Some tips on what and where to shop while in Myanmar
A trip to another country—that is, true immersion—is never complete without shopping! So, if you’re planning a visit to Myanmar for its rich cultural heritage, remember that part of the culture is places to shop and things to shop for. Be sure to make time for shopping! Here are places that whenever you find yourself in, you shouldn’t miss to see what’s selling:
Bogyoke Aung San Market
After the adventure of haggling with the local sellers or simply want to save some money? This market is the place to go! With about 2,000 stores full of goods, you’re sure to find something that will catch your interest. There is a wide variety of native goods, from jewelry (gems and gold) to silverware, lacquerware, traditional Burmese dolls (made of wood), silk (Mandalay silk), traditional Shan and Kachin shoulder bags (made of cloth, with elaborate patterns), handicrafts, and food items, to name just a few.
The 70-year-old Bogyoke Aung San Market is located in the Yangon and open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm daily, except on Mondays and national holidays.
One of the places where the long tradition of crafting in Myanmar can be best experienced is the ancient city of Bagan. Being the center of lacquerware-making in central Myanmar, with clans of artisans active in the manufacture of the product, Bagan will give you a very large selection and highest quality lacquerware. So, if you’ve gone around the country, sampled its traditional dishes, and keen on preparing your own a-hlu lahpet, this is an excellent place to buy your lahpet ohk.
Apart from lacquerware, of course there are other items you can also shop here, like clothes; however, if you’re looking for big shopping centers selling modern and imported items, it is not the place to be.
Want to do your shopping on a boat? No problem! Inle Lake can grant you that unique experience.
Situated in a rural area, Inle Lake does not give you access to malls or large supermarkets. Nevertheless, it can give you access to the merchants selling goods aboard their small boats. The floating markets are popular especially to the people living on the lake who have depended on these markets for their everyday needs. In fact, it is so popular that even in the canals, heavy traffic is experienced.
It is important to plan ahead if you intend to catch the floating markets for they have a five-day rotating schedule. And there is neither fixed time nor venue to follow. The only thing sure is that tribe people come down to the lake from the hills on market days to sell their products.
Local shops and markets are what can be usually found in this side of the country. Mostly jewelry (gold and silver), precious stones (ruby, sapphire, jade), and handicrafts are items for shopping. The most popular souvenirs from the area, however, are sculptures and images of Buddha.
A large assortment of native and imported products is sold in Yangon. The city is the largest in Myanmar and considered the most important trade center in the country. It is complete with duty-free shops, modern malls, supermarkets, down to the local minimarkets. Hence, you can find here almost every interesting product you can find in Myanmar: clothes, textiles, jewelry, silverware, lacquerware, and handicrafts. To get the best deals, however, remember these few tips: at local markets you can haggle, branded products are generally a little cheaper, and ordinary, everyday products are more expensive in newer shopping centers.
So there, you know you have a lot of places to go to when you’re ready to shop. There are a lot of things to buy; pick well the parts of Burmese culture that you want to take home with you.