Yangon’s Thiri Mingalar Market – A Sensory Buffet of Burmese Sights and Sounds

By Mark Wiens 24 Comments
Thiri Mangalar Market Myanmar
Thiri Mangalar Market

It’s a sprawling market, displaying the finest natural provisions of produce from around Myanmar (Burma).

Just outside the central area of Yangon lies the scattered Thiri Mingalar Market – somewhat of a distribution and bulk fresh market.

It’s not quite as chaotic as the midnight market madness of Long Bien Market in Hanoi, but it was a real flavorful insight into Yangon.

Thiri Mangalar Yangon
Thiri Mangalar Market, Yangon

Walking into the market was like walking down the red carpet in Hollywood; The carpet was made of decaying cabbage leaves and banana debris and the fans were locals, curious to see random foreigners.

We got our share of stares – all in the most friendly smiling and nonthreatening of ways.

Unloading a Lorry, Myanmar
Unloading a Lorry

Thiri Mingalar Market was alive!

Overloaded lorries from the countryside stuffed to the max with giant cabbages and gunny sacks of onions were in the process of being unloaded.

Tuk Tuk’s raced through the passage ways of the market while rapidly distributing the produce to vendors. Laboring men hustled baskets of food from one side to the other with haste, blazing their trail through the crowd of humans with a shrieking smack of their lips.

I would bend over to snap a photo and immediately anywhere from 3 to 12 locals would be at my back, everyone smiling, trying to catch a glimpse of the captured view.

People were even more curious when we shot a scene for the Yangon video documentary, wanting to see for themselves what was stored within that little hand-held device.

A few activities at the Thiri Mingalar Market:

Burmese Mohinga Breakfast
Burmese Mohinga Breakfast

1. Burmese Mohinga

It didn’t take long for the sweet perfume of Mohinga (the national dish of Burmese cuisine – rice noodles in a fish gravy) to penetrate my nose and entice me to eat breakfast.

I made a direct line for the Mohinga stall and slurped it down in a hurry!

Sugar Cane in Myanmar
Girl with Sugar Can

2. Sugar Cane Girl

I’m not a huge lover of sugar cane (too much sweet and not a lot of taste), but this girl convinced us to buy a pack.

Myanmar Beer Snack
Myanmar Beer Snack

3. Surprise Ham and Cheese

With nothing on the Yangon (Rangoon) itinerary but to sample and observe, we deemed it a good idea to try a Myanmar beer in the food court area of Thiri Mingalar Market.

It lead to many smiles, a few broken conversations, and a slew of snacks tossed in our direction to test (it was awesome!).

The Winner: Pink grains of rice, mixed with raw onions and garlic and bathed in a Burmese style dose of grease.  The salty taste was frighteningly reminiscent of a dish of finest ham and cheese. Made for quite the bizarre mushy beer treat.

Afterward I asked a few locals, all of whom were stumped at the identification. Anyone know about this snack?

Thiri Mingalar Market Yangon
Racks of Bananas

4. Racks of Bananas

There was a banana infestation at Thiri Mingalar, it was like an entire plantation had been harvested.

Snake Charmer Myanmar
Snake Charmer

5. The Snake Man

On the way out of Thiri Mingalar market, we stopped to eat some freshly cut watermelon, which in Burma resulted in a chat about football (our common language) with a number of guys that were hanging around.

Out of nowhere, a peculiar man appeared, wrapped in a cloth with a shoulder bag around his neck.

He approached us with a staring smile. There was a movement in his bag and soon he pulled out a python. The Burmese locals jumped back, adrenalized to see such a serpent come out of a man bag.

It remains a mystery; Normally this sort of man waits for the classic tourist to take a photo, changing a maximum fee.

This man however, was NOT a tourist charmer (there aren’t too many foreigners that choose to visit Thiri Mingalar market).

By now a crowd of Burmese had formed a semi circle around this man, everyone just as curious as we were. He took a quick drink of water, packed his snake back in his bag and walked away as calmly as he had arrived.

