Yangon, the former capital city of Myanmar is shaded with tropical trees, relaxing parks, and beautiful lakes. Yangon is also known as “The Garden City of the East” for its evergreen verdure. Although, much structural change (foreign investments and globalization) has occurred after the fall of the military junta in 2011, Yangon still hosts an impressive atmosphere of traditional preservation and ethnical/religious diversity intertwined with several aspects of modern trends and ideologies.
This prestigious city was founded by King Alaungpaya on the site of a small town called Dagon when he conquered lower Myanmar in 1755. He changed its name to Yangon, which means "End of Strife", but was anglicized as Rangoon by the British when they annexed Myanmar in 1885. The present day Yangon covers an area of 350 sq. km and houses a population of over 5 million people.
As a modern day hub for commerce, it is common to witness streets in downtown Yangon bustling with vendors, traders, consumers and businessmen venturing endlessly among several colonial buildings that were left behind by the British colonists. Yangon is also the largest city in Myanmar, and the industrial and commercial centre of the country. It hosts both a seaport and an airport right within the confines of the city making international trade easier.
Towering to a height of 326 feet on Theingottara hill, the Shwedagon is the main attraction at Yangon. Visitors are often awe-struck upon laying eyes on the magnificence of this golden shrine. Ralph Fitch, the first Englishman to arrive in Myanmar named the Shwedagon as-“the fairest place in the world”. Rudyard Kipling also mentions Shwedagon in his poem, Letters from the East, saying, "this most famous of all Myanmar shrines as a golden mystery lofty on the horizon, a beautiful wonder that blazed in the sun. Most of the colonial buildings around Yangon used to have a view of the Golden Pagoda as it was a prominent landmark that could be seen from miles away. Shwedagon is also prestigious for devotees due to the fact that holy hair relics of the Buddha were enshrined in the pagoda more than 2,500 years ago. Today, it is considered to be one of the wonders of the world ,and the most venerable pagoda in Southeast Asia. Click here for our recommended tour to Shwedagon Pagoda.
Karaweik Hall is one of the landmarks of Yangon, and this boat-like structure floats over the Kandawgyi Lake (Royal Lake). This structure was built over 20 years ago in the shape of the mythical creature called the Karaweik(sort of phoenix) bird. It has 3 floors including a ceremonial hall and a restaurant.
There are still several colonial buildings that were left behind by the British Empire. Most of these colonial buildings were constructed in the middle of 19th century, before the Second World War. The colonial residences are usually substantial castles built using brick, masonry and wood, sporting multi-gabled roofs, verandas and porches. The Yangon City hall itself used to be a colonial building that was later transformed to meet the needs of the local government The Supreme court building, painted in red and yellow, is also in fact a Victorian building that was constructed between 1905 and 1911. Another famous colonial building is the famous Strand hotel which is the first hotel in Yangon constructed in 1901. Other remarkable colonial style buildings include the Bogyoke Aung San Market, the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral and the Yangon Port authority building which are all located in downtown Yangon.<
The Bogyoke Aung San market is a fantastic colonial structure foremely known as Scott Market. Today, it is the busiest market in Yangon selling a large variety of goods including Burmese art and handicraft, lacquerwares, wood and ivory carvings, tapestries, silverware, brassware, silk and cotton fabrics, shoulder bags, and jewellery.
The Chauktatgyi Pagoda is located 10 minutes away from downtown Yangon, and 5 minutes from the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. The 72 meters long reclining Buddha image is the biggest reclining Buddha image in Myanmar. Although, it was originally built in 1907, it was demolished and rebuilt in 1957 due to substantial damage that the weather had caused. The uniqueness of the image is the glass mosaic on the sole of its feet representing the 108 special characteristics of the Buddha.
The Botahtaung Pagoda is a shrine with hollow passages as entrance into the building. The name Botahtaung means "a thousand military leaders". This pagoda was named after the 1,000 military leaders who escorted the sacred hair relics of Buddha from India over two thousand ago. Inside the pagoda, there are glass showcases containing many ancient relics and donated artefacts that are sealed,but still visible inside the shrine. The original shrine was destroyed during the Second World War. However, the new structure was built right on top of the original one.
Located at Htaukkyant, about 32 km from Yangon on the road to Bago, the memorial is a cemetery for the many Allied soldiers who lost their lives in the Burma Campaign during World War II. The cemetery's beautifully preserved compound has 27,000 tombstones of fallen Common Wealth and Allied soldiers.
