What is Yangon ?
Yangon a beautiful and vibrant city, and contrary to what many people believe, it is not Myanmar’s capital, however, it is Myanmar’s former capital. Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city, and filled with busy traffic, street markets and enough to see and to eat to last you for days. Wander around the busy streets, go shopping, ride the train or admire some of Yangon’s most beautiful architecture, there is something to do here for everyone’s liking. Yangon is a must see when visiting Myanmar, and differs largely from all the others towns and cities in Myanmar. Not sure what to do or where to go? Scroll down below to read more about things to do in Yangon!
Yangon, previously named Rangoon, is situated South from famous touristic destinations such as Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake. And with the large distance between these destinations, many people opt to skip out on Yangon, which is a shame as there are many beautiful things to do and see in this city. Yangon is Myanmar’s commercial capital, and will be the busiest place you will find in Myanmar, especially if you go to China Town (but more on that later).
Things to do in Yangon
Enjoy the sunrise over Shwedagon Pagodas
The Shwedagon Pagoda, situated on a 99m high hill, in Yangon is a sight you can’t miss. A golden stupa reflecting light night and day, covered with roughly 7000 diamonds truly shines bright. The pagoda is visited by locals and tourists, and having the sight to yourself will be uncommon, but it will still be worth it every second. Admire monks praying and walk around the stupa, you will not be disappointed. With the amount of details The circle train starts running at 6.10 in the morning, and the last full train ride leaves at 17.10 from the train station. There is not much to see in the dark, and taking the train during the day is definitely more recommended.you could spend simply hours here admiring the different angles of the Pagoda. The most magical moments of the day is during sun rise and sun set, as this gives the pagoda a warm golden glow, an experience that should be on your Myanmar Bucket List!
Practical information about visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda
- Shwedagon Pagoda Dress Code – Don’t forget you are visiting a holy site, you will be asked to take your shoes off and dress modestly which means that you will have to cover up your knees and shoulders.
- Shwedagon Pagoda Entry Fee – Entry fee to the stupa is 10,000Kyat (roughly 8$) and can be retrieved at any of the entrances. Fun fact: some of the entrances even have escalators going up the hill!
- Opening Hours for the Shwedagon Pagoda – The pagoda is open daily from 05 :00 am to 10pm, meaning that you will be able to catch the sunrise or sunset here, or simply visit during the day
Explore Yangon in depth by circular train
The circle train must be my favorite thing to do in Yangon. A three hour journey going through the neighborhoods of Yangon for roughly 200 Kyat (0.30US$). The train moves slowly past train stations, fields, houses, shops and the local life of people in Yangon. You will share the train with locals, tourists and vendors hopping in and out of the train. Find yourself a nice seat by the window and admire the train passing by. Tickets can be bought at the train station. And you will be able to hop on and off the train, just be aware that it might be a while before your next train stops by (and you will have to by another ticket). While there are so many things to do in Yangon, and often so little time, the circle train is worth the extra day or half day needed!
- Best time to ride the circle train – The circle train starts running at 6.10 in the morning, and the last full train ride leaves at 17.10 from the train station. There is not much to see in the dark, and taking the train during the day is definitely more recommended.
- Cost of riding the circle train – A ticket is 200 Kyat, which is valid for one ride on the circle train, every time you leave the train you will have to buy a new ticket, so the total cost depends on the amount of stops you make. Tickets can be bought at ticket boots at the train stations.
- What to take with on the circle train – Be sure to bring a fully charged camera, and some snacks and a bottle of water for the journey. Small snacks and drinks can be bought on the train platforms or on small stops near the train platforms as well. Be sure to arrive early to find a good seat on the train!
Visit to Kandawgyi Park
Yangon is a busy and vibrant city and escaping this might seem hard. But you don’t have to look any further. Find your peace and quiet in the beautiful Kandawgyi Park. Take a stroll through the park or pay to walk over the boardwalk (2$) going over the lake, with stunning views. There are many restaurants in and around the park where you will be able to enjoy a cup of tea or a lunch. The park is a beautiful place for a sunset. Sadly when I visited it was pouring rain, and I had to keep my camera in my bag instead.
Practical information about visiting Kandawgyi Park
- Kandawgyi Park Location – Kandawgyi Park is not exactly located within walking distance of downtown Yangon, but is located 5km North. While it is walkable, it can get quite hot in Myanmar, so you might want to opt to take a taxi or Grab instead. Visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda? Now you are only a bit more then kilometer away from the park, so be sure to make a quick stop here as well!
- Kandawgyi Park Opening Hours – The park is open daily from 5 am to 10pm.
