Yangon (Burmese: ရန်ကုန်), formerly Rangoon, was the capital of Myanmar until it was replaced by Naypyidaw in Nov. 2005. Today, with a population of over 5 million people, it remains the largest city and the economic hub of Myanmar.
As the country's former capital, Yangon is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Myanmar, where you can find nightlife, quality international restaurants, and many of the country's Museums. The city is an amalgamation of British, Burmese, Chinese, and Indian influences, known for its colonial architecture, which although decaying, remains an almost unique example of a 19th century British colonial capital in Asia. New high-rise buildings were constructed from the 1990s as the government began to allow private investment and with the introduction of reforms in 2013 many new buildings are being constructed and refurbished in the city centre. Meanwhile, former government buildings such as the massive Secretariat Building, have been left to rot as the capital was shifted to Naypyidaw.
Yangon's former name was not the only victim of change in this country. For one, the country's name was changed. To add to the on-going identity crisis, the city has been stripped of its status as capital. The nation's capital has been relocated to a remote new site called Naypyidaw, built from scratch. The flag too has been changed, redesigned in 2010, replacing the old one which replaced another one slightly more than a decade ago.
While the government still requires foreigners to register their passports at hotels and private residences, the government no longer spends efforts to follow or otherwise monitor tourists and foreigners in Yangon. Note that it is illegal to stay in a private residence without registering with the local Township authorities.
Yangon International Airport (Mingladon) (RGN IATA) is approximately 30min north of city centre. Allow 2 hours during the rush hours. There are several accommodation options in the immediate vicinity of the airport to fit every budget.
The easiest way to get to and from the airport is by taxi (US$10 from airport to city or 7,000 kyat from the city to airport, all pre-paid). It is possible to use a public bus. If you exit the international terminal and turn right, walking along the road for about 10 min, you'll hit Pyay Rd, from where you can take public bus 51 which will take you one block east of Sule Paya (200 kyat). Thus, the cheapest was to get to the airport is to take that bus, get off at Airport Rd, and take a taxi for the remaining kilometre (about US$1 after bargaining). To get to the city you could theoretically ask the driver at the airport to drop you off at that bus stop if you don't feel like walking. The name of the bus stop is "Mile 10" on Pyay Rd and it's line 51, but you might have trouble being understood if nobody writes it down for you in Burmese script with precise instructions (thus using this option to get to the airport is much easier because you can ask your hotel for help). Another option is to share a taxi.
International: There are direct flights to RGN from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, Dubai, Dhaka, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Gaya, Kolkata, Kunming, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Taipei. International Airlines servicing RGN include Thai Airways, Emirates, Bangkok Air, Biman Bangladesh, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Korean Airlines, Silk Air, Vietnam Airlines, China Airlines, Dragon Air and Air India. Coffee, tea and very basic snacks (packaged biscuits and single serving cakes) are available inside the security area. The international terminal has free Wi-Fi.
Domestic: The domestic terminal is 200 m past the international terminal, and is old and tired looking. Facilities are minimal (espresso coffee, tea, local beer, limited hot food, and basic packaged snacks are available) but, as a consequence, check-in is simple and quick and bags arrive quickly from arriving aircraft. Ancient buses ferry passengers to their aircraft. Pre-paid taxis are available, paid at the taxi counter inside the baggage claim area, but it is easier and cheaper to exit the terminal and negotiate directly with the taxi czar who controls the taxi trade at Mingladon. Try not to allow porters to carry your luggage, as they will demand specified tips and hassle you. This is especially a problem in the domestic terminal as there is no customs to pass through with your bags. If a porter has not attached himself to a hapless tourist, he may take random bags off the luggage trolley, hoping someone will follow him. The full service, with no going to counters or luggage concerns will cost a few thousand kyat.
- 1 Yangon Central Railway Station ([jàɴɡòʊɴ bùdàdʑí]), Kun Chan Road, (York Lan Bus Stop).
There are several train lines that connect Yangon to the rest of Burma. Several trains daily connect Yangon to Mandalay via Bago with connections to Bagan and the Inle Lake area at Thazi. Most trains leave early in the morning (02:00 or 03:00) and arrive late at night. Yangon-Mandalay fares for a sleeper are US$35-50, for a seat are US$30-40 in first class and US$10-15 in second class. There is also a direct train line between Yangon and Bagan (US$35) but trains take almost 24 hr for a bumpy journey and the change at Thazi is a better bet.
The oldest line in Burma is the Yangon-Pyay line and it shows its age. But, the nine hr journey (US$15) along the Irrawaddy basin is well worth it. The Mawlamyine line is equally bumpy and the 9 hr express (06:15, US$17-11) and 11 hr slow train (07:00, US$14-5) is slightly longer than by road. On this trip in first class you get your own seat and it's slightly less crowded, but there isn't much else different between the classes. Trains also run to Pathein in the Irrawaddy delta but are very slow and the bus is a better alternative.
A hundred and fifty years ago, boats were the way to get to places from Yangon and IWT (Inland Water Transport) passenger ferries still ply the major rivers. Yangon to Mandalay takes 5 days with a change at Pyay (3 days) and the return trip (downriver) takes three days. A luxury ferry (the Delta Queen) recalls the colonial era on the Yangon-Pathein route (about 20 hr, US$170/person). The IWT ferry to Pathein takes 15 hr for the overnight trip (US$35/10).
- 2 Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal (Highway Bus Station), Pyay Rd, North Okkalapa (a 5,000 kyat taxi from the airport a bit out of the city and beyond the airport. - Mingalardon Railway Station circa one km west). To destinations such as Bagan, Kalaw, Mandalay, Taunggyi for Inle Lake, Bago, Hpa-An, Mwlamyiane, Pyay, Lashio
There is heavy competition on the Mandalay route with air conditioned fares ranging from 10,500 kyat (Mandalar Minn, E lite) to 18,000 kyat for a 3 seat across VIP bus (E lite). E lite has an all new fleet with several departures early morning and evening. The new highway has dramatically reduced travel times north with the Mandalay trip taking just over 8 hr with a good bus. Buses to Bagan are poorer value at 15,000 kyat. At the stadium, you can get bus tickets for 13,000 kyat (haggle!). Buses depart around 09:00 and 21:00. There are ticket offices representing all companies outside the stadium opposite the main train station. Many offer ferry services to the Highway Bus Station in a pickup for 1,000 kyat. A taxi will cost around 6,000 kyat.
- Hlaing Thar Yar Bus Terminal (across the Bayintnaung Bridge. - 45min by taxi to get to the Hlaing Thar Yar Bus Terminal. 6,000 kyat). Buses for the Irrawaddy delta region (Pathein, Chaungtha Beach, Ngwe Saung Beach). Buses to Kyaiktiyo (Kinpun) leave in the morning (4.5h, 6,000 kyat). Buses for Mawlamyine (6 hr via the new bridge) leave in the mornings and late at night (8,000 kyat). Buses to Sittwe and Thandwe (Ngapali Beach) are also available, but the road is bad and the journey long.
Going to the city from the Highway Bus Station is possible on Bus 43 for 300 kyat. The bus passes in front of the entrance to the station. Just ask the helpful locals. On the way to the terminal, ask your hotel to write it down in Burmese script and catch the bus from the city hall across from Sule Paya to the city centre for 200 kyat. Better than the horrible transfer timex (see shuttle ticket below) that sometimes make you wait at Aung Minglar for 3 hours. Bus 43 takes about 1h to get there, but give yourself some time to check in and allow for potential delays, leaving 2h from Sule Paya before your bus leaves.
Thanks to the new bridge and upgraded road, buses to Pathein take less than 4h and the journey is comfortable. Add 45min by taxi to get to the Hlaing Thar Yar Bus Terminal though. 6,000 kyat.
Big bus companies serving the main tourist destinations (Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal) have sales offices across from Yangon train station (can also buy "shuttle ticket" to Bus Terminal for 1,000 kyat here).
