11 Things To Do in Yangon
1. Shwedagon Pagoda
Feel it with your heart in one evening, forgetting everything else but a golden splendor raising up above the surrounding planes like a fairest thing in the world. Make sure you visit the most important site in Yangon, the Shwedagon Pagoda which is one of the most important religious sites in Yangon, and all of Myanmar.
There are so much gold and glittering things! The golden pagoda, which reaches a height of 99 meters, is visible throughout the city, and it shimmers in the sun with its incredibly golden surface. I could hardly even look at the pagoda without squinting my eyes.
The Shwedagon Pagoda is a very well preserved heritage monument and a sacred religious pilgrimage site for many Buddhist followers in Myanmar.
When you’re there, you’ll see people performing a series of rituals according to the day they were born, and people will also walk circumferences around the base of the pagoda.
One of the interesting things, things to dream about, is that on the top of the pagoda, within that little golden umbrella looking thing that’s called a hti, is gold, jewels, and thousands of diamonds. Though there are some binoculars on one side of the pagoda, unfortunately it’s still hard to see the beauty of the top umbrella of the pagoda.
A visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the things you must do when you’re in Yangon.
How to get there:
The easiest way to get to the Shwedagon Pagoda from downtown Yangon is to take
a taxi. Approximately cost 3 USD
Open hours: 4 am – 10 pm daily
Entrance Fees: 10,000 Kyats ($8.00)
2. Local fresh market
For understanding the life of the local people, or experience a city, other than by eating, is through visiting a local fresh market – which is of course – directly related to eating. So in the end it all comes back to food.
Theingyi Zay (Market), Latha township
Theingyi Zay (Zay or Zei is the Myanmar word for Market), a sprawling market in Latha township is one of Yangon’s most goregous quarters and arguably one of the most unique market in Asia. The Theingyi Zay should not be missed on your itinerary in Yangon. Not only is the food outstanding but the local architecture and charming locals you meet. The market was first built in 1905 and is the biggest local market in the city. There are more than 1000 shops and stalls constitute the traditional wet and dry market that sells a bunch of local products from fishery products to dry commodities and textiles. Rice, fish paste, clothing, cosmetics, raw herbal medicines, beeswax and toys can be found in the shops inside the existing building as well as the blocks and streets around.
Or visit Thiri Mingalar market on the outskirts of town. It’s one of the largest wholesale distribution markets in the city, and it’s a great place to visit if you want an action packed market experience.
Sule Pagoda – religious, historical, and Yangon city
3. Stroll through China Town
Bustling and vibrant, Yangon’s China Town is full to the brim of market stalls, street food and barbecue stands and an evening stroll down 19th street at night should be high on any Myanmar itinerary. By day, China Town gives a fascinating glimpse into the life of some of Yangon’s residents as well as the architecture of the city.
How to get there: If
you’re in central downtown Yangon, you really cannot miss 19th
street or grab a taxi (3000 kyats)
Open hours: 6 pm – 11 pm daily
Price: different ranges in different bars and restaurants
4. Bogyoke Aung San Market
Also known as Scott Market, the huge Bogyoke Aung San Market, on Bogyoke Aung San Road, is popular with tourists looking for souvenirs such as paintings, puppets, lacquerware and jewellery. It’s well worth a wander, even if you’re not buying anything, and also a fine place for lunch – look out for kyeq k’auq-s’wèh (noodles in garlic oil, with pork and a watery soup), nàn-gyì thouq (cold rice-noodle “salad”) and avocado shakes. On the outside of the market are a number of European looking cobblestone streets with shops housed and either side, and there’s also a large indoor section that’s setup more like a bazaar.
There’s a large selection of things to purchase all in one area, and it’s a nice clean market in a good location.
Opening Hours - 10am to 4pm. except on Mondays.
