When on vacation, it is always important to buy a cool local item to prove to your friends and family that you have been to an exotic country like Myanmar. Buying rare souvenirs and shopping in Myanmar should be a top item in your “To Do” list. One of the first things you should do is know where to shop in Myanmar.
There are many malls, stores and supermarkets to choose from when shopping in Burma (Myanmar), including duty-free shops and open markets that accept bargaining. Haggling for the best and cheapest price is what makes shopping in Asian markets a fun, memorable and profitable cultural experience. The most popular local market is the Bogyoke Aung San Market in the center of Yangon City. It offers gold, silverware, handicrafts, lacquerware, silk, paintings, traditional wooden dolls, Shan and Kachin shoulder bags, cosmetics, tailor-made clothes and others in over 2,000 shops that are open every day except on Mondays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Also, the ancient city of Bagan is a shopper’s paradise, especially when looking for rare and exotic items that are not typically sold in modern supermarkets. Most stores in Bagan offer quality yet inexpensive clothes and arts and crafts that were hand-made by local artisans who follow traditional methods that have been passed down in their families for generations. Lacquerware is very distinct, widely produced and often used as everyday objects. Bagan villages, such as the Myinkaba Village, can produce over 600 home-made lacquerware every day and sell as many on good days. The most famous lacquer pieces are jewelry boxes, plates, cups, ornamental pieces and pieces of furniture. In the past, the Burmese king and queen gave gifts made from lacquer to emissaries and important foreign visitors. So, if you buy a piece of lacquerware in Bagan, you are taking home not just a piece of cultural gem but also of Burmese history. Five widely known lacquer shops in Bagan are Golden Bagan Lacquerware Shop, Golden Cuckoo Lacquerware Shop, Ever Stand Lacquerware Workshop, Chan Thar Lacquerware Workshop and Moe Moe Family Lacquerware.
Just when you think you know what to buy in Myanmar, you visit the floating markets at the rural area of Inle Lake and realize that the country has a lot more to offer. There are no modern malls or facilities here, which make the experience even more intriguing and precious. The local Inthar people, residents around the lake, and tribal people from the hills sell their produce and merchandise on boats along the lake and the canals of the lake. The market is open for five days but there are no fixed schedules when or where exactly.
Some of the goods sold at the lake are intricately designed lotus-silk shawl and creatively woven looms made from bamboo and teak. The shawls are a bit expensive, but rightfully so since they are very beautiful. These are specifically made by young weavers in the Inphaw Kone Village. Tourists may visit this village, watch the skilled weavers at work, and make direct purchases.
Other places you might want to visit when shopping in Myanmar are J’s Irrawaddy Dream in Yangon, Royal Rose also in Yangon, Mingala Market in Nyaung Shwe Township and Nampan Market in Nampan Village, Bagan.