I am very lucky to have been raised overseas by my parents. Both my sister and I have followed in their footsteps, raising our own families overseas. My sister has lived in South Africa, Ethiopia, and now she’s in Yangon, Myanmar (what the US government still calls Burma), with her two kids and husband. We visited them in Myanmar two years ago, when Lily was just two years old, and had a blast. When I was looking for destinations for Lily’s school break, another trip to Yangon sounded delightful. So, off we went!
We flew Ethiopian Airlines from Brazzaville to Addis Ababa, via Pointe Noire. Our flight from Brazzaville was delayed, but we still managed to make our next flight, from Addis to Bangkok. I found Ethiopian Airlines to be an excellent choice. The planes are all 787 Dreamliners, well-serviced, and the food was excellent (for airplane food, anyways).
From Bangkok to Yangon, we took Bangkok Airways, which was delightful. Even though our flight was an hour, and only $100, we were fed delicious Thai food and treated like royalty. The Bangkok airport (Suvarnabhumi) is lovely and super-duper kid-friendly.
A note about the Addis airport: The Addis airport is notorious for long lines and painful layovers. The airport is going through renovations, which will hopefully make it more bearable in the future. In the meantime, the majority of travelers deplane, then walk through the over-crowded-but-developed terminal (there are cafes and shops–they’re just too busy to use!) to a security check before arriving at the connecting gates. And that’s the problem. You will have thousands of passengers transiting through this security check, which only has three lines. You are told to wait in the incredibly long line, and then as your flight starts boarding, and you’re inevitably still in the line, an agent will call out your destination (“Bangkok! Bangkok!”) and everyone going to Bangkok gets to cut the line and go to the middle “expedited” line. There is some order to the apparent chaos. It just doesn’t let you enjoy or relax at the airport at all. Both times we went through, we had over an hour before our connection, but all of our time was spent in that security line.
We finally arrived in Yangon! Yangon has a beautiful new airport, and it was very nice. It even has Burger King (which I had never before eaten, until Yangon).
We stayed in Yangon for over a week, and had a wonderful time. These are the highlights:
Yangon Water Boom: Water Boom is a water park on the outskirts of the city. It’s clean, well-run, well-staffed, and super fun. They had giant slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and several water features for all ages. We had a blast! We spent most of the day, and ate lunch at the food court. The food court had hot dogs, which Lily was a fan of, and also Myanmar food, Thai, Korean, Indonesian, Chinese, and Italian. It also had a snack bar with drinks and chips.
Sunday Brunch at the Melia Hotel: Holy cow! What a brunch! I’ve been to breakfast buffets all over the world, and several in America where gluttony reigns supreme, but this brunch blew everywhere else away. The Melia is a beautiful hotel, and attached to the Myanmar Plaza mall, which is also pretty fun. The food was fantastic, and included an enormous sushi section (the best sushi, seriously!), a stellar fruit and veggie area (with a salad bar to rival all salad bars), a cheese and bread room (an entire room for cheeses and breads), a dessert area with a chocolate fountain and ice cream cones, traditional breakfast foods (obligatory omelette station), a steamed dumpling and bun area, and a meat roasting display that included Peking duck. The food alone would make this brunch special. What makes it unforgettable is the kids-only buffet (so they don’t get the big buffet all yucky), the kids’ playground area (with attendants to make sure your kids don’t kill themselves) and each week they have a kids’ activity to entertain your little monsters for an hour or so while you enjoy your champagne (did I forget to mention? Unlimited champagne included). We spent a few hours here. The kids were in heaven. So were we.
Brunch at the Governor’s Residence: The Governor’s Residence is a beautiful old teak building with gorgeous gardens and various wildlife running around (peacocks, geese, a duck or two, a koi pond, and I’ve been told snakes). The brunch was very nice, and very kid-friendly. The kids enjoyed their donuts, eggs, and hot chocolate, and then wandered around the gardens looking for the peacocks. This is also a very nice place to stay, with a pool and beautiful rooms.
Parami Pizza: We ate Parami Pizza three times in the week and a half that we were in Yangon. It’s not only good for Yangon, it’s great pizza for the world. Parami Play, one of their locations, has a kids playground (also with attendants). The pizza is so good.
Shwedagon Pagoda (and other pagodas): Shwedagon is the enormous 2,500 year-old pagoda in Yangon. It’s beautiful, and a fun place to bring kids. In the hot season, it gets hot fast, and your bare feet will burn. Go at night or at sunrise. We also went to the
Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple: This was a smaller temple in the Bahan neighborhood which houses the largest reclining Buddha in Myanmar. It’s really beautiful, and it completely covered, so it was a great destination in the heat.
Yangon Bakehouse: We also went here at least three times. It has excellent food, quick service, and very kid-friendly!
Yangon Yoga House: My sister and I went here five times. She has a membership. I bought a “new student” pass. It’s a really nice studio with excellent yoga teachers. It also has a vegan cafe, with fantastic food and drinks. and a spa, with dozens of spa services.