Ride back to Yangon center
Ride back to Yangon center

How to Get to Thiri Mangalar Market, Yangon, Burma

Taking a bus or truck in Yangon is a very entertaining ride, and don’t be afraid to ask anyone for help!

If you plan to visit Yangon, be sure you look over the important Yangon travel information.

24 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Ninh

    8 years ago

    I like the suger cane girl and banana in the market. It’s so interesting.

  • NL

    10 years ago

    If you have tasted SOUR ‘pink rice’ then it might probably be – Bazun thoke, ပုဇွန်သုပ်, Pickled prawn salad.
    I love loved it!!! It is hard to find here. 🙁

  • Marika

    12 years ago

    I’m so enjoying these forays of yours into Burma, the land of my birth. I found Migrationology when I was looking for a recipe for my favorite Burmese breakfast, nanbya and pe-byoke (nan and a boiled pea salad). Since then, I’ve recreated it with black-eyed peas. Thanks for keeping me connected with my native land in this very tasty way.

    • Mark Wiens

      12 years ago

      Great to hear that Mrika and that sounds delicious. I had a great time in Burma and you have some wonderful food – I really enjoyed it! Thanks for the support.

  • Myint Mo

    12 years ago

    I think the pink rice might be fermented prawn salad. (raw prawn mixed with cooked rice and left to ferment)

    • Mark Wiens

      12 years ago

      Ahh, thanks Myint! It did sort of have a shrimpy flavor to it. Have you eaten it before?

    • Mabaydar

      12 years ago

      What Myint Mo said was right. It is fermented shrimp. There are another version of fermented fish rice ball and eat as salad.

      We called the pink rice ball with shrimp “Pa Zoon Chin Thoke” in Burmese. Pa Zoon means Shrimp/Prawn.
      Fermented Fish rice ball is called “Ngar Chin Thoke” in Burmese. Ngar means Fish.

      As I am not a fan of fermented foods. I didn’t really try it. haha…. But they are my father favorite.

    • Mark Wiens

      12 years ago

      Awesome, thanks so much for sharing, you’re a valuable resource of information! I appreciate all your comments.

  • Zinnia

    12 years ago

    I can’t believe that you took the bus in Yangon. I myself can’t take bus in Yangon =D

  • chris

    12 years ago

    your posts about myanmar made me decide to choose myanmar over indonesia.i was deciding on my next destination early next year.hope you’ll write more about bagan.

    • Mark Wiens

      12 years ago

      Hey Chris,
      Thanks a lot for checking out my posts, I know that you’ll have a great time in Burma when you visit. I actually haven’t been to the Bagan temples, I spent almost all my time in Yangon. I can recommend taking a look at my friend’s site at http://www.legalnomads.com – she has also written some great info about travel in Burma. Thanks again for reading and for the comment, let me know how your trip goes!

  • Gail

    13 years ago

    Thanks Mark. Very interesting as we are going to Burma early next year. My favourite shot is the bananas, but all are interesting.Hmmmm…..pink rice…never seen that before.Daughter had already told us this market is a must visit.Looking forward to seeing it all myself.

  • Don

    13 years ago

    Nice post Mark. It brought back some great memories of when I visited Thiri Mingalar Market last January. I was impressed by all the bananas too. Didn’t see the Snake Man while I was there though.

    • Mark Wiens

      13 years ago

      Awesome that you’ve been there too Don! I think the snake man just happen to be walking through at the right time, because even the local guys at the market hadn’t seemed to see him before.

  • Turkey’s For Life

    13 years ago

    Fabulous photos! Would love to see this market in real life but your post has brought it to life for now.

  • Christina

    13 years ago

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many racks of bananas in one place or photo! Great shot!

    • Mark Wiens

      13 years ago

      There was a lot of bananas! I couldn’t help wondering if they would all be sold / eaten before going bad… hopefully!

  • Raymond

    13 years ago

    Snake man is pretty cool. Not too sure about the pink rice though.. 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      13 years ago

      Thanks Raymond! Pink rice was strange, but a unique thing to sample.