Hang around Yangon's Chinatown
if you are visiting Yangon you will most likely find yourself staying in China Town. China Town is located in Downtown Yangon, and is filled with narrow streets, loads of restaurants and street vendors, many hostels and lots and lots of people. Downtown Yangon is a busy area to be, and walking through the streets is magical. Experience local life in Yangon, eat snacks, go shopping, what can you not do in this area? Wandering around China Town is every food lover and street photography lovers dream, something that you cannot leave of your things to do in Yangon list!
Practical information about visiting China Town
- Where is Yangon’s China Town – China Town starts west of the Sule Pagoda and the centre of China Town is 19th street, but read more on that below.
- Best time to visit China Town – As it can get quite hot in Myanmar it is advised to wander around China Town earlier in the morning. See the local vendors sell fruits and veggies and visit the many stores. However, the heart of China Town, 19th street, comes to life when the sun has set.
Go shooping to Bo Gyoke Aung San Market
Named after pro-democracy leader General Aung San, this market is the place to go to buy souvenirs in Yangon, especially if you’re on the hunt for a longyi (a traditional skirt worn by both men and women). the choice of fabrics here a bit overwhelming, but I guess that means there is something for everybody’s tastes.
Like most markets around the country, you can also get your items tailored by taking your cloth to one of the stalls with the sewing machines. I highly recommend this for ease of wear, but do remember, depending on what you want done and the number of pieces, it may take up to a few days. A simple longyi – basically just hemming and a waistband – however, can usually be done on the spot and for only around 1,000-1,500 kyats (about US$1). ‘Ready made’ longyi are also available for tourists but many would argue that the custom options are a more memorable souvenir.
Visit Bo Gyoke Aung San Museum
At this former residence turned museum, you can learn more about the ‘founder of modern-day Burma’, General Aung San, and his efforts to secure Myanmar’s freedom from both Japanese and British occupation. This was where the General lived with his family for the two years leading up to his assassination in 1947.
The house itself is sparsely furnished and there is not a lot to see; I think most of the appeal here is to be able to stand in the personal abode of someone who changed the course of the country’s history. Fans of his daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, now a famous pro-democracy leader in her own right, and also the country’s State Counsellor and Foreign Affairs Minister, may also find a visit to her childhood home noteworthy.
Entry fee for foreigners: 5,000 kyats (about US$3.60).
Visit Chauk Htet Gyi Pagoda
When you enter Chaukhtatgyi Temple, you’ll come face-to-face with its most notable attraction, a 65-meter long bejeweled reclining Buddha. Large and imposing with delicate features, it’s quite the sight.
Be sure to do a loop, stopping off at the feet to view the intricate details on the soles and to go up the small platform for more a slightly more elevated view and photo opportunities.
It is free to enter, although there is a box for donations should you wish to contribute.
Visit Nga Htet Gyi Pagoda
Across the street from Chaukhtatgyi, you can find another temple by the name of Ngathatgyi and another impressive representation of Buddha. This time it’s a 46 foot tall seated Buddha and it’s worth a quick stop while you’re in the area.
Again it’s free to enter, but there is a donation box inside that asks foreign tourists for contributions. There is also a donation box for watching over your shoes while you’re inside
Visit National Museum
his run-down museum may house some important historical artifacts but its presentation and atmosphere leave a lot to be desired. It’s so dimly lit and poorly frequented that you feel as if you’re wandering around a department store after closing time. And I don’t mean certain areas being dimmed for the sake of preservation of the pieces, I mean someone forgot to turn the lights on!
With all that is lacking though, I still say this museum is worth a brief visit just to see the Royal Lion Throne that was last used by the final king of Burma. I had been reading about this last chapter of royal history before coming and insisted on seeing it. It’s quite something to be standing in the same room as such a special piece and it’s worth circling it a few times to take in the small details. If history isn’t your thing though, then this may be one you want to skip.
The entry fee for foreigners is 5,000 kyats (about US$3.60) and it should be noted that bags and cameras are not allowed inside. However, lockers are available for use. For those who want to beeline it to the Royal Lion Throne, it’s conveniently located on the ground floor, not far from the entrance. It has its own room, which is clearly marked; you can’t miss it.
Warmly notes that Museum close on Monday
Enjoy Dala Ferry Ride
For a chance to get out on the water, you can take a local ferry from Pansodan Jetty across the Yangon River to Dalla (also written as Dallah or Dala). The journey is short – less than 10 minutes – but it allows you to experience a local form of transportation and feel the wind in your hair as you look at Yangon from a different perspective. Perhaps the best part of the journey is seeing the jostling that takes place when the ferry pulls in.
You can get off at Dalla and take a short walk around the sleepy town or head over to Twante, well-known for its pottery workshops. If that doesn’t interest you, simply watch the hustle and bustle of the port from the upper deck and stay on to go back to the other side. A return ticket for foreigners costs 4,000 kyats (around 3 bucks).
have you visited Yangon before? Tell us in the comments what your favorite things to do in Yangon is!