Here are top 5 things that you have to do when you visit Yangon. It is impossible to miss the broad gold-leafed pagodas, which dominate Yangon's landscape. In the heart of downtown, the 2,000-plus-year-old Sule Pagoda is a truly moving sight. Check your shoes at the door. Inside, as in the Myanmar Buddhist tradition, pour water on the Buddha who represents the day of the week you were born. Outside, get a palm or astrological reading.
Bonus: At twilight, head to Shwedagon Pagoda. Its a photographer's dream, where lights cast a warm glow on ornate gold and thick black and white marble in the backdrop of a flashing light show and thousands of glistening Buddhas. Locals, robed monks, and smiling shaven-headed nuns chant and worship. Don't miss the giant 150-year old holy Bodhi tree.
Built in 1920, the sprawling 70-year-old Bogyoke Aung San Market is a massive bazaar that houses everything from puppets and wood carvings to tapestry to brightly-colored fabrics and the local's favorite longyi's (sarong-like tube of fabric worn by men and women). Find a shop where you chose your own fabric and watch a vendor sew your custom piece.
Yangon's Chinatown Market is loud, busy, boisterous, chaotic, and totally authentic. Its narrow streets offer prime people watching whether you stroll down them, dodging umbrellas up to block the sun, or watch from a crowded cafe with a beer in hand. The market has an array of culinary goodies, as you might expect, like the standards—fresh fish, fruits, and veggies—as well as unique finds like fried crickets and betel nuts.
Situated under a sheet-metal roof rests one of Myanmar's most revered reclining Buddhas at Chaukhtatgyi Paya. This massive, resting Buddha is perched 60 feet high and a whopping 216 feet long (about the size of an American football field). Buddha&aposs adorned feet hold 108 symbols. Outside, explore the bustling market, with vendors hawking street foods from impressive open-air kitchens.
As you walk around the city, you will feel like you are walking back in time, passing crumbling stately buildings sitting behind fences in various states of neglect—faded, peeling, ghostly, and perhaps not around too much longer (though the Yangon Heritage Trust is on the case). Don't miss former Myanmar Railways Headquarters, the spectacular Immigration Building (once the ritzy department store Rowe & Co), and the stunning, red-brick baroque Secretariat where, in 1947, General Aung San was assassinated.