Leave the bustling crowds downtown and head for a more authentic people experience. Meet the Circular Train.
If there is one fascinating activity to experience the authentic Yangon without its embellishments, blending into not-so-large crowds, it will be a not-so-wild ride on the Circular Train. From here you can see the grey cityscape gently melting into latest urban developments, quiet suburban areas and less-developed outskirts with their rugged beauty. Revealing the seldom seen side of Yangon, the Yangon Circular Train takes you on a ride around city suburbs and outskirts essentially connecting downtown Yangon with its suburban areas. It will be an opportunity to off-roaders to see a rare yet authentic lifestyle of local people not only along Maeklong Railway of Thailand, but also on Yangon Circular Train while giving their spare time on trips to Yangon. Serving as a showcase of genuine lifestyle of Yangon, this old bumpy ride has been a kind of tourist attraction in this city.
Yangon Circular Train started its operation in 1954 along with its new station, Yangon Central Railway Station. At present, trains take passengers along 45.9 kilometers long loop, and stop at 39 stations. The journey starts at the Central Railway Station going on a double track (clockwise and anti-clockwise) with 15 departures a day. The entire loop ride lasts for about 3 hours, giving you a peek into quaint suburban life in Yangon. You can buy tickets using the local currency at the standard fare of 200 Kyats at the ticket station on the platforms. Keep the ticket stub for a later inspection by a conductor.
Starting at Yangon Central Railway Station, you can either take the entire three-hour ride or get off at certain stations more or less within walking distance of some tourist attractions including:
Myittar Nyunt Station – to visit Chauk Htet Gyi Pagoda and Ngar Htet Gyi Pagoda
Yegu Station – to visit Kabar Aye Pagoda
Tadalay Station – to visit Tooth Relic Pagoda
Danyigone Station – to visit the vegetable bazaar named Danyingone Market.
As the train starts off from the station, one can find small-scale vendors trying to get some customers going from coach to coach. Besides, some hawkers selling peanuts, seasonal fruits and traditional food while hopping on and off between stations can be observed. Forget a customary train ride you have seen elsewhere. Carriages are abuzz with business and excitement. After a while, an abrupt change of scene in which your train turns into a market, crowded and busy. Vendors would try to sell their products besides the windows, some getting on the train. You will witness buyers and sellers trying to strike a deal while engaging in animated conversations. As the train chugs on along the loop, concrete jungle gradually gives way to paddy fields, emerald or golden – depending on the time of the year you visit. Trains have aged gracefully and such popular amenities as air-conditioning and ceiling fans are mostly absent (things have changed with later batches of trains where all such amenities are ubiquitous), you may feel slightly uncomfortable. Still, the circular train on the loop will keep you in the loop with the genuine daily lifestyle of the common people in Yangon.
Circular trains, preferred for their comparatively low fares, is the most popular mode of transport which around 90,000 people rely on for their daily commute. For adventure seekers and those who want to find out the hidden side of the city, it is the best chance to witness the unique intrepid daily routines of people which you would not find in downtown Yangon.