In photos: Tips for a trip to Yangon

In photos: Tips for a trip to Yangon

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What are the highlights you have to take in while in Yangon? What are the must-eat foods you have to try? Where should you go for a cocktail after a day of sightseeing? We asked Natasha Lee of Destination Envy to give us her tips for a perfect trip to Yangon — through photos.

colonial architecture in yangon

Yangon is a city on the verge. Tradition and modernity blend seamlessly in this colonial city that’s experiencing a rapid influx of change and growth. Despite the recent construction boom, Yangon has managed to retain the highest density of surviving colonial-era structures in Southeast Asia. Strolling along Strand Road and the lower block of Pansodan Street is like stepping into its colonial roots and is a great way to get up close and personal with Yangon’s history. A few architectural treasures of note and within blocks of each other include The Secretariat, Yangon City Hall and the Yangon Central Railway Station. | Photo by Natasha Lee

 

sunset over temples in Myanmar

A perpetual fog seems to hover over the city, especially in the morning, making a visit seem almost dreamlike. If your time in Yangon is brief, set your alarm early for a dawn visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, the country’s crown jewel. This illustrious landmark dominates the city’s skyline with a height of 100 metres. | Photo by Natasha Lee

 

pagodas in the sunlight in Myanmar

Built over 2,600 years ago, Shwedagon is the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world. While there are certainly many visitors there to visit the magnificent structure, there are just as many locals, schoolchildren, and monks partaking in their daily Buddhist rituals, many of whom have travelled from various parts of the country to pay their respects here. | Photo by Natasha Lee

 

gold pagodas in Yangon

If it is still dark as you’re making your way to Shwedagon, your timing is right on. Early birds will not only beat the hordes of other visitors with the perk of a nonexistent entrance line, but will also be able to witness the magical transition as the lights that illuminate the temple at night give way to the sun peeking over the pagoda’s detailed stupas. | Photo by Natasha Lee

 

candles being lit at a temple in Yangon

At every pagoda in Myanmar, shrines representing each day of the week are placed in a circular formation around the main stupa. Making offerings and bathing the Buddha that corresponds to the day you were born is an ancient ritual believed to bring good luck and karma. | Photo by Natasha Lee

 

a local reading religious texts in Yangon

Spirituality is intricately woven into day-to-day life in Myanmar and it is not uncommon to see acts of religious devotion almost everywhere you go in Yangon. More than 90% of the Burmese practice Theravada Buddhism, which embraces achieving enlightenment through your own efforts of good deeds, offerings, and charity. | Photo by Natasha Lee

 

street food being cooked in Yangon

While strolling downtown, take time to meander through the street food vendors who set up shop all along the sidewalks. 19th Street, between Maha Bandoola and Anawrahta Roads, is a mecca for street food lovers. Yangon’s unique cuisine reflects the diverse flavors from each its surrounding countries, including Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand. Called mont lin ma yar, these crispy bites are made of rice flour batter cooked in a sizzling cast iron pan and topped with quail egg. | Photo by Natasha Lee

 

paper offerings for wishes

The afternoon is ideal for visiting a few of the other significant places of worship, such as Sule Pagoda (when most people are presumably at Shwedagon). According to legend, it’s one of the oldest structures in Yangon, estimated to be over 2,500 years old. Located in the heart of colonial Yangon, it provides just as much intricate architecture and details but with a slightly more intimate experience. I opted for a guide here, who shed light on many of the Buddhist rituals in Myanmar. I particularly enjoyed the symbolism of making a wish and putting the red paper offerings into this golden boat. The boat is then transported to via a wire cable to the gods at the top of the pagoda (who will grant your prayer). | Photo by Natasha Lee

 

Bowl of mohinga in Yangon

After the whirlwind of history and culture, head over to Monsoon Cafe for a bit of a break. Sit down in the colonial-influenced decor complete with rattan chairs, gigantic palm leaves, and ceiling fans. Order a bowl of mohinga, the national noodle dish of Myanmar. Usually served for breakfast, it is a fish-based broth seasoned with lemongrass, turmeric, and pepper, and topped with cilantro, chili flakes, deep-fried crackers, and scallions. | Photo by Natasha Lee

 

boat in the commercial port of Yangon

Make your way to the edge of the Irrawaddy River, where the Botahtaung Jetty is still in action as a vital commercial port. Watch the barges load and unload as the sun goes down, see locals playing a game of pickup soccer, and simply enjoy the river views. | Photo by Natasha Lee

 

bartender in the lounge of the Strand Hotel in Yangon

Even if you’re not staying at the luxurious Strand Hotel, one of the best ways to end the day is to visit The Strand Bar for happy hour, where each cocktail is meticulously made and served with roasted peanuts. With the bar’s swanky interior lined with teak and accented with leather, it’s not hard to see why this was a former watering hole for luminaries like George Orwell and Rudyard Kipling. | Photo by Natasha Lee

Yangon Tours | Urban Adventures

Since the tourist ban was lifted, people have been travelling to Burma in droves. Travel to Yangon then hop off the bandwagon and join an Urban Adventures Yangon tour to discover local life in this gorgeous city, away from the trails that everyone else follows. From bustling neighbourhoods to remote villages, we’ll show you all of Yangon’s changing faces.

About author
Profile photo of Natasha Lee

Natasha Lee

Freelance commercial + editorial photographer based in Santa Monica. Avid yogi obsessed with interior design, crafted eats, and eco-luxury.

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