I have been wanting to ride this train for years. The Yangon Circular Railway is a British built train line that connects Yangon Central station (pictured above) with inner city suburbs, impoverished towns and semi- country villages in a 46 kilometre (28.5 mile) long loop with 39 stations. Trip Adviser users rate it as the seventh best attraction in Yangon with people saying “a trip of a life time” and “Excellent way to watch everyday life in yangon“.
Some of the key stations with close by attractions include:
- Pagoda Road for Bogyoke Market and Holy Trinity Cathedral
- Pyay Rd – National Museum (500m north), Parliament House, Peoples Park
- Kemmendine or Kyeemyindaing for Dagon Centre Shopping Mall (20 min walk o5 5 min cab ride), Padonmar Stadium,
- Hletaw or Hledan for HledanMarkets, Hledan Central Shopping Centre, Great Restaurants, Yangon University
- Tadalay Station for Swal Daw Pagoda
- Yegu for Kabar Aye Pagoda
An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 passengers travel the system daily. Tickets are sold from a special ticket office on platforms 6 and 7 at Yangon station, pictured behind me here or at ticket booths at most stations.
Up to April 1, 2014, tickets cost $US1. From that date tourists have been able pay in local currency with the fare costing the equivalent of 30 US cents. We stood at the window to buy the tickets and were ushered around into a little office and offered chairs during the transaction. They did not want to see our passports (this used to be a requirement). No one checked our tickets.
The timetable is not an easy timetable to remember. If planning to travel, check for information before riding.
The platforms were well signposted and staff very helpful at pointing to the right train. The major decision we had to make was whether to travel clockwise or anti clockwise. We went clockwise.
Steps are steep into the actual carriage. Some services were very crowded with standing room only and others were almost deserted.
On Board: 6/10
The Seats were wooden which can be uncomfortable but there is no reason to stay in the same carriage. Walking up and down the train to see what is in the other carriages made a welcome break. The train has fans and windows which was sufficient cooling ventilation.
There is an air-conditioned train service which we assiduously avoided for two reasons:
- the windows don’t open up which means you miss out on so much fun stuff.
- the only people riding the train appeared to be tourist
There are three ways to use this train:
- Scenery Watching – smelling the smells and listening to the sounds. You will see the “real” Myanmar on this trip. One trip adviser critic rated the trip as terrible” saying “A waste of time.”: It was a nearly three hour train ride through unending slums and poverty…” What did they think they would see in Yangon?
- People watching – everyone hops on this train: young old, monks, some with goods for sale, others with purchases. We saw men, women and kids carrying boxes, bags, balloons, bundles, baskets of fruit and vegetables and even plastic signs to be hung up around the city.
- Station Hopping – Many tourists ride the train for the whole circuit in one go. As mentioned, we found that there are many sites that were accessible to the train stations and hopped off the train to see them. This broke the journey up and made it more manageable and enjoyable:
Some pedlars sold food on the train. Some stations had market stalls at them. We took water with us and bought additional drinks stands along the way near the stations.
We hopped off the train at Hledan Rd Station and enjoyed an amazing lunch at the Green Elephant.
The Verdict: 78%
The best 30 cents I have spent for a long time.
Would I ride again: Yes