The beautifully, captivating and effervescent city of Yangon, formally Rangoon, in Myanmar, is the mysterious and magnetic former capital city of Burma. This cosmopolitan city has risen from vast adversity and overcome a tumultuous past – evidence of which can still be seen throughout the city. An unusual mix of ancient, modern and sadness, Yangon today is a hive of activity, with rapidly increasing tourism infrastructure which is currently experiencing a huge boom.
As more and more visitors start to recognise the city’s extraordinary charm, it can come across as all a bit of a shambles. Areas of Yangon that seem to have reached the 21st century are juxtaposed with places trapped completely in time; it is part of what adds so vibrantly to its allure.
If you had planned to pass through Yangon reluctantly, be prepared to stick around – there is so much that will captivate you, you won’t want to leave in a hurry. Yangon is in a very poor country, but their tourist accommodation is plentiful, although a bit on the steep side pricewise. The majority of accommodation options are hotels – there are lots to choose from in varying price, so your budget will make the final decision here.
If you only see and explore one thing while you are in Yangon, it absolutely has to be Shwedagon Paya. The most important religious site in Yangon, and certainly all of Myanmar, Shwedagon Paya is a sacred site that was created – according to legend – at the beginning of time. Deeply spiritual, you can walk among monks lost in prayer, visit the shrines (one for each day of the week), and experience the different walk ways – in fact you could easily spend the entire day here.
Vastly different from the newer, super wealthy city of Mandalay, Yangon has buckets of charm and spirituality in a place that never seems to slow down. There are many festivals held here throughout the year in the dry season that runs from November to March. But the most prominent one is the Shwedgaon Paya annual festival in March, at the aforementioned shrine, where people flock to the city in pilgrimage to pay homage and bring gifts to the gods.