The cultural transformation taking place in Myanmar is as sudden as it is comprehensive. Just a few short years ago, there were few bars in Yangon. Those looking for something to do after 10pm would be hard-pushed to find anything beyond the teahouses and beer stations which are scattered around the city.
Of course, those are still very much an option and can offer a great way to rub elbows with some of the incredibly friendly local crowd, especially along the lively 19th street. In the last few years, however, bars in Yangon has exploded, with a vibrant nightlife scene springing up to cater for a burgeoning tourist market and a youthful population with a renewed sense of adventure.
For those looking for a vista on the city and a plentiful cocktail list, there are a myriad of rooftop bars in Yangon to choose from (Penthouse, Roof Alchemy, Atlas, Yangon Yangon), while almost every big hotel in the city offers an attractive option for evening drinks.
But if you’re looking for something a little cosier and more chaotic, a little less polished but a little more personal, here’s quick list of some of the best bars in Yangon to wet your whistle and whet your appetite for revelry.
+95 1 397 060
The longest-running ex-pat bar in Yangon, 50th street bar is the perfect place to shoot a few frames of pool, watch the latest sporting event or take advantage of their extensive happy hour offers – including all day Sunday. The interior looks more like a New York loft apartment than a typically bar in Yangon - high vaulted ceilings, exposed brickwork, old advertising signs and mood lighting. The menu is decidedly American too featured burgers, flatbreads and shakes.
47th Street G-9
+95 9 962 020960
As this bar in Yangon's name suggests this place is colourfully decked out in pirate paraphernalia. Its small, cosy and informal setting makes it seem like the interior of a ship’s galley, while the live music, DJs, lengthy drinks menu and adequate food selection make it a great place to enjoy a late-night drink or two. There's out an outdoor terrace if things get a little busy inside and there's a reasonably-priced list of cocktails at this bar in Yangon.
+95 9 260 600 552
Handily positioned right next to Pirate Bar, 7th Joint is run by a Jamaican ex-pat and offers the city’s oldest (and only) reggae watering hole. This bar in Yangon is popular with the city's young crowd and foreigners looking for a good time in the city. Come down most evenings and you'll find live music or DJs. Plus, there's happy hours most days if you get there early. A good choice for hopping between the bars in Yangon.
785 Maha Bandula
+95 1 229 173
This bar in Yangon is interestingly housed inside an old hairdresser’s salon. It's got a dive bar-feel about it with low basement ceilings and neon lights, but turns into a small nightclub later in the evening when the DJ starts spinning vinyl and the dance floor packs out. This bar in Yangon delivers a tasty grill menu and a commendable list of classic cocktails.
No. 81 Kabar Aye Pagoda Road
+95 9 254 083 981
Café by day, stylish whisky bar by night, Cask 81 is an absolute dream for aficionados of Scotland’s water of life. It might not be the cheapest and compared to the other bars in Yangon it's a little further away. But it does offer happy hours every day between 6pm and 8pm and both the exemplary service and soft-lighted, leather-chaired décor go some way to softening the blow. One of the classier bars in Yangon.
535 Merchant Street
This upmarket restaurant and bar in Yangon is housed inside the sumptuous Sofaer & Co. building in the heart of downtown. Despite an impressive drinks list and delectable Japanese-inspired cuisine, Gekko’s main draw is undoubtedly still its architecture. The Scotland-sourced overhead beams and Manchester-imported mosaic floor tiles are particular highlights.
Myanmar Plaza 1 Sat Mhu Road
For those looking for the full blockbuster nightclub experience, Fuse is the place to go among the Burmese youth. Open from 9.30pm to 3am, the club operates on a higher cover charge and with a more expensive drinks list than most other bars in Yangon, but does offer table packages which make it slightly more affordable.
Sakura Tower, 339 Bo Gyoke Road
+95 1 255 131
Yangon Yangon is one of the best rooftop bars in Yangon. It sits on top of the Sakura Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the city, so the views are particularly good. Compared to the other bars in Yangon, it's expensive and has an entrance fee. But it's worth the spend and price of drinks at happy hour are good value. Theirs often event nights featured some of the city's best musicians and occasionally international DJs. Best visited at sunset when the weather is cooler and the views are at their best.
