Yangon Must Do in 3 days
A mere couple of hours away from Kuala Lumpur, the buzzing Yangon awaits the explorer in quest of authenticity, pagodas and delicious food. Is Yangon worth going all the way? Yes! Is Yangon an exciting city break? Big, massive yes.
We give you insiders tips on how to make the most of your time in Yangon – aka Rangon – , and detail the must do for an unforgivable experience mixing authenticity, colonial grandeur and culture.
Sleeping and dreaming
To put it simply – if there is one time during your South East Asia trip that you need to indulge on accommodation, it’s in Yangon. And if you are just taking a city break from KL even more: book a room at the mythical The Strand hotel, a colonial gem that acts as a time capsule and makes this trip even more unforgettable. Private butler at each floor, vast suites with colonial furnitures and a quaint and refined touch; ideal to relax after a dusty day walking around the pagodas.
Burmese gastronomy madness
The best way to discover Yangon and soak in its atmosphere is to wander by foot. Such wanderlust will undoubtedly bring food cravings: the streets are filled with food stalls, from indian savoury snacks till tea shops, via fried insects and other culinary delights.
The healthy foodie that I am (most of the time) fell in love with the Tea leaf salad – a must try. Less healthy (slightly), but a definite must try, the national dish: Mohinga, aka round noodles served in an herbal and hearty broth. Stop by the coffee shops in side alleys, seat on the colourful plastic chairs under the shadows and snack on samosas and other dosas, while chewing some garlic from time to time.
The profusion of food only equals its variety, and ensure a delicious meal for a few dollars while being surrounded by chatty locals.
Yangon Must see
No surprise here, the Bogyoke market (aka scott market) is a must see, surprisingly filled with locals and Thanaka – a great opportunity to try this yellowish paste on your cheeks and blend in.
The colonial tour is a our favorite must do, ideal to discover the breath taking buildings of this historical city, some in much better state than others. Check in your guidebook likely to have a section about it, or ask for the colonial tour map at The Strand, if you are staying there.
Sneak into the River Gallery to see some stunning artworks from local artists with international exposure – an eye opening on the local talents and inspiration.
A visit to Yangon without the Pagodas is a no no – hire a guide and head to Shwedagon Pagoda at sunrise, around 6.30am. The morning sun and fresh breeze create an ethereal setting amongst the locals in their best apparel. As the ticket is valid for the full day, come back at sunset for a totally different vision of the pagoda lit with the oil lamps and filled with the moist of the day.
An off the beaten track pagoda that we highly recommend is the Botahtaung Pagoda, downtown, on the banks of the river. This 40m high golden pagoda enshrines one of Buddh’as hair relic, and is as such highly revered amongst the locals.
On a Friday night, do not miss the Happy hours at the bar of The Strand – great prices for sublime cocktails in a colonial atmosphere.
After a few drinks, head towards the 19th street. This lively street is filled with tables and happy crowds of locals and few tourists, enjoying Burmese and Chinese food. The Whisky bottles are also on the tables and add to the general joyous atmosphere. Try some grilled fish here and greens, sip a good old Myanmar beer and enjoy the laid back evening. For a night cap, nothing beats the crowded Kosan Bar on the 19th – our favorite spot to run into friendly partygoers.
Head towards Bago, the former capital city of Myanmar and make a point on reaching the Kha Khat Wain Kyaung Monastery before 11am. This is the time when the 1500 monks march in a procession to receive offerings from the locals and Thai tourists alike. The slow and rhythmic march of the shaved monks in their grenat robes is captivating and unique. The nearby attractions include a stunning pagoda, some restored palaces and cheroot (cigar) rolling factories.
Head back to Yangon and grant yourself the ultimate treat after the chaotic driving: an afternoon tea at the Strand, coming in english or burmese version.
If your schedule allows, book yourself a flight and keep on falling in love with this amazing country by going to Bagan and Lake Inlay. In the country of the 1000 pagodas and longyi, life certainly goes at a different pace.
Should need help finding an english speaking guide in Yangon, feel free to drop us a message