Things To Do In Yangon
Most visitors to Myanmar will have their first stop in Yangon and will, typically, hang around for some sightseeing for a day or two. If you're headed to Yangon and are looking for things to do, you will find this guide helpful and may even stay for 3 or 4 days! Our list of what to do in Yangon includes some of the typical attractions that first time visitors should not miss as well as some additional, off the beaten path, spots that may surprise you!
What To Do In Yangon - The Biggest City In Myanmar
Though Yangon is not the capital of Burma (Myanmar), it sure feels like it because it is the biggest city in the country. Formerly called Rangoon, it seems that because it used to be the administrative capital, it is still carrying the title of the commercial hub of the country.
With charming colonial architecture as remnants of its past and shimmering pagodas as reminders of its roots, the city is a place where one can wander the streets and feel it's soul.
In this article, we'll take you to the major hot spots of Yangon and even drift off to the outskirts for some insight into the local life beyond the hustle and bustle of the center.
We offer some *Bonus* must see places towards the bottom, so don't miss those if you are planning out your Yangon itinerary!
Anyone who has ever been to Yangon, will undoubtedly recommend that visitors should check out Shwedagon Pagoda.
An impressive Pagoda, to say the least, Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred place to the Burmese people. You'll know why it's worth a visit when you see the massive Pagoda up close, surrounded my several other smaller pagodas, stupas, and shrines with hundreds of Buddha statues in various sizes. It may seem almost endless!
With what it offers to the Buddhists of Myanmar, it is no wonder that they would hold Shwedagon Pagoda with such high regards and significance.
For tourists, it is also a wonder to see!
The pagoda has a height of 110 meters and is covered in gold plates. Not to mention over 4500 diamonds at the top, with the biggest being a whopping 72 carats!
We visited Shwedago Pagoda just after sunset and would recommend that for others as well. If you want to take your time and really walk around the property, you'll have a better time doing it without the sun beating down on your head the whole time.
A visit during the day is nice too, but if you go just before sunset, you'll get to see both versions of the pagoda!
Downtown Yangon Things To Do
At the heart of the city of Yangon lies the Sule Pagoda. Streets from all sides merge at this spot as if to lead all to this important landmark. A circular roundabout surrounds the pagoda's property making it look like the cars that are coming through are all dancing around it!
We never made it inside this wonderful pagoda but seeing it and the surrounding area early in the morning was a treat!
The day was just starting and you could feel the energy of the hustle and bustle surging as the minutes went by. The Sule Pagoda, however, seemed to hold its serene atmosphere, creating a calm in the middle of the busy city center.
Bogyoke Aung San Market
Being that Yangon is not yet super touristy, you may have a hard time finding souvenirs around town. This is not necessarily a bad thing, in our opinion. We were happy to walk around and just be exposed to the authentic local life rather than someone trying to sell us something at every corner.
Having said that, if you want to make some purchases of local things to take back home, you can find great products at this indoor marketplace.
Grab your souvenirs all in this one stop shop!
Pro-Traveler Tip:I purchased a traditional skirt or Thummy to wear for visiting the temples in Bagan. It was very fairly priced and came in handy for wearing something comfortable and having my knees covered!
Yangon Circular Railroad Ride
Take the circular train in Yangon if you want a relaxing and eye opening experience of local life in this Myanmar town.
The train station can easily be accessed by taxi and the tickets are pretty cheap. This is a great budget activity for those visiting Yangon and are looking to explore without having to take a tour.
Unfortunately, for us, the train was not running early in the morning on the day we were planning to take it around. We knew that getting on it later would return us too late and that would lead us to missing our flight.
The train takes about 3 hours to complete the loop and is a wonderful way to see something so uniquely local. It is said that there may be upgrades done to the trains in the coming years, so if you want to see it in its original and antique form, you better hurry!
Explore The Streets Of Yangon Burma
See amazing colonial architecture!
