Most holidays and trips to Myanmar will begin in Yangon, Myanmar’s bustling commercial capital. So if you’ve got 2 days here, what should you go and explore, and what’s best to leave out? Thahara gives our tops tips for Yangon.
Yangon is home to over 6 million people, and is by far Myanmar’s largest city. The heart of the city remains the golden Shwedagon Pagoda, which is hard not to miss as it’s visible from most places that you’ll venture to.
Yangon is situated on the East bank of the Yangon River and features the crowded downtown streets, 2 public parks, and a lot more besides. So lets dive into your two day stopover.
Day 1 in Yangon
Go for a Walk
Is there any better way to get to know a city then walking through the streets? In downtown Yangon you’ll find an incredible array of colonial buildings that contain a great deal of history and significance. From the High Court Building to the Secretariat, these buildings are truly beautiful and well worth searching for.
Leaving the buildings behind, you’ll also notice distinct areas that make up Yangon’s downtown. There’s Chinatown with it’s array of street food, the Indian Quarter and the striking Hindu temples and much more. The areas are very distinct from each other, which makes the whole experience very enjoyable.
To get the most out of your time it’s worth having a pretty comprehensive guide book to give you the background of what you’re seeing, or better yet an actual guide who can talk you through the highlights.
A Late Lunch
After your morning excursion you’ll certainly be pining for some food and a drink after the Yangon heat. We’d recommend venturing over to Rangoon Teahouse which you’ll find on the crossroads of Merchant Road and Sule Pagoda Road.
Opened in 2015, the restaurant serves traditional Burmese cuisine along with curries and biryanis. The building itself is very well designed, and creates a great atmosphere for you to enjoy your lunch in.
Make sure to pop into Hla Day, which is a social enterprise souvenir shop just next to Rangoon Teahouse that sells unique products that have been made by different groups from all over Myanmar.
It’s Culture Time
After a hearty lunch, it’s time to learn a bit more about Yangon and Myanmar’s history by heading to Aung San Museum, just north of Kandawgyi Park. This is easily the best museum in Yangon, and really sheds light onto the country’s incredible history.
For those not in the know, General Aung San is seen as a hero in Myanmar, and was the leading architect behind Myanmar’s independence after World War II. He was assassinated in the Secretariat Building (where you will have been this morning), and is the father of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s current leader.
A Late Afternoon Stroll
It’s always nice to stretch your legs after visiting a museum and this is certainly the case in Yangon. Make your way to the Peoples Park which is a short taxi ride or a 20 minutes walk from the museum. The park is home to the Shwedagon Pagoda, arguably Myanmar’s most important religious monument.
Before heading over to the Shwedagon Pagoda though, it’s definitely worth taking your time to walk around the park, which is immaculately well kept.
We’ve already written a blog about the Shwedagon Pagoda, so we’ll let you read that rather then going into too much detail here on it, but needless to say it is pretty special and one of the highlights of any trip to Myanmar.
There’s several options where you can head to get some food for dinner but our top choice on your first night would be the House of Memories. Following a slight theme for the day, this restaurant is housed in General Aung San’s old office and serves some delish Burmese cuisine on a very full menu.
Day 2 in Yangon
A Traditional Breakfast
It would be a crime to come to Myanmar and not sample Mohingya. This is one of the nations favourite dishes and is served at breakfast. It is a rice noodles and fish soup fish that is usually served with an egg and crispy fritters. While a fish soup might not be too appealing to some this early in the morning, believe us it’s definitely worth trying.
It’s Shopping Time
Now if you’re imaging shopping malls and a high street then think again. Bogyoke Aung San Market sits in the centre of Yangon and is an institution. It is home to around 1000 different shops ranging from fabric and gemstones to paintings and old artefacts. It’s possible to lose yourself here amongst all the different sights and smells and spend quite a while exploring, but keep an eye on your watch as there’s still plenty to do today.
Lunch on the Go
For lunch, we'd recommend grabbing a quick bite to eat before you head off on your afternoon adventure. Shan Noodles is one of the country’s favourite dishes. You can pick up a quick bowl at many different street vendors along the way if you ask for them nicely (in Burmese the dish sounds a little bit like “Shan-Cow-Swe”)
Ride the Rail
Yangon’s 50 kilometre Circle Line train starts in the heart of downtown and makes it way slowly right out towards the outskirts of down, before coming back in, stopping every couple of minutes to let commuters on and off. The full loop takes about 3 hours and is a great way to experience Yangon in its entirety.
We’d recommend bringing along a book to read along the way as you trundle your way through the city. Food hawkers hop on and off the trains as well so don’t worry about bringing any snacks with you, there will be plenty of food for you to buy and sample along the way.
So there we have it, our recommend 2 day itinerary for your next trip in Yangon. A final thought for you before we leave. Traffic in Yangon is notoriously bad, so make sure you leave enough time to get from place to place. We’ve created our itinerary to eliminate as much transport as possible, but it’s still worth baring in mind.