Over the years, Yangon, Myanmar has taken off as a popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia. Its rich history and distinct culture attract many visitors the world over. You won’t get bored in Myanmar’s largest city as you won’t find yourself short of things to do. In this city, you’ll find a wide variety of activities showcasing the best aspects of the country.
Where Is Myanmar?
Myanmar, formerly called Burma, is found in Southeast Asia. It has a land area of 653,508 square kilometers, bordering the countries of Bangladesh, Laos, Thailand, India, and China. It’s made up of seven states, seven regions, and one union territory. Naypyitaw serves as the country’s capital while Yangon is the country’s biggest city.
Best Time To Visit Yangon, Myanmar
As a whole, the country of Myanmar generally has a tropical climate. Since it’s located in the southern part of the country, you can experience warm temperatures here for most of the year.
The best time to visit this city, however, is from November to January. The city, within these months, normally experiences relatively cool temperatures with mild rain showers occurring from time to time. But do know that Yangon weather can be humid, so consider this when planning your trip. And when you start planning what to do in Yangon, here are some ideas you might like:
Marvel At The Shwedagon Pagoda
When it comes to things to do in Yangon, at the top of everyone’s list — including ours — is visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda, and there’s a lot of good reasons this is a must-do.
This golden, stupa-shaped pagoda has dominated Yangon’s skyline for almost 2000 years. Shwedagon Pagoda is now a huge part of the city’s history, culture, and heritage. Primarily, it serves as a sacred Buddhist landmark, and it is believed to house relics of four previous Buddhas or “enlightened ones.”
Standing at 99 meters tall, it’s hard to miss this staple city landmark. But if you’re not sure where to find it, it stands at Singuttara Hill.
Visit Yangon’s Heart, The Sule Pagoda
Another stupa-shaped pagoda that’s hard to miss when visiting this city is the Sule Pagoda. It’s a towering golden pagoda found at the heart of the city. It greets every tourist who comes and passes by downtown Yangon.
Like the Shwedagon Pagoda, the Sule Pagoda serves as a culturally, historically and even politically significant landmark found within the city. It’s believed to have been built around 2000 years ago, and legend has it that meetings about the construction for the Shwedagon Pagoda were held here, headed by King Ukkalapa. Additionally, a sacred hair relic of the Buddha is also believed to be housed here.
The pagoda’s compound is open to visitors from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. You have to pay an admission fee of around $2 to enter the premises of the pagoda.
Walk Under The Botataung Pagoda
This city doesn’t come short of temples and pagodas to visit. While there seems to be too many to see, all of them are worth seeing, including the Botataung Pagoda. It’s another temple that showcases the rich heritage of Yangon, Myanmar.
This particular pagoda stands at about 40 meters, located just beside the Yangon River. It has a golden exterior and a hollow interior, which you can walkthrough. Inside it are many relics and artifacts, one of which is another one of the Buddha’s sacred hair relics.
The Botataung Pagoda is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. But if you want to have fun and complete experience of this place, go visit this Yangon temple during the Botataung Pagoda Festival. It runs for nine days in either November or December.
Check Out The Buddha In Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda
An attraction popular among tourists from around the world is Yangon’s version of the Reclining Buddha. You’ll find it in Chauk Htat Gyi, another Yangon temple. What makes it interesting? Apart from its distinct pose, the sheer massiveness of this Buddha is something you must see at least once in your life. Spanning 65 feet with the hight of 16 meters, it’s hard to miss out on taking a picture of this intricately made, gigantic sculpture.
To get to Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, you can take a taxi from downtown Yangon to the Tamwe Township. The ride should only cost you around $3-5. Tourists can enter the pagoda’s compounds from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. You’ll have to pay a $5 admission fee per person.
Look For The Five-Story Buddha At Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda
Another Buddhist temple that must be included in your Yangon trip itinerary is the Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda. You can find this temple just off of Shwegondine Road at the Bahan township.
Many tourists come by this pagoda. Its claim to fame is the five-story tall Buddha, situated under a huge, iron pavilion. Apart from its height, the intricate design of the Buddha’s clothes is also something to marvel at.
Before going to the Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda, remember that the pagoda is only open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Also, expect a $2 fee upon entry. You can visit this pagoda along with the previously mentioned Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, which is located just across the street from Nga Htat Gyi.
Eat And Walk Around Yangon’s Chinatown (Takoye Tan)
If you want to experience a mix of culture, history, and food in Yangon, then walking around and trying out dishes in Yangon’s Chinatown (also called Takoye Tan) is something you must do while visiting. Many of Chinese descent reside within this area in the Burma capital. Founded in the 1800s, you’ll get a feel of how Chinese culture made itself at home in Yangon while visiting this place.
If you want to try out the best food in Yangon’s Chinatown, head over to 19th Street. This area is lined with street vendors and outdoor, makeshift restaurants with some of the best barbecue and beer you can find in the city. Pick one stall and try out some of the many delicious Chinese dishes they have to offer.
After eating, you can also go, walk around and find some interesting areas to visit. There are several Chinese folk temples you can visit. There’s also a night market here where you can shop.
Looking for Chinatown? It’s only a 15-20 minute walk from the Sule Pagoda, which is in the middle of downtown Yangon.
