The rapid growth of Yangon into a sprawling metropolis contrasts sharply with the many rural areas of Myanmar. The air there is thick with exhaust fumes, the streets are congested with traffic, and the lack of a well built public transport system means commuting can often be treacherous and expensive. One of the oldest methods of traveling through Yangon still remains the cheapest: the Yangon Circular Railway, a local commuter network that covers 30 miles and runs in a three-hour loop around the city of Yangon. This rail system offers a unique way to take in the city’s rapidly changing landscape.
The circular slow train loops around Yangon and runs 20 times daily through 39 stations, passing boisterous wholesale markets, slums, garbage dumps, and farmlands. It is a relic of colonial times, built by the British in 1954, and operated today by Myanmar Railways. At its fastest, the train chugs along at ten miles per hour.
Passengers can hop on and off at any station. Riding the train is a warm and breezy way to while away an afternoon with monks, vendors, kids, and Yangon residents from all walks of life. Snacks are sold throughout the cars or outside the windows as the train approaches each station. While some complain that the train is impractically slow, there is no doubt that life on the Yangon Circular Railway is a part of local culture that is slowly disappearing.
Platform 7, Yangon Railway Station
Pansodan & Bogyoke Aung San Rd
Trains depart every 45 to 60 minutes.
100 – 200 Kyats non-A/C
500 – 800 Kyats A/C coach
Passports are required for ticket purchase.
Contributor, Videographer & Photographer: Jia Li