Having been an international center for exchange, there's a lot of historical architecture in Yangon. I can imagine this place having something like the heritage sites in Singapore! Right now it seems to be in this middle stage where it's not quite what it used to be during the British rule of the 19th and early 20th century, but there is something that it wants to become.
Either way, take some time in Yangon to just walk around inside the city. There are some gorgeous buildings with so many beautiful colors all around town. It gives one a nostalgic feeling that should really be savored while it lasts.
Eat Myanmar Food and Drink Tea
Local food stalls are the best for Mynmar's famous shan noodles, but you can also get some great dishes at restaurants like Rangoon Tea House.
Of course, you want to make sure to grab a cup of tea here as well!
Burmese food is one of the best international foods we have ever had and we highly recommend eating as many different plates as possible!
The Park In Town - Maha Bandula Park
After doing a lot of walking around town you might want to sit and chill at the park for a while. Maha Bandula Park is a great place to go and just people watch.
There were numerous group exercise classes going on inside the park when we visited. So many locals were either strolling around or getting a great jog in at this park right by the Sule Pagoda.
Yangon Myanmar Points Of Interest Outside Of Downtown
Make sure to check out the Yangon River even if you don't plan on leaving the city center or crossing over. The dock at the river is full of local life!
Here is where you will see people commuting from the other side of the Yangon River to come in to work or get some errands done in the city.
Ride the ferry across just for the experience!
Local Fresh Market
We may have not witnessed any of the amazing sights across the river had it not been for finding a great local tour guide!
The guide picked us up from The Loft Hotel Downtown Yangon and took us to the ferry where we crossed the river to Dala. Our guide lives in this area and took us to some amazing hidden spots!
The first of our stops was the market right after getting off the ferry. He showed us the different vendors and told us what they were selling. We were introduced to some produce we had never heard of before!
Snake Temple - Paung Taw Choke Pagoda
The second stop on our tuk tuk ride was in an area called Twantay. Our guide told us all about this magical temple where huge boa constrictors live. We were told they only drink milk and never attack people of even small animals to eat for food!
It was a surreal experience walking around being surrounded by these enormous snakes that could easily kill and swallow you whole!
There we snakes in all corners all curled up sometime together, sometimes alone. What a sight to see!
The temple is quite small and is located in the middle of a man made lake where it can be accessed by walking over a bridge. There's not much around the area, but there is a local spot to grab a water or snacks right across the street.
You can purchase live fish in plastic bags to release into the lake for good luck, or you can buy fish food to feed the ones that are in there already.
Buddha Statues - Kyaik Par Buddha Statue 1000
Another amazing point of interest on this side of the Yangon River is the Kyaik Par Buddha Statue 1000. Here, you will find rows after row of Buddha statues in various poses.
There are thousands of statues, so walking on the paths in between them is a meditative experience in itself!
The Twantay Bridge was another one of stops on this tour. The picture below shows the tuk tuk we were taken around in for the day!
Our tour guide can be found here. Htoo Htoo was an amazing guide who taught us a lot about the life of the locals in Yangon and the outer villages. As part of his tour, he even fed us a meal in his own home!
The cost was about $35 USD and well worth it!
Yangon Travel Tips
Where To Stay In Yangon
Here are some of our hotel recommendations for Yangon:
Be Prepared Before You Go
Travel insurance: simple & flexible
You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
More Southeast Asia Guides:
About the Author
Hi! I'm just a California girl addicted to travel and adventure with a passion for art and dance on the side. Born in Iran, but I consider myself a citizen of Earth, adhering to the belief that "The world is but one country and mankind its citizen." I strive to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and learn as much as possible from them. My degree out of college is in Marketing. However, I entered the hospitality business at an early age and worked my way up to hotel management. After about 13 years in that industry (5 of which I was a hotel assistant manager), I made the decision to move to Thailand and leave the 9 to 5 grind behind. My husband and I set off for a life of living abroad and hopes to continue traveling the world, just 3 months after our wedding. It all started with the two of us, along with our cat, together in Thailand. Can't wait to see where life takes us next!