It was no surprise when Jacob decided that he wanted to go to the National Races Village in Yangon. As an anthropologist, he loves to see how a country represents its own minority groups. This village was similar to other national race villages we have seen before in China and Southeast Asia. I knew there would be wide open spaces and greenery for the kids to explore so I didn’t mind going. Going to places like this also give our students some perspective and understanding of those minority groups within the country we are visiting. I think if you visit a place like this at the beginning of a trip, it is much easier to notice the specific minorities as you go through the country, whether in a marketplace or driving through the countryside. At this national race village, it seemed like most of the minority groups represented were named after the Myanmar region they come from; there was a Shan village, Inlay Lake village, Mon village, etc. This makes it easier to notice the different architecture as you are visiting each region of the country.
A great website that gives you a good description of each of the villages within the National Race Village is found here:
I really do like the mix of greenery and ponds in the National Race Village, as well as the location next to the Bago River. This area would be a pleasant place to stroll in the morning and evenings. We arrived at the National Village at about 9:30 and it was already quite hot. Do bring a fan with you if you come in the hot season because even underneath the houses, it is quite hot and there wasn’t much of a breeze. You will find a small souvenir shop and refreshment stand at each of the villages within the National Race Village.
Horray! Golf Carts!?! I guess you would call them oversized, very old golf carts. They were capable to transport us so that was a plus. I have found that renting golf carts in a place where you need to cover a lot of area with KIDS, will produce much happy kids throughout the whole stay—and this same argument goes to our student kids as well!
The first village we saw was the Rakhine village (left). The design of this house is very similar to those you would see in Thailand and Cambodia. All of the houses in the National village were stilt houses, where the main house is on the second level. There was a small replica of the Htokekhanthein Pagoda (right) alongside the Rakhine house.
The second village we went to was the Bamar village. The house is similar in structural design as the other houses, but there were many elements of the house that were surprising like the shape of the windows and how the windows extend to the bottom of the floor (wouldn’t babies crawl and fall out of those??). There was also an arch design cut on the exterior of the house where the upper staircase into the house are–is this for increase air flow in the house?
The picture on the right is of one of their typical ox carts. I really love the shape of this cart.
Above is the Kayin village. There was a huge reproduction of the bronze frog drum (top right) next to the Kayin house. The actual bronze frog drum is in the picture on the top left. This house was very similar to the Rakhine house. We met quite a few Kayin people while we were in Yangon. Our tour guide was Kayin so he gave us a great introduction about his culture.
Above is Nanmyint Tower; it is the central point of the whole village. The tower is very unusual on the exterior; I don’t know what the windows on the outside of the the tower were for–if there were rooms inside. The staircase to the top is the covered space spiraling up the exterior of the tower. At the top of the tower, you have a great view of the foliage within the National Race Village, but you also have a good view of the Bago River and you can see the center of Yangon in the distance. The tower was a good climb for the kids because it wasn’t too tall, even 3 year old Kate made it up and down herself.
For the Kids
- Crocodile Farm
- Bird Sanctuary
- Golden Deer
- Orchid Garden
- Rabbit Farm
There was much that the kids enjoyed while here. Thomas was quite amused by the many cats and kittens that were on the grounds; they were usually found chilling out underneath the houses. There was also a pavilion to see a few crocodiles; it was quite gross actually. The poor crocodiles were stuck in this small pavilion that only had a couple feet of water in it and the water smelled dreadful! It almost seemed like sewer water with chunks of grossness in it! Next to the crocodiles, were the rabbits. The kids LOVED the rabbits. There are local kids selling large grass to feed to the rabbits. There was a small fenced pen that had a few spotted deer in it, and then a larger enclosure that had birds inside. The kids liked looking at everything. The playground was typical of Southeast Asia. It had all-metal, very basic playground equipment that was probably welded together by a local craftsman. No safety requirements were used to build it, but the kids still find enjoyment init. Just watch your children closely so they don’t get injured.
My kids love posing in these silly cardboard cutouts that were placed throughout the National Race Village.
If you only limited time in Yangon, I don’t think it is necessary to come to the National Race Village. I would only come here if I had time to kill and I wanted to walk. But if you wanted a good overview of the people of Myanmar, this would be a good, active place to come, if you don’t mind the heat.