As Rangoon, this was the principal city in British colonial Burma. As Yangon, this was the capital of Myanmar until 2005. It is full of impressive monuments and sites.
Myanmar’s largest city is a place of temples and pagodas, wide avenues and colonial architecture. Since the country opened to tourism around 2012 the city has gained mod cons such as wifi, shopping malls and international food outlets but you can still find traditional life in markets, teahouses and Buddhist temples. There are plenty of places to relax in ‘the Garden City of the East’, with its parks and lakes.
- Golden pagoda: In a country known for its religious structures Shwedagon Pagoda stands out. It’s splendidly located at the top of Singuttara Hill dominating the city skyline. It’s ancient, about 2,500 years old. It’s the most sacred in Myanmar containing relics of four past Buddhas and attracting huge numbers of pilgrims. It’s spectacular, 110 metres high, covered in gold and the stupa encrusted with over 4,500 diamonds. In short, it’s a must-visit.
- Royal Lake: Also known as Kandawgyi Lake this is man-made, built by the British as a reservoir and is now at the heart of Kandawgyi Park, popular with locals and tourists seeking to escape the city bustle. Its waters reflect golden Shwedagon Pagoda and the lake has its own golden glory in Karaweik Palace built to resemble an ancient and ornate royal barge, a venue for cultural performances.
- Go to market: Enjoy the hustle and bustle of this historic covered market. It was built in 1926 in colonial style as Scott Market and was renamed after Burmese independence. Today it has over 2,000 stalls selling a huge range of merchandise including art, textiles, handicrafts and jewellery as well as day to day products for locals.
- Let the train take the strain: If you’ve time we recommend you take a ride on the circle line. The three and a half-hour ride is a good way to take the weight off your feet and escape the heat as well as to observe daily life, both on the train and by the tracks as you circumnavigate the city.
- National Museum: Despite possibly unfavourable first impressions, it’s poorly lit and labelled, the museum is worth visiting due to its huge collection of exhibits and the amount of information about the country’s many different tribal groups, all 136 of them! Among the highlights are the grandiose Lion Throne of the last king of Myanmar, a huge collection of Buddha images and Stone Age paintings.