- 3 Aung Zha Bridge (Take Hlaing River Rd across the river). Over Hlaing River connect Insein township with Hlaing Thar Yar township
- 4 Bayint Naung Bridge, Dagon Township. Over Hlaing River
- 5 Maha Bandula Bridge, Maha Bandula Rd, Dagon. A bridge over Ngamoeyeik Creek
- 6 Nga Moe Yeik Bridge, Upper Pazundaung Rd connect with Ayer Wun Main Rd. A bridge over Ngamoeyeik Creek
- 7 Pun Hlaing River Bridge (Hlaing Thar Yar township).
- 8 Thaketa Bridge, Dagon. A bridge over Ngamoeyeik Creek
- 9 Thuwunna Bridge, Wai Za Yan Tar Rd. A bridge over Ngamoeyeik Creek
The easiest way to get around the city is by taxi and Yangon is the city where Toyotas come to live out the rest of their days. Plenty of old white Toyota Corolla taxis ply the streets and will pull over if you stick your hand out. Genuine taxis have red licence plates, carry a laminated green slip, and a large-print taxi driver identification card on the dashboard of the car, but all taxis are reliable. Be warned though that around lunchtime and late at night, it may be hard to hail one. Taxis are always available outside the bigger hotels, on Sule Pagoda Rd, outside Cafe Aroma, and, during the day, outside the south entrance to the Shwedagon Pagoda. Away from the city centre, for example, near the budget hotels in Pazundaung Township, you may have to wait a bit before a taxi shows up and it may be easier to ask your hotel to call one for you. If you're travelling in the early hours (for example, to catch a 04:00 train or flight), arrange one with your hotel the previous evening. You will always, at all hours, find a taxi outside the Central Hotel on Bogoyoke Aung San Rd.
It is customary to negotiate prices prior to the trip but, other than tacking on an informal tourist surcharge, you'll very rarely be cheated. If you're not sure how much you should pay, it is safe to assume the driver is charging you an extra 500 kyat because you're a foreigner. Ask for 500 kyat less than the stated price if in doubt. Approximate fares are: city centre to airport, 6,000-8,000 kyat; city centre to Shwedagon Pagoda, 2,500-3,000 kyat; city centre to Pazundaung Township, 2,500 kyat; city centre to Aung San Suu Kyi's house, 3,000 kyat; city centre to Kandawgyi Lake area, 3,000 kyat; city centre to Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal, 5,000-6,000 kyat; city centre to Hlaing Thar Yar Bus Terminal, 4,000 kyat. Expect to pay more, sometimes twice as much, when it rains and late at nights.
Most taxi drivers will be happy to negotiate an hourly (3,000 kyat) or daily (US$20-30) or longer rate. Taxis will take you anywhere and you can, in theory, hail a taxi and negotiate a trip to Pathein or Bago or other destinations at a much lower price than through a travel agency.
Taxi drivers charge a minimum fare of 1,500 kyat even for short trips. It seems like meters are never used, even when present.
Grab (taxi app popular in South-East Asia) can also help you catch taxis at a fair price.
Trishaws are scarce in the city centre (and not permitted before 10:00), but more readily available in the surrounding townships. Negotiate fares in advance, but 500-1000 kyat for a short ten min ride, while a little more than a local would pay, is appropriate.
Using buses is safe. The only drawback is the lack of understanding. Most of the locals can't speak English and the signs and bus numbers are written in Burmese. Yangon Bus Service (YBS), operated by Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA), started the operations in January 2017. The new bus network has reduced the number of lines from previous some 300 to about 70. 
There are some apps that might come handy, although they are in Burmese, showing the bus stops and individual bus lines on the map (e.g. Yangon Bus Service Official App  for Android).
A ferry crosses the river to Dallah from the Pansodan St Jetty.
- 10 Nan Thida Ferry Terminal and Pansodan Ferry Terminal, Pansodan Street and Strand Road corner.
- 11 Botahtaung Jetty, Botahtaung Pagoda Road.
Distances in the tourist areas are not great and, provided you take it easy, you can walk almost anywhere. The pavements can be very crowded though, particularly on Anawratha Rd, so expect to be constantly bumped into and to have to negotiate your way across vendors selling everything from hot samosas and curry to screwdrivers, TV remote controls to jeans. Many of the footpaths and pavements have large holes, mismatched pavers, or missing/unstable covers over drains. Walking on the footpath after dark can be treacherous, so either carry a torch or, like most locals, walk on the edge of the roadway which is normally in a (marginally) better state of repair.
Foreigners on tourist visas are not permitted to drive in Myanmar. Motorbikes and bicycles are not permitted within Yangon (although they are permitted elsewhere in the country).
Relatively untouched by development compared of other major Southeast Asian cities, the city centre of Yangon is full of historical sights. Yangon is perhaps the best preserved example of a European colonial capital in Southeast Asia.
- 1 Shwedagon Paya (A taxi from city centre costs 2,500-3,000 kyat. Taxis are available for the return trip at the bottom of the main entrance. Can also take bus 204, 100 kyat. Catch this on Shwe Dagon Pagoda Rd across from the public toilets just as you cross the overpass. From China Town it's a 30 min walk (2.5 km).). Daily, 06:30-22:00. The pagoda opens at 05:00 but generally tourists are not allowed in until 06:30. The Shwedagon Pagoda or Paya is the most important religious site in Myanmar. The pagoda stands on the top of Singuttara Hill, and, according to legend, that spot has been sacred since the beginning of time, just before our present world was created. At that time, five lotus buds popped up on the hill, each bud signifying the five Buddhas who would appear in the world and guide it to Nirvana. Gautama, the Buddha as we know him, is the fourth of these five (Maitreya, the fifth, will announce the end of the world with his appearance) and, according to the legend, two brothers brought eight hairs of the Buddha to be enshrined in this sacred location, inaugurating the Shwedagon Pagoda. Whatever the truth of the legend, verifiable history records a pagoda at the site since the 6th century CE. Built and rebuilt, gilded and regilded, almost nothing in the pagoda is likely to be old, except whatever is hidden deep inside the stupa. An earthquake (18th century) destroyed the upper half of the pagoda spire and many buildings. Burmese Buddhists are practical people who constantly build and rebuild pagodas for merit.
The pagoda is an interesting place: multicoloured neon highlighting a galaxy of colours, textures and shapes. It is also a jungle of spires with superior Myanmar woodcarving embellishment playfully mixed and matched with modern building materials such as corrugated roofing. Unlike other religious sites, it has a spiritual as well as a secular feel about it. Children run up and down singing songs, monks sit on the steps chatting, young men cast amorous glances at women, women stand around gossiping, all while others are deep in prayer in front of whatever shrine has significance for them. The Shwedagon captures the essence of both the informal nature as well as the strong ties that signify the relationship that the Burmese have with their Buddhism. 10,000 kyat. Ticket booths are at the top end of the flights of steps on all entrances. If you get in at 05:00 and get out by 06:00 you'll probably escape paying the fee (but risk not being allowed in). Tickets are valid for one day only (not a 24 hour period) and must be retained throughout your visit. A sticker has to be displayed on your clothes to identify you as having a valid ticket, but it is unusable the next day as another colour is used. Bring some sticky tape to help keep the sticker attached to your clothing (especially if it is a hot or wet day, like most days in Myanmar). ATMs available at the platform..
- Guides. Guides, official and unofficial are available for US$5 (extra US$1/1,000 kyat tip). The quality is variable, but most guides are friendly and helpful. The pagoda is vast and complex and, if you can afford the extra cost, the company and practical information on what's going around you is worth the expense.
- Food. The closest restaurant is at the intersection of the Shwedagon Pagoda Rd and U Hlaung Bo St (at the bottom of the south walkway). There are some tea shops on a small roadway that describes a semicircle just below the top of the pagoda where you can get tea and biscuits. North of the pagoda, on Inya Rd and outside the Savoy, are many places to eat, fincluding a good fast food restaurant for pizza, coffee and sandwiches. Bring water; the heat of the sun can get to you if you visit during the daytime. No food or bottled water is available on the platform itself, but water is available from one of the many water dispenser. It's clean, cool and free.
- Disabled visitors. A road on the south side leads halfway up the Singuttara Hill and an elevator can take you the rest of the way. Alternatively, if not in a wheelchair, head for the Western entrance from where escalators are available all the way to the top. The escalators are free for foreigners (or rather, included in the price of the ticket).
