangon, but should never pass them up, because each offers an unsurpassed chance to really mingle with the local scene and to get a glimpse into how the people of Myanmar really live.
The Art of Haggling
Myanmar markets, whether large or small, require some special skills. As fixed prices have become the norm and big box stores can be found everywhere, the art of bargaining may not be exercised much in contemporary life. However, it’s alive and well in the marketplace. While initially intimidating, negotiation is expected. Instead of being an adversarial encounter, though, it’s usually a friendly exchange. A good but not greedy haggler commands respect, and merchants enjoy the back-and-forth as they explain their wares and justify their prices. The social nature of the marketplace brings both sides together as friends for a few moments, and many merchants reward repeat shoppers with the pick of the lot or a little extra thrown in.
Together with the historic pagodas, Yangon local markets are an allure of the hectic city where you can expect to see the culture of Myanmar comes to life. It’s where everything is sold from tropical fruit to other beautiful products. Are you ready to do some haggling in the local markets? Well, here is a list of some of the traditional markets in Myanmar for you to go try out your haggling skills:
Bogyoke Aung San Market
Several hours can easily be spent at this historic covered market, with over 2000 stalls selling everything from gold and diamond jewellery to tattoos. It also offers the largest selection of Myanmar handicrafts and souvenirs you’ll find in one location and is a good place to find tailors. Located in the heart of Yangon, Bogyoke Aung San Market, also known as Scott Market is the best market in Yangon. It is a 70-year-old market sprawls over a couple of levels along Bogyoke Aung San Road. Arguably, it is the most renowned tourist market and pleasant shopping experience. Your Yangon city tour will be delightful because it will give you a great chance to shop for handicrafts, food, and jewelry while chatting with locals. You can also bargain for the best prices if you spot something you like. There are some 2,000 shops here selling anything from souvenirs to their famed lacquerware, Shan shoulder bags, puppets, slippers, and gems. There are plenty of places in the centre of the market to grab a drink and snack including juice vendors and tea and coffee shops.
Theingyi Zay Market
Today’s Theingyi Market began its existence as the “Surati Bara Bazaar” in the 19th century. The term “Surati” refers to Muslim immigrants from Gujarat who came to Rangoon and Burma in large numbers during the 19th century. (From 1872 to 1881 alone, the Indian migrant population in the city more than quadrupled to 66,000.) Indian cultures and traditions, from religion to music to food, permeate the streets of this downtown area. Most of the merchandise at downtown Yangon’s largest market is ordinary housewares and textiles, but it’s also renowned for its large selection of traditional herbs, cosmetics and medicines, which can be found on the ground floor of the easternmost building. Traditional herbal shampoo, made by boiling the bark of the Tayaw shrub with big black kin pun (acacia pods), is sold in small plastic bags; this is the secret of Myanmar women’s smooth, glossy hair.
Anawrahta Road Night Market
Anarahta Road is like many other busy streets in central Yangon during the day, but at night it transforms into one of the best street food markets in the city. Candles are used to light the stalls and this adds a special ambiance to the experience. Yangon is famous for its friendly yet overcrowded streets, jammed with its local vendors. One of the busiest areas of the downtown Yangon is this central night market – the Anawrahta Road Night market. Being the most central market in Yangon, Anawrahta Road has unique atmosphere; because the fresh products and the poor lighting range from a dim fluorescent lights to a few candles. The most temptations, especially for food and adventure lovers are many piles of salted fish and fried items skewered on a stick including crickets and any edible animal parts. Dine out here and see how brave you are! Just enjoy and finally, pay for the number of skewers you have gobbled up. If food adventure is not your thing, just simply stop for a while to watch the way the local vendors cook these dishes right in front of you; or try coconut jelly. The Anawrahta Road might be one of the most impressive night markets you will see in Burma as well as Southeast Asia.
Thiri Mingalar Market
Overloaded lorries from the countryside stuffed to the max with giant cabbages and gunny sacks of onions were in the process of being unloaded. Tuk Tuk’s raced through the passage ways of the market while rapidly distributing the produce to vendors. Laboring men hustled baskets of food from one side to the other with haste, blazing their trail through the crowd of humans with a shrieking smack of their lips.
Just outside the central area of Yangon lies the scattered Thiri Mingalar Market – somewhat of a distribution and bulk fresh market, it’s a sprawling market, displaying the finest natural provisions of produce from around Myanmar. Located outside city centre, Thiri Mingalar Market is the biggest farmer market in Yangon. It is the wholesale market for fruits, flowers and vegetables to be distributed all over Myanmar. You might stumble across mounds of cabbages, racks of bananas, trays of watermelons or piles of flowers. Crowds of trucks, tuk-tuks, bicycles, laborers, and shoppers create an energetic bustle around Thiri Mingala. Many sellers and workers also make their homes there after busy working days. It is a great chance for visitors to encounter the chaotic and lively market as well as witness how people earn their livings. It’s a must-see for tourists and a great place to capture some colorful pictures.
Danyingone market can be found next to the Danyingone railway station in Yangon. It is a local farmer’s market that will give visitors a taste of the real Yangon. Danyingone wet market is very much a local market for local people. You will see an abundance of fruits and vegetables and Myanmar’s people go about their daily pursuits. It is a wet market can be found next to the Danyingone railway station in Yangon, one of the most thrilling stops along Yangon’s Circular Railway. The market spills onto the platform in a flurry of activity; traders hustle at train doorways; vendors dash to stalls with arms full of produce; Thanaka-painted children dart between legs; and beggars wave metal cups and wait for some money. However, everyone always listens for the signal of an oncoming train, ready to collect their goods and stampede when the train comes.
Which local market in Myanmar are you most interested to visit? Here’s an idea. Don’t pick one, visit all of them!