The main economic hub of Myanmar is Yangon; the names have changed from Burma and Rangoon respectively and for a few years few tourists bothered to visit. There is now a far more stable political outlook and numbers are arriving once again to see a city and country that was fairly familiar with British colonialists. This Yangon travel guide highlights the main things to see and do as part of Myanmar travel plan.
No country in South East Asia has developed in complete isolation. In the case of Myanmar which recently changed its capital from Yangon to Naypyidaw the main outside influences have been Chinese, Indian and British. Yangon has grown to be the Country’s largest city with a population of 5 million.The British influence can be seen in the 19th Century colonial architecture though it is not in the best state of repair. It sits side by side with high rise buildings built in the later years of the last century though life for many locals has not really changed with this modernisation.
It suffered at the hands of the Japanese during World War II and arguably its recent isolation has also impacted on the welcome that today’s tourists receive. There is no suggestion of hostility but perhaps not the natural friendliness found in the rest of the country and in neighbouring states.
Exotic is a word that certainly applies to Yangon. The signs are in local script, monks in burgundy robes are common with locals dressed in longyi (similar to sarongs) often walking barefoot while chewing betel nut. They think nothing of spitting the red juice onto the pavement. Accept it as part of Yangon life and move on; no disrespect is intended to other pedestrians.
This Yangon travel guide recommends a number of places to visit, none more important than:
This is the most important religious site in Myanmar and it is important that overseas visitors understand that they must dress appropriately when visiting this or any other religious site in the Country.
It is located on the summit of Singuttara Hill, and legend has it that five lotus buds emerged on the hill, each representing one of the five Buddhas. The fifth has yet to appear and it is believed that when he does the world will end. Legend is one thing, evidence another. Certainly a pagoda was on this site in the 6th Century. In the 18th Century part of the pagoda was destroyed by an earthquake.
It remains an interesting place to visit and after sunset it is lit up very impressively. There is plenty to see and it is important to decide beforehand how much time you have to devote to this pagoda. If you are travelling on organised Myanmar tour packages you will be getting expert advice on the most important things to see within the pagoda.
Our Yangon travel guide recommends other attractions within Yangon and they include:
• Sule Pagoda acts as a traffic island in the middle of a busy Yangon road. The calm inside this octagonal shaped pagoda is in stark contrast to the noise outside. It may seem strange to take off your shoes before you enter but you must do so.
• Botataung Paya on the banks of the Yangon River was destroyed during the Second World War and has a number of relics on display.
• Saint Mary's Cathedral has just been renovated and while it is not to everyone’s taste this Yangon travel guide
• Holy Trinity Cathedral is the Anglican cathedral built by the British. It is one of two cathedrals in Yangon, and has a beautiful interior.
• Musmeah Yeshua is the only synagogue in Yangon. It was built in 1893 in colonial times and its interior remains very impressive.
There are several ‘’green areas’’ to enjoy with the best being:
• Mahabandoola known for its rose gardens and the Independence Monument.
• People's Park between Parliament and Shwedagon Paya has a large concrete water fountain as well as a museum.
• Inya Lake is the largest in the city and its shores have recently been renovated.
• Kandawgyi Lake is another area of water with surrounding gardens.
Spending your leisure time
Holidays in places like Yangon are intended to provide an insight to the history and culture of the city and country. If you travel to Myanmar you should see how the locals live. One way to do it in Yangon is to take a ferry ride to Dallah. It is like being on a large floating market. The destination is very much secondary though there is a pagoda if you haven’t seen enough already.
You should consider other forms of entertainment locally:
• Tours of the Food Market. You will see a vast array of products that you may not see on a regular basis at home even though exotic foods now find their way to shelves throughout the world.
• Cookery Lessons are interesting though you may not have much time. The cuisine is a blend of several cuisines including of course traditional local dishes.
• Cultural Shows with or without food
• Traditional Foot Spas
• Yoga lessons and relaxing massages after a busy day is just the thing before enjoying dinner.
This Yangon travel guide helps to reveal more about the City as part of Myanmar travel packages that go further afield. Shwedagon Pagoda is very important though many of the other religious sites in Yangon really do not measure up to those elsewhere in Myanmar, notably Bagan. As a result it is worth perhaps seeing more of Yangon life itself before moving on to other parts of the Country.
Good tour companies are able to tailor their packages to suit the interests of their clients. Enquiries and questions will always be welcome and it is possible to combine countries within South East Asia on a single holiday. If you decide to start a holiday in Yangon and travel onwards you are likely to have an experience that you will want to repeat.