- Dress code. Dress reasonably and keep your legs covered (long skirts, halfway between knee and ankle, are fine; shorts, on men or women, are not). Longyi are available at the ticket booth if you arrive overly uncovered.
- Shoes. As with nearly all Buddhist monuments, footwear is not permitted. However unusual here is that socks also are not permitted to be worn. Almost all visitors inclusing all locals remove their footwear at the gates before even setting foot inside the complex. There are places to leave your shoes at the bottom of every walkway for a nominal fee (5 kyat) but that can be a problem if, say, you enter using the east walkway and wish to leave by the north. Carry a plastic shopping bag, pop your shoes into that bag, and carry it around with you while on the walkways and platforms. A minor scam are people handing out plastic bags just outside the complex, if you accept you will then be asked to pay at least US$1: just ignore them and leave your shoes & socks at the official places. If you can, visit during the early morning or in the late afternoon / evening so the white marble tiles do not burn your feet.
- Things to see at the Shwedagon
- Plan. The pagoda is shaped similar to a Greek cross. There are four entrances at each of the four cardinal directions flanked by gargantuan sculptures of mythical Burmese lions. These entrances open up to the four walkways as the appendages of the cross ascending to the top via flights of steps. At the top is the octagonal intersection of the cross which consists of the stupa at the very centre itself surrounded by shrines that can qualify as temples by themselves and separated from the Stupa by a vast open walkway paved with spic and span shiny marble tiles. The stupa is further surrounded by a string of micro shrines: small celled structures housing the icon of the Buddha himself and interspersed by lion sculptures, and then further inwards, another string of micro stupas surround the stupa superstructure.
- Walkways to The Pagoda. Four covered walkways lead up to the pagoda from the plains surrounding the hills. The east walkway is the most interesting, crowded as it is with vendors selling items for pilgrims (candles, flowers, gold leaf, stones and other paraphernalia of Burmese Buddhist worship) and souvenirs for tourists (Buddhas, lacquer ware and thanaka). The other walkways are less interesting but the west walkway has escalators and the southern has an elevator. Walking up the Eastern walkway to the top and allowing the beauty of the pagoda it to emerge remains the best way to get up the hill.
- The entrances are striking: there is a pair of mythical and stylized stone lions guarding the doorway framing the grand staircase as if this scene is coming out from a biblical film set. To view clearly these mythical lions, one simply has to examine the Myanmar currency notes where it is featured practically in all denominations. The Great Stupa is visible at dark, multicoloured neon lightings highlight its profile
- Another attraction of this temple in general and the walkways in particular are the 3D murals of the Jataka tales in Myanmarese interpretation showing distinctive Myanmar landscape, temple and toddy palm dotted countryside, country life, architecture, palace and court scenery and pageantry, temple scenes, period costumes, mythological nagas and nats, elephants, lions and dragons. These 3D murals flank the upper part of the walls of all the four entrances.
- The Pagoda Platform. Although similar in concept to Mecca's kaaba, surrounded by a vast space, the pagoda platform where people may make rounds of the stupa, is a religious space without pomp and circumstance and is one of the best places in the world to sit and people watch. Find a comfortable step, or sit on the floor, and look around. Children run up and down, perhaps singing and shouting with abandon. Women cluster in groups gossiping. Couples, young and old stroll up and down. Burgundy robed monks are everywhere. Here and there, at the many shrines that dot the platform and sit around the stupa, people pray, seriously and silently. Bells ring. There is no awe here, only life, religious and secular life. Sit there long enough and someone will stop to chat with you, to ask questions, to exchange information.
- Day Shrines. There are eight shrines, one for each day of the week (in the Burmese calendar, Wednesday is divided into two parts), dotted around the eight corners of the stupa (the stupa is octagonal), and most Burmese pray at their day shrine when visiting a pagoda. If you can figure out the day of the week when you were born, light a candle, place some flowers, or pour water over the shrine corresponding to that day. Starting from the south entrance, and going clockwise, the eight planetary posts are: Mercury (Wednesday morning, before noon), Saturn (Saturday), Jupiter (Thursday), Rahu (no planet, Wednesday afternoon), Venus (Friday), Sun (Sunday), Moon (Monday), Mars (Tuesday). Each shrine also has a beast associated with it, the most interesting one being the Gahlon, a mythical half-bird half-beast said to guard Mount Meru (the shrine for Sunday).
- Statue of Wa Thon Da Ray. The statue of Wa Thon Da Ray, the guardian angel of the earth, is to the left of the south walkway. Wa Thon Da Ray is said to have saved the Buddha from burning by wrapping her wet hair around the earth. The long tresses are clearly visible in the stone statue that stands in her honour.
- The Arakanese Prayer Pavilion. A little before the west walkway, was a gift of the Rakhaing people of Arakan. The prayer hall itself is ordinary, but the wood carvings on the roof are exquisite, probably the finest in the pagoda complex.
- Maha Ganda Bell. Known locally as the Singu Min Bell (after King Singu, who donated it to Shwedagon), the Maha Ganda bell was cast between 1775 and 1779 and weighs 23 tonnes. Impressed by the size of the bell, the British attempted to take it as war booty after the First Burmese War (1825), but dropped it into the Yangon River instead. The story goes that the British tried everything to get the bell out of the water, but all their technology was of no avail. Giving up, they told the Burmese that they could have it back if they could get it out of the water. The Burmese, with some bamboo rafts, managed to retrieve the bell and it was returned to the pagoda. Pick up a mallet and bang on the bell for luck. Behind the bell, a small pavilion provides excellent views of the stupa (spectacular at night) and a panoramic view of the city.
- Naungdawgyi Pagoda and Sandawdwin Tazaung. Left of the north walkway, the Naungdawgyi or Elder pagoda is supposed to mark the spot where the sacred strands of the Buddha's hair were placed and washed before being enshrined in the stupa. Women are not allowed onto the Elder pagoda platform. Close by is the Sandawdwin Tazaung (Hair Relics Well) which provided the water for the washing. The well is odd because it is fed by the Irrawaddy rather than by ground water and the level of water in this well rises and falls with the tides.
- Dhammazedi Inscription. A 1485 tablet that relates the story of the Shwedagon in Pali, Mon, and Burmese. One of the few verifiably antique objects in the pagoda complex.
Other religious sites
- 2 Saint Anthony R.C. Church, Bo Min Yaung St.
- 3 Botataung Paya, Strand Rd (A few blocks east of The Strand Hotel along the Yangon River). The original pagoda was destroyed by allied bombing during the Second World War but the site has a legendary history as long as that of the Shwedagon or the Sule Paya, and it is supposed to house more strands of the Buddha's hair brought to the site by a thousand soldiers (hence the name which means "1000 officers"). The rebuilt stupa is hollow inside, and many relics (though not the hair) are on display. While not spectacular like the Shwedagon, the river-front setting and the hollow stupa make it worth visiting. Entrance fee: 6,000 kyat
- 4 Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda (Reclining Buddha), Shwe Gon Taing Rd, Bahan Township. (Bus to 'Chauk Htat Gyi'). 06:00-20:00. A temple that is home to an impressive reclining Buddha that is 65 m long and 6 storeys high. US$5 for foreigners.
- 5 St Francis of Assisi Church, Kyaik Ka San Rd (Thida Street Bus Stop).
- 6 Judson Church, Pyay Rd (Bus to stop Marlar, On western part of the Yangon University).
- 7 Holy Trinity Cathedral (Bo Gyoke Rd, Dagon Township.). The Anglican cathedral built by the British. It is one of two cathedrals in Yangon, and has a beautiful interior. North of Bogyoke Zay Bus Stop, South of Phaya Lan Train Station, Shwedagon Pagoda Rd corner.
- 8 Maha Wizaya Pagoda, Shwe dagon Pagoda Road (Shwedagon Pagoda South Gate Bus Stop).
- 9 Fish and Turtle Lake (West of Maha Wizaya Pagoda).
- Mailamu Paya. A large expanse of land on which larger-than-life, colourful statues depicting Buddha's lives are located. Mailamu Paya also showcases a pavilion on a man-made lake, and several chedis.
- 10 Muhammad Jann Mosque (Marmed Jahn Sunni Jamah Mosque), Banyardala Rd/Tamwe Rd (Take a bus to stop Tamwe Ah Waing).