Admission Fees - Free
Location –Downtown, Bogyoke Street
5. National Museum
National Museum of Myanmar is located at No. 66/74. Pyay Road. Dagon Township. Yangon. This museum was established in the year 1952. This museum is a splendid spot of sightseeing in Yangon. It houses rare pieces of artifacts, historic art works, and memorabilia. There are altogether fourteen halls in the four floors of the Museum. The ground floor comprises three halls. They display the scripts and alphabets of Myanmar, denoting the gradual evaluation. There is also the Lion Throne Room and specimens from the Yatanobon Period.
Yangon national-museum, Myanmar
The ground floor of the National Museum in Yangon has a remarkable display of the scriptures from ancient Myanmar. There is a stone funerary and the walls of the hall are encrypted with Pyu writings. There is a throne room in the ground floor, which consists of miniatures of eight thrones belonging to the kings of Myanmar. There is also the Royal Lion Throne belonging to the last monarch king Thibaw. This throne is made of ‘Yamaney’ timber and magnificent lions adorned its base. The king was said to be using this throne, while he used to discuss important matters with his ministers or deliver judgments.
One of the other great tourist attractions in Yangon is the Yadanobon Period Exhibit Hall in the ground floor of the National Museum in Yangon. There is the clothing, fashion accessories, furniture and other household articles exhibited in this hall. The palanquin used by the chief monk of King Thibaw was also in display in the Hall.The range of other items in the different halls of the different floors of theNational Museum in Yangon are:
First Floor: There are four halls in this floor. They consist of:
• Royal belongings
• Prehistoric exhibits
• Natural exhibits
• Ornamented objects
The Myanmar History Hall consists of:
• Marvelous murals from the Bagan
period and the pinya, Innwa, Nyaungyan and
• Ancient earthen tablets depicting the stories from Jatakas
The Second floor consists of exhibits on Myanmar culture accompanied with music, song and dance of Myanmar.
The other exhibits include:
• The modes of transportation of by gone days
• The offering bowls of the monks gilded with mosaics and semi-precious stones
• Musical Instruments
The third floor of the National Museum in Yangon has:
• Paintings of Myanmar
• Ancient ornaments and jewelries of Myanmar
The Fourth floor is for the display of the Buddha images and the display of culture of the ethnic races of Myanmar.The National Museum in Yangon remains open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM, except during the Thingyan Festival or the Myanmar New Year Holidays. The Shwedagon Pagoda is within walking distance.
The National Museum thus is a treasure chest of priceless stone inscriptions. Documents. Carvings. Paintings and a host of other artifacts that testify to the ancient culture and civilization of the Myanmar people. Anyone who has made a tour of the museum will come away with greater knowledge and understanding of Myanmar and its people.
Opening Hours - 10am to 4pm. except on Myanmar New Year Holidays (Thingyan Festival) in April and Mondays.
Admission Fees - US$ 5 per person
Location -No. 66/74 Pyay Road. Dagon Township. Yangon.
7. Chaukhtatgyi Paya (Chak Htat Gyi Buddha) – Reclining Buddha
Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple houses the incredible 217 foot reclining Buddha Housed in open sided steel and corrugated iron structure that looked more likely to host a rock concert, the Buddha gazed down on the handful of Burmese worshippers gathered around at the base of its face. There were plenty of other people scattered around the Buddha’s space further away from the statue itself, like some of the old ladies napping off to the side, or simply escaping the heat of the day. The sense of space and light flooding in from outside coupled with the relatively few people here made it a real sanctuary from the crowded pavements of Yangon’s city life. The Buddha is housed in a giant metal shed, that reminded me of an airplane hangar (it’s so big). The crown of the statue is decorated with diamonds and other gems, and the feet are etched with inscriptions showing the characteristics and symbols of the Buddha.
You have to leave you shoes & socks at the entrance
How to get there: Taking a taxi is about the only way to get to Chaukhtatgyi Paya and from central Yangon it cost us 2,500 Kyats ($2.53)
Open hours: All day and all night – 24 hours, but daytime is best
8. National Museum of Myanmar
Walk through some of the most important sites in all of Myanmar on this engaging walking tour. You’ll start at the City Hall, right in the centre of town. The giant tiered roofs and unique architecture will amaze, as will that of the former Immigration Department nearby. Next, you’ll continue to the High Court, a prime example of the Grand Imperial style. After admiring the court, you’ll continue to Strand Road, which houses the three-storey former New Law Courts, the 1916 Custom House, and the Art Deco period Myanmar Port Authority. Many of these buildings have notable carvings along their facades. Your trip will continue past the General Post Office and end at the sumptuous Strand Hotel, now over 100 years old. Refreshments served at the bar will conclude your journey.
