One of the best places to visit in Asia is Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. Nature lovers will appreciate the city’s stunning lakes, shady parks, and verdant tropical trees. These are the reasons why it is dubbed ‘The Garden City of the East’.
1. Walk Around Yangon (on Foot)
In a city like Yangon, you just never know what you’re going to find, see, or experience when you’re randomly walking around.
Businesses of every kind, busy street food stalls, relaxing tea stalls, markets occupying the sides of sidewalks and streets filled with a colorful bounty of produce, temples of a diversity of religions… and that’s just the beginning of what you’ll see.
Exploring Yangon on foot gives you the opportunity to stop and watch something interest, or to notice the details of what’s happening here and there. Downtown Yangon is such a busy place, and though it may look a bit disorganized, somehow the city functions and flows.
Make sure you are careful crossing the main roads, pedestrians, by all means, don’t have the right of way, so just be careful, but other than that, just starting walking around the streets of downtown and you’ll see life unfolding in front of you.
2. Eat Myanmar Food and Drink Tea
Myanmar is slotted between India, China, and Thailand, and the flavors of their cuisine have been influenced by this spectrum of regional diversity.
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.
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 the side of the street tea stalls.
Tea plays a major part in the social culture of Myanmar, and basically every sidewalk throughout Yangon is occupied, at some point throughout the day, by a tea stall.
All you have to do is find an empty plastic stool, order a snack that’s available, and tea, which is Chinese style tea, is served complimentary. Drinking tea on the side of the road, sitting on a micro stool, is one of the great joys of visiting Yangon.
3. Window shopping in local fresh markets
One of the interesting things about this market in Yangon is that, despite the busyness of the market and vendors selling in the middle of the road, small delivery vehicles will still pass through.
When an oncoming vehicle comes, the vendors will scurry to move their things aside, but the low laying baskets of food will remain, and the vehicle will drive right over them.
4. Shwedagon Pagoda
Without a doubt, the Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most important religious sites in Yangon and all of Myanmar.
The golden chedi of the pagoda, which reaches a height of 99 meters, is visible throughout the city, and it shimmers in the sun with its incredibly golden surface. 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 hit, 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.
5. Sule Pagoda
The Sule Pagoda is not only a religious and historical pagoda landmark in Yangon, but it’s also a city navigational landmark as well; It seems that all roads in downtown Yangon eventually lead to the Sule Pagoda.
The Sule Pagoda is not only recognized and cherished for its long history, but in the more recent history of Myanmar, the pagoda has served as a strategic space for politics, rallies, and protests.
6. Bogyoke Aung San Market
Bogyoke Aung San market, also commonly known by its former name of Scott Market, was built in 1926 under a design from the British colonial period.
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 set up 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.
7. Chinatown Yangon – Eating and Walking
Chinatown in Yangon usually refers to the area of 24th through 18th street, west of the Sule Pagoda in downtown Yangon.
It’s one of the busiest and most action-packed areas of town, especially in the evening when the sides of the streets teem with food vendors selling everything from fresh produce to ready-made things to eat.
20th street is known for its Chinese food like rice congee and grilled pork skewers.
19th Street is known as the barbecue street, a side road that’s lined with Chinese restaurants that have glass cabinets full of all things skewered ready to be chosen and barbecued up. Just grab a table at one of the restaurants, choose the skewers you want, and relax as your food is cooked.
8. Kandawgyi Park – walk around, relax, have a drink
The downtown area of Yangon is chaotic, hectic, and there never seems to be a quiet or dull moment. That’s quite the exact opposite from Kandawgyi Park, one of the lush green lake parks in Yangon.
There are a couple of different options to take when you visit Kandawgyi Park. On the east side of the park, there are a number of restaurants, including the Karaweik Palace, but also a few other lake-side relaxing restaurants where you can eat and have a drink.
The other section of Kandawgyi Park is the lake boardwalk, a nice elevated platform where you can walk or exercise with beautiful views of the lake, the Karawiek Palace, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in the background. If you go in the evening, on a nice day (when it’s not raining), you’ll have a fantastic sunset view of the Shwedagon Pagoda.
9. Chaukhtatgyi Paya (Chak Htat Gyi Buddha) – Reclining Buddha
Chaukhtatgyi Paya, which is also referred to as the Reclining Buddha, is an absolutely massive 65 meter long reclining Buddha. Originally there was a standing Buddha statue in the same place, but about fifty years ago it toppled over, and was eventually replaced with a reclining version.
The Buddha is housed in a giant metal shed, that reminded me of an airplane hanger (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.
There’s another famous temple, directly across the street from Chaukhtatgyi Paya, called Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda, that you can also visit if you’re interested.
10. National Museum of Myanmar
The National Museum was a little on the old side, and it could do with a re-model soon, but overall, the actual collection at the museum was very interesting. There was a wealth of artifacts, religious relics, artwork, cultural explanations and ethnicities, and tons of golden objects from the royal courts of Myanmar.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Myanmar, and if you enjoy a museum type of environment, I would say visiting the National Museum is one of the worthwhile things to do when you’re in Yangon.
11. Yangon Circular Railroad Ride
Trains are a fairly common form of public transportation throughout Myanmar, and 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.
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.
One of the best ways to experience Yangon to its fullest is to just walk around with no plans at all and let the city flow around you.\r\n\r\nWhen you’re ready to take a break, just join with the others by grabbing a red plastic stool on the side of the road, ordering a Myanmar salad or a plate of snack samosas, drink cups of hot tea, smile, and absorb the life and the culture of Yangon
The friendly culture of the people, the delicious variety of food, some truly beautiful attractions, and the lively never-ending action of Yangon, are just a few of the many reasons you should visit
Hope you enjoyed this video and article about some of the top things to in Yangon. If you are interested more, Idealtravelasia would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.