- 11 E.A. Mumsar Mosque, Kyaik Ka San Rd (North one block of St Francis of Assisi Church).
- 12 Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue, 85 26th St (Vandoola Park Bus Terminus half km away). The only synagogue in Yangon. It is a colonial relic, built in 1893. Its interior is beautifully maintained.
- 13 Saint Mary's Cathedral, Bo Aung Kyaw Street. The cathedral's exterior is newly renovated, but it's still an ugly eyesore outside, but the superior Myanmarese dexterity of carving is shown in the interior's 14 Stations of the Cross. Images literally pop out of the screen in 3D fashion.
- 14 Sein Yaung Chi Pagoda.
- 15 Siyin Baptist Church, Maha Bandoola Road and 50th St cnr.
- 16 Sule Paya (Sule Pagoda), Maha Bandula Road. Incongruously serving as a traffic island in the middle of the busiest intersection in central Yangon, Sule Paya is a 46 m octagonal-shaped stupa that, according to the local story, was built 2,000 years ago to house a strand of the Buddha's hair. Whether or not it has a strand of the Buddha's hair, the galleries of the pagoda are an oasis of calm from the chaotic traffic that passes around it all day long. Shoes can be left at counters at any entrance, but carry a plastic bag. US$3.
- 17 Ta Chan Pae Mosque, Upper Pansodan Rd.
- 18 Butterfly Lakes, U Ba Han St (NE of A.K.K. Shopping Centre).
- 19 Inya Lake. The largest lake in the city. Some parts of Inya Lake's shoreline are accessible on foot, and are known for their gardens. Along Inya Lake's shore is the famous Inya Lake Hotel, now owned by Dusit and Yangon University (in a beautiful park-like setting). Surrounding the lake are villas owned by military leaders.
- 20 Kandawgyi Lake (Formerly Victoria Lakes), Kan Yeik Tha Rd, Nat Mauk St (Northeast of city centre). Recently renovated park that makes for a nice stroll. Lots of small restaurants, food stalls and a playgarden inside. The lake is best known for its karaweik (at its southeastern tip), a replica of a traditional Burmese royal boat. There is also a board walk around the south edge of the lake, affording a better view than that from the gardens. At its northwestern tip is Bogyoke Aung San Park, which is on Natmauk Rd. Main entrance is from the southeast corner. Foreigners pay 300 kyat, and there's a sign indicating there's also a 500 kyat camera charge and a 1,000 kyat video camera fee, but those don't seem to be enforced. Not all parts of the park are accesible from the southeast entrance, so you might have to walk around a bit on the street as well to see the park completely. 300 kyat (+ possible 500 kyat camera fee, + possible 1,000 kyat video camera fee).
- 21 Kandawgyi Nature Park, Kan Yeik Tha Rd. This is a peninsula that provides good views around the lake and is the access to the Karaweik. There are restaurants (some cheap, some expensive) dotted around the lakefront and an amphitheatre that often has free concerts. Very popular with locals on Friday and Saturday nights. 300 kyat.
- 22 Kandawlay Sunni Muslim Cemetery, Bo Min Yaung St.
- 23 Kandawlay Shi'a Muslim Cemetery, Bo Min Yaung St (North of Kandawlay Sunni Muslim Cemetery).
- 24 Kan Taw Mingalar Garden (Right south of Shwedagon Complex).
- 25 Maha Bandula Park, Maha Bandula Park Street (In the cantonment, on eastside of its is the Vandoola Park Bus Terminus). Known for its rose gardens. Inside the park is the Independence Monument, built to signify Myanmar's independence. The park offers a great view of the City Hall and colonial buildings.
- Martyrs' Mausoleum. A memorial built to honour Aung San and six cabinet members who were assassinated. The mausoleum is on a hill, and is adjacent to Shwedagon Paya. It offers a beautiful panoramic view of Yangon.
- 26 People's Park, Pyay Rd, Dhammazedi Rd, Ahlon Rd, U Wisara Rd (West of Shwedagon Pagoda). 07:00-19:00. Occupies 130 acres, between parliament and Shwedagon Paya and known for its large concrete water fountain. Inside the park is a museum. There are a lot of decrepit statues and relics (like ships and aircraft) as well as sterile squares in the Stalinist model, all of which gives an interesting insight to the government. Entrance fee for foreigners.
- 27 Tamwe Muslim Cemetery, Tamwe Rd.
- 28 Theingottara Park, U Wisara Rd (East of People's Park).
- 29 War Memorial Cemetery, Kyun Taw Rd.
- 30 Zoological Gardens, Bo Min Kaung Street. 08:00-18:00. Opened by the British since the 1906s. there are 145 species of 1203 land animals. During public holidays, the Elephant Circus is performed for attractions. Entry fee is 1,000 kyat for each person.
- 31 Aung San Suu Kyi's House, 54 University Ave. The house is guarded by a high wall, and visitors are not allowed to enter. The most you can hope to do is to take a picture of the gate. Approximate taxi fares from the city is 3,000 kyat.
- 32 Bogyoke Aung San Museum, 25 Bo Gyoke Museum Lane (Natmauk Road (near the German embassy)), ☎ . 09:30-16:30; Mo off. This is the house where Aung San lived with his wife and three children until his assassination. The house is still in original condition ans houses a museum with many interesting items on display, e.g., Aung San's car, his library and his suits. Outside is the pond where his son, Aung San Lin, drowned. The accident was one of the reasons why the family moved. US$3.
- 33 Bahadur Shah Zafar Grave, Zi Wa Ka St. The grave of the last of the Mughal emperors in India, as well as the last ruler of the Timurid Dynasty. After the Indian rebellion of 1857, he was exiled to Rangoon together with his wife, Zeenat Mahal, and some of the remaining members of the family. Bahadur Shah died in Nov 1862. Today you can see his tomb, and if you are lucky, a guide may be there to give you a lot of information about this Sufi saint. There is no entrance fee, but you can give donations to local Sufis. Free.
- 34 Chinatown and Little India. Home to the descendants of migrants who came from China and India during the colonial era. You can still see reminders of that heritage, with Chinese clan temples, as well as Hindu temples, still to be found in these districts, as well as ethnic food.
- 35 Central Bank of Myanmar, No. 1 Industrial Road.
- 36 Centrepoint Towers, Sule Pagoda Road (West from Maha Bandoola Garden).
- 37 City Hall, Maha Bandula Road. The seat of the city's administrative body, Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC). Construction began in 1926 and ended in 1936. The city hall has been the focal point of major political demonstrations and the site of several bombings, including one in 2000, 2008 and 2009.
- 38 Drug Elimination Museum, Kyun Taw Rd (Near to Hanthawaddy Circle), ☎ , . A huge four-storey building dedicated to fighting narcotics (mainly opium), displaying the effects of drug use and efforts finding alternative crops. The exhibits are quite outdated and dusty. The main reason for a foreigner to visit is to experience a bizarre remnant of the previous regime. Be prepared that you may be the only visitor at the, but there are plenty of staff. Camera fee for foreigners US$5. foreigner: 4,000 kyat, burmese national: 100 kyat.
- 39 High Court Building, Pansodan Street (Next to Maha Bandula Park 89-133). Until 2006, the Supreme Court of Myanmar was located at this complex. The building is listed on the Yangon City Heritage List.
- 40 Martyrs Mausoleum (Near the south gate of Shwedagon). Contains the tombs of Queen Suphayalat, wife of Burma’s last king; nationalist and writer Thakin Kodaw Hmaing; former UN Secretary-General U Thant; and Aung San Suu Kyi’s mother, Khin Kyi. In 1983, the structure was bombed by North Korean agents attempting to assassinate the visiting South Korean president. He escaped, but 21 others were killed. The structure was completely rebuilt, and is now much less grand than the original.
- 41 Ministers' Building (The Secretariat), Maha Bandoola Rd (Bogalay Zay Bus Stop). It was the home and administrative seat of British Burma. In February 2012, 7 local companies and 3 foreign companies submitted a proposal to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) to convert the Ministers' Building into a hotel and museum.
- 42 U Thant Museum, Inya Road (Tha Thone Street corner).
