Yangon is a city of juxtaposition, where the busy streets and shanty houses are broken here and there by stunning temples that draw pilgrims from across the world. Even as Myanmar’s largest city and economic centre, there are few skyscrapers. In their place you’ll find run down colonial-era buildings and the ubiquitous tea houses where all Burmese, rich or poor, gather to watch football over their steaming cups.
Sights to See
Downtown Yangon was once the British colonial capital and still has a remarkable amount of colonial-era buildings – the most in all of south-east Asia in fact! Wander its pretty leafy avenues and you’ll find the former High Court, Strand Hotel and St Paul’s English High School for a glimpse into the past.
Perhaps the most interesting of Yangon’s colonial buildings is the Ministers Building, constructed in the 1800s, it was the home of British Burma and also where Aung San and 6 cabinet ministers were assassinated in 1947. The building occupies an entire block of land, is on the Yangong City Heritage List, and yet is completely abandoned.
Yangon has some stunning stupas (Buddhist shrines) such as Ngahtatgyi Paya with its large reclining Buddha and Botataung Paya that features a large bronze Buddha, a gold leaf–coated maze, and a large pond with hundreds of terrapin turtles.
What’s For Lunch
Curries and rice are everywhere in Myanmar but Yangon offers a special treat in the form of local favourite seafood restaurant Min Lann. Here you’ll find huge tiger prawns, soft shell crab and lobster done on an open-flame grill.
If You Only See One Thing
The jewel of Yangon, and perhaps even Myanmar, is the huge Shwedagon Pagoda that glows in gold. At around 100 metres high and over 2,500 years old, it is the most sacred Buddhist stupa in the country. Shwedagon is breathtaking to look at as it’s covered in gold plates and is encrusted with 4,531 diamonds at its top. It is said to hold a number of holy Buddhist relics and strands of Buddha’s hair.
Finding out how much something is before you buy it is always recommended! Try out Diha balao leh?
Bogyoke Aung San Markets are a good place to pick up something custom made like a traditional longyi skirt and blouse. The lovely saleswomen will measure you up and make it upstairs the same day.