Bogyoke Aung San Road, Yangon, Myanmar
Scott Market Yangon Reviews
A must see place if you're into shopping or just a learning experience! Jun 01, 2013
First of all, this market is officially called "Bogyoke Market" after General Aung San the father of Burma's independence. 'Bogyoke' is the Burmese term for General. However, it is still known as Scott Market even after all these years. The place is supposed to be named after J.G. Scott, an administrator during the British rule of Burma.
Known for its colonial era architecture and inner cobblestone streets, the market is one of the major tourist attractions in the city of Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. It is also a popular shopping center for the local people as it has a number of stores selling medicine, foodstuffs, garments and foreign goods. The market is believed to have been built in 1926 during the British rule of the country when it was known as Burma. Needless to say, it is a well known landmark of the city, and included in the Yangon City Heritage List as one of the British colonial era buildings.
As a small boy I remember accompanying my mother on her shopping trips to the market. At that time there was a big grocery store on the premises, but it no longer exists today. Instead the market is now dominated by antique stalls, Burmese handicraft and jewelry shops, mini art galleries, and clothing stores. One can see a vast array of stands, there must be hundreds of shops, cafes, barbers, hairdressers, even a store that proudly proclaims "Diamond Empire." In other words, one can get just about anything at this huge market. One time I saw some pretty parrots and sparrows being sold on the streets near one of the doorways of the market, the latter in small cages. According to the Myanmar Buddhist custom, one can gain merit by freeing the sparrows and paying a small fee to the cage owner. But of course, we also know that these small birds always return to their cages a few minutes after being let out by the merit makers. Never mind, we have done our good deed for the day!
In the past Scott Market was also known as the black market, the place to go if you wanted to change your US dollars into the local currency. However, about a year ago, when the new semi-civilian government liberalized the banking sector, all the infamous money changers either changed their professions, or took their business elsewhere preying on unsuspecting foreign tourists. So, a note of caution here; do not change your money with people on the streets, they are likely to cheat you with low rates or short change you. All the banks in the city will give you the official exchange rate of the day which is presently about 900 to 920 Kyats to 1 US dollar.
I mentioned earlier about going along with my mother to Scott Market as a young boy. Well, when I grew up to be a teenager I also made a lot of visits there, but not for shopping. My friends and I would go there nearly every Saturday just to walk around, and watch the young girls when they did their shopping. I think the girls went there mainly to window shop, and to be watched by boys like us! Nowadays, I do make it a point to go there (but not to look at girls anymore, hehe) whenever I make my annual trips to my old hometown of Yangon, and I always find the market to be vibrant, colorful and intriguing as ever!
Near the center of the market, there is a food court with various stalls, and it is always crowded with people having a snack or a whole meal. The waiters of these food stands are always busy, either serving the customers or yelling at prospective customers to come try their available food. Even if their stall is full they will always say "we can make room for you" (at a neighboring stall).
If you want to look for souvenirs, gifts or knick knacks to remind you of your memorable visit to Myanmar, or even just to browse around, I would highly recommend Scott Market as a great educational and cultural experience. Be sure to practice your bargaining skills beforehand, as the shopkeepers do expect you to negotiate the prices. Say, "Shaw bar ohn" which means 'please lower the price' and this will definitely bring a smile on his/her face!
Which reminds me of one particular trip to the market with my American friend who was looking for some local paintings. A vendor was walking around the market with a tray full of water color paintings, and when I tried to bargain with him he wouldn't come down to the price I wanted. Anyway, I left my friend look around by herself while I went to search for a teashop on the premises. When I came back she had the painting in hand, and said she got it from the same vendor and at even a lower price than I had asked for earlier. So much for my bargaining abilities. A bit ironic, as I am a native of Myanmar/Burma, and even speak the language!
Scott Market is open everyday, except on Mondays. It is centrally located in downtown Yangon, about five minutes walk away from Sule Pagoda Road the main street of this exotic city.
PS. Even if you're not an avid shopper, I can guarantee that you will have an amazing experience by just taking a leisurely stroll through this vast complex of a market and browsing around the hundreds of stalls there!
7 / 7 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!