- 43 National Museum, 26 Pyay Rd (In front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). 10:00-15:00, closed M, Tu, and holidays. Displays many Burmese historical artifacts, including regalia of the last Konbaung Dynasty. This museum has one of the better quality collections in South East Asia, containing the best of Burma's artistic heritage and superior craftsmanship. The architecture of the museum is a pathetic and crude interpretation of modern architecture. The exhibitions have been improved during 2016 and most exhibits have signs in both Burmese and English. Some rooms are dimly lit. Photography is prohibited. Do not buy books in the museum shop. Buy them at Innwa Bookstore with its varied selections, and other stores along Pansodan Rd. A book that costs US$38 in the museum costs only US$22 at Innwa.
- 44 Strand Hotel, 92 Strand Rd. The oldest and most famous hotel in Myanmar, built by the Sarkies brothers in 1901. It is a national landmark and was renovated in the 1990s after years of neglect.
- 45 Yangon Region Parliament (Congress Building), Pyay Rd (West of People's park).
- 46 Thaketa Crocodile Farm, Myamarlar St (East one km from Thuwunna Bridge).
- 47 Tatmadaw Exhibition Hall, U Wisara Road (Opposite the Military History Museum, Phaya Lan Train Station a half km away).
- 1 Bogyoke Aung San Stadium, Zoological Garden Road (Take Bus to Stop York Lan. - North of Yangon Central Railway Station).
- The Circular Train. A fascinating way to get a glimpse of daily life in Yangon. Tickets are available at the stationmaster's office (Platform 7, Yangon Station). The station itself, in British colonial style, is a grand building that combines functional Western styles with Burmese architectural elements (layered ornamental roof). Vendors, vegetable sellers, monks, commuters, all use the train which passes through the many villages that surround Yangon. The scenery changes from urban to rural fairly quickly and villages with ponds, children and cows passing by. At Yangon Station, the train departs from either Platform 4 or 7, one going clockwise and the other going anti-clockwise. It is best is to choose whichever arrives first. Do get on the train at fast pace, as the train stops at the station for a short while only and leaves whether or not people have fully boarded the train. The journey takes three hours. 500 kyat (since 2014 same price for tourists and cannot be paid in US$ any more).
- Dallah Ferry (Pansodan Rd Jetty across from the Strand Hotel). To Dallah, a small village across the river from Yangon, an interesting ferry ride. The ride is brief, but filled with all the craziness of a Burmese ferry: you can buy freshly sliced watermelon, cheroots, cigarettes, tea, all kinds of interesting-looking food, various knick-knacks from the many vendors who pack the ferry. The ferry ride seems more like a floating market than a means of transportation. Combine the ride with a trip to Twante for a half- or full-day trip. There is a pagoda at Dallah worth a visit, but otherwise the village is not really a destination. 4,000 kyat roundtrip fare for foreigners..
- 2 Ferris Wheel, Kabar Aye Pagoda Rd (Inya Lakeshore eastside).
- 3 Kokkine Swimming Club, Kokkaing Swimming Club Lane (Take bus to stop 'Har Mit Tic').
- 4 Kyaikkasan Grounds, South Race Course Rd (Near to National Library). A sportfield.
- Market Tour and Cooking Demonstration (Governor’s Residence Hotel). The cooking demonstration takes place upstairs in the hotel's Mindon Lounge where you will learn to prepare a traditional Burmese salad. US$60 for a half-day tour including lunch (US$40 excluding lunch), excluding drinks.
- 5 National Swimming Pool, U Wisara Road.
- 6 National Theatre, Myoma Kyaung St.
- 7 Thamada Cinema, Alan Pya Pagoda St (Take Bus to Stop York Lan).
- 8 Thein Byu Sport Ground, Kan Yeik Tha Rd (Take a Bus to Stop Masar Set).
- 9 Thuwana National Stadium (Thuwunna Indoor Stadium), Wai Za Yan Tar Rd (Hnin Si Gone Railway Station Northeast ~700m).
Valuable and expensive woodcraft, gemstones, food ingredient, and souvenirs. Shopping is fun in Yangon for variety of things being available, unlike other crowded countries, foreigners can visit on certain times view things without distraction. Bargaining is expected, although tourists will be charged higher prices. Street vendors in the centre are not allowed to open their shops until 18:00, by government mandate.
- 1 A.K.K. Shopping Centre, Lay Daungkan Rd (Thin Gan Gyun Station E0.7km).
- Bespoke Clothing. Although not as well known as Bangkok or Hong Kong, Yangon is an excellent place to have a shirt tailored. One can have a shirt with a traditional Burmese collar (mandarin collar) made for around US$6. 4-5 days should be sufficient for a shirt to be made.
- 2 Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scotts Market). An excellent source for Burmese handicrafts, such as wood carvings or lacquerware. However some lacquerware are not made in the country but are sold in high prices.
- 3 Capital Hypermarket, Min Nandar Road (East of Nga Moe Yeik Bridge). Capital Hypermarket is a huge supermarket to shop freely with confidence for fresh vegetables, meat and rare ingredients. The top and only floor of the building has rare electronics, clothes for both adults and child with affordable prices, leather made clothes, shoes and bags. You can also find cheap Blu-ray Discs at the top floor near the televisions. The ground floor is full of restaurants, and on some days with discounts on furniture. Has an artist gallery on the second floor.
- Chinatown. 15:00-21:00. A wide selection of street vendors. Colonial coins, Chinese calendars, Chinese temples, tea shops, several markets and small running businesses.
- 4 Junction Square Shopping Centre, Kyun Taw Road (Bus to stop Seik Pyo Yay). The main attraction is the cinema, crafty stationery with high-prices and various food restaurants which is on the top floor.
- 5 Kyee Myint Dine Night Market, Zay Gyi Road/Mani May Kha Lar Street (Bus to stop Night Market/Nya Zay).
- 6 Kyauk Myaung Market, Kyatk Ka San Road (Kyauk Myaung Zay Bus Stop).
- 7 Market Place by Citymart, Dhama Zedi Road (Near to the Singapore Embassy). Good for food shopping.
- 8 Mingalar Zay, Banyardala Road (Take a bus to stop Mingalar Zay). Market Hall?
- Shwedagon Paya. The entrance hallway offers many shops that sells, fresh and cheap coconuts, handmade bags, wooden and metal chests, paper owl charms, carved wood statues, beautiful fans, charming accessories with affordable price made from jade, and Buddha statues ranging from different sizes.
- 9 Super One Supermarket, Lay Daungkan Rd (Lay Daungkan Rd, near I.L.B.C school.). 09:00-21:00. Super One is a department with many different items and foods by different brands from which you may not be able to find even in the biggest supermarket of Yangon.
Rates at the airport are almost as competitive as in the city, so change your money there or withdraw cash from an ATM. Do not change at the first bank you see inside the security area. Banks beyond security offer better rates.
If you need to change money outside business hours, especially on holidays and Sundays, only banks in the airport are open. Exchange rates are poorer at guesthouses and money changers.
Every full moon day is a public holiday. Banks, money changers, some Chinese shops and all government offices will be closed.
There are more than 500 ATMs in Yangon , however not all may work. It may take awhile to find one working. The withdrawal limit is typically 300,000 kyat plus a processing fee of 5,000 kyat.
When bringing in US dollars, the best exchange rates are for US$100 and US$50 notes. Smaller notes (US$1, US$5 and US$10) are indispensable to pay for admissions and transportation, which are sometimes charged in US dollars only. Bring notes in crisp condition as cashiers are wary of even the slightest blemishes. Check any US$ notes you are given in change, for the same reason. If you are given any damaged notes, nobody will accept it.
Yangon has seen an explosion of restaurants in the last ten years and a wide selection of international cuisines is available: Italian, Japanese, Thai and Korean. Local cuisine reflects the multi-ethnic nature of the city and the country. Along with Bamar food, there are a large number of Indian and Chinese restaurants as well as a few places specializing in Shan food. Fast food restaurants (usually with table service) serving burgers and pizza, and a few cafes complete the scene. Biryani, a rice and meat dish with roots in the Mughal Empire, is a speciality and there are many biryani restaurants (dan-PAO-sain in Burmese) in the city centre, especially along Anawratha Rd. The three main competing restaurant chains (all halal, but vegetarian biryani is usually available) are Yuzana, KSS (Kyet Shar Soon), and Nilar.
