Yangon Like a Local: Pristine Parks & Religious Relics

Because of recent events in Myanmar, we at World Nomads have had a long hard think about whether we should even continue publishing articles about the country. In the end we decided we should. Our reasoning is explained in this piece about ethical travel: "Controversial Destinations: To Boycott or Not?" Please read it.

Yangon, Myanmar’s cultural capital and largest city, provides something for everyone with its religious relics, pristine parks, and newly-opened shopping centers.

Religious Relics

Shwedagon Pagoda

A golden stupa easily distinguishable from around the city, Shwedagon Pagoda is Myanmar’s symbol of national identity. Undoubtedly Yangon’s greatest landmark and top attraction, the 99-meter-high pagoda is best seen at sunrise and sunset, when natural light enhances the iconic artistry believed to be over 2,600 years old.

With the right gear, sightseers may be able to spot some of the 7,000 diamonds and gems adorning the stupa’s uppermost dome.

Chauk Htat Gyi & Nga Htat Gyi

Northeast of Shwedagon on Shwegondaing Road, two monumental Buddha statues, Chauk Htat Gyi and Nga Htat Gyi, are situated across the street from one another.

The intricate designs on the soles of Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha Temple’s six-story reclining statue, and the teak carvings surrounding Nga Htat Gyi’s five-story seated figure, are testimonies to the fine craftsmanship of religious icons around the country.

Sule Pagoda

In the heart of downtown Yangon, Sule Pagoda is a beacon – shining night and day near the city’s main Maha Bandoula Park.

Its location is particularly interesting due to its proximity to Immanuel Baptist Church and Bengali Sunni Jameh Mosque. This serves as a reminder that though a predominately-Buddhist country, Myanmar is home to a myriad of religions.

Super moon at Sule Pagoda. Photo credit: Anika Mikkelson, MissMaps.com

Meditation & Visiting Religious Sites

For those interested in learning more about Buddhism, ten-day mediation retreats at Vipassana Meditation Center are available.

When visiting religious sites, it is important to dress modestly, with shoulders and knees covered.

Longyis and scarves are available for purchase at the entrance to Shwedagon, and shoes are to be removed before entering pagodas.

Get Outdoors

Kandawgyi & Inya Lakes

Manicured lawns and mirrored waters create an oasis of serenity in the parks surrounding Kandawgyi and Inya Lakes.

Early morning is the perfect time for a jog around the parks’ winding pathways, and as the sun goes down, couples swarm the parks, remaining hidden under the shadow of patterned umbrellas.

A couple under an umbrella beside Inya Lake. Photo credit: Anika Mikkelson, MissMaps.com

Maha Bandula Park & Dala Township

In the city center, Maha Bandula Park is a common gathering site for families and festivals. Just south of Maha Bandula, tourists can cross Yangon River to Dala Township for an overhyped tour.

Better yet, skip the ferry: opt instead for a picnic at one of the quiet jetties while watching boats take commuters to and from work.

Watching sunset over the river. Photo credit: Anika Mikkelson, MissMaps.com

Yangon's Markets

Though a great deal of Myanmar’s people continue to wear traditional longyi, outside fashion influences are creeping into the country, and modest western wear is becoming more acceptable.

Luckily, there are plenty of options for wardrobe changes at all prices. When on a budget, 5000 sell simple fashions, and can be found in major cities and large towns.

For those who have a fully-stocked pocket book, the recently opened Junction City is a state-of-the-art retail, dining, and entertainment complex on Bogyoke Aung San Road.

Across the street, Bogyoke Market sells local curios, antiques, fabrics, and artwork galore. This covered market is a top pick for souvenir shopping.

Find out about nightlife, rooftop bars, street food and fine dining in Yangon, to see the modern side of the city.

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