Yangon’s Thiri Mingalar Market – A Sensory Buffet of Burmese Sights and Sounds

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Thiri Mangalar Market

It’s a sprawling market, displaying the finest natural provisions of produce from around Myanmar (Burma).

Just outside the central area of Yangon lies the scattered Thiri Mingalar Market – somewhat of a distribution and bulk fresh market.

It’s not quite as chaotic as the midnight market madness of Long Bien Market in Hanoi, but it was a real flavorful insight into Yangon.

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Thiri Mangalar Market, Yangon

Walking into the market was like walking down the red carpet in Hollywood; The carpet was made of decaying cabbage leaves and banana debris and the fans were locals, curious to see random foreigners.

We got our share of stares – all in the most friendly smiling and nonthreatening of ways.

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Unloading a Lorry

Thiri Mingalar Market was alive!

Overloaded lorries from the countryside stuffed to the max with giant cabbages and gunny sacks of onions were in the process of being unloaded.

Tuk Tuk’s raced through the passage ways of the market while rapidly distributing the produce to vendors. Laboring men hustled baskets of food from one side to the other with haste, blazing their trail through the crowd of humans with a shrieking smack of their lips.

I would bend over to snap a photo and immediately anywhere from 3 to 12 locals would be at my back, everyone smiling, trying to catch a glimpse of the captured view.

People were even more curious when we shot a scene for the Yangon video documentary, wanting to see for themselves what was stored within that little hand-held device.

A few activities at the Thiri Mingalar Market:

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Burmese Mohinga Breakfast

1. Burmese Mohinga

It didn’t take long for the sweet perfume of Mohinga (the national dish of Burmese cuisine – rice noodles in a fish gravy) to penetrate my nose and entice me to eat breakfast.

I made a direct line for the Mohinga stall and slurped it down in a hurry!

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Girl with Sugar Can

2. Sugar Cane Girl

I’m not a huge lover of sugar cane (too much sweet and not a lot of taste), but this girl convinced us to buy a pack.

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Myanmar Beer Snack

3. Surprise Ham and Cheese

With nothing on the Yangon (Rangoon) itinerary but to sample and observe, we deemed it a good idea to try a Myanmar beer in the food court area of Thiri Mingalar Market.

It lead to many smiles, a few broken conversations, and a slew of snacks tossed in our direction to test (it was awesome!).

The Winner: Pink grains of rice, mixed with raw onions and garlic and bathed in a Burmese style dose of grease.  The salty taste was frighteningly reminiscent of a dish of finest ham and cheese. Made for quite the bizarre mushy beer treat.

Afterward I asked a few locals, all of whom were stumped at the identification. Anyone know about this snack?

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Racks of Bananas

4. Racks of Bananas

There was a banana infestation at Thiri Mingalar, it was like an entire plantation had been harvested.

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Snake Charmer

5. The Snake Man

On the way out of Thiri Mingalar market, we stopped to eat some freshly cut watermelon, which in Burma resulted in a chat about football (our common language) with a number of guys that were hanging around.

Out of nowhere, a peculiar man appeared, wrapped in a cloth with a shoulder bag around his neck.

He approached us with a staring smile. There was a movement in his bag and soon he pulled out a python. The Burmese locals jumped back, adrenalized to see such a serpent come out of a man bag.

It remains a mystery; Normally this sort of man waits for the classic tourist to take a photo, changing a maximum fee.

This man however, was NOT a tourist charmer (there aren’t too many foreigners that choose to visit Thiri Mingalar market).

By now a crowd of Burmese had formed a semi circle around this man, everyone just as curious as we were. He took a quick drink of water, packed his snake back in his bag and walked away as calmly as he had arrived.

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Ride back to Yangon center

How to Get to Thiri Mangalar Market, Yangon, Burma

  • Taxi: from the center of Yangon town should cost 2000 Kyats
  • Bus: There are a few buses that go between the city center and the Market but you’ll have to ask someone at the market what number to take, someone will help you
  • Back of the truck: On the road at the exit of the market, you can also get in the back of the truck, ask the tout about a landmark, such as Shule Pagoda (downtown Yangon) and they will take you in the right direction

Taking a bus or truck in Yangon is a very entertaining ride, and don’t be afraid to ask anyone for help!

If you plan to visit Yangon, be sure you look over the important Yangon travel information.

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Comments

  1. Don says

    Nice post Mark. It brought back some great memories of when I visited Thiri Mingalar Market last January. I was impressed by all the bananas too. Didn’t see the Snake Man while I was there though.

    • says

      Awesome that you’ve been there too Don! I think the snake man just happen to be walking through at the right time, because even the local guys at the market hadn’t seemed to see him before.

  2. says

    Thanks Mark. Very interesting as we are going to Burma early next year. My favourite shot is the bananas, but all are interesting.Hmmmm…..pink rice…never seen that before.Daughter had already told us this market is a must visit.Looking forward to seeing it all myself.

  3. says

    your posts about myanmar made me decide to choose myanmar over indonesia.i was deciding on my next destination early next year.hope you’ll write more about bagan.

    • says

      Hey Chris,
      Thanks a lot for checking out my posts, I know that you’ll have a great time in Burma when you visit. I actually haven’t been to the Bagan temples, I spent almost all my time in Yangon. I can recommend taking a look at my friend’s site at http://www.legalnomads.com – she has also written some great info about travel in Burma. Thanks again for reading and for the comment, let me know how your trip goes!

      • says

        What Myint Mo said was right. It is fermented shrimp. There are another version of fermented fish rice ball and eat as salad.

        We called the pink rice ball with shrimp “Pa Zoon Chin Thoke” in Burmese. Pa Zoon means Shrimp/Prawn.
        Fermented Fish rice ball is called “Ngar Chin Thoke” in Burmese. Ngar means Fish.

        As I am not a fan of fermented foods. I didn’t really try it. haha…. But they are my father favorite.

  4. Marika says

    I’m so enjoying these forays of yours into Burma, the land of my birth. I found Migrationology when I was looking for a recipe for my favorite Burmese breakfast, nanbya and pe-byoke (nan and a boiled pea salad). Since then, I’ve recreated it with black-eyed peas. Thanks for keeping me connected with my native land in this very tasty way.

    • says

      Great to hear that Mrika and that sounds delicious. I had a great time in Burma and you have some wonderful food – I really enjoyed it! Thanks for the support.

  5. says

    If you have tasted SOUR ‘pink rice’ then it might probably be – Bazun thoke, ပုဇွန်သုပ်, Pickled prawn salad.
    I love loved it!!! It is hard to find here. :(

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