Unless you’re actually catching a train, it may not be worth going far out of your way to visit Yangon’s Central Railway Station but this spectacular building is impossible to miss and one of downtown Yangon’s most iconic structures — so here’s a brief rundown on this elegant old railway station.
The station is located off Bogyoke Road, slightly east of the famous Scott (or Bogyoke Aung San) Market, and is bracketed by the Zoological Garden Road and Pansadon Street flyovers that form the two principal arteries linking downtown with north and central Yangon. If you’re arriving from the airport or heading up to Shwedagon or Kandawgyi, you’ll drive right past it. The main entrance is on Kun Chan Road.
The original station building was destroyed by retreating British forces in 1943 and only rebuilt after independence in 1954, when architect U Tin created the distinctive Burmese/Western fusion we see today with its green tiered towers. It is now a designated landmark building, so it’s in a better condition than many of the city’s other old buildings.
The station is a regular hive of activity, from early morning until late evening, and adjacent tea shops mean this can be an interesting spot to wander and check out local life — it’s in particular a potentially rewarding location for photographers. (If you look east from the main platforms, you’ll see an old steam locomotive in a siding, too.)
This is also the hub of Burma’s 5,000 kilometre narrow gauge rail network but unless you have plenty of spare time, a superhuman resistance to motion sickness and heavy-duty seat padding, there are not too many train trips leaving from here that we could recommend with a clear conscience. The Bago Express (actually the Nyapidaw service) however is a great way to reach the nearby historic town. It departs at 08:00 and a mere two hours of rattling and rolling will get you to your destination. Any further… good luck!
Don’t forget too there’s always the famous Circle Line train, which is well worth a trip, and if you can’t hack the complete three-hour round journey, just hop out at any station and grab a taxi to your next destination.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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