The Strand 92
+95 1 824 3377
Sarkies, housed inside the Strand Hotel, is easily one of the more exclusive bars in Yangon. Expect something more in keeping with a luxurious hotel bar in London than Myanmar - a polished wooden bar, leather stools, a billiard table and cigars. There's an excellent, albeit expensive, menu of drinks with aged whiskeys, French wine and classic cocktails.
No.1 Industrial Road
+95 9 777 708395
Harry's is part of an international chain started in Singapore in the '90s. It's got more of a clinical-feel (typical of chains) than most bars in Yangon. But the beer is cold, there's an extensive cocktail list and there's a spacious outdoor terrace (unusual for the city). Plus, they are open until the wee hours if you're after a late night drink.
Kabar Aye Pagoda Road
+95 9 44247 7778
Eclipse is one of the newer bars in Yangon. It's north of the old town and makes up part of a cluster of bars and restaurants next to Inya Lake. Technically, it's a rooftop bar on the 4th floor of the Myanmar Plaza, but it's too low for good views. It's a good party spot with a crowd of Yangon's wealthier youth, varied live music that swings from pop to rock and late night DJs.
Kabar Aye Pagoda Road
+95 9 778 788778
Blow Hookah Lounge is one of a growing number of shisha bars in Yangon. It's more upmarket than most with expensive glass hookahs and top quality shish imported from the Middle East. Choose from the neon lit private seating or the main terrace area. There's also a good drinks and good menu.
No. 24 Aung Zay Ya Street
+95 9 44255 5584
You'll step back several decades in the '50s style Radio Bar. The big open plan bar in Yangon has a wrap around mezzanine seating level that looks over the stage that hosts live music most evenings. Try to book ahead because it's a popular spot, particularly on weekends. It's a little further out than most of the bars in Yangon, both well worth the taxi fare to reach it.
New University Ave Road
+95 9 971 988897
Tipsy makes up one of many new breed of modern bars in Yangon This trendy little nightspot has an impressive list of well-made (and interestingly named) cocktails, an outdoor rooftop terrace and some decent fare that varies from bar snacks to pasta. There's a friendly crowd, the drinks are reasonably priced and there's a pool table. Expect a friendly crowd and good service.
No 12, 7 Kan Street
+95 9 40910 0800
This rooftop bar in Yangon sits on top of the Inya View Hotel and and enjoys some fabulous views over the water. The menu has both Western and Burmese dishes, all of which are decent quality and there's live music at weekends. It's best visited in the late afternoon when the weather is cooler and you can nab a seat to watch the sunset.
84 Pan Hlaing Street
+95 9 784 151250
This bar in Yangon has won plenty of awards and it's easy to see why. Its position on top of the Uniteam building provides some impressive views over Yangon including the Shewedagon Pagoda. It's an upmarket haunt, the kind of place to have a glass of Taittinger champagne or classic cocktail, so don't expect cheap drinks. It's well worth the spend though, for nothing other than the views alone.
+95 9 950 962119
Like the rest of the world, the microbrewery is starting to take off in Yangon. One of the first is the Burbit Brewery that sits along the Pazunduang Creek. This bar in Yangon has some excellent craft beers served from the taproom and best sipped on the terrace along the water's edge. It's a few kilometres from where most foreigners stay in the city, but it's an easy taxi ride away.
Ma Naw Hari Street
+95 9 254 272 460
This rooftop bar in Yangon draws in the crowds with experimental molecular cocktails. Expect a lot of dry ice, flavoured smoke and bubbling test tubes designed by a 'cocktail professor' consultant from the Netherlands. It's a smart place, so don't tip up in shorts and flip flops or you may be turned away. Opens late and has weekend live music and DJs.
The Toddy Bar is found inside the ever trendy Rangoon Tea House in the old town. This speakeasy-style bar in Yangon has a well stocked bar, colonial decor, a good menu of classic cocktails and hip local crowd most nights of the week. It's just a short walk from most hotels for foreigners.
Before hitting up one of these bars in Yangon you can get to grips with the city's culinary scene on this daily food tour. Bounce around from Chinatown to Little India with an expert local food guide tasting the best street eats across the old town.
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