Y angon’s “circle line” or “ring train”, circumnavigates Myanmar’s largest city, on a 46 Kilometer, 39 station route that connects Yangon’s satellite towns. The system is heavily utilized by the local populace, selling about 150,000 tickets daily, providing cheap transportation for Burmese and an interesting and engaging cultural immersion for the few intrepid adventurers who hop aboard. The ring train is also a unique opportunity for those interested in “visual story telling”. It costs just one US dollar for foreign nationals and 200 Kyats (about 23 cents) for locals.

Several times a day, the ring train departs from Yangon’s central railway station and slowly proceeds along its three-hour circle route of Yangon, stopping frequently to pick up and deposit passengers on its many stops.

The train cars are old and weathered, not unlike many of the elderly passengers who sit on the hard wooden benches chanting mantras and counting Buddhist prayer beads. Inside the train cars, bits of trash and discarded produce litter the floor. There’s a constant click-clack sound from the iron rails along with conversations and the chatter of vendors who board and de-board, selling all sorts of snacks and the ubiquitous betel nut that many chew. The windows have neither glass, nor bars, and the breeze that flows through them provides little relief from the stifling, midday, tropical heat and humidity of an afternoon in southern Myanmar.

While the ring train lacks any of the creature comforts, it abounds in photographic possibilities. Along with the constantly changing scenery outside, passengers of all ages, shapes and sizes come and go, providing an endless source of photographic inspiration. As with all Burmese, folks on the train are most welcoming and happy to see a “foreigner” among the passengers. All were happy to hear a westerner greet them with a terribly mispronounced version of “mingalabar”, the typical Burmese greeting, followed by a halting, English/Burmese “sign language” conversation. And after such introductions, most were delighted to have their photos taken.

This marks the my 5th ride (and third blog post) on the ring train. Riding Yangon’s ring train is always great fun and it’s also an interesting and quite challenging photographic exercise. Here are 39 images captured during the 3 hour journey. Enjoy.






9 Responses to “Ring Train Yangon” Subscribe

  1. Roberto March 12, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    The Ring Train was a highlight of Yangon for me. Love your B/W images Karl!

  2. Kat March 12, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    I would love to do this. Trains and train stations are the best.

  3. Jack March 13, 2014 at 12:09 am #

    Great photos Karl. Love the Circular Train.

  4. Janet marsh March 14, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Buy a ticket for me. Love the pictures.

  5. Jimmy March 20, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    I gotta get back to Burma. Great pics!

    BTW, it’s “betel nut”.

    …Jimmy in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand

  6. Gary March 20, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Brilliant !
    B&W are stunning too.
    Nicely done !

  7. Karl Grobl March 21, 2014 at 6:26 am #

    Hi Jimmy,
    Thanks for comment and thanks for the correction on betel nut

  8. Suad March 21, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    For a long time I follow your work primarily as a humanist and a top photographer and I am always impressed with your pictures either color or black and white. Since I am an amateur and I prefer black and white photography, this series has left a strong impression on me because every picture has a specific story that I really appreciate. I wish you all the best in future work!


  9. Karl Grobl March 21, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Dear Suad,
    Thanks for your thoughtful compliments about my work, I really appreciate you taking the time to write.
    Wishing you all the best in your photographic pursuits and in life.

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