Hlawga Park is about a 45 minute drive from downtown Yangon. The park covers 1,650 acres of land including the Hlawga Lake, annd is home for over 70 kinds of herbivorous animals and 90 species of birds. It has a museum replicating various Myanmar traditional buildings. It also has a zoo and a rock garden, and Flocks of migratory birds frequently visit the park. It is an ideal place for picnickers, naturalists, botanists and bird-watchers. Visitor can also enjoy elephant rides, boating and fishing in the park.
The Bogyoke Aung San museum is a two-story -building where Myanmar’s national independence leader General Aung San lived with his family until the time of his assassination. This house was later turned in to a museum in 1962. The furniture, dresses, books, cars and his family photos are kept in the same way as they were before his death.
Situated near the Kandawgyi Lake, the Natural History Museum has a notable collection of Myanmar's geographical, biological and archaeological diversities, including flora and fauna, forest products, minerals and rocks.
Located on Pyay Road, about a few minutes away from downtown, the newly built five-storied museum will has almost complete information about the history and culture of Myanmar. It exhibits the Lion Throne of the last Myanmar king, royal regalia of 19th century Myanmar kingdom, artefacts from various ancient periods, articles of cultural heritage and archaeological value, art and craft articles, weaponry, musical instruments, and several traditional paintings.
Located on Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, the Gems Mart display the whole range of Myanmar rubies, sapphires, peridot jades, pearls, gold-works, silverware, and jade figurines. Out of a hundred counters only two counters on the ground floor are occupied by the Myanmar Gems Enterprise and Myanmar VES Joint Venture Co., Ltd, the other 30 on the ground floor and the 34 counters on both the first and the second floors are occupied by private gem vendors.
The jetty is situated in front of the famous Strand Hotel. From there, visitors can observe the daily lives of people who travel across the river from the other side of the city to get to work or sell their various local products. Visitors can also take a ferry to the other bank of the river which is about a 10 minute journey.
The Sule Pagoda is an important landmark that is located right in the heart of downtown Yangon. This Pagoda is said to be over 2,000 years old and it is has the enshrined hair relics of the Buddha. This golden pagoda has an unusual octagonal shape that continues all the way to the top terrace. It stands 46 meters (152 feet) high and is surrounded by small shops filled with astrologers, palmists, and photo studios. From the pagoda visitors can observe the busy atmosphere of downtown Yangon which is filled with crowds of people and flocks of cars.
The Kabar Aye Pagoda is located about 20 mins away from downtown. It was built by U Nu, one of the earlier prime ministers of Myanmar, right after the country gained its independence from the British in 1954. The Pagoda was dedicated to the Sixth Buddhist Council (1954-56).
The Buddha Image that is located in the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda today was craved from a single piece of white is marble rock. Measuring at 37 feet long, 24 feet wide this image is the largest Buddha image in the world.
Located near the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel, the Yangon Zoo is noted for its collection of wild animals from around the world including rare species of flora and fauna that have been collected over the years since opening the zoo in 1906. On weekends and public holidays, snake dances and elephant circus are the main attraction here. The Zoological Garden Amusement Park is also a well-known spot for children and teenagers.
Thanlyin was once the center of foreign trade for all of lower Myanmar. In the 16th century Thanlyin was trading port for several Portuguese, Dutch, French and British merchants. Later the Portuguese adventure De Brito established his own private kingdom there. The ruin of a Catholic church built by an Italian missionary in the 18th century can still be seen today. During the colonial days the British sent around one millions of Indians to Thanlyin to cultivate rice, and until today Thanylin still host a great number of people with Indian backgrounds.
The town of Twantay is a center for pottery and hand-woven cloth that is located just 24 km from Yangon. It is an hour road trip from yangon, or a two hour long boat trip via the Twantay channel. There are over fifty pottery workshops in the town and many of the techniques that are used have been handed down from generation to generation as a time-honored tradition. Twantay pottery is generally recognized and distributed throughout the country as thousands of water pots, flower pots, basins, jars are produced in Twantay daily. Click here for our recommended tour to Twante.
Located just 30 km from Yangon, Let-khok-kone beach is the nearest beach to the city and is therefore a popular weekend picnic site. The best way to get ot this beach is to take a ferry to Dallah and then drive for three hours to the beach. However, it is worth knowing that this beach can get very busy at times, especially on public holidays.
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No.53, Nagayone Pagoda Road, (Off Pyay Road), 8 1/2 miles, Mayangone, Yangon, 11061, Myanmar (Burma).
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