Night markets seen to boost Yangon tourism

Plans have been put forward to make Yangon, already one of the most-visited destinations in Myanmar, even more attractive to tourists.

Among the ideas brought up during a meeting last week between the regional government and business organisations in the travel industry, was the proposal that more Sunday markets and night markets be set up around the city to give tourists more things to do and more destinations to visit.

“Besides Bogyoke Aung San Market, other Sunday markets should be set up,” said U Thet Lwin Toh, chair of Union of Myanmar Travel Association.

The meeting also discussed the setting up of more souvenir shops and a motto and logo to promote tourism in and around Yangon.

“It is important to have shopping areas for tourists. They do not always want to go and eat in shopping malls and restaurants. They also like street food,” said U Thet Lwin Toh.

Existing Sunday markets around the country are already a focal point for locals looking for goods ranging from fresh produce and handmade craft objects to antiques and secondhand clothes.

This naturally makes them attractive to foreign visitors seeking to experience local life and also, perhaps, do a little shopping themselves.

The promotion of markets offers a convenient opportunity for visitors, even those on short visits, to learn more about the lives of locals and also purchase souvenirs in one location, said U Thet Lwin Toh.

During the meeting the slogan “Heart of Myanmar” was selected for Yangon tourism marketing. A logo design to go along with the slogan will be decided later.

U Thet Lwin Toh pointed out that night markets are also a feature in many cities around Southeast Asia.

“In Yangon, there are currently night markets only on 19th Street and in Chinatown. The night market on Strand Road is not really suitable for the tourists,” he added.

Proposals from the meeting suggest the setting up a Sunday market in Maha Bandula Park and a night market along Yaytarshay Road, at eastern corner of Shwedagon Pagoda.

The markets will be required to follow municipal regulations and will be handed over to a management committee or company to run.

“You can’t just rely on the city committee alone. They [the committee] will collect taxes, set up locations, and provide power and water. But the running of the markets would be more efficiently run by the private sector,” he said, adding that a market’s management organisation would take care of matters such as cleaning and security for traders.

“As the night market will have to be opened every night, the location needs to have a lot of commuters. No one goes intentionally to places like Strand Road. [The location] must be suitable for those who, after visiting the pagoda, want to buy something from the market; and travellers who want to take nice photos with the pagoda in the background,” he observed.

The priorities for the location of the night market will be good accessibility for visitors and a well-known area.

Besides the usual products found in night markets, there will also be special discounts and promotions and small entertainment events in order to attract visitors.

Many of the existing night markets in Yangon currently can be unsanitary and difficult to access, so even locals rarely visit them.

Ko Min Hein, who lives in Kyitaw Ward, Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township, said, he used to go to the Strand Road night markets twice a week, but stopped going because of poor hygiene.

“In the past, it was a good place to spend time at night because of the nice environment, but now it is really dirty. Although small night bazaars like Urban 86 appeared, I don’t have the sense of freedom in atmosphere as it was like a cage to me and so, I stopped going there after one or two times,” he said.

“People who go to night bazaars or restaurants want to relax with friends or family. But the reasons why there is no successful night bazaar are lack of attractions and innovation for consumers.

“Young people spend a lot of time in the evenings at the 52nd Street market which opens day and night in Pazundaung township because it has a decent number of food stalls,” he added.

Botadaung township resident Ma Mi, who loves visiting night markets, said she wants them to also sell traditional snacks and foods usually available during pagoda festivals, in addition to the usual.

“Before I go to a night bazaar, transportation is a thing I think of first. In our family, there are older people and children, so we don’t want to go somewhere too far from home and difficult to go,” said Ma Mi.

Night markets should also select traders carefully so that the quality of the market and food improves, she suggested.

“They should do more to attract foreigners because currently even local people don’t want to go to some of the existing markets,” said Ma Mi.

The new Sunday market and night market are expected to be opened soon and publicised through pamphlets and social media, U Thet Lwin Toh explained.


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