Funny thought: it’s 2017 (time of writing!), most of Asia has been explored in and out by generations of tourists, and yet you need a phD in trail orientation to find a vegetarian street vendor. Myanmar vegetarian food is passable though.

What’s online:

We’re fed up with all the ‘flexitarian’ reviewers online who claim that everything tastes amazing, whether in Myanmar, Thailand, or even Europe. Only once you cook at home you realise that you raise the bar for restaurants to get a good ranking. What do backpacking people eat anyway – instant soups and takeaway cardboard? That would explain a lot of Myanmar vegetarian food reviews. Asia, including Myanmar, is not famous for its vegetables for sure.

These vegetarian-wannabe-flexitarians may have a delicious meal, but they won’t necessarily feel that the same oil was used to fry pork just seconds before, or may not even notice hints of fish sauce. And for the record, fish is not a vegetable. Many think that vegetarians eat fish, but that is a “pescetarian” diet, pesce = fish.

Rant over.

We decided to save money on this trip by eating our own snacks and limiting beer. First thing after landing: a huge meal for two with a bottle of cold Myanmar. It’s difficult not to have that combo, because that’s what we saw many locals consume. When in Rome.


1) Prepare the magic vegetarian food card:

Before we headed out we asked our lovely receptionist to write things like “no meat, no fish, no fish sauce, egg ok”. You don’t need to print anything before leaving home, and you can customise the writing as you wish. Make sure you check the receptionist’s understanding of what you’re asking though. In Asia if they nod along and smile it doesn’t mean they get it, it may be just a gesture to avoid awkwardness/misunderstanding/confrontation.

In Yangon we stayed at some street 17 near the bay, relatively close to the train station with many Indian restaurants. (deffo recomend taking the Yangon-Bagan night train! – post HERE). At around 8pm the streets were full of restaurants, and during the day – snack vendors and local tea pots on wheels.

2) How to find where to eat:

Everything smells nice: things roasting on the side of the road, charcoal, smoke, and fire, but can you be sure they have this mythical creature called Myanmar vegetarian food?

When we want to sit down and there’s no menu, or it’s got local language only, we check for these things at street vendor’s:
-a wok. Wok can give you fried rice. If there’s a pot only, it’s likely meat soup.
-no ducks. If they have dead birds hanging in the front of their shop, it’s likely meat soup.
-traces of several vegetables. If there’s only beansprouts or herbs, it’s likely meat soup.

3) Stock up on snacks:

“They must serve food on a 50-hour train ride”. Yes, but not for you. Most of asian trains have random vendors jump in and offer stuff, but I have to bring the bad news for you:
-instant noodles: chicken, pork, beef.
-rice with: chicken, pork, beef.
-spring rolls with: chicken, pork, beef.
-deep fried: chicken, pork, beef.

Usually there’s no hot water, or anything healthy, so you’re limited to crisps and a bottle of coke. And some bananas if you’ve prepared ahead.

4) Skip hotel breakfast:

Unless you’re staying at Four Seasons, do you really want that ten-cent artificial juice and a bad sandwich?
People get up super early in Asia, so from 6 to 9 am you can grab all sorts of greasy things, from breads to donuts and sit down at the tiny chairs with the locals, and have some super sweet tea. One cup = 8 baht, or in USD that would be like.. nothing.

5) Find a supermarket:

On the 13 something street in Yangon we found something like happy mart and spent 400 baht on veggies, cheese, and even half a litre of wine!
Also, the second day in Bagan we were at a hotel thinking whether to go to a restaurant or just eat random snacks… And we decided to eat the snacks. That’s the honest truth how we felt about Myanmar vegetarian food. I mean the taste is OK but it’s oh so greasy.

6) Beware of the silent porky bean:

As the waitress said “we put on papaya salad, tomato salad, potato salad, green salad, tea leaf salad,…” tea leaf salad – it’s the fermented bean, which tastes like pork crackling, and apparently it goes on everything.

7) Bring your own coffee and a flask:

Myanmar is far from Thai coffee haven, so if you’re serious about your beans – put that bag in that bag. You can ask for hot water at your hotel.

Random Myanmar vegetarian food that we have tried:

Yangon :
Potato samosas. Very oily, but good. 100 each.
Fresh vegetable stuffed Tofu. Wow.200 each.
Fresh cabbage and onions with sauce. Comes free at some outdoor restaurants. Amazing.
Fried vegetables with sauce. Ok once. 2,500.
Tomato and onion omelette. Good, oily. 1,500.

Tea leaf salad. Porky. Delicious. 2,500.
Falafel pita. Tasteless but healthy. 4,000.
Chinese fried noodles. Greasy. 2,500.
Papaya salad. Porky. 2,400.
Coffee. Pretty decent (at coffee time) 2,000.
Mango salad. Porky. 2,000.
Kachan potato curry. Nice. (Moonbar) 3,000.
Vegetable curry. Nice. (Moonbar) 2,500.
Hot sour potato. Chinese style. Nice. (Moonbar) 2,500.
Chocolate pancakes. Nice. (Moonbar) 2,500.
Mango pancakes. Nice. (Moonbar) 2,500.
Fried potatoes. Nice. (Moonbar) 2,500.

Check out more:

We have a post on Myanmar travel tips, which you can find HERE, as well as a pretty good post on how to find the best temples for sunset HERE. Enjoy!