Yangon's Circular Train
What it's like, the timetable, and how to plan.
"To ride Yangon’s charmingly decrepit Circle Line train is to ride through history." - New York Times.
What you see is far more than history: life in the present and people's hope for the future. All in one ride.
Why You'll Love This Ride
- Built in 60 years ago and still running, Yangon's Circular Train is a remnant of a bygone era .
- The train connects Yangon's suburbs to its commercial heart, different classes of society all mix up in a carriage, what stories are their faces telling you?
- Covering 45.9km/28.5mi, the entire ride takes 3 hours, which is slow enough for locals to hop in and hop off anytime while the train is in motion. The train allows you to absorb Myanmar in a laidback way, perfect for your arrival day.
What's the Train Like
Train ride always has a romantic spin to train fans. However, not the case in Yangon. This old and much-wrecked train system has suffered from over 60 years' overload and the seats will not be comfortable. What matters here is what you can see along the way, and the connection to friendly locals.
Right now Yangon's Circular Train system owns 21 vehicles, over half of which were imported from Hungary back in the 1960s. Recently in 2007, some "new" ones were added yet they are also decommissioned trains from Japan.
There was once in 2012 when Japan began its collaboration with Yangon City Development Committee and introduced coaches with a/c at a slightly higher cost, which were not well-received by the locals and always packed with tourists.
As out-of-date as the train is, facilities inside the coaches are merely comfortable. Some coaches have face-to-face 3-passenger benches while most of the trains you will find narrow long benches, which means you will need to squeeze with others.
Neither the doors or the windows are closed, people can hop in and hop off, even throw-and-catch through the window as the train goes slow.
No A/C or bathroom available on train and most fans are broken long time ago.
The rail tracks were firstly built during colonial time of the British when they took Yangon (Rangon by that time) as capital. Double track construction began in 1954.
With a track gauge of 1,000mm, the entire system runs for 45.9km/28.5mi, covering 39 stations and transporting 10,000 passengers on a daily basis.
Not much maintainence after the first construction and train coaches run at a speed of 13kph/9.5mph on these overused train tracks.
Train Stations, Platforms and Ticketing
There are 39 train stations of the entire loop, with the major stations being: Yangon Central, Dagon University, Danyingon, Hlawga, Insein, Mingaladon, Okhposu, Paywetseikkon, Thilawa, Togyanggalay, Ywathagyi, University of Computer Studies.
Trains run two ways: clockwise (right) and counter-clockwise (left), boarding from the platforms accordingly. One-stop fare is around 100-200 Kyat (60-120 cents in USD), multi-stop is 500-800 Kyat (3-4.8USD). No reservation is needed.
What You'll see on the Journey
While the entire loop takes about 3 hours, we select the most interesting leg for you to get a taste. Of course, if you plan to do it on your own, it's better to understand what you can see along the way.
- Yangon Central Station: the biggest train station and probably the oldest, too. (Stop: Yangon Central Railway Station)
- Local Markets: Market is everywhere, on the platforms, inside the train and even on the train tracks.
- Little India & Chinatown: The most bustling local markets and food courts with much to offer. (Stop: Danyingon Station)
- Insein Prison: The notorious prison that used to repress political dissidents under the rule of the military junta is located not far away from Insein Station. (Stop: Insein Station)
- National Museum: Showcasing Myanmar's history, ethnic cultures, and household daily items. (Stop: Pyay Road Station)
- U Thant House: Old residence of the former UN secretary-general U Thant, who has made great contributions in world peace. (Stop: Hanthawaddy Station)
- Bogyoke Aung San Market: Named after General Aung San, this massive market is where locals shop for their daily use and some interesting trinkets. (Stop: Phyay Lan Station)
The circular train just covers the outer loop of the city and there are many other places along the way worth exploring. No matter what section you decide to take, better to map out all the interesting places to see along the route before buying a multi-stop ticket.
When & Where
Yangon Circular Train Timetable
Two directions: right from Yangon Central and starting with Pyay Road Station going clockwise and back to Yangon Central; left from Yangon Central and starting with Puzuduang Station going counter-clockwise and back to Yangon Central.
- Direction: Right
Depart from Yangon Central: 6:10am, 8:20am, 9:30am, 10:10am, 11:30am, 11:50am, 1:05pm, 2:25pm, 3:30pm, 5:10pm
- Direction: Left
Depart from Yangon Central: 6:10am, 8:35am, 10:45am, 12:25pm, 1:40pm, 4:40pm
Note: As it always runs late, it's better to count on the departure time rather than a stop-by-stop schedule.
How to Plan Your Day
How long do you need? = A morning is enough.
Planning a half-day trip by Yangon's Circular Train is fairly easy. You can either start from Yangon Central Station and head to the countryside or do the opposite. This is an example of a 5-hour morning tour by train.
- 0730: Transfer to Danyingon Station and explore the market fare around while waiting for the train.
- 0830: Board the train and head to Insein Station.
- 0900: Arrive in Insein Station and walk a bit to visit the nutorious Insein Prison.
- 1030: Hop back onto the train to Hathanwaddy Station, and walk along the street to U Thant House.
- 1130: Back to the train and this time you will go straight to Yangon Central Station.
- 1230: End of the trip and transfer back to your hotel.
With full understanding of what to expect from a train ride, it won't be hard for you to see the city from different aspects and gain your kind of special experiences. Certainly, we have other options for the ride, why don't you talk to us and find out more?
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