Street Food: Anawratha Rd and Mahabandoola Rd are dotted with food stalls, but Yangon street ambiance is not conducive to al fresco eating. Betel-nut spitting pedestrians do not add to the ambience either. Myanmar street food is mostly deep fried, and often served in a puddle of oil. Dishes are washed at the roadside "dunk" style, without soap and without running water. The green tea is free but before drinking from the cups pour some tea, swill it, empty it on the street and then pour yourself the cup of tea. Alternatively, use the provided tissue at the table as the locals do. There are many buffet-style street stalls where you point at the food to order.
The cost of food ranges considerably. Restaurants and cafes in hotels and the airport charge prices that are normal in Western countries, yet at a streetside stall a whole meal costs 500-2,000 kyat.
Street vendors sell samosas, onion balls, and other Indian snacks around Anawratha St between Sule Paya Rd and Shwe Bontha St in central Yangon for under 200 kyat. Beware that many restaurants and food stalls close as early as 20:00 or 21:00. Best go around 19:00.
- 999 Shan Noodle Shop, 130 34th St. Tiny snack joint with very good noodle dishes for around 1,000 kyat.
- Family Thai & Chinese Restaurant (In the shopping mall next to Parkroyal Hotel; get on the escalator to the top floor food court, restaurant on your right). Around 1,000-1,500 kyat per meal..
- Feel, 124 Pyihtaungsu Ave. A wide variety of Burmese curry dishes displayed in the back. Salads and fries. ~2,000 kyat.
- Golden City Chetti (Locations throughout Yangon). Offers Indian food at very reasonable prices and free top-ups on the veg thali.
- Kyet Shar Soon Biriani (In Mingalar Taung Nyunt, Pabedan, and Kyauktada Townships). Established in 1947, offers a dish of halal Burmese-accented biryani. 700 kyat.
- Hla Myanmar (Shwe Ba Restaurant), 27 5th St (quite a walk from the northern entrance of the Shwedagon Pagoda). 10:00-19:00 daily. This is just a simple restaurant, but a good one for those on a budget. They specialise in Bamar (Burmese) curries, so this is a good opportunity to eat like the locals. You can just point at the curry you want and take a seat on one of the chairs. It is difficult to find, so ask the locals for directions. It is well-known among locals, because the famous actor Shwe Ba used to have his house in the area, and the restaurant is sometimes named after him. 2,500 kyat.
- New Delhi (between Shwe Bontha and 28th on Anawratha Rd). Better and cheaper than Golden City. Small Indian place, well known to the locals and tourists. Great taste and value.
- Nilar Biryani, 216 Anawratha Rd, ☎ . Daily 08:00-20:00. A venerable, old Biryani restaurant serving chicken, mutton and vegetable biryani. Fast, delicious and cheap.
- Seven One One Restaurant, Anawratha Rd (From Motherland Inn 2, walk up Lower Pazundaung St to the first intersection, turn left onto Anawratha St and walk another 100-200 m (past the railway tracks) and it's on your right). A clean, well-lit street side restaurant very close to Motherland Inn 2. Serves Indianised Burmese cooking which is delicious. Any dish with their "hot & sour" sauce is excellent. 1,000-1,500 kyat.
- Shwe Pu Zun, 246-248 Anawratha Rd, ☎ , . Ice cream and dessert shop known for its faluda a dessert of rose syrup, sweet basil, string of jelly, pure milk, ice-cream and warm custard.
- Soe Pyi Swar, 136 Latha St, ☎ . Vegetarian restaurant. Run by a delightful old couple and serving both vegetable and mock meat dishes. A few doors north on the same block is another veggie restaurant marked only by Chinese characters.
- YKKO, 286, Seikkanthar St (At the upper block). A well-established restaurant that is known for its kyae-oh, a Chinese type of noodle soup. With white noodles, minced pork, pig body parts such as pork brains, fresh water cress, it is then mixed with spicy red sauce in the bowl and eaten with a porcelain spoon.
- Barbecue food stalls, 19th street, China Town. This road becomes busy between 18:00-19:00 when plenty of food stalls open. Choose your fish, meat or veggies to be barbecued on the spot.
- 50th Street, 50th St. The only stand-alone Western-style cafe, restaurant and bar in Yangon. Amazing architecture and ambiance. Free Wi-Fi, multiple sport TVs, pool table, and dart board.
- Cafe Aroma, Sule Pagoda Rd (Opposite Traders Hotel). Decent coffee by Burmese standards, excellent shakes and fries.
- Karaweik Buffet Restaurant, Kan Pat St (On Kandawgyi Lake), ☎ . A buffet restaurant inside the Karaweik, offers a wide selection of Asian dishes, and a 1-hour cultural show from 19:30 to 20:30. Costs 15,000 kyat/person.
- 1 Fuji Coffee House, University Avenue Rd (Next to U.S. Embassy).
- Sabai Sabai, Dhammazedi Road. The best Thai restaurant in town. Expect to pay about 7,000 kyat/person for drinks, soup, starter, and main. Most main dishes are around 4,000 kyat. This clean and atmospheric place is a favourite among expats and business people. Closed between lunch and dinner time (15:00-17:00). Closes at 21:00. Most taxi drivers know of the place. It's in an area with plenty of other mid-range restaurants.
- 2 Monsoon, 85-87 Thien Byu Rd. Burmese, Lao, and Thai cuisine. Restaurant and bar. Great ambiance and comfortable air conditioned surroundings with free Wi-Fi.
- 3 L'Opera, C62, D, U Tun Nyein St, ☎ . A fine Italian restaurant in Yangon.
- 4 Le Planteur Restaurant and Bar, 22 Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd (Next to Golden Hill Tower), ☎ . One of the best restaurants of Myanmar. It specialises in fine French cuisine with an Asian touch. The location of the restaurant (a former Australian Embassy) is spectacular and the service is impeccable.
- 5 Signature Garden Restaurant (Corner of Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd and Kan Yeik Thar Rd, Kandawgyi Relaxation Zone). A fine dining restaurant.
- Strand Hotel, 92 Strand Rd. Yangon's luxury colonial hotel, founded by the legendary Sarkies brothers in 1901, who also founded Penang's Eastern and Oriental Hotel and Singapore's Raffles Hotel. An interesting experience is to have an elegant high tea. Served in the restaurant of one of the classic examples of the colonial hotel in SE Asia. One can choose from either Burmese or English afternoon tea. The English variety includes delicate sandwiches, scones, tiny cakes, and tarts, while the Burmese afternoon tea has small spring rolls and samosas, and traditional Burmese sweets. US$18.
Nightlife in Yangon is rather limited by Western standards and can be hard to find. Local bars or "beer stations" as they are called, close early (around 21:00-23:00), but offer drinks at bargain prices. About 500 kyat for a pint glass of Myanmar Beer. Local whiskies cost 2,000 kyat a glass. Expect to get a lot of attention when going to the local bars since theses places are not frequented by foreigners.
Drinking is not culturally acceptable for women in Burma, so don't expect to pick up any girls, because there won't be any in the bars and are places where men meet to talk, chew betel nut (very popular in Burma) and drink.
Most upscale clubs are in luxury hotels. Nightclubs in hotels include The Music Club (at the Park Royal Hotel (admission, US$6, hotel guests, free); Paddy O'Malley's (Sedona Hotel, admission, US$5, including one drink).
There are also nightclubs: BME1 and BME2 in the north of the city, and Pioneer to the east of city centre. Local entertainment plazas that houses karaoke, bars, and discos include Asia, JJ's and 225. Admission is between US$3-5. Beer is around US$1-2. Most up-market discos and nightclubs are frequented by Burmese prostitutes who are eager to talk with foreigners.
Accommodation in Yangon is comparatively much more expensive than Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia or Laos and is of a much much lower standard.
Rooms are abundant except at the height of the tourist season (Dec-Jan), and then only in the popular backpacker hotels. Reservations are almost never necessary. Tourists can still pay in US$ (bring only newer US$ banknotes in good condition), but the kyat is more commonly used now. Credit cards are increasingly accepted at hotels.
