BUSTLING, VIBRANT AND unique, this is a place where you really can choose your own adventure. Visit Yangon’s stunning places of worship, admire its beautiful fin-de-siècle architecture or explore its burgeoning arts scene and colourful markets. Chances are you’ll fall in love with every side of the city.
At 325-feet tall and located on hill at the highest point of the city, the dazzling stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda is visible throughout Yangon. It is and breathtaking from wherever you’re standing. Plated in gold and studded with over 4,000 diamonds at its pinnacle, this is one of the great wonders of the spiritual world. The gold can even be too dazzling to look at in bright light. Shwedagon dates back 2,500 years and comprises several small temples containing remarkable relics such as strands of Buddha’s hair. It is particularly beautiful at dusk, when many of the locals come to give their offerings. Oil lamps line the base of the pagoda, creating an ethereal glow.
While Yangon is steeped in ancient history, a sense of excitement permeates this rapidly-changing city as Myanmar itself opens to the world. There’s been a flowering of dining options, art galleries and stores too—even the introduction of ATM machines is relatively new.
How to combine the old and the new worlds? By taking a trip on the slow-moving Yangon Circular Railway. Built in the 1950s to connect commuters from the suburbs to Yangon’s centre, the loop takes about three hours to complete. It’s a fascinating way to see life on the outskirts of the city.
Among Yangon’s most fascinating features is its colonial heritage architecture. Belmond Governor’s Residence is situated in the leafy, peaceful Embassy District, where you’ll be perfectly placed to see this glorious architecture at its most impressive.
In recent years, serious preservation efforts have sprung up in order to recognise this special architecture in the form of the Yangon Heritage Trust. Accordingly, derelict old spaces in colonial buildings have been converted into hip new restaurants like Rangoon Tea House, Gekko, and Sharky’s Pansodan. The interiors often still show the details of the original buildings, like the imported tile work from Manchester England and steel beams imported from Scotland in the 1800s.
For all its remarkable sights—including the impressive Chauk Htat Gyi, a pagoda temple housing a 65-metre long reclining Buddha—Yangon is full of simple pleasures. Try taking an afternoon stroll with no greater agenda than stopping at one of the many tiny tea shops. Pull up a miniature plastic stool to sit with the locals and order a Laphet (Burmese sweet tea with condensed milk). Along with crisp fried samosas, it makes for a memorably delicious snack.
35 Taw Win Road, Yangon, Myanmar
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