Just the greatest hits
So you have only one day in Yangon and want to see everything humanly possible?
We understand; compared to the rest of Burma (Myanmar), Yangon is often overlooked as a worthwhile destination, especially when compared to the thousands of temples of Bagan or the fishing villages on Inle Lake. Still, Yangon can cast its own spell on travellers. Here are our suggestions on how to become enchanted yourself within 24 hours.
The best part about rising early in Yangon (Rangoon) is that its breakfast culture is brilliant. Down a traditional bowl of mohinga with a thick milk tea and possibly some mutton roti or bean palata at Lucky 7 teashop on 49th Street, just north of Anawratha Road. A similar but less atmospheric teashop is Lucky Flower, on Bo Gyoke Aun San Road, just east of the Pansodan bridge.
After breakfast, jump aboard the Yangon Circle Train and make sure to bring your camera. Kick back and enjoy the full loop that will bring you back to Yangon Central station, or jump off at Thamaing station to cruise through a local market before hailing a taxi to the next stop of the day.
Many people tend to wait until sunset to visit must-see Shwedagon Pagoda, but today we have other plans for sunset — so head here next. The cool tiles and shaded pagoda give the hot day a cooler feel, and with the crowds awaiting sunset, a visit during the day allows for a more intimate experience of this iconic symbol of Burmese Buddhism.
For lunch, head back downtown and try some Burmese-Indian food at the Indian Food Centre on Anawratha Road near 30th Street. There’s also the Nepalese Food Centre on the lower block of Bo Soon Pat Street, or sample a tasty bowl of Shan noodles at Lucky Star teashop on the east side of Independence Monument.
Wherever you decide to eat, you’ll be in prime position for a downtown walk. Wander around and no matter which direction you take, do stop by the Independence Monument, from where you can see Sule Pagoda in the middle of the traffic circle, surrounded by a Sunni mosque, a Shia mosque, City Hall, Emmanuel Baptist Church, the old colonial High Court building and land-grab protestors who have camped out for all of 2014 — juxtaposed with shiny modern office towers rising above it all. Each building embodies a certain time and place of Yangon’s history.
Other places that should be on your radar are Bogyoke Market (Scott Market), Mingalar Zay Market, the Secretariat and the colonial buildings lining the lower block of Pansodan Road.
Whether it’s by walking or taxi, you’ll want to end at Botataung jetty in the southeast part of downtown. If you’re up for it (and you’ll have to book ahead), you can jump aboard a sunset cruise on the Rangoon River. Multiple companies depart from Botataung, with varying departure times and prices anywhere between $20 and $50. You can always stop in at Botataung Paya itself, one of the three most venerated pagodas of Yangon, and watch the sunset from the teashop or beer station just outside in the dock parking lot. Small ferryboats taxi commuting locals to and from Dala, while multiple football and chin lone games pack the lot.
As tempted as you might be to grab a plate of fried rice at the jetty’s beer station, hold off for better (and cleaner) food. Choose from two paths for dinner. If the long day of walking leaves you craving refined surroundings and some Western fare, head to Union Bar (downtown on Strand Road) for some cushy air-con, or to Vista Bar back in Bahan, which offers stunning views of Shwedagon at night along with high quality food; you’ll find drinks pricey for either of these options. If it’s the local feel you’re after, head to 19th Street Chinatown for some barbecue and draft beer.
Make sure to walk through the night market on Mahabandoola to get there, and once you turn into 19th Street, you’ll have entire block full of vendors and food on display to choose from. Buskers play, the draft beer flows smooth and cheap, and the skewers each have their own family seasoning.
Almost all bars close by midnight, but after a day like this, we’d be proud if you even make it till then. Get some good sleep — you’re off to the next destination tomorrow.
Once called a nebula of good energy, Christopher wasn't impressed by where his institutional learning took him and blames travel and wonderfully eccentric people for where he is today: Burma (Myanmar).
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Yangon