Budget hotels (under US$20) are mostly away from city centre. The upside is that the hotels are quieter, the city centre can be quite noisy, and you get a little more room for your money. You'll need a taxi to get to the main sight, the Shwedagon Pagoda anyway. The downside is that most restaurants are in the city centre, a long walk or taxi ride away and choices outside the centre are limited, usually with the only choice being a restaurant attached to the hotel with indifferent cuisine and which may be closed if business is slow. Pazundaung and Botataung Townships seem to have the highest concentration of budget hotels. Some rooms, the cheaper ones, in many budget hotels have no windows. There are a few budget central hotels but, except for a couple, are quite shabby.
Mid-priced hotels (US$20-50) are scattered about the city, with one set concentrated in the few blocks around Sule Pagoda and a second set just north of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Luxury hotels are concentrated around Kandawgyi Lake or city centre.
Rates for hotels are usually quoted as single/double. The room is usually the same but you pay a little extra, about US$5-10, if two people share the room. Breakfast is almost always included and the quality and variety increases with the cost of the hotel. In a budget hotel, expect a banana, an egg, some bread and coffee made from "coffee mix" (a pre-packaged mix of coffee powder, milk powder and lots of sugar).
An important factor in choosing a hotel is electricity. Electricity supply is subject to frequent breaks anywhere in the city. Mid-priced hotels usually have their own generators while budget hotels either do not or have a limited supply: lights will work till 23:00, fans may or may not work, air conditioning never does even if fitted in the room unless state-supplied electricity is available. Ask when you book what the electricity situation is and, if there is no generator, what you can expect on the days that you are there.
- Aung Si Guesthouse, 100 Bogyoke Aung San Rd (Though the address is on Bogyoke Rd. the entrance to the guesthouse is actually on the left side of a small but lively market street (49th St) just north of Bogyoke Aung San), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean rooms with air-con, free Wi-Fi, hot water and electricity available 24 hr. Helpful staff can arrange onward transport and hotel bookings. Free airport pickup is available with bookings of 2 nights or more (arrange by phone or e-mail in advance.) US$25 (double).
- Beautyland Hotel II, 188-192 33rd St (3 blocks from Sule Pagoda, in the middle of 33rd St), ☎ , . Check-out: noon. Friendly and helpful staff in a central location. They have a range of rooms: non-air-con, air-con with TV, air-con with TV & window. Breakfast included. US$30-32 (double), Single US$22-24.
- Cherry Guest House, 278 Ma Har Bando La Garden St. US$20 double.
- Garden Guest House, 441-445 Mahabandoola St (West side of Sule Pagoda), ☎ . Small rooms in dingy surroundings, but with a great location and a great price. Worth it if your budget is tight and you're not fussy about decor. Breakfast is included but is very basic: four slices of bread, no toast, butter and jam, tea or coffee. US$5-16.
- Hninn Si Budget Inn, 213/215 Bota Taung Pagoda Rd. US$23 single.
- Hotel Everest, Bogyoke Aung San St, 51st & 52nd St (A few streets away from Sule Pagoda). The place is not beautiful, but the staff are very friendly. Acceptable for a cheap stay providing you are not a diva and can handle some shabby walls.
- May Fair Inn, No 57 38th St, ☎ . Good central location. Dated rooms but clean bathrooms. The owner is a bit wacky but her daughter is full of useful information. No breakfast. US$10-15.
- 1 Motherland Inn 2, 433 Lower Pazundaung Rd, Pazundaung Township, ☎ . Prices have gone up significantly. Expensive for a guesthouse but still a popular backpacker's place with private and shared baths, and on-site restaurant. They offer free pickup and drop-off from the airport with an early morning breakfast. A long walk or short taxi journey from the city centre. Otherwise the rooms start from US$27 single (fan, shared bath). Seems past its prime, and the low ceiling rooms are sometimes without windows. Internet is 1,000 kyat/h. A cheaper option is the Internet cafe opposite. US$30-42.
- Ocean Pearl Inn, 215 Byotataung Pagoda Rd, Pazundaung Township, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. All rooms have baths, air conditioning, and hot water. 15 minute walk to the city centre. US$18-28.
- Sunflower Hotel, 259/263 Anawratha Rd (Opposite New Delhi Restaurant), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Set on the busy intersection of Anawratha Rd and Shwe Bontha St, a few minutes walk from Sule Pagoda and the railway station, the hotel has a great location, but can be noisy. Cheaper rooms have no windows and a damp mustiness about them, and others are large and roomy with air conditioning and satellite TV. Tasty breakfast included, but some of the reception staff can be surly. US$15-28 single, US$22-37 double, US$29-44 triple.
- Three Seasons Hotel, 83-85 52nd St, Botataung Township, ☎ , fax: . Rooms with shared and private bath. Friendly Indian owners and a good place to stay if you plan on spending a few days in Yangon and need a place to call home. Closer to the centre than Motherland Inn 2, but still a bit of a long walk. US$7-20.
- White House Hotel, 69/71 Konzaydan St, Pabedan Township (A few streets away from Sule Pagoda), ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: 12:00. An 8-storey walk-up backpacker's hotel. The place has a lot of character. Run by a very friendly and helpful family. Penthouse dining area offers amazing views of the city. Reception area finished in a mosaic of different marbles all over, floor, walls, and ceilings. You feel like you're somewhere in Spain in some sort of Gaudi-inspired cave-like room. 24 hour electricity. Some rooms have windows, some not, some have private bath, some shared bath. Provides a great city map with local bus numbers and routes. Most of all, has a good breakfast buffet included in all room rates (the fresh fruit juice of the day is a good start for breakfast) Contains marmalade selection, fruit dessert selection, veggie meal selection, plus a good home made banana or apple pie, watermelon juice with lots of pulp, maybe fried rice now, noodles tomorrow, and some local fare like coconut soup and potato fritters. It compensates for the lack of windows, TV, Internet, air-con and private bath. Free Wi-Fi. US$10 dorm, US$15-25 single, US$20-30 double.
- Sleep In Hostel, 34 9th Street (Lamadow Township), ☎ . 10 bed dorm. with free breakfast $ 8 per person.
- 4 Rivers Youth Hostel, 79, 12th Street, Lanmadaw Township (Opposite Agga Guersthouse), ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 12:00. New hostel with mixed dorms and female dorm. Clean Bathrooms, hot shower, free lockers and baggage storage, air-condition, free wifi, spring matrasses, breakfast included (all you can eat toast and jam). There's a cozy hang-out area with TV and computer. It's a relaxing atmosphere and meeting with other visitors is easy. The woman at the reception is very friendly, and an endless source of information. US$13 dorm.
- 2 Pickled Tea Hostel, 11 Myaynigone Zay Street (10-15 mintues walk from Shwedagon Pagoda), e-mail: email@example.com. Beds clean and comfortable with reading light and electrical socket, towel and lockable cupboard provided, delicious traditional breakfast, kind and attentive staff, nestled in a bustling area. From $19.
- 20th Street Hostel, 23 20th Street. Check-out: 12 noon. free breakfast. free wifi. $8 per dorm bed..
- Alfa Hotel, 41 Nawaday St (Between the Shwedagon Pagoda and downtown). Building is dated, but the staff are helpful and the breakfast is adequate. Wi-Fi reasonably fast. A pleasant bubble tea shop and other small shops are just east on Nawaday St. US$75-100.
- Central Hotel, 335-357 Bogyoke Aung San Rd (Next to Trader's Hotel), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This well-located hotel provides near-luxury facilities at mid-range prices. Rooms are clean and big (don't expect a view) with satellite TV and air conditioning. The rooms are spacious, but a little old. The hotel has room service and a popular coffee shop and Chinese restaurant. 24 hour electricity. This hotel is owned by the government (Yangon City) and an army colonel. US$30-35.
- City Star Hotel, 169/171 Mahabandoola Garden St (Behind City Hall, near Sule Pagoda), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Clean, well kept, and comfortable rooms with TV, minibar, free coffee. 24 hour electricity. US$27 single, US$32 double with breakfast.
