Sunday Special – Yangon, Myanmar

Today’s post takes us to Yangon, Myanmar. A city that I have actually visited. I have to say that the few days I spent in Myanmar made me fall in love with the country especially the area of Bagan. I did not see much more of the country so I do plan to return one day.  I can’t really explain it but it was, for me, a magical place. Which is why I was so horrified and saddened to learn after I returned about the genocide and conflict occurring there (which you would not know was going on in the areas that I was in). But this post is not a political one. It is simply to showcase the largest city in this Asian country.

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Yangon view from Sule Pagoda

Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is Myanmar’s largest city although it is not the capital (that title belongs to the city of Naypyidaw). It is however the commerce capital of the country. To be honest, Yangon is not my favourite city. Not even close though it does have some areas that I enjoyed seeing. Some of its sights are impressive and then other areas are less so. The state of wear of many of the buildings and failing infrastructure was a bit of a surprise to me especially coming from Malaysia where it was much more modern. Yet it still holds its own charm. I must admit that part of my time where was plagued by an uneasy tummy so at moments I wasn’t up to my usual wandering speed.  However, I did always encounter kind people. Yes, many wanted to sell me items, often assertively, but that is to be expected. Many were curious especially since I was a female travelling solo. Yet they were mostly polite (unlike the cab driver who overcharged me but I was desperate to get back to my hostel as I need a toilet so I only mildly argued with him). 

So what can you see in Yangon?  Let’s take a look (those marked with an * are places that I visited):

  • *Shwedagon Pagoda – The most significant of all pagodas in Myanmar this stunning sanctuary is a sight to see. It stands 110 m / 360 ft and is covered in gold plates and studded with diamonds. There are smaller temples, stupas, and statues surrounding the grounds. It truly is an incredible place.

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    Shwedagon Pagoda
  • *Chinatown – This is the neighbourhood that I stayed in. Plenty of markets and some Chinese temples in the area as well.  Known for night markets and street food  I did not actually visit these areas in the evening as I had some early mornings.
  • *Sule Pagoda – The first pagoda and sight I visited in Yangon as it was close walking distance from my hostel. It was where I prayed to Buddha to find me space for the sold-out hot air ballooning  in Bagan and he listened. Or it was luck. Either way I was happy.

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    Followers listening to a teacher at Sule Pagoda
  • *Bogyoke Aung San Market – Built in 1926 in a colonial building you can find many items and souvenirs here. T-shirts, textiles, jade, jewellery, antiques, paintings, handicrafts and food are the main wares found in over 2,000 stalls. This is one of my favourite markets that I have visited during my wanderings.
  • Kandawgyi Park – Get away from the bustle of the city and relax along the lake and take in views of the traditional barge, Myanmar architecture, and a view of the golden Shewdagon Pagoda.
  • Botataung Pagoda – This is another pagoda of importance to the Myanmar people. It is located by the Yangon River and claims to house a relic of Buddha himself (a sacred hair). During WW II this pagoda was completely destroyed and was rebuilt in 1948.
  • Rangoon Circular Railroad Ride – I did not go on this train even though I was aware of it. I am not certain why though I wish I had. Built by the British in 1954 this railway line does a 45.9 km / 28.5 mile circuit stopping at 39 stations. It is a way to see some of Yangon’s local life.
  • *Chaukhtatgyi Paya / The Reclining Buddha – This was my favourite sight in Yangon. I had not seen a Buddha quite so large and was quite fascinated by the experience of taking it all in. The Buddha is 66 m/ 217 feet long. Built in 1966, it is a replacement of the Reclining Buddha built in the same location in 1907.

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    The Reclining Buddha
  • *Visit a Teahouse – Tea is more than tea in Myanmar. Tea houses are common and a place for socializing for the locals and visitors alike. When I researched a tea house to visit, one popped up often: Rangoon Tea House. It did not disappoint. I enjoyed 2 cups of tea and curry lunch.

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    My tea and a book I bought from a seller on the street
  • *Drinks at The Strand Hotel – The Yangon climate can be a bit warm and humid for a northern gal like me. So when I had my fill of the warm afternoon sun I checked out Sarkies Bar at The Strand Hotel. The AC was welcome and the design was reminiscent of 1900s prestige and luxury that is still associated with the hotel. And the drinks were quite good too.

I’ll be back Myanmar. =)

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

 

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