Buying Souvenirs in Yangon

Photo taken at Shwetharlyaung Pagoda in Bago
(Sorry, I forgot to take photos at the Scott Market)

Nowadays, Myanmar is the ‘it’ place in the world due to its political reform and sanction removal by US and EU. The number of international visitors are rising everyday. Whatever reason they visit Myanmar, one wouldn’t normally leave the country without buying souvenirs.

The best place to buy souvenirs in Yangon is of course the Bogyoke Aung San Market, formally known as Scott Market. There are many shops there featuring a variety of souvenirs to choose from such as postcards, gem paintings, jewelry, etc.

I was at the Scott Market last Saturday with Y and O as Y wanted to buy some souvenirs for herself and her colleagues. I used to think that the jade bracelets were expensive but some were only 1000 kyats. In dollars, the price is $1 which is around 800 kyats so O managed to bargain with the sales girl to sell the bracelet for 800 kyats.

After spending about 3 hours at the market, I started to have a basic idea about the prices of some of the items.

Which is why it is difficult for me keep myself quiet at a souvenir shop yesterday evening because everything costs more than twice the original prices. A small gem painting that cost 1500 kyats cost $3 (2550 kyats). At first, I was just going to keep quiet while Y looked around but when I saw that a normal traditional leather slippers were charged $17. I was like what the heck, how could these cost $17. To make the matter worse, I flipped the slippers and saw the original price tag. I don’t remember the exact number, but it was between 4000-5000 kyats. This put me in a bad mood and I started grumbling about how expensive they are. Thinking that I was out of earshot, I was talking to N about the prices when a sales girl came up behind me and told us these prices are for foreigners.

I stopped talking about the ripoffs but I’m not satisfied with her answer. Just because they are foreigners doesn’t mean they should be ripped-off or that they should pay extra money. You might say this isn’t unusual and it also happens in other countries, but I still think we need to change our mindset if we want to invite foreigners to visit our country.

If you are a foreigner reading this post, I would like to suggest you to take a look around the Scott Market before buying souvenirs at “big” souvenir shops.


6 thoughts on “Buying Souvenirs in Yangon

  1. Thank you for your candor, I admire your integrity.
    One thing I noticed from your writings, you have a unique outlook upon things.
    I wanted to buy a pair of Burmese made leather slippers when visiting Burma. Should I circumvent shopping at Scott?

    • I guess so although you can just buy them any other slipper shops in the city. I think they are more expensive at the Scott market although I’m not really quite sure.

      • Thanks Mady. I am lacking knowledge and will perplex for sure when arriving Burma.
        Flip-flops are pricy in US, cheap ones are $20 and better ones are $40.
        I heard Coca Cola shipped their first drink to Burma. Hope people will stay away from it.
        It is a known fact that Coke may cause calcium loss and brittle bones that ultimately cause osteoporosis. The cause behind this lies in the high phosphorous levels and no calcium. Also Coca-Cola is an acidic drink which ultimately ruins tooth enamel. Drinking Coke continuously will in the end cause major tooth problems. It will also stain the teeth.
        Coke is known as liquid candy in US. Some one should educate the Burmese public.

  2. That’s right, your dad knew about it. Sodas or pops whatever they called are soft drinks, which are hard on health. People should drink it occasionally but not daily. Over here price of a cold water bottle is same as a coke bottle when buy at a machine or at a gas station , which I don’t think that will be the case in Burma. Soon coke will be on the TV Ads and billboards. Soon drinking coke will become a fad or a trend in Burma.I wonder in exchange for their carbonated colored fructose water what are they going to get from our country?

  3. Hey there. I was in RGN for 2 weeks. It was so good to touch the land of home. My god, the city had changed so much. The roads were over saturated with Japanese used cars. Some parts of the roads I went, there was no flow of the traffic, like a huge parking lot. The air was so much polluted with car fumes. It was hot and humid. The heat coming through the air-conditions from the buildings and the car exhausts compounds the heat from the crowds. The city was noisy and dirty. People looked skinny and dark. Ate some Samosa-salad from a street vendor and I had terrible diarrhea. Any way people are very nice as usual and very humble. The waiters at the restaurants were so polite. Food was very good and yummy. I bought a lot of souvenirs and I had to stop before fall short of compulsive hoarding. My dollars were all gone. I love the big wow city which is RGN. I wish I know you, was willing to give you a call. May be next time.

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