Photo journey along the Yangon Circular Train Line

Photo journey along the Yangon Circular Train Line

I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it,” said the great travel writer Paul Theroux once. Just like Paul, we love train journeys. It is the most relaxing form of travel and there is no better perspective on the world than from a railway carriage. Riding the Yangon Circular Railway is on many travellers’ bucket list and the “train ride to nowhere” has become one of the city’s top tourist attractions. It involves a 3-hour bumpy ride in non-air-conditioned rickety carriages, but if you want a truly fascinating and non-touristy travel adventure it doesn’t get better than this. If you ask us, it’s very high on the list of the greatest train journeys in the world.

The snail-pace journey – the train averages just 15 km/hour – covers a total distance of 46 km. The train runs full circle twenty times every day; clockwise or anti-clockwise the choice is yours, but all trains stop at each of the 39 stations along the way. Thousands of people use it every day to get to and from work or bring their vegetables to the many markets around town. It’s a great way to get a glimpse of Yangon’s local life. We hopped on the train with 60 local photographers from Featured Collectives and Instagrammers Myanmar and this is what they saw. Join us a for a photo-journey along the Yangon Circular Railway Line.

Unusual encounters on the train, shared among different generations. Photo by Thar_nge

There is no better perspective on the world than from a train carriage. Photo by kigiskyawlinaung

When the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Photo by dilemmatix

Two aunties travelling to the market wearing straw hats and signature thanakha paste to protect them from the sun. Photo by dilemmatix

The train stops at all 39 stations as it travels around the city. Photo by heinminsoez

Thousands of people ride the circular train every day; passengers hop on and off along the route. Photo by kigiskyawlinaung

Rain or shine, the first train leaves at 6.10 every day. Photo by kigiskyawlinaung

Buying tickets; at 100 kyat the train is the preferred way to travel for many working-class people. Photo by kyinue_mya

The rusty and rickety carriages date back to the British days. Photo by bo_lay_artist

Crossing the tracks at Ahlone Station. Photo by bo_lay_artist

Some Circular Line travel tips

Hop on and make Yangon’s Circular Line train your street photographers’ muse! Some quick facts and out trips for a perfect train ride:

  • Buy tickets from Platform 7 of Yangon Central Station. The fare is 100 or 200 kyat depending on distance.
  • Trains ride in both directions. ‘R’ indicates eastbound at Yangon central Station (anticlockwise) and ‘L’ is westbound (clockwise).
  • The train starts running at 6.10 am with the last departure at 10pm, but the earliest full circle train leaves at 8.20am heading west (clockwise) and the last one departs 5.10pm.
  • Whole circuit is 46 kilometers long with 39-stations and the snail pace journey takes about three hours
  • The railway opened for service in 1954 and still has an operational fleet of 200 coaches on double track. The service runs 20 times a day.
  • The tracks are old, carriages are a bit dated and non-air-conditioned, so be prepared for a hot, bumpy ride and a great experience!

iDiscover guide to travel like a local on the Yangon Circular Railway

Want to go travel like a local on the train? 

The Circular Railway Guide is one of the six handcrafted itineraries in the iDiscover Yangon Neighbourhood Guide, buy a set for just 12,000 kyat at Hla Day or order a copy online. The guide comes with a free app with GPS maps and in-depth stories on each site. This is your go-to guide for hidden gems, popular local hotspots and surprising sites in Yangon. All handpicked, so you can shop locally and travel responsibly

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