Yangon in Myanmar, the old capital of Myanmar (or Burma) until 2005, is also the country’s largest city and most significant center of commerce. Yangon is still vital and attractive even though the military government of Myanmar officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw in March 2006. Since then, the title of either Yangon or Rangoon is often referred to as the Myanmar’s old capital. Within the Southeast Asia region, Yangon is the one that contains the biggest number of the colonial buildings. Besides, the destination proudly owns a huge collection of the religious attractions of Buddhism, the sleepy charm, the peaceful parks, and the tranquil lakes. People travel to Yangon in Myanmar mostly to see the glittering golden pagodas and the special colonial mansions.
Yangon (also named Rangoon, meaning “End of Stifle”) is of course the most praiseworthy destination in Myanmar.
What to See in Yangon in Myanmar
Shwedagon Pagoda is said to be 2500 years old. It is fabulous, mystic, and impressive. Nestled in the captivating Singuttara Hill, the pagoda looks visible even from miles afar. Spiritually speaking, Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred site in Yangon as it enshrines the relics of the three former Buddha figures and the eight hairs of Gautama Buddha. Shwedagon Pagoda is golden, with the height of 99.4m and the perimeter of 432.8m. Remarkably, the very top of the site is decorated with a 76-carat diamond. On a daily basis, people come to offer water and flowers to the Buddha and do praying in the prayer hall. Coming to Shwedagon Pagoda, you can expect to see the statues of Singu’s Bell, Bodhi Tree Rakhine Hall, and shops selling offertories.
Standing out as the mystic landmark, Sule Pagoda is said to be more than 2,000 years old. Erected on a roundabout in the downtown of Yangon, Sule Pagoda looks exotic in the octagonal design. The golden site is encompassed by several little shops and the local booths for astrology, palmistry, etc. Inside the pagoda is the age-old bell protected by the statues of Nats or Spirits. As the local custom, the Myanmar people often ring the bell after they make the good deeds. The extraordinary traits to see in Sule Pagoda include the Hinthar bird on the top of the pagoda and the Marble Footprint of Buddha which is also the description of the Buddha’s life.
Bogyoke Aung San Market
This cherished market is located on Bogyoke Aung San Road, in the center of Yangon. Historically, the market was erected and opened in 1926 and named Scott Market after Mr. C. Scott – the Municipal Commissioner at that time. At present, the site is called Bogyoke Aung San Market to commemorate General Aung San – the honorable leader of the nation. For tourism, this market has the colonial buildings and the inner cobblestone streets. In particular, Bogyoke Zay is the most favorite place to shop in Yangon, and the most frequently purchased items are souvenirs, jewelry, and Myanmar traditional dresses.
Karaweik Hall at Kandawgyi Lake
As the must-see landmark on Kandawgyi Lake, the Karaweik Hall is, for sure, looks impressive enough to win everybody’s interest. It is the floating and glittering floating restaurant in the architecture of the mythical bird creature. The Karaweik Hall was built in 1972 and gilded. The stay on the significant floating restaurant inspires you to enjoy lunch/dinner with the cuisine of Myanmar, Chinese, Eastern and Western regions. While dining there, expect to feast the eyes with the fascinating view of the royal barge and the wonderful Shwedagon from a distance. As usual, there might be some traditional dance performances there at night.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s House
Aung San Suu Kyi’s House was the colonial-style mansion where the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the leader of the National League of Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi was put under house arrest for 15 years since 1989. And then, she was released in November 2010 by the Burmese ruling military junta due to the international pressure. Before the release, people could only see this house from a distance of 300m, from the Inya Lake. Nowadays, the house is no longer guarded, but the barricades are still there. The fame of Aung San Suu Kyi does attract numerous people as she was one of the world’s most known political prisoners. The visitors believe the visit gives them a feel for the spirit of the female freedom fighter.
The name of Botahtaung Pagoda means “the Pagoda of the thousand military leaders”, and it enshrines the relics of Buddha brought from India more than 2000 years ago. More and more travelers know about Botahtaung as it has the hollow interior where houses the Buddha’s hair relic. Besides, you can easily meet a variety of mystic statues of Saraswati guardian and the dragon. The availability of the vendors of offertories like coconut, banana, candle, etc., allows the visitors to make donations and to pray for goodness.
Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda
The big image of the reclining Buddha in Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda is unique and fascinating. This is Myanmar’s one of the most revered reclining Buddha figures. The reclining posture of the Buddha in combined with the multi-story architecture characterize this pagoda to belong to the second Innwa period. The construction of the image began in 1899, and during several extensive renovations, it now has the length of 216 feet, and the height of 100 feet. The renovated image has the head aligned to the east and the visage facing the north. Interestingly, there notices the footprint of the reclining Buddha image which describes the life of the Buddha.
Kyaiktiyo: Golden Rock Pagoda near Yangon
Kyaiktiyo (popularly called the Golden Rock Pagoda) is the favorite site for all Buddhist pilgrimage in Mon State, Myanmar. This is the little pagoda erected on the granite boulder coated with gold leaves devoted by the pilgrims worldwide. The Golden Rock itself is said to link to a legend: it is precariously settled on a strand of the Buddha’s hair. The rock is still there to challenge gravity; people think it might roll down the hill, but it is balanced in a magical manner. Both the rock and the pagoda are located at the summit of Mt. Kyaiktiyo (with 1100m high), which all look appealing and inspiring. Only the male Buddhists are allowed to touch the golden rock and devote the gold leaf onto the rock. The panoramic view of the Mon State Mountains from the top of the mountain is bewitching. This destination might get extremely crowded during the peak time from November to March!
How to Get to Yangon (Burma)
You can take the direct international flights to Yangon International Airport at ease. In this airport, there are one domestic terminal and two international terminals. It’s available to have the long-haul direct international flights to Yangon from Bangkok, Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and various Asian countries (China, Japan, Vietnam, Indian,South Korea, etc.)
There are the border crossings between Myanmar and Thailand, between Myanmar and India, and between Myanmar and China that allow people to reach Yangon by land. Check out the overland crossing points and make sure you have the visa to Myanmar beforehand! If you need more information, do not hesitate to contact one of Burma tour operators like Indochina Charm Travel for example.
When to Visit Yangon in Burma
The best months to see Yangon are from November to February when it is cool and dry and ideal for the outdoor exploration. Then, the hot months (March – May) and the monsoons (June – October) are said to be the off season in Yangon tours. Regarding festivals, two of the most famous events are Thingyan Water Festival in April and Shwedagon Festival in February/March.
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