Highlights of Myanmar | Yangon

An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983

Highlights of Myanmar | Yangon

Yangon, formerly known internationally as Rangoon, is Myanmar’s largest city. It served as the capital of independent Myanmar from 1948 to 2006, until the military government moved its administrative functions to the planned city of Nay Pyi Taw (Naypyidaw) in central Myanmar. Yangon is located on the east bank of the Yangon River (eastern mouth of the great Irrawaddy River), and is famous among travellers today for its golden pagodas and colonial buildings dating back to British rule.

Yangon’s most notable structure is the gold plated stupa of the Shwedagon Paya, one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites. The stupa, which still dominates the landscape of Yangon, was said to have been built from the 6th to the 10th centuries.

Yangon skyline with Shwedagon Pagoda
Yangon skyline with Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

 

A village called “Dagon” was built in the area in the 11th century until it was captured by King Alaungpaya in 1755. The founder of the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty, Alaungpaya renamed the village “Yangon”, which means “end of strife”, and built a grand city in its place. The city was destroyed by fire after the First Anglo-Burmese War, and was captured by the British in the second war, renaming it “Rangoon”. It became the capital and major port of British Burma, and the colonial brick buildings were built during this period as the city was re-designed by British engineers as a grid.

Following Myanmar’s independence and the inauguration of its new capital city, Yangon experienced a decline, its infrastructure suffering from the country’s isolationist policies. Still, travellers continue to visit Myanmar to learn more about Burmese culture and experience its incredible architecture and natural beauty. The Yangon International Airport is Myanmar’s primary international airport, located north of of the city, welcoming guests to the hotels in Yangon. One hotel in Yangon, the Strand Hotel on the riverfront, was once a colonial-era mansion. You can still see traces of British rule here today, like in the High Court Building of Yangon.

High Court building
Colonial-era High Court building in Yangon, Myanmar

The Buddhist shrine housed in the 100-metre central stupa of the Shwedagon Paya is believed to hold strands of the Buddha’s hair. The Shwedagon Pagoda is adorned with gold and precious stones, and is believed to be worth US$3 billion on its own. The 114-acre complex features four entryways to the place of worship. The way to the western entrance–the grandest–is paved with shops where you can peruse (and purchase) antiques, toys, herbal remedies and souvenirs. The golden structure reminiscent of Yangon’s glamorous past looks enthralling in sunlight, so guests are invited to see it during sunrise or sunset.

shwedagon paya (pagoda)

Other places of interest in Yangon include the Kandawgyi Lake, which is not far from Shwedagon Paya. Here you can take a stroll on the boardwalk–though be careful as some boards are rickety! Sule Pagoda occupies a traffic circle in the centre of Yangon, an ancient golden temple that can be surprising to see right in the middle of downtown traffic. Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple houses a 66-metre reclining Buddha–definitely a sight to see.

Sule Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar
Sule Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

Articles about Myanmar published by Odyssey Traveller.

External articles to assist you on your visit to Myanmar.

 

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