The freeloader’s guide to wifi in Yangon: 15 top spots

Whether you’re in town for a few days on a business trip or living here without an office, finding a reliable internet connection can be an arduous task. Too often you sit down, order something and then find there’s no wifi or the connection is horrible. Atmosphere matters, too: some places are just awkward to work in. So we’ve compiled this little guide to help you out. It’s not scientific – wi-fi speeds fluctuate regularly and coffee quality is obviously subjective – but it is based on several trips to various locations.

DOWNTOWN

TOP CHOICE: Sule Shangri-La Hotel (Trader’s)

For a long time, this hotel was the fall-back for tourists, expats and businesspeople alike. The wifi was the best in town and it was free. Eventually, the staff must have tired of the layabouts in the lobby because they decided to charge $5 per hour – for each device. Still can’t do much better than this connection, though.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? Yes. It’s $5 per hour or you can spend $5 on food and drink and get an hour free.
How’s the coffee? It’s alright. About Starbucks quality. You’re looking at nearly $4 for a latte but they’re generous with the free snacks (almond biscuits, fried red beans).
What about the atmosphere? Lots of businesspeople and meetings going on, but you can usually get your own table and it’s pretty quiet. Plenty of plugs around.
And the connection? Excellent. And they give you free access behind the South China Morning Post’s paywall. Highly reliable: if the connection is down here, it’s probably down throughout the city.

#223 Sule Pagoda Road. The lobby cafe area is open from 7:30am until 10:30pm but the first-floor bar stays open until 1am.

TOP CHOICE: Gekko

High-end Japanese restaurant set in a beautiful renovated colonial building. They open at 9am and the mornings are very quiet – things do start to fill up at meal-times, though.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No.
How’s the coffee? You’re looking at nearly $4 for a latte, tax included. It’s very good, but no free snacks.
What’s the atmosphere like? Quiet and spacious – a good place for meetings. The staff are great, too.
And the connection? Excellent. High-speed, barely anyone else on the network and reliable.

On the corner of Merchant and 37th Streets. Open 9am until 11pm.

Coffee Club Myanmar

Solid downtown option close to others on our list. The food (baguettes, bacon rolls, crepes) is decent and cheap, the coffee is superb and also cheap, and the wi-fi usually works.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No
How’s the coffee? Delicious, strong and about $2 for a flat white.
What’s the atmosphere like? Stripped-down aesthetic with simple wooden tables.
How good is the wifi? Patchy.

Across the street from Sule Shangri-La. A previous and better location, on 11th Street and Mahabandoola Road, recently closed.

Olive Garden

Middle-Eastern restaurant on Bo Aung Kyaw Road Street of varying quality depending on the dish. However, the pizza-like pita bread with roasted vegetables is highly recommended.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No
How’s the coffee? Surprisingly good.
What about the atmosphere? Little to none. Feels like an extension of the hotel lobby it neighbors. There’s lots of space and places to plug in, but it’s pretty dark in there.
And the connection? Good.

#170 to 176 Bo Aung Kyaw Road.

TOP CHOICE: Phayre’s

Cheap and cheerful café on the north end of Pansodan Street with remarkably good internet.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No
How’s the coffee? Not good. Watery but cheap at around $2.50 for a cappuccino.
What about the atmosphere? Someone here is clearly partial to Taylor Swift and One Direction but, if you can handle that, the rest is good – big wooden tables downstairs and a lounge area upstairs.
And the connection? Very fast and fairly reliable.

#292 Pansodan Street. Open 8am until 11pm.

YAW MIN GYI

Park Royal

Standard upmarket hotel lobby. The bar area is pretty swish and they have a more relaxed wifi policy than Shangri-La.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No. They’ll give you the password when you order something but it only lasts an hour.
How’s the coffee? Outrageously expensive at nearly $5 for a cappuccino, counting tax and service. But it’s tasty and they give you these incredible dark chocolate biscuits.
What’s the atmosphere like? The bar area is pretty spacious and the tables are fairly far apart. If you get there early, grab the sofas by the window for a gorgeous workspace.
And the connection? Considering the price, not fantastic.

#33 Alan Pya Pagoda Street. The lobby bar is open from 8am until 1am.

Press Office Cafe

So much going for this place: excellent coffee and cakes and a slick hipster design. Sadly, the connection is deathly slow. When we went at the end of June, they had installed fiber optic but it was broken. Here’s a tip, though: you can sit here and still connect to the networks of some of the neighboring establishments.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No.
How’s the coffee? Great. Only about $2 for a cappuccino. Plus the freshly baked cakes are strong contenders for best in town.
What’s the atmosphere like? Bright and airy but a little too cosy for meetings. The odd acoustics mean conversations tend to echo around the room.
And the connection? As of press time, not good at all. But their fiber optic connection should be up and running eventually.

