Yangon, formerly Rangoon, was one of our favorite cities we visited in Myanmar. It is the largest city in Myanmar and one of the only cities in Southeast Asia where motorbikes are banned. Yangon was our first stop in Myanmar and we became infatuated with it. With so much awesome-ness in one city, we’re here to give you the 9 things to do & see in Yangon, Myanmar.
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1) Eat and Drink in Chinatown
Every major city has one and everyone goes to them. Why, because they’re a hoot! We spent almost every night in Chinatown feasting on taste bud exploding, food and drinking our fill of 50 cent beers. You can crawl into any restaurant or bar and if you’re lucky a Premier League game will be on. You can cheer on the team playing like one of the locals.
2) Watch Shwedagon Pagoda Come Alive
The most iconic pagoda in Myanmar and quite possibly the world. Shwedagon is seriously something to see. It’s massive, powerful and beautiful. And you’ve failed in doing Myanmar correctly if you miss this Pagoda.
Shwedagon is the most sacred site for the people of Myanmar and one of the most sacred sites for Buddhism. It is said to have been built over 2,500 years ago and is believed to enshrine eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former buddhas.
The pagoda stands 325 ft high with 27 metric tons of gold leaf all over the pagoda. Impressed? Well, there’s more. In addition, thousands of diamonds and other gems are on display and scattered about the pagoda. The compound the pagoda sits within is massive and have small other spots for worship where the devout are able to pray and light candles to the many, many buddha statues on site. So yeah, like we said, if you miss this, you have failed in your visit to Myanmar.
Shwedagon is open from 4 am – 10 pm and the best time to go is right before sunset. If you go right before sunset you get the perfect lighting and also get to watch the pagoda light up as night falls. The cost of entry is $8.00 USD.
3) Take in The Beaty of Sule Pagoda
Sule Pagoda is a stupa located in the heart of downtown Yangon. It’s one of the first iconic sites you see when entering Yangon. We mean, a 144-foot tall golden pagoda is hard to miss.
According to legend, Sule Pagoda was built during the time of Buddha making it at least 2,500 years old and houses a hair from Buddha. As holy as it is, it has also been an involved in past Burmese political movements and protest. Which is ironic as “sule” in Burmese means “meeting” or “gathering place.”
It’s open daily from 4 am – 10 pm and costs about $2USD to get in
4) Watch The Sunset
Located south of the city on the Yangon river, you’ll find Botahtaung Jetty. This is the free spot in Yangon to enjoy a beautiful Myanmar sunset. If you’re lucky, a boat captain may even allow you on his ship to snap a few epic sunset picks.
It’ll be a beautiful moment that you won’t regret it.
5) Shop Till You Drop At Bogyoke Aung San Market
Want to get your souvenir shopping on? Head to Bogyoke and get lost in the shops and alleyways that surround the market. A beautiful colonial building that is filled with food stalls, jewelry shops, hand made crafts and clothing stores, you definitely won’t have a hard time finding something to take home.
6) Explore The City By Foot
Take off in a direction and go. Yangon is one of those cities that you can get happily lost in. It’s beautiful but yet dilapidated British colonial buildings will leave you mesmerized. The smells around every street corner will leave you wanting to sample it all. With so much to take in, an hour or two walk around the city is easily doable.
7) Make Time For Tea Time
You can’t leave Myanmar without a proper Burmese Tea (Lay Phet Yay). Stop in Golden Tea for some tea and snacks and rest your legs from walking. It’s a great little local cafe to sit and people watch.
8) Try On A Longyi
Wanting to blend in with the local scene? No trip to Myanmar is complete without a longyi purchase. You can purchase a longyi from Bogyoke Aung San Market or any of the many shops you’ll pass on Yangon’s busy streets. Ask for a tutorial from the shop owner on how to tie it and boom, you’re a local 🙂
You’ll get plenty of laughs and smiles as you walk around Yangon in your new longyi.
9) Eat At 999 Shan Noodle Shop
Seriously the best dish you’ll have in Myanmar will be at 999 Shan Noodle Shop. From delicious Shan Noodle Soup to fermented tea leaf salad, this meal will for sure not disappoint. This should be a must on your culinary visit for Yangon!
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)