Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Best Things To Do In Yangon Myanmar
For many visitors, Yangon will be the first interaction they’ll have with Myanmar and it’s a fantastic starting point. Mandalay, while perhaps more familiar thanks to creatives like Kipling, just doesn’t possess the same number of sights – and dare I say buzz – as it’s southern sister, Yangon.
After several weeks in Southeast Asia, listening to other travellers liken Yangon to what Bangkok must have been like 20 years ago, I had a few pre-conceptions about the city before I touched down. But it took less than an hour in Yangon for me to reach a verdict: those people were wrong. Yangon felt a world apart from the rest of Southeast Asia.
Not unsurprisingly when you look at a map, it shares many more similarities with it’s western neighbour, India: the way it looks, the streets, the noise, the people, even the scent in the air. And there’s one thing I learned about my time in India – it may be packed and crumbling in parts, but it’s also brimming with some glorious, superlative, not to be seen anywhere else in the world sights.
And Yangon, my travel friends, is no different.
Shwedagon pagoda is one of the most famous places in Yangon and, admit it, this is probably one of the few (if not the only) tourist attractions you’re aware of in the city.
As well as being one of the most ostentatious sights (up there with the Grand Palace in Bangkok and, frankly, all of Rome), this golden spectacle is very tall (99-metres/325 foot), fantastically old (over 2,500 years, which would make it the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world) and is the most sacred Buddhist spot in all of Myanmar.
Why? It’s thought to contain various relics from Buddha, including strands of his hair.
Sule pagoda was very close to my accommodation so it was the first pagoda I saw in Yangon – and, indeed, Myanmar, so that’s probably why iI found it to be the most impressive. Like Shwedagon, it’s stupor that gilded in gold and it’s perhaps a hundred years or so younger than the main tourist draw.
Particularly fascinating is Sule’s location – in 21st century Yangon, it serves as a roundabout thanks to the roads that have been built around it.