Tucked away in a little dirt side street of Myinkaba Village, just south of Old Bagan, is the morning market. While the tourists and visitors flood to the Manuha Temple across the street, local women mind their makeshift stalls and shop for the day’s supplies.
It’s very much for the locals—there aren’t any tourist souvenirs in sight (you can find them across the street in the plaza outside the main entrance of the Manuha Temple, along with tamarind lollies/candy, a personal favorite). And you’ll have to be there early—it’s all packed up by around 10am.
But if you’re in the market for soft bamboo shoots, betel leaves, fresh chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables, or fresh, dried, and salted fish, this is the place. As is standard with morning markets in Asia, there’s no refrigeration here, so the meats and fish have to be brought in fresh each morning. Which is why it’s all done and dusted by mid-morning.
If you don’t have access to a kitchen to put any of the local ingredients to use but still want to sample some of the local flavors, head to the tea house on the corner at the end of the street. You’ll get a pot of hot green tea on the house, but I recommend ordering some Myanmar tea (lapae yea), which is a mix of black tea, sweetened condensed milk, and sugar. It’s rich but delicious. You can also get it with house-made pastries. And it’s a great perch for watching this quiet spot of the world go by.
Photos of Myinkaba Village’s Morning Market
What To Know Before You Go
- It’s a very small market–much smaller than Mani Sithu market nearby in Nyaung-U. And it’s a local market, meaning there’s nothing here specifically for tourists.
- It’s a morning market, so expect it to be gone by around 10am, perhaps before.
- There’s no sign for the market, but you can’t really miss it since there’s only one street in Myinkabar Village. It runs perpendicular to the main road, the Bagan-Chauk Road, and is just across the street from the Manuha Temple. Look for the tea house on the corner.
- As with most Burmese names that have been rendered in English, you’ll come across variations on maps and signs. It’s also sometimes rendered as Myin Ka Bar.
Traveling to Bagan?
Very few of the temples, pagodas, or stupas in the Bagan Archeological Zone have any information about them on site. And with literally thousands of sites to choose from, it's handy to go armed with information on what to see and where to start--especially for independent travelers without a guide.
If you're looking for something that goes beyond the patchy information in the standard guide books, I've found these to be good:
David Raezer and Jennifer Raezer, Myanmar (Burma): Temples of Bagan
Approach Guides, 2017
With maps, diagrams, and pictures, it's pitched as a "travel guidebook for the ultra curious." It offers detailed profiles of 21 of the major sites. It's an especially good option if you traveling with a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone and don't want to take up any space in your luggage or deal with the extra weight of a hard copy.
David M. Stadtner, Ancient Pagan: Buddhist Plain of Merit
Bangkok: River Books, 2013
Written by a former professor of Art History who has authored many books on Indian and Burmese art, this book offers authoritative and detailed information on not just the architecture and art of the temples of Bagan but also the history of the region. It focuses on 33 of the major sites. Its photos by Michael Freeman are a standout feature. It's only available in paperback.
Ma Thanegi, Bagan Mystique
Yangon: Tanintaye Sarpay, 2011
Ma Thanegi is a Burmese writer and journalist. The book doesn't offer the level of detail of the other two and is harder to find in the West, but it still offers useful summaries of a number of the major sites. It's available in paperback only (when you can find it).
Director of Archaeological Survey (Burma), A Pictorial Guide to Pagan
Rangoon: Ministry of Union Culture, 2nd rev. ed. 1963
This is a guide compiled under the auspices of the Burmese government in the mid-1950s and early-1960s. Despite being quite outdated, it has its own value with background on a number of pagodas and temples as well as fascinating historical photos of how the monuments looked in the middle of 20th century--sometimes quite different to how they appear today after being renovated. It's long out of print and hard to find, but I've scanned it and posted it here.
Maps: When you get to Bagan, there are good local maps available for free at the hotels that show many of the major sites.