Dala village visit on walking trail avoiding scams

Dala is a village complex across the river from downtown Yangon. Tourists visit here to get a feel of real Burmese life. But visiting Dala comes with a challenge- most tourists are tricked into spending lots of money- either through emotional blackmail or through inflated/misinterpreted rates or through various other scams. Internet is full of how local guides, cycle-rickshaw pullers scam tourists. So that being on top of my mind, I had to be extra careful to avoid coming in contact with scammers and lose my money.
The main scamsters are the guides/rickshaw drivers who offer to show you around- first quoting a smaller amount- like 15000 Burmese Kyat (750 INR, USD 11) but later claim the rate was for every 15 minutes and force you to pay several times that. Others take you to poor families and ask you to buy rice bags for them at high prices. So the best way not to get scammed is to avoid anyone who offers some unsolicited services- on the boat or upon getting down. I did some research and identified about 6 potential places of interest in Dala-few monasteries, pagodas and churches. I figured out it will be about 5.3 kms walking trail- I decided to stick to this trail, see whatever I could see around this trail and return to ferry point. Having walked all over Macau and recently having walked a 8 km train in Srilanka’s Horton Plains, I was confident walking around Dala is the best bet- I can return earlier if I want to, or divert around if required and do it at my pace, than being taken around by a guide or rickshaw driver who won’t have best of the intentions.

Below is an image of my walking trail and attractions I visited in Dala. Map link here. Rest of the post shares photos and details of these attractions and my other observations in Dala.
You can rent a cycle in Dala- but at times even that will be a scam- some existing damage will be attributed to you upon return and you’ll be forced to shell out more money. I think walking is best- if you have the time and energy for it. With my plan sorted, I headed to Pansodan ferry point in Yangon. I was directed to Manager’s office. Foreign nationals need to buy an expensive 2000 MMK one way ticket after registering their name and nationality. That is 4000 MMK or INR 200 (USD 3) round trip for a short ride across the river. To be fair for the extra ticket price ferry has a section earmarked for “foreigners only” with plastic chairs.

Ferry frequency is good- there’re two of them going back and forth all day, so you will get next ferry in under 5-10 minutes waiting time.

As expected I met a man on the ferry trying to sell his services. I ignored him completely- he tried his best- saying destinations are very far, he is very cheap and things like that.
As the ferry approached Dala a large group of taxi, auto, bike taxi, cycle rickshaw pullers were seen scouting for customers. I evaded all of them and headed out- saw a supermarket- got myself a cold coffee and some munchies and began my on foot exploration of Dala. It started raining, so bought myself an umbrella for 3500 kyats (INR 175)

The first stop was about 600 meters from ferry point-a small monastery, known as Zayar Theiddi Monestry - had many photogenic things of interest. Check photos below.

Next I walked to Mahar Thin Gyan Buddha image- this was probably the best of all spots worth seeing in Dala- a giant Buddha statue. But the campus was being sprayed with chlorine powder- to combat any disease from stagnant water in the area. So couldn't spend much time around and had to move on.


The walkway had barbed wires. Not sure why- may be they don't want people to sit here or it is to prevent cows and dogs from taking shelter not sure
Spotted a hindu looking temple enroute. Nothing of specific interest. There were multiple small ponds in Dala area
 Bike cover is a clever idea to get some protection from rain while riding a bike
 Some of the houses in Dala, built over marshland/water bodies
Next I headed to Yaza Thingyan Pagoda- this is a small pagoda and nothing worth mentioning. You can skip this and save yourself some 2 kms of walking.

Dala has most of the facilities like school, hospital and other stuff. Just that life here is too bare minimum. I saw women taking bath, washing cloths on the steps of their homes, as homes probably didn't have any bathroom. Most homes were built on an elevated platform, with water logging under the house. This creates concern of various water borne diseases. Without proper sewage and garbage disposal system, the hygiene levels are very low and risks of diseases are very high.

Found a shop selling coconut- but it was bit overripe- had some packaging on it- probably to make it ripe faster.
Engyi Bridge is a small bridge across the Dala river- you can see lots of boats around.

Sad state of homes in Dala
Shwe Sayan Pagoda- This was also totally photogenic and worth visiting. Some parts of it I couldn't access- could only see through the gate, but the other part was nice. Check the photos below.

 After this I walked back to Dala ferry terminal to catch the ferry back to Yangon down town.


Above: drinking water kept by the roadside
Below: someone selling stuff by the roadside
Overall, Dala visit gives you a glimpse of poorer side of Myanmar life. I feel it was a good decision to walk around than hiring anyone or anything. May be they would have shown me few more things or something different- I don't know, but I am happy I wasn't scammed and I got a pulse of Dala's local life.

You may also read Drifter Planet's story on Dala village visit. I did refer their post before my Myanmar visit

Similar: Bare minimum village life in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan * Choki Dhani- Rajasthan theme village * Village that speaks only Sanskrit * Amma mineral water *

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