Yangon, just like every other major city, has pretty much everything you can think of including markets, air con malls, cinemas, hotels and restaurants that span every budget, temples and churches, and of course political monuments despite the fact the capital was relocated back in 2005 to Nay Pyi Taw. Most of the embassies in Myanmar are still located in Yangon as well. It’s a strange mix of traditional and the new.
Tea houses are the social gathering places for most people in Myanmar and there is at least one on every block in the whole city. You could visit two tea houses a day for a whole month and you still wouldn’t see them all in Yangon. They’re usually open first thing in the morning and close by the late afternoon but there are some that stay open late for those Burmese that don’t drink alcohol. They always have mini spring rolls and samosas available to snack on if not a whole menu. Green tea is provided on the table but it’s possible to order coffee, which is alway NesCafe, or Indian tea with sweetened condensed milk.
Yangon really isn’t known as a place to find night life as most places tend to close up around 11 pm. The only ‘western bars’ we came across were owned by westerners such as the Fat Ox and the 50th Street Bar. They also had an expansive and expensive menu of western food ranging from fish and chips to pizza and burgers. Not only are the bars western in their theme but also their prices.
Most locals in Yangon tend to do their drinking in the late afternoon at places known as beer stations. They’re typically set up in a small shop that might have a single kegerator for draft beer and a cooler in back for bottles. The small chairs and tables are set up on the sidewalks and sprawl into the streets. Most beer stations don’t specialize in food but offer snacks such as peanuts or tea salad, which is Rachel’s new favorite dish.
Burmese food is a unique mix of Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian. You can find fried noodles or rice, noodle soups, curries, meat on a stick, and many other things found in certain countries and not others. Considering Myanmar has been closed off to the out side world for so long their food is strangely diverse. This is also reflected in the religious sites found throughout Yangon. Hindu temples can be found on the same block as Burmese stupas, mosques can be across the street and in the distance the steeple of a Baptist church can also be spotted.
This fusion of cultures makes for a unique dining experience in Myanmar that can only be described as Burmese. With Myanmar opening up more to foreigners that definition is sure to expand and create an even more diverse Yangon.