Yangon is among the top things to do in Myanmar and your trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting Yangon. The city is bustling with development as the most populous city in Myanmar yet at the same time reserves the most important heritage of religious and cultural values. See in our article the top things to do in Yangon together with our travel tips.
Even though when compared with other metropolises of Southeast Asia, Yangon might be lacking in term of modernity but in many aspects, Yangon is a city full of characters, representing the very best of Myanmar. Yangon is often the first city in Myanmar visitors visit during the trip and we also suggest you take Yangon as the base to start exploring the country. The first impression is important.
A lot of attractions to see including golden temples, local market, beautiful lakes, and hot-air balloon ride you can’t miss when visiting the city. Here are the top ten activities and attractions to enjoy during your trip to Yangon.
Top Things to do in Yangon
Behold the sight of Shwedagon Pagoda when the sun goes down
As the most sacred pagoda in Myanmar, Shwedagon is no doubt the most important religious site in Yangon not only because of the sacredness but also this pagoda is really impressive in terms of architecture.
To have a gist of Burmese traditional pagoda architecture, Shwedagon offers the best example. The appearance of Shwedagon is very striking with a Chedi that reaches a height of 99 meters which can be seen from anywhere in the city.
The 99-m high Chedi, like many other chedis in Myanmar, is gilded and shimmering under the sunlight, creating such a memorable sight to see. With its impressive architecture and legends about four Buddhist treasures being kept here, Shwedagon attracts so many visitors and pilgrims every year to come and pray.
It’s known that on the top of the pagoda’s chedi, there are 5448 diamonds and 3217 rubies and the queen of them all is a 76-carat diamond.
Address: Bahan Road, Yangon City
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Visit Sule Pagoda – the landmark of Yangon
Every road in Yangon seems to lead back to Sule Pagoda, the pagoda can be seen from pretty much all places in the city. You can visit this pagoda easily since it’s located in the central area which is also the place of many government offices and buildings, and bus and road transportation.
Sule Pagoda’s stupa keeps the history of the architecture change from Indian structure and style to a Burmese styled structure. This is impressive in the sense of the growth in Burmese original culture and the awareness of national identity. It’s also believed the pagoda is the place that a Buddha’s hair was enshrined.
- Location: Junction of Sule Pagoda Road
See the Reclining Buddha at Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda
Or Chak Htat Gyi Buddha or the pagoda of Reclining Buddha is a place you go to when you want your mind blown in such a good way.
This pagoda houses a massive 65m long reclining Buddha statue. In fact, there was a standing Buddha statue in the past but over the time the statue collapsed and later it was replaced with a reclining version.
The Reclining Buddha is about 66 meters long, the crown of the statue is decorated with diamonds and gems, and the feet are etched with inscriptions showing characteristics and symbols of Buddha. When you visit the Reclining Buddha, you will see many local people coming here to pray which shows how revered Chaukhtatgyi pagoda is in the life of the people in Myanmar.
Visit Kandawgyi Royal Lake and enjoy dinner at Karaweik Hall
Kandawgyi Lake is a large lake in downtown Yangon – a great place to take a breather from the crowded city of Yangon. From the lake, you can enjoy a nice view of Shwedagon Pagoda, especially after dark when the pagoda is lit up by spotlights. Every year, in November, there is a traditional boat race festival being held here.
However, the lake is not the highlight of these complex but the iconic Karaweik Hall – a floating palace on the lake glittering in the sun. The palace sits on two huge golden birds with a roof in the shape of a Pyatthat.
Karaweik Hall is the venue to enjoy the famous buffet dinner – an extensive selection of Chinese, Burmese and Western food while watching a show of traditional Burmese performance. This dinner will last about 3 hours consisting of shows like puppet shows, elephant dance, and Burmese dancing.
You can also enjoy the Burmese arts, handicrafts and traditional costumes.
Swing by Swe Taw Myat Pagoda – the Buddha Tooth Relic Pagoda
The pagoda was built to enshrine the sacred tooth relic, believed to be one of the teeth of Gautama Buddha. Aside from the legend, Swe Taw Myat Pagoda is known for its beautiful golden ornamentations.
