Formally known as Rangoon, the city of Yangon is one of the top destinations in Myanmar. Foodies flock here to devour the delicious eats. Culture vultures make it a must-see city because of the many pagodas found sprawling the city. Whatever your reasoning for visiting, here are the top 15 things to do in Yangon.
Visit the Sule Pagoda
The Sule Pagoda is one of the most recognizable structures in the entire city. Found at the core of Yangon, this golden pagoda towers over the surrounding area and lights up during the day and at night. Strangely enough, it is found in the middle of a traffic roundabout at Mahabandoola Road and Sule Pagoda Road. The Sule Pagoda stands at a whopping 48 meters tall, and it is estimated that it is some 2,000 years old. In English, the name Sule Pagoda means, ‘the pagoda where a Sacred Hair Relic is enshrined,’ as it is believed that a piece of the Buddha’s hair is kept here. There is a 3,000 kyat (US$2.21) entrance fee into the pagoda.
Grab lunch next to Maha Bandula Park
The large, white monument found at the center of Maha Bandula Park will let visitors know they have arrived at their destination. Feel free to do a lap around this large green space found at the city’s core, however, we think one of the most noteworthy aspects of this area is the street food found at its exterior. The area is made up of colorful tents and plastic stools, and visitors can pull up a few and have lunch. Refresh with a sugar cane drink or indulge your inner carnivore with a barbeque meal grilled right before your eyes with the help of a local. The food here is incredibly affordable, as well.
Ride the Circle Line
The circle train in Yangon is one of the most authentic and local experiences visitors to Myanmar will have. The attraction is exactly what it sounds like: a train ride. The train does a complete circle around the outskirts of the city, and it takes about three hours in total. This is a great attraction for those who simply want to sit back and enjoy the scenery. Visitors will slowly roll by local markets, farms, and family homes in the comfort of the train.
Meander the National Museum
The National Museum in Yangon is an extensive collection of artifacts that cover some five floors. It was moved to its current location in the 1990s, though the museum came to be in 1952. The museum has so much information it is almost overwhelming. Each of the five floors is teeming with historic finds, from a giant lion throne to everything visitors need to know about Burmese calligraphy and much more.
See the Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset
Though the Shwedagon Pagoda is stunning at any time of day, we found that the best time to visit was at sunset. Watch the sun go down over the golden, 2,500-year-old religious structure with the Kandawgyi Lake acting as its lovely backdrop. Hundreds of structures make up the grounds of the Shwedagon Pagoda, with everything from towering stupas to sculptures and more. There is an 8,000 kyat (US$5.89) entrance fee to get in.
Meander Kandawgyi Park
Yangon is a fairly urban city with hints of further development continuing to modernize it. That being said, there is one place visitors to Yangon can go to to escape urbanization: the Kandawgyi Park. The park is situated just adjacent the Shwedagon Pagoda, the last top attraction on our list. The religious structure acts as a backdrop to the shimmering lake, making for one of the most Instagram-worthy spots in the city. The trail around the lake is easy to walk as it is not hilly and only takes about an hour to make an entire lap around the park. Visitors will be hard-pressed to find other tourists at the park as well, as it remains a popular destination for locals and somewhat off the beaten path.
See the Botataung Pagoda
Located near the Yangon River is the Botataung Pagoda. The religious structure was built at about the same time as the Shwedagon Pagoda and is shimmering gold in color. Though not as famous as the Shwedagon Pagoda or the Sule Pagoda, it is seemingly just as stunning. The original structure is no longer there as it was destroyed during World War II, but a new one was constructed shortly afterward and looks as it does today.
Photograph the local food market
The local food market in Yangon is a great stop for those looking for a photo opportunity. Locals line up along the road armed with their best produce, with everything from fresh fruit to vegetables and more to sell. They sit cross-legged on the street and await other locals to purchase their goods.
Have a few drinks at 7th Joint Bar & Grill
The nightlife in Yangon certainly has its own unique vibe and a handful of places worth frequenting after the sun goes down. One of these is 7th Joint Bar & Grill. It claims to be the first and only reggae bar in Myanmar. In addition to reggae music, the bar has different themed nights with music coinciding with each, with everything from Latin to rap night. Stop in after dark to chat with the locals, down a few Myanmar beers, and dance the night away. The bar is close to the city center off 48th Street, and mixed drinks start at 4,000 kyat (US$2.94).
Shop at the Bogyoke Market
The Bogyoke Market is the one stop spot for all things souvenirs for those visitors to Yangon. The market came to be in 1920, and it is equipped with everything one needs to fuel their inner shopaholic. It is also known as Scott Market, which is what it was called when the country was under British rule. Thousands of shops are crowded into the covered market, making it possible to explore its many stalls and knick-knacks for hours before calling it quits.
See the Kyauktan Yele Pagoda
Located a bit outside of the city center is the Kyauktan Yele Pagoda. Though there are many amazing pagodas found in Yangon, this one is one of the most interesting in that it is found in the middle of a river. The structure houses many of Buddha images and is stunning from afar as well as up close for those visitors who make the trek there.
Eat the street food
Even the most avid of foodie will be impressed with the eats found on the streets of Yangon. The Burmese street food in this city is some of the best in the country. Visitors will not be able to venture far in Yangon without running into an onslaught of delicious food carts brimming with fresh finds. You can find delicious treats for about 100 kyat (US$.073) making it one of the most affordable countries to visit, as well.
Dine in Little India
If visitors still have an appetite, they need to be sure to check out the area dubbed as Little India in the city of Yangon. It is filled with small, hole in the wall restaurants with menus that would impress even those visitors from India. Indian food is quite popular in Myanmar because many Indians came to the country after it was no longer under British rule. They seemingly brought all their most delicious of dishes with them, specifically to the Little India in Yangon. Dishes start out at as little as 1,000 kyat (US$.74).
Dine on 19th Street in Chinatown
Those who love barbeque need to make their way to 19th Street in Chinatown after the sun goes down. This is when the magic happens, as food vendors take to their street side restaurants and stalls and begin grilling up some of the most delicious foodie finds in the city. The prices are a bit more expensive here as foreigners have caught wind of the delicious area, but the meals are still cheap in comparison to what the same meal would cost in other countries around the world. The road sits in-between Sint Oh Dan Street and 20th, and visitors may miss it if not for the herds of eager diners lining the road. Visitors can meander up and down 19th Street before deciding which skewers look the most delicious. Grab a seat, skewer, and one too many beers and enjoy an evening out on this thriving stretch of road.
Enjoy the company of the locals
One of the most amazing aspects of the country of Myanmar are the people that reside there. They are friendly and kind, and many of them speak incredible English. They are at the ready when a tourist needs help or directions, have the best recommendations on where visitors should dine, and are overall great company. Do not be surprised if a local asks to eat with you simply because you are dining solo.