Yangon is the erstwhile capital of Myanmar that still proudly lives on as the country’s commercial hub. Formerly known as Rangoon, which translates as end of strife, Yangon is swarming in its fine architecture of British colonial buildings in leafy avenues, markets and pagodas.. Due its to thriving sea port, lively streets and a recent real estate boom excelled by interested hoteliers, there is a constantly changing aura to the city that creates an element of magic. Yangon has also been the centerstage of political events, including major anti-government protests since the 1970s. Yangon’s crowning capital status was cast off when the seat of government was moved to the newly constructed city of Naypyidaw in 2005. Despite its relatively undeveloped infrastructure, the majority of Yangon’s population has chosen to be loyal and remain.
Built in 1901 the Strand hotel will take you back in time to the era gone by. See Hotel
Things to do
Excursion to Dala Village
After breakfast at the hotel proceed to the bustling Nanthida jetty. Stroll past the colorful stalls filled with tasty snacks, then board a ferry that crosses Yangon River. DUring this time you will have the opportunity to observe the scenic watercourses and the lively riverfront. After approximately 15 minutes you arrive in Dala, a rural township bounded by the river in the north and east, the Twante Canal in the west and Twante Township in the south. Although only a short boat ride away from Yangon, you enter a different realm where the time appears to have stood still. Get on a trishaw, a three-wheeled bicycle taxi, and start exploring Dala. Proceed to Shwe Sayan Pagoda, where you can see the mummified body of a monk who died here 150 years ago. According to locals, ten years ago the monk opened one of his eyes to warn people about the coming cyclone. Continue to the local market, meander through charming alleys and interact with friendly locals. Get back to the jetty where you will catch a ferry back to downtown. After disembarking, have lunch at a restaurant of your choice or return to your hotel.
City Highlights of Yangon
Yangon, formerly Rangoon, was once the capital of Burma from 1948 to 2006 – Naypyidaw being the present capital of Myanmar since 2008. Evergreen and cool with verdant tropical trees, shady parks and lovely lakes, Yangon has been named the ‘Garden City of the East’. Start the day with a trip to the old colonial district of Yangon – visit the over 2,000yr-old Sule Pagoda, right in the center of Yangon, enshrining a hair of Buddha; explore Bogyoke Aung San Market, a major bazaar known for its colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets, where you can practice your bargaining skills. Marvel at the Royal Lion Throne and other Royal Family treasures housed in the National Museum. Inspect the historic Shwedagon Pagoda – one of the wonders of the world, towering almost 100m above the city-scape, believed to have been built over 2500yrs ago; feel its enchanted spiritual atmosphere at sunset.
Half Day Excursion to Thanlyin from Yangon
After a leisurely breakfast, drive from Yangon to Thanlyin (formerly Syriam), a major port city located across the Bagor River and home the country’s largest port. Visit Kyaik-khauk Pagoda, built during the Buddhist era 241 by Cula Thirimasoka, the Mon King of Thaton. Queen Shin Saw Pau’s stone inscription mentions that 18 successive kings of Thaton and Sre Kestra are believed to have repaired, renovated and maintained the structure. Next, visit the unusual third century BC temple, Yele Pagoda on Kyauktan Island, housing an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures and other fine demonstrations of Burmese Buddhist artwork and craftsmanship. Drive back to Yangon by afternoon to visit Chaukhtatkyi Pagoda, featuring a 216ft long – Myanmar’s largest – image of the reclining Buddha. Observe its ‘glass made’ eyes and how human they look! Later, visit Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly Scott’s Market) known for its colonial architecture and cobblestoned inner streets. This market is a major tourist draw with its antiques, Burmese handicrafts, jewelry shops, art galleries and clothing stores. Notice also shops for locals selling medicine, foods, garments and foreign goods.
Half Day Cooking Class in Yangon
Starting early morning, spend a half day learning about traditional Myanmar (Burmese) cuisine with a special cooking class! Begin with a trip to the local market to see the array of fresh produce and herbs. The class is then held in a local home, where you will learn to prepare several popular traditional dishes and get a chance to experience exotic flavors. Learn how traditional ingredients are used in the preparation of authentic local food. Complete the experience with a delicious meal that you have helped prepare! By taking part in these classes, guests contribute to the local community since the staff consists of energetic and motivated young trainees.
Half Day Orphanage Visits in Yangon
In Myanmar, majority people live in conditions most Westerners would classify as ‘poverty levels’..directly put – Myanmarese learn to live with very little..they adapt and survive! Natural calamaties here have often left babies, kids and teens alone to fend for themselves, perish, or terrifyingly find themselves prey to abduction, slavery, etc. Orphanages have been set up throughout Myanmar..several by local/international philanthropists, government/non government associations, while some are monastic schools..to help tackle some of these issues for kids. Visit reputed, well established orphange schools..interact with eager, friendly, smiling children’s faces (some even disabled); enjoy the satisfaction of seeing young ones happily reach out for your donations of books, pencils, pens, stationery, footballs, balloons, etc as you distribute them. Arrive by about 1000hrs, distribute your gifts; the children then eat and proceed to attend class around 1100hrs.
Bago City Day Excursion from Yangon
Burmese Bago, formerly Pegu, is a port city in southern Myanmar situated on the Pegu River. Located 80kms northeast of Yangon, it was once the capital of the 13th century Mon kingdom. Highlighted for its religious atmosphere, Bago is surrounded by the ruins of its old wall and moat, once forming a square on all sides. It’s also a significant center for rice and timber collecting with several mills and sawmills. See the Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha Image, Shwemawdaw Pagoda/’Great Golden God Pagoda’, Kanbawzathadi Palace and Kyaikpun Pagoda, with four gigantic Buddha images seated back-to-back against a brick pillar. Visit the Kalyarni Sima/Ordination Halls for the Buddhist Order, Myatharlyaung Buddha Image, Hinthargone Pagoda on a hillock with magnificent views of Bago, and Moeyungyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary near Bago, best visited during the period October to March.
Yangon Circle Train Ride
Journey into Yangon’s past..glimpse slivers of local life..hop aboard the Circle Train..a 2-3hr journey starting from Yangon’s center and ‘looping’ (in a circular route) around the city outskirts. Depart from Yangon Central Train Station, an architectural treat..a grand British colonial building with a historical aura, fusing Burmese architecture with functional Western elements..however, the trains are fairly old and worn for use. Witness city to rural changing scenery..pass watercress fields, ponds, villages, farms and stilted bamboo houses. See how locals live, work, get about. Observe their daily routine, strike up casual conversations; see street-food hawkers with snack trays/baskets selling betel nut, cigarettes, sweet coconut-condensed milk buns..while juice vendors carry red-blue plastic barrels and silver cups; marvel how women vendors balance entire platters of mis-en-place on their heads; notice beggars skittling, children loitering by the tracks; pass bamboo shack houses, muddy yards and curious onlookers. The train terminates at Insein..home to the infamous Insein prison, housing political dissidents. Disembark to explore Insein market..return to downtown Yangon.