Unlike other pagodas, the Buddha tooth relic can be viewed by the public. You’ll see the relic stood in a large hall, surrounded by a huge golden column. An ivory copy of Buddha relic from China is also showcased here, in a small multi-tiered Pyatthat.
Discover Mahapasana Cave
You can visit two sites at once: the ‘World Peace Pagoda’ (Kaba Aye pagoda) and the Mahapasana Cave. These two sites were the places that hosted the 6th Buddhist council.
The pagoda and the cave were built in1952 by U Nu, the prime minister of Burma to solely host the 6th council. The pagoda’s stupa is 36m high, gilded and the body of the pagoda is designed with traditional Burmese typical temple architecture.
Once you’re Inside the Cave, you’ll be amazed by its side – 67m long and 43m wide with a high ceiling. Today, the cave is used to host various meetings and teachings of Buddha….
- Location: Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, Yangon
Go shopping in Bogyoke Aung San Market
Or Scott market would be your favorite shopping place in Myanmar. The market is organized, clean and has a wide variety of products.
On the ground floor and the first floor, you can find hundreds of small antique shops selling all kinds of old things like coins, bank-notes, stamps, and medals. There are also jewelry shops selling Burmese rubies and other gemstones. Other shops sell artworks, handicrafts, and clothes.
In the new wing of Bogyoke, you’ll find yourself lost in several shops and stores selling foodstuff, garments, medicine…
Come to this market, don’t forget to try the delicious local food here. We recommend you the ‘Lady Home’ where you can find tasty noodle dishes and other food….
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Enjoy the view of Yangon with a hot-air balloon ride
An alternative way to see this beautiful city. This service is operated by Mingalarbar Balloon Company, offering tourists a wonderful opportunity to see Yangon from above. The hot-air balloon ride might be underwhelming when taken in daytime but in night time, it’s just magnificent.
The air balloon is located in the compound of Kandawgyi Park. A hot-air balloon ride will take about 20 people up to the height of 400 feet high at the same time. You’ll be enjoying a 30-minute ride full of great scenes of Yangon, especially the sight of Shwedagon lit up when the sun going down.
A ride will cost US$27 for an adult.
Get some fresh air in Inya Lake
Inya is the largest lake in Yangon, a popular recreational site for local people and a great place for tourists to take a breather and enjoy the scenery.
The lake was created by the Brits to offer water supply to the city but now it’s more of a place for sailing and rowing.
Inya is also a popular meeting place for couples, you can see it once you’re here.
Don’t forget to enjoy delicious Burmese food
If there’s one thing you should never miss when visiting Yangon, then it’s enjoying the local food. And your goal is to taste the very best of Burmese cuisine, Yangon, as the most populous, the old capital of Myanmar, is the perfect place to do it. Here are the best dishes to try and where to find them:
The unofficial national dish of Myanmar, Mohinga is a bowl of good stuff. The noodles are soaked in a hearty, pungent fish broth flavored with lemongrass, turmeric and pepper. This dish is just a perfect start of the day.
- Where to eat: Myaung May Daw Cho, 118A Yay Tar Shay Old Street, Bahan
Shan noodle is a Burmese food that has the influence of Thai and Chinese cuisines. The dish has several of variations of simple noodle dish with a thin broth of garlic and black pepper with bits of ground pork or chicken. Like Mohinga, Shan noodle can be eaten in every meal.
- Where to eat: Aung Mingalar Shan Noodle Restaurant, Bo Yar Nyunt Street, Dagon
Dosa is a Burmese dish that is influenced by Indian cuisine. It’s an Indian styled pancake, made with a batter of fermented ground lentils and rice. You can find Dosas on every street in Yangon downtown.
- Where to eat: Ingyin New, 232 Anawrahta Road, Pabedan
Mont Lin Ma Yar
Translated as ‘husband and wife snacks’, these dollops of crispy, savory bits will be what make you come back to Yangon for more. The toppings can be various: quail eggs, scallions, and roasted chickpea are added to half of the dollop.
- Where to eat: between 29th and 30th Streets, near Bogyoke Market, Dagon.
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