If you're planning on taking the Circle Train from start to finish, it's worth packing a few snacks and maybe a toy or two for the kids in case they get restless.
Good to know
The ride on the Circle Train from start to finish is about three hours long, so you might not want to stay on the whole time. Also, adults will need to have their shoulders and knees covered to enter the pagoda, so ensure you dress appropriately. If you forget, you can always rent a sarong at the pagoda.
It's best to ride the Circle Train in the morning, and see the pagoda at sunset. You likely won't be able to combine both (that would make it a long day), so decide which is more important. Personally, I'd rather ride the train later and see the pagoda at sunset. If you're able, try to visit on a Sunday. Every Sunday evening, there's a performance in People's Park after sunset the kids will love.
Recommended time of the year
Yangon is great to visit any time of year, but fall, winter and spring are the best. The summer months can get very hot and quite rainy in Myanmar. It's best to avoid this time of year, if possible. The rain is typically sporadic though, so if you have to visit during the summer, just make the most of it.
Yangon is an incredibly inexpensive city, so just enjoy it.
About This Day
This mini-adventure in Yangon with kids combines culture with fun. Start the day by watching local life in Myanmar (Burma) happen on either side of the slow-moving Circle Train. The kids will get an appreciation for how other people live while enjoying a ride on the old, swaying train. After the Circle Train, it's time to blow off some steam at the fantastic playground in People's Park. While the kids play, you can contemplate the history of Aung San Suu Kyi, since she lived in this park under house arrest for 15 years. Finally, make your way across the street to the impressive Shwedagon Pagoda. It's impossible to visit Yangon without wandering around this impressive golden pagoda complex. If you do this as the sun is setting, it's an even more magical experience.
The Circle Train offers an incredible glimpse into the local life in Yangon. Once you get on the train, I highly recommend making your way to the front of the train. The door beside the conductor is usually propped wide open. If you're brave, you can let your kids sit on the chair right in the front doorway. My girls loved watching the tracks in front of them, with their hair blowing in the breeze. People live and do business along the tracks. Being on the train allows for unobtrusive observation into their everyday lives. We saw kids playing, monks walking to the temple, people buying and selling at the various markets and so much more!
DIRECTIONS Ask at your accommodation for an up-to-date train schedule, and ensure you're looking at the trains going "left." Take a Grab (a Myanmar Uber) or regular taxi to Yangon Central Railway Station. Once there, head to Platform 7 to buy your tickets. The first train leaves at 6:10 a.m., but they don't start leaving regularly until 8:20 a.m. The last train leaves at 5:10 p.m. Alternatively, you can get on two stops down the line at Lanmadaw Station if you don't want to deal with the Central Station. The person in the ticket booth at the top of the stairs will be able to sell you a ticket. Make your way down to the track, and wait for the train.
TIP My recommendation is to get off at Inshein Station. The entire train route is about three hours long, which would likely get redundant for the kids. It's about an hour train ride to get to Inshein Station, and the scenery changes enough to keep everyone entertained. It's also a common stop, so it'll be easy to catch a taxi here to get to the park.
People's Park Playground
Dhammazedi Road, Yangon
After remaining somewhat still on the train, it's nice to take the kids somewhere to play. People's Park is great because it's fenced in, so there are no worries about your little one running off into traffic. There's a fantastic playground and plenty of green space to run off some energy. There's also a really cool old airplane that the kids can climb around inside for a few minutes. Plus, there's a long suspension bridge connecting two big trees to explore. It might be a bit scary to watch from underneath, but my kids ran back and forth on that thing multiple times! It was nice because I didn't have to chase after them. Lastly, there's a toilet in the park. You have to pay for it, but it's always nice to have a toilet nearby whenever the little ones are playing.
DIRECTIONS You'll want to take a Grab (a Myanmar Uber) or taxi from the train station to People's Park. Tell the driver you want to go to the east entrance, between People's Park and Shwedagon Pagoda. Once you've paid the (small) entrance fee and are inside the park, head to the southeast corner, where you'll find the playground.
TIP There are restaurants and a grocery store just outside the entrance to the park. It's nice to either grab a snack beforehand or to grab some lunch after the kids are done playing.
Shwedagon Pagoda is incredibly impressive, even for the kids. It's a giant, golden pagoda surrounded by hundreds of other small pagodas and temples. I'd recommend hiring a guide at the entrance. Let your guide know that you're interested in the highlights, so they don't tell you absolutely everything and bore the kids. It's nice to learn about the history as you wander around the temple grounds. Plus, the kids will enjoy finding out which animal is "their" animal, so they can pour water on it's head to ensure good luck and happiness.
DIRECTIONS Shwedagon Pagoda is right across the street to the east of People's Park. Head out the east entrance, find the sidewalk and walk across the road. Enter at the main entrance to the pagoda, which is the west entrance. If someone in your party is in a wheelchair, you'll need to hop in a taxi and make your way around to the east entrance of the pagoda, where the elevator is located.
TIP This is a religious site, so make sure you talk to your kids about being respectful while visiting ahead of time. There are likely to be lots of people, so also ensure your kids know to stay close.