Bo Yar Nyunt Street near the corner with Nawaday. 8am until 8pm Monday to Saturday. Sunday: 10am until 4pm.

TOP CHOICE: Alfa Hotel

The secret spot of many a Yangon expat, Alfa is an endearingly old-fashioned hotel best known for its low-key rooftop bar.

Do you have to pay for wifi? No.
How’s the coffee? A frothy cappuccino is just more than $2 including tax. Adorably, it comes with two, slightly stale, Oreo biscuits.
What about the atmosphere? The quiet ground floor cafe is in keeping with the hotels’s nostalgic vibe, with squishy fabric sofas, table lamps and a slightly musty smell. TV news in English plays softly in the background and a kindly middle-aged waiter potters around by the bar.
And the connection? Very good. And there’s barely anyone else there.

#41 Nawaday Street. The cafe is open from 11am until 11pm.

Easy Cafe

Stylish cafe serving Asian-fusion cuisine.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No.
How’s the coffee? It’s been OK on the times we’ve tried it.
What’s the atmosphere like? Small and narrow, usually bustling with freelancers, so sometimes a tad noisy.
How good is the wifi? Solid. But it’s a popular choice so the network will be crowded.

#1 30A Bo Yar Nyunt Street. Open 10am until 9:30pm.

Frozee Gelato Creamery

Gelato shop on Nawaday Street.
Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No.
How’s the coffee? Nothing too special – get the gelato instead.
What’s the atmosphere like? The trippy animal-themed wall paintings are a pleasing distraction.
And the connection? Patchy but generally workable.

#23 Nawaday Road. Open 10:30am until 12am.

UPTOWN

TOP CHOICE: Parami Pizza (Parami Road outlet)

Trendy pizzeria close to the airport. Apart from serving superb pizzas – try the buffalo mozzarella – they happen to have an extremely good internet connection. It’s owned by the people behind Gekko.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No
How’s the coffee? Tasty. The appetising fresh juices and smoothies (banana, almond, milk and honey, for example) will set you back $3.50.
What’s the atmosphere like? Stylish and spacious. The long wooden benches make great work desks. Quiet after the lunch rush finishes.
And the connection? Fantastic. Fast enough to download movies (shhhh..)

Parami Road, on the fork in the road that leads to the American Club. Open 10am until 11pm.

Gusto Cafe

Italian café on the Link Lane – Dhammezedi Road roundabout popular with embassy folk and stay-at-home parents.
Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No
How’s the coffee? Around $3. It’s good – they use Illy coffee – and sometimes serve delicious dark chocolates on the side.
What’s the atmosphere like? There are two floors and it’s usually pretty quiet so you won’t have a problem finding a table near a plug. The pop-heavy play-list is a little repetitive.
And the connection? Generally good, sometimes craps out in the late afternoon.

#150 Dhammazedi Road. Open 9am until 8pm.

The Windermere Hill Café

Cutesy café set back from the road amid lush gardens – a quiet, relaxing place to work with average Western food (salads, sandwiches and pastas).

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No
How’s the coffee? Good. They say they use Starbucks beans. For a while they were giving out free white chocolate Toblerone pieces.
What’s the atmosphere like? Peaceful. There’s a separate ‘business centre’ aside from the main cafe which can make a comfortable workspace.
And the the connection? Fairly fast but not super.

#63 Chindwin Road. Open 7am until 9pm.

Yangon Bakehouse Inya Lake

The original Yangon Bakehouse, in Pearl Condo, is so crowded you can’t really be sure of getting a seat, let alone space to work. The new one, set back from Inya Road and surrounded by gardens, is bigger and better.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No
How’s the coffee? Just fine. The sandwiches, made with fresh bread, are also worth mentioning – they go for around $4.25 or you can order half at a lower cost.
What’s the atmosphere like? Light, airy and peaceful, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking onto the gardens. The sofas are comfy and the high tables are great for working.
And the connection? Sadly, pretty poor. You can send an email but don’t rely on doing much else.

#30 Inya Road. It’s set back from the main road, so look out for two small residential roads leading off Inya Road. Open 7am until 7pm.

Savoy Hotel

Luxury hotel on Dhammazedi Road with a view of Shwedagon pagoda. Hot tip: you can pay a day rate to use the pool and the wifi.

Do you have to pay to use the wifi? No
How’s the coffee? This is more of a G&T place, and those, we can testify, are excellent.
What’s the atmosphere like? A place to schmooze and feel important. You’re pretty likely to overhear pretty private business conversation in the bar. Note: the air conditioning is freezing, so bring a jacket.
How good is the wifi? “Spotty as hell”, in the words of one of our editors, but usually good enough for email.

On the corner of Dhammazedi and Inya Roads. The bar is open 10am until 1am.

Photos: All Facebook, except Alfa Hotel, which is by Coconuts Yangon, and the first picture, which is licensed via Creative Commons.

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