Shopping at Bogyoke Aung San Market in Yangon

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During our first day in Yangon, we asked Mr. Moe – our tour guide as to where we can buy Longyi – a traditional skirt worn by Burmese men and women. He immediately suggested that we visit Bogyoke Aung San Market located in the heart of Pabedan township of Central Yangon in Myanmar.

Bogyoke Aung San Market in Yangon
Bogyoke Aung San Market in Yangon

We were told that wearing Longyi is required in order for us to be allowed to visit some temples but aside from that, we also want to have a souvenir photos wearing Longyi. Both men and women wear longyi’s in various designs and sizes, either paired with regular shirts or traditional blouses. Men usually wear checkered or single colored ones while women’s longyi’s are usually colorful with various design patterns.

Bogyoke Aung San Market commonly known as Boyoke Zay is one of the famous bazaars in Myanmar. It is similar to Tutuban Market in Manila but the entire place is not airconditioned and the items being sold are mostly local handicrafts and products from neighboring countries like China, Indonesia and Thailand. I guess the one of the major difference between Tutuban Market and Bogyoke is that Bogyoke and the entire Yangon is impressively clean.

Banana Vendor in Yangon
Banana Vendor in Yangon

It was formerly known as Scott’s Market which was inaugurated in 1926, late during the British rule of Myanmar and is famous for its architecture done in colonial style with streets laid in cobblestone. The market is dominated mostly by Burmese jade, other jewelries, art galleries, handicraft shops, clothing shops, and antique shops. Aside from Kids selling souvenirs, you will also notice a lot of  locals offering black market currency exchange.

Longyi Shops in Yangon
Longyi Shops in Yangon

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The market was named in honor of the British Civil Servant James George Scott, who introduced football in Myanmar. After the country’s independence in 1948, it was renamed to Boyoke Aung San. Bogyoke in Burmese means General. Boyoke Aung San was founder of the modern Burmese Army and the Communist Party of Burma. He is known as a popular revolutionary, nationalist, and is considered to be the father of the modern-day Burma.

Inside Bogyoke Aung San Market
Inside Bogyoke Aung San Market

The market is so famous that it is listed on the Yangon City Heritage List. It is said that is has the largest section of Mynmar souvenirs one can find under a single roof. It is a one time shopping destination for tourists. Right at the main entrance is the dome shaped clock tower. Taking the form of a square, the market is divided into the South wing, East wing, North wing, and West wing. Till the 1990’s there was only a single building. Later a new wing of the market was added to the Boyoke Market Road.

Jade Jewelries in Myanmar
Jade Jewelries in Myanmar

There are about more than 2000 shops in the Boyoke Market spread over 29,717 square meters. The market also has a lot of traditional medical shops besides those selling luxury items and handicrafts. There are also a number of traditional Myanmar Chinese food stalls.  Right at the front of the market, many exclusive shops occupy the spot.

Retail Shops in Bogyoke Market
Retail Shops in Bogyoke Market

As I enter the Mall, the feel of a Western mall disappears and all the makings of a typical oriental bazaar emerge. The market is also well known for Zay Thingyan festival which means the market’s water celebration which is usually held on the 11th or 12th of April. During this time, one would find dishes like Shwe Yin Aye, Monte Lone Yay Paw and Thargu being doled out by eateries in the market.

The market opens up before 9 in the morning and shuts down 5 in the evening. The market is fully shutdown during the gazette holidays. If you want to do serious shopping, you might want to stay near this market place. Quite close to the market is Traders Hotel Yangon which is right to where Sule Pagoda Road meets the Bogyoke Aung San Road.

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