A major seaport in 1900’s under British rule and boasted for having same living standard and infrastructure that of London by that time, Yangon is the gate way to Myanmar today. The city is behind the timeline hosting a cluster of colonial buildings with imposing architectural designs. In fact, no other cities in Southeast Asia give you that much of colonial warmth and atmosphere like Yangon.
Home to six millions of people, the city is the most populated and vibrant place in Myanmar. It’s also the fastest emerging and growing economy due to recent changes in political and economy policy.
Yet, the smiling people wearing “thanakha (yellowish paste prepared from a tree-bark)” on the face and traditional “longyi (sarong)” underneath never fail in welcoming a guest with simplicity. The modern and sophisticated life-style of 21st century has not changed its contemporary happy-go-lucky-people in Yangon. They are slow, soft and gentle at all time. Tea-shops, betel-nut sellers, noodle-shops with local delicacies, etc. flooding onto main and side streets, a short walk into downtown Yangon (old Yangon) is truly offering visitors a unique experience.
Shwedagon Pagoda: Built on a high and strategic hill, Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred place in Myanmar. It has a 2600yr history and strongly believed that eight strands of Buddha hair relic were enshrined. Standing 100m tall, its complex is really awesome overrun by many prayer-halls, rest-houses, hundreds of Buddha images, lesser stupa and temples around. A landmark of the country, the pagoda itself is covered with plate of gold from the top to bottom. Multi-tier of roofs in different designs are spreading all around energetically. Evening walk onto the platform is so special and spiritual. While the sun is going down, the colors flow glitter and glow. This venue is an art museum and it really is. The beauty of Shwedagon is beyond words!
Downtown (Little India and Chinatown): Most vibrant and busiest neighborhood, downtown (Little India and Chinatown) is the best place to have a walking tour. Located in the heart of Yangon, narrow streets lined up with many old colonial buildings and newly built apartments, morning local markets, the jetty on the river and 19th street in the evening filled up with barbecue and beer stations are some of the most authentic Myanmar lifestyle to explore.
Scott (Bogyoke) Market: Built in 1926, Scott (Bogyoke) market is famous for its distinctive colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets. It has lots of jewelry shops, antique, art galleries, cosmetic and clothing stores. You can buy from a simple Myanmar slipper to a jewelry crown there in spectacular array of million items!
Chaukhtagyi: Originally built in 1907, the giant reclining Buddha image of Chaukhtagyi is a quiet place to retreat. This approx: 65m long image was donated by Sir Pho Thar, the very first Myanmar knighted by the British during their time. The neighborhood is hosting many small monasteries. Getting to see monks there and make your visit more special in knowing their ascetic life.
Sule: Well known for its octagonal structure from the bottom to the top, Sule Pagoda was originally constructed by “Mon” people. Originally South Indian structure in form and function, there are many local architectural elements and touches incorporated. Located in the heart of the downtown, Sule Pagoda and circle has always been an important spot in contemporary Myanmar politics, ideology and geography. Believed to have a strand of hair relic from Buddha, the golden spire is extending into the skyline.
Botataung Pagoda: A famous place in Yangon waterfront believed to have two small body relics and scared hair of Buddha. “Bo” is military officer and “tataung” is one thousand. It’s said that 1000 military officers were drawn up in welcoming relics of Buddha brought over from India. And thus “Botatataug” means one thousand military officers. Unlike other shrines, it has a hollow maze-like cave heavily coated with gold leaf. Towering above 43m from the ground, Botataung is the symbol of vitality and energy.