A lot of sun cream and hat is recommended
How to get there: Taking a taxi to Sule Pagoda and start walking by yourself or join the tour
Open hours: Every day
9. Yangon Circular Railroad Ride
It’s not every destination that has a form of public transportation that is also a tourist attraction, but Yangon isn’t your typical city either. Originally built by the British in the colonial era, today the Yangon Circular Railway features a 29-mile, 39-station loop system connecting nearly all parts of the city, as well as satellite towns. It’s by far the cheapest way to get around town (about $.20 per ride) but for a first time visitor, it’s also one of the best ways to experience real life in the city. Thanks to the low price, the train is heavily used by all types of people, allowing visitors like me to be a voyeur for a little while and to, hopefully, learn more about the city and country in the process. There’s a circular loop route in Yangon, which was built by the British back in 1954.
The circular railroad runs for just under 50 kilometers, stops at 39 station, and takes about 3 hours to complete.
Taking a ride on the Yangon circular railroad is not really a traditional attraction at all, but it’s a great way to experience and observe the life and culture in around the outskirts of town. I also liked that we actually left the main part of Yangon and got a brief glimpse of the countryside.
If you have a half a day to spare when you’re in Yangon, and if you’re interested in seeing the culture and life that surrounds Yangon, taking the circular railroad is a pretty cool thing to do. And this is passing the place where there was a huge market, full of fresh vegetables waiting to be transported.
How to get there: The train departs from Yangon Central Railroad station, which is located just north of the Sule Pagoda, in-between Sule Pagoda road and Pansodan street.
Trains should leave from Platform 6 (but the attendant will tell you exactly),
about every 30 minutes – 1 hour starting in the morning
Price: 300 Kyats ($0.30) for a ticket
I think walking around is one of the best ways to see the
10. Twante bike tour
Suitable for more adventurous and fit travellers, this unique adventure biking tour takes cyclists out of the city of Yangon and far beyond the region’s tourist trails.
From Yangon, head out to the delta stopping to visit the python pagoda and riding through the bamboo forest and local villages on a mix of dirt trails and country roads. Explore the pottery village in Twante and historic Shwesandaw Pagoda before enjoying lunch at a canal-side restaurant.
Cycling through the rice fields toward the river island, catch a local boat back to busy Yangon. The route is mostly flat on paved country roads along rice fields and through villages before reaching Twante, however due to the length and heat, this biking itinerary is recommended only for fit cyclists.
How to get there: Go to Twante by Taxi, by bus or water boats and get a bike or join the tour
Open hours: Daily
11. Eat Myanmar Food and Drink Tea
Walking down the street in downtown Yangon, you literally can’t go more than a few steps without arriving at the next street food stall. There are interesting things to eat being whipped up at nearly every corner.
As England is to pubs, Myanmar (Burma) is to tea shops. You'll find them everywhere, sometimes lined up one after another, with their little plastic stools and small tables spilling out onto the sidewalks and into the streets. Burmese tea, a potent combination of strong black tea leaves mixed with evaporated and condensed milk, is an acquired but delicious taste.
One of the most popular dishes in Myanmar cuisine, available nearly everywhere you go, is a dish called mohinga. It’s a bowl of rice noodles submerged in a fish based soup broth that tastes like a mild curry, full of flavorful ingredients and spices.
Another Myanmar food you can’t miss when you’re in Yangon is laphet thoke, or pickled tea leaf salad. It’s a common dish that you’ll find at restaurants and at side of the street tea stalls.
Safety Note: Hygiene is not always the greatest when it comes to street food in Myanmar, so you do have to use your own discretion, and try to choose food stalls that are busy with customers and where the food looks fresh.