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Things to Do in Yangon

Part British Colonial throwback, part emerging modern city, Yangon (Rangoon) is welcoming a tourism boom after several decades of isolation. Myanmar's largest city is also its former capital and commercial hub, populated by a diverse blend of cultures. Shiny new skyscrapers have sprung up amid beautifully restored colonial buildings, ancient pagodas, and traditional fisherman's huts, but much of the infrastructure remains behind the times, so it's wise to rely on a guide to show you around. Make the pilgrimage to Shwedagon Paya, a glittering, 114-acre temple compound topped by a 344-foot (104 meter) golden stupa that is studded with diamonds and rubies. The local Buddhist monks are eager to chat about their traditions and will even tell your fortune—for a small donation. Also on the don't-miss list: Sule Paya, a 2,000-year-old gilded temple; colorful Bogyoke Aung San Market; Chaukhtatgyi Paya's 213-foot-long (65 meter) reclining Buddha; the lavish displays of royal wealth at the National Museum; and the floating dining hall at Karaweik Palace. Travelers wishing to explore further can board the Circular Train, a pleasant ride that includes oft-overlooked spots such as Little India and Chinatown. Along with its many important historical sites, modern Yangon offers fine dining, art galleries, and day spas. Wind down your city tour with a drink at the venerable Strand Hotel, an oasis of relaxed elegance since 1901. And while Yangon is a worthy destination on its own, it's also an easy jumping-off point for trips to Pegu (Bago), Inle Lake, Mandalay, and beyond.
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Shwedagon Pagoda
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116 Tours and Activities
In a country full of religious shrines, Shwedagon Pagoda is considered the most sacred. Its golden steeple rises high above Yangon’s skyline and relics of previous Buddhas, including a water filter, staff, hairs and a piece of robe, are all kept safe within its structure’s walls. Historians say the pagoda, known locally as Shwedagon Zedi Daw, was built between the 6th and 10th centuries and since then numerous dignitaries, religious figures and political powerhouses, including Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, have passed through its halls.
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Chaukhtatgyi Paya (Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple)
60 Tours and Activities

Chaukhtatgyi Paya, with its 65-meter-long reclining Buddha, is not only a must-see, its sheer size and rich details make it one of the most memorable stops in all of Yangon. The Buddha’s bright white face hovers some 16 meters above the ground and is decorated with brilliant red lips and bright blue eye shadow. Its golden robes drape down to the statue’s feet, which are covered in 108 intricately designed lakshanas representing each of the noble characteristics of the Buddha. Travelers can witness local monks from nearby monasteries honoring Buddha’s teachings as they wander the grounds, thick with the scent of burning incense and fresh flowers.

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Sule Pagoda (Sule Paya)
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The golden spire of this well-recognized pagoda stretches far into the skyline of downtown Yangon, making it easy to spot from even just about anywhere in town. Built more than 2,000 years ago, the pagoda is said to house a hair from that Buddha that was given to two Burmese merchants. Colorful spirits stand guard of a massive brass bell, which residents ring to signal good deeds. In addition to being one of these most recognized pagodas in Yangon and place of spiritual worship, the Sule Pagoda has also served as a meeting place during the 1988 uprisings and the Saffron Revolution, making it an important landmark in the country’s recent past.
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Bogyoke Aung San Market
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Since 1926 this city heritage site known for its rare antiques, old coins, Burmese jade and black market moneychangers has been a destination for locals and travelers alike. The halls of this crowded labyrinth are lined with bustling stalls where local artists sell traditional handicrafts, handmade clothes and hearty regional dishes.

Bogyoke Aung San Market has one of the largest selections of traditional longyi and gemstones, and since the first sale of the day is considered good luck, those who arrive early are likely to get some of the best prices. Travelers can watch jade being fashioned into earrings or bracelets and see clothes being stitched by hand on the second floor of Bogyoke.

Visitors looking to escape the intensity of the market and the sounds of the city can stop into the nearby Holy Trinity Cathedral for some peace and quiet contemplation.

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More Things to Do in Yangon

Karaweik Palace

Karaweik Palace

7 Tours and Activities
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Yangon Chinatown

Yangon Chinatown

12 Tours and Activities
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Little India

Little India

1 Tour and Activity
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