Welcome to Yangon: The largest city in Myanmar
by Loubi Gher
Thursday, July 6, 2017
The first image that hits your mind hearing the city Yangon, is pagoda, in fact, lots of pagodas. Yangon formally known as Rangoon marks the largest city of Myanmar. The city that used to serve as the capital of Myanmar is now the country’s largest metropolis also its main commercial capital. Not only that, but the city hosts the largest number of British colonial buildings in Asia. However, they are poorly maintained yet they still reflect the colorful history and Culture of the city while providing a vibrant backdrop of Yangon’s streets. On one side, Buddhist monks mingle around the crowded streets, grabbing attention during their morning alms walks. On another side, the pagodas stand as an immense, almost at every corner of those vibrant streets, feature a glimpse of the golden Shwedagon pagoda.
I have arrived in Yangon indenting for a 3 days trip, to be honest, it was one of my travels that I haven’t really planned much for. Yet, it was so easy and smooth to transport around and grab a taxi from the airport to the city center where my hostel was located.
Day 1: The arrival day
As I did want to make full use of my 3 days I’m staying in Yangon, I started off on the first day with visiting the main attractions as everybody was recommending, even my hostel’s receptionist. Around 10 AM, I left my hostel and marched out for my pagodas tour, blasting off the nearest walking distance Pagoda, Sule Pagoda.
It is said the pagoda is about 2,500 years old and streaks around 48-meter-high with its twinkling golden dome. I stayed around there for about an hour, I couldn’t get my eyes off from dazzling at the magnificence of that shining golden dome.
PS. You are required to follow a specific dress code and also take off your shoes and socks when entering any of the pagodas. I happened to be wearing stockings, where it was a bit of trouble every time to access those temples.
Admission fee: 3$
Open hours: 4 am – 10 pm daily
Rangoon Tea House
I headed out later to Rangoon Tea House to grab my lunch. Where I also tried one of the most delicious and mouthwatering tea I have ever witnessed in my life. On a side note, speaking frankly, their chicken prata wrap is also a must try.
I intentionally went there around 4-5 pm for the sake of catching the views and vibes of Shwedagon Pagoda during daylight and later catch some of the burnt orange golden stupa flames in the setting sun.
There were four main entrances located around the cardinal directions, yet all of them lead to the main terrace. At the center, sits Shwedagon Paya on a square plinth. 12 planetary posts stay around the stupa’s base; locals pray at the post that resembles the day they were born. The fortune tellers are laid around in case you want to join the prayers and don’t know the day if your birth, they will assist you.
Make sure before heading out to check the small museum, which is full of religious ornaments and Buddha statues. You may also pop into the photo gallery, particular for close-up snaps of the pagoda from the top view.
Admission fee: 8$
Open hours: 4 am – 10 pm daily
It didn’t seem that partying or clubbing is a big fan of Yangon’s night activities, but there are a few social drinking bars that could be perfect for a dinner and a few drinks.
Here’s a list of what I would suggest:
Asia Plaza Disco
ABC Country Pub
Zero zone Rooftop Beer Garden
PS: make sure you head out early because most of these bars close from midnight to 1 in the morning.
Day 2: Yangon Circular Railroad Ride
One of the most affordable ways to see the city of Yangon is to grab the circle train for half a day. A full round is about 46 kilometers connecting 39 stations loop. The full round takes about 3-4 hours where you can see different satellite towns and some of the village areas around the city. I personally enjoyed the no air-con and basic seating the train offered. Nonetheless, Feel free to the mingle around and chat with locals and vendors hopping on and off the train at various stations. Not only that, but if you get tired, hot, or ready to move on to the next move that Yangon has to offer, you can certainly exit at any stop and grab a cab to your next venture.
How to get there
the best is to board at Yangon’s downtown train station located at the intersection of Pansodan and Bogyoke Aung San roads. For the tickets, you can buy them over the counter, then enter via the east entrance and head to platform 6.
Admission fee: 0.10-0.20 $
Open hours: 3:45 am – 10:15 pm daily
Day 3: The goodbye
having had enough of Yangon’s culture, but it was time to say goodbye. I have had my fried rice breakfast at my hostel and walking out north east for some local markets hunting. I eventually made my way along Shwe Bon Thar and Maha Bandula streets signally astonished by the colored brightly decaying buildings that stood as great examples of the 19th century British colonial architecture. The streets were whirring with activity. Market stalls were inhabiting the sidewalks with everything from fruits to raw fish, and Myanmar’s all time favorite addiction – the betel nut wraps. Everywhere I went I was greeted with nothing but peculiarity. I eventually managed grabbed some cultural souvenirs and marched back to my hostel to check out and head to the airport.
PS. traffic could be a nightmare from Yangon’s city center to the airport. Make sure you head out early at least 3-4 hours before your flight, hence traffic patterns cannot be predicted.
Yangon the mystic city
I hesitated to extend my stay, worried that I hadn’t seen enough, experienced enough of the culture, or come to understand how Yangon plays a role in Myanmar as an economic primary hub. And the fact is, I probably didn’t. But I was certain that it won’t be my last visit to Yangon. While I made a last minute plan to visit some of Myanmar’s top sights and attractions I haven’t seen it all yet.
Myanmar is developing too fast and tourism rate is definitely accelerating with more regions opening up to travelers from all over the world. It won’t be long before there is an incentive to come back and visit Myanmar again, and a return trip to Yangon will be undoubtedly on my list.