Learn More About The Country’s History At The National Museum of Myanmar
One of the greatest ways to learn more about a country’s history and heritage is to visit a museum. The National Museum of Myanmar has five floors, housing hundreds of artifacts. Many of their pieces are representative of the art, history, and heritage of the people in the country. The museum offers many interesting and educational exhibits, curated according to the time period and cultural aspects each one represents.
Itching to learn about the entire country in one place? Then going to the National Museum of Myanmar is a must. It’s located in the township of Dagon, around 30-40 minutes from the Yangon airport and about 15 minutes from the middle of downtown by car.
Enjoy The Yangon Sunset At Kandawgyi Lake
Another popular and rather picturesque place to visit in Yangon is the Kandawgyi Lake. You can find this lake to the east of the Shwedagon Pagoda. It’s a man-made lake with water sourced from the nearby Inya Lake.
Kandawgyi Lake is one of the most beautiful areas to visit in Yangon, with its calm waters clearly reflecting the nearby Shwedagon Pagoda and the sky. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy the sunset in the city, then this place is definitely at the top of the list.
Stroll Across The People’s Square And People’s Park
If you want to spend some quiet, alone time, then why not try to take a nice stroll at Yangon’s People’s Square and People’s Park?
Combined, People’s Square and People’s Park is one of the parks that surround the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. Formerly a part of Queen Shin Sawbu’s palace, this park boasts a 52.92-hectare area which houses thousands of species of plants found in the country. Occasionally, a part of People’s Square also hosts exhibits that showcase the heritage of the Burmese people, especially those belonging to ethnic groups.
Walk Down Yangon’s Memory Lane At Pansodan Street
Myanmar has a rich history that’s interesting to learn about. One of the significant historical periods that made Burma what it is today is the British rule over the country. It’s been a long time since that period, and Myanmar has since defined its own identity, but you can still see traces of this around Yangon.
A place where you can see these traces is Pansodan Street. There, you’ll see buildings with western-style architecture lining the street for about three blocks. It’s definitely an area you need to go to if you’re exploring Yangon.
Catch A Ride On The Circular Train
This may not be the steadiest train ride you’ll ever experience. In fact, this might be the bumpiest one you’ll encounter in your life. But riding Yangon’s Circular Train will definitely give you a different and the most authentic picture you can get of Yangon. The route of the Circular Train goes around the city of Yangon, and it also lets you see the more rural areas nearby.
If you want to know how life is like outside the city, then this is a must-do activity while in Yangon. However, know that the route this train travels through takes around three hours to complete so make sure to consider this when planning your trip.
Shop For Souvenirs Bogyoke Aung San Market
Who doesn’t like shopping when visiting new places? If you’re looking for a shopping experience that’s unique to this city, head on over to the Bogyoke Aung San Market. Here, you’ll be able to shop from some of the 2,000 stalls that you can find in this bazaar-type market. So, when finding authentic trinkets and souvenirs to bring home, try finding some at this market.
Bogyoke Aung San Market is located in the Dagon township of Yangon. It’s open to shoppers from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Experience Yangon Nightlife
Yangon nightlife is not something tourists immediately seek when going to Myanmar, but you’ll be surprised at how underrated the nightlife experience here is. Try going out to clubs and bars while in Yangon. Find out how fun the city can be after the sun sets.
If you want to have a good time after sunset, head on over to some of the clubs and hotel bars around the city. Many of these are located in downtown Yangon, near the lakes Kandawgyi and Inya, and near Sule Pagoda. If you’re not up for partying too hard, there are places to go get a drink at 19th Street in Chinatown.
Don’t Forget To Try Out The Food
Coming to a country with a rich culture without trying out their food should be considered a crime. When you’re at Yangon, don’t miss out on trying Burmese food and other dishes found around the city.
Some of the dishes you need to try in Yangon include the barbecue at Chinatown and Mandalay Beer. Also, try out the Shan food, Paratha, and Mohinga when in Yangon.
Decide On Where You Want To Go Next
Many international visitors fly into Yangon airport when they visit the country. This makes Yangon the entryway of many tourists to other parts of Myanmar. More likely than not, you’ll be one of those tourists who’ll visit Yangon first, but don’t let your visit to this beautiful country end there.
After looking around and doing many interesting activities in Myanmar, decide on where to go next. From this city, you have access to many points around the country either by land or by air. Some interesting places you can go to next include the capital of Myanmar, Naypyitaw, as well as Bagan and the Shan State.
If you want to take the scenic route, you can ride a bus from Yangon to Bagan, which passes by the Burma capital, Naypyitaw, on the way. You can also take the land route from Yangon to the Shan State. Do note that both of these trips can take up to 8-9 hours. Of course, for shorter travel time, you can catch a plane from the Yangon airport to go to these places.
The Ancient World In A Bustling City
When you take a good look at Yangon, you’ll notice that it’s a city where the ancient characteristics of Burma meet and coexist with the hustle and bustle of a modern-day city. You can clearly see how the locals take the importance of their culture, history, and heritage in the way they preserve many landmarks in the city.
Of course, despite experiencing a glimpse of the old in Yangon, it doesn’t fall behind when it comes to modern-day fun. Opportunities to party and have fun at night are plenty. There are many places to shop, find food to eat and drink out with your friends. It gives variety to what you can experience while you’re here.
So if you’re in the mood for the clash of two worlds, Yangon is the place to be. When visiting Myanmar, stop by the country’s largest city and take a good look at what it has to offer.