Urbex in Yangon

One of the main issues when considering urban exploration in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon is that virtually all the buildings in the city look abandoned due to the poor upkeep and their advanced state of decay. Anywhere else, the crumbling colonial buildings would house only ghosts. But here even the genuinely abandoned buildings are not empty as they are occupied by communities of squatters. Despite the country’s capital officially moving to Naypydaw, some of the main government buildings remain here and are as decrepit on the outside as any haunted house.

Colonial Buildings in Yangon
Colonial Buildings in Yangon

It’s rainy season and most pedestrians choose to walk on the roads with the cars. This is because the sidewalks are dangerously slick with algae that flourish on the wet surfaces. The footpaths are as slippery as ice and with all the obstacles and holes it isn’t worth the effort to try skittering across the green slime. It’s just better to take a chance and walk with the traffic.

Algae floats on the surface of the waters at Pool Land
Algae floats on the surface of the waters at Pool Land

At the southern end of the Zoological Gardens is an Amusement Park that since closing has been left to rot amongst the encroaching vines. To get to it there’s no need to pay to enter the Zoo, but if you do then the walk will give you a good sense of the perimeter of the site and give a view of many of the rides without having to go inside. The fences between the Zoo and the Amusement Park have rusting barbed wire or are in such public view that entering here would be impractical and likely draw unwanted attention. Instead, find the small car park beside the Zoo exit near the cages for the birds of prey and hop over the gate.

The rusty Rocket
The rusty Rocket

Barking by some of the resident dogs announces your entry to their territory when first crossing the fenceline. Otherwise they present no threat. Vine-shrouded tracks of the rollercoaster loop around amongst the trees. Pick your way between the pools of rainwater to see the carousels, the Dodgems pitch, the Rocket, the Astro Swinger, the Twister, the Balloon Cycle and the Arcade Hall packed with activities and rides. The rain begins to fall heavily and the packs of dogs take shelter in the Baby Garden. The sky darkens and the calls of animals in the Zoo next door come shrieking through the trees.

The Astro Swinger
The Astro Swinger

As with other ostensibly abandoned places in the city, the site is occupied to some extent. The restaurants along the road have back doors that open directly into the Amusement Park. The families running them store old carpets on the carousel and dry their laundry on the back porch that overlooks the rides. The park is effectively their backyard.

A small community living at the edge of the park
A small community living at the edge of the park
A carousel being used to keep carpets dry from the rain
A carousel being used to keep carpets dry from the rain

As for other opportunities in the city, there are some accounts online about tours given by the caretaker at the old Pegu Club. It had its heyday in the 1920’s and its main legacy is the Pegu cocktail still available in hotel bars. On the day I tried to visit, the security guard said it wasn’t possible to enter. Hinting at the chance of a tip didn’t budge his resolve. Being in the diplomatic zone, it’s likely that security concerns have resulted in a clamping down on random travelers accessing a building that looks across onto embassy grounds.

Dodgems Pitch
Dodgems Pitch

Urbex in Yangon means respecting the tenants of the territory you are entering whether you encounter them or not. Just because a place is abandoned does not mean that no-one has made it their home.

The Baby Garden
The Baby Garden

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A recent update on the status of the park can be found here: https://theabandonedcarousel.com/yangon-amusement-park/

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