- Classique Inn, 53(B) Shwe Taung Kyar St (Golden Valley Rd), Bahan Township, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A small boutique hotel with well-furnished rooms in the quiet area north of the Shwedagon Pagoda. In the embassy district (about 2 km from Shwe Dagon Pagoda) just a few doors down from Bahrain embassy. It is a cute, small, quiet hotel made with teak and decorated with traditional Burmese lacquer ware. Only a couple of minutes away lies Bogalay Mohenga shop which sells great mohinga (perfect for breakfast). US$25-80.
- 3 Clover Hotel, 7A, Wingabar Rd, Bahan Township (Opposite the Japanese Embassy), ☎ , , , . With over 40 rooms, the hotel is equipped with basic amenities like hot water, 24 hour electricity and air conditioning. Wifi is reasonably fast. It is free in reception or $8 for a 1GB card which works in the rooms. The cafe on the rooftop has a great view of the Shwedagon Pagoda. US$30-75.
- East Hotel, 234-240 (1) Quarter Sule Pagoda Rd, Kyauktada Township (Opposite Trader's Hotel, 2-3 blocks behind Sakura Tower), ☎ , , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Rooms are clean, air conditioned, with hot and cold shower. Bath has no door, only a shower curtain and a wall to block off the toilet area. Free Wi-Fi and 24 hr electricity. The staff are friendly and speak English. US$65 with breakfast.
- May Shan Hotel (formerly Guesthouse), 115-117 Sule Pagoda Rd, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean, well-kept, but small rooms right outside the Sule Pagoda. Has its own generator, and the staff are friendly. All rooms have air-con, satellite TV, bath attached with hot and cold shower. A bit run-down. US$15-25.
- New Aye Yar Hotel, 170-175 Bo Aung Kyaw St, Botataung Township (Two blocks west and one block south from Sule Pagoda), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 24 hr, check-out: 12:00 (flexible). Five min walk from Sule Pagoda and around the corner from the Strand, this well-located hotel caters to business travellers. A small, but good restaurant is on the premises, the hotel is centrally air conditioned, and all rooms have satellite TV. (good, but inexperienced service is second to none) US$30-35.
- 4 Panda Hotel, 205 Min Ye Kyaw Swa Rd, Lanmadaw Township (Corner of Wadan St), ☎ , , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Comfortable, if faceless, modern business hotel located at the edge of the city centre. You will need a taxi to get around (easily available in front of the hotel). Wi-Fi available in the lobby. Offers great views of the city, especially from the upper floors. All rooms have satellite TV, air conditioning and attached baths. Is very popular. US$25-38.
- 5 Thamada Hotel, 5 Alan Pya Phaya (Signal Pagoda) Rd (Across from the Park Royal and the railway station), ☎ . Clean and central, but basic. The first international hotel in Yangon, and good value for money. US$25-35.
- Winner Inn, 42 Than Lwin Rd, Bahan Township (Corner of Inya Rd), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: WinnerInn@mptmail.net.mm. Close to the Shwedagon Pagoda, a quiet hotel favoured by German tourists. All rooms with attached bath, air-conditioning and satellite TV. Restaurant on the premises but, if it is not open, it is a bit of a walk to the nearest restaurants near the Savoy. Free Wi-Fi. US$30-55.
- 6 The Strand, 92 Strand Rd. A deluxe colonial hotel built by the Sarkies Brothers in 1901. Meticulously restored, the Strand has huge airy rooms with vintage fittings, teak flooring, and furniture, a cafe and bar. US$450+.
- 7 The Governor's Residence, 35 Taw Win Rd, Dagon Township, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. A renovated teak mansion, formerly a guesthouse for Kachin State officials, is in one of Yangon's most exclusive neighbourhoods. The hotel has 48 rooms and pleasant gardens. Swimming pool and several excellent restaurants on the premises. Close to Shwedagon Pagoda, and one can easily walk to city centre. US$250-300.
- 8 Inya Lake Hotel, 37, Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd. On the shore of Inya Lake, a 30-minute drive from the city centre, depending on traffic. Given as a gift to Myanmar by Nikita Khruschev in 1958 this hotel has plenty of Soviet-inspired style. Known locally for their Sunday brunches and nice pool. Very quiet, next to SOS Clinic.
- 9 Parkroyal Yangon, 33 Alan Pha Phaya Road, Dagon Township, Yangon, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A good quality hotel with 272 rooms. La Brasserie Restaurant, Phoenix Court Chinese Restaurant, Shiki-Tei Japanese Restaurant, and the Lobby Bar. The well-known disco Music Club is in the basement.
- 11 Savoy Hotel, 129 Dhammazedi Rd, ☎ , , , e-mail: email@example.com. Housed in an old colonial building with period furniture and decorations, the Savoy is one of the most charming hotels in Yangon. A short walk to the Shwedagon Pagoda, a swimming pool and an excellent restaurant. Lower than quoted rates are often available on the Internet. US$75-150.
- 12 Sedona Hotel, 1 Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd (Near Inya Lake). Burmese architecture. 366 rooms. From US$60.
- 13 Summit Parkview Hotel, 350 Ahlone Rd, ☎ , , fax: . Just west of Shwedagon Pagoda and with excellent views of that pagoda. Good restaurant and bar.
- 14 Traders Hotel, 223 Sule Pagoda Rd (At the intersection of Sule Pagoda Road and Bogyoke Aung San Rd). The original upscale business hotel in Yangon. Swimming pool, all services and an excellent restaurant. The location is hard to beat. US$100+.
- 15 Yuzana Garden Hotel, 44, Signal Pagoda Rd, Mingalartaungnyunt Township, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 37 rooms in a renovated colonial building. US$100-180.
- 16 Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon (Nikko Royal Lake Yangon), 40 Natmauk Road, Tamwe Township (On North East side of Kandawgyi lake), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A 10-storey hotel with 310 rooms, pool and free wifi. Has six restaurants and bars, a beach-styled swimming pool, fitness centre, spa and event venues Starting from $123.
- 12 Institut Français de Birmanie, 340 Pyay Road (Maha Myaing Bus Stop).
- 13 National Library, Lay Daungkan Rd (East of the Kyaikkasan Grounds, Tamwe Railway Station E 0.6km).
Internet cafes have proliferated in recent years and Yangon has quite a few that provide access at a reasonable speed for a reasonable price. The government no longer blocks any web sites, but connections are not 100% reliable. Many hotels provide Internet services, but these tend to be more expensive than the public cafes. The cheapest rate is around 400 kyat per hour. There are plenty of places so shop around and save some cash.
- Cyber Cafe II (Sule Pagoda Rd across from Traders Hotel). One of the best Internet providers in Burma. Reasonably fast access. 400 kyat/h.
- Tokyo Donuts, Anawratha Rd (Between Sule Pagoda Rd and Phayre St, on the south side of the road). 09:00-21:00. A donut shop with a dozen terminals inside. Accessible USB ports and seems popular with locals. Free Wi-Fi. 400 kyat/h.
- 14 GPO, Strand Rd (Next to U.K. embassy).
Photography & Video
- Thein Win / Modern Camera shop, 179, 33rd St, middle block (from the corner with Anawratha Rd, 6th shop on the left hand side walking south), ☎ . Great place to repair all sorts of cameras. New and second-hand accessories and cameras for both analog and digital. The owner is an experienced and passionate photographer, who speaks good English. Can also recommend places for other photography-related needs.
Despite widespread poverty, Yangon is one of the safest big cities in the world. Most people, including single females, will not have any problems roaming the streets alone at night, and carrying large amounts of cash rarely poses a problem. Crimes against tourists are taken very seriously by the military government and punishment is often disproportionately severe. This, in addition to the strong Buddhist culture in the population, means that Yangon's crime rate is lower than the likes of Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Violent crime is especially rare. However, little crime does not mean no crime, and there have been isolated incidents involving tourists, so it is best to take normal big city precautions like avoiding lonely areas at night and always being aware of your valuables. As with everywhere else in the world, there is no substitute for common sense.
Prostitution and drug trafficking are illegal, though there are plenty of prostitutes in Yangon, often in bars owned by senior army officers. Drug trafficking is punishable by death.
Be wary of over-friendly locals who offer to take you around or to places they are going. They may turn out to be genuine tour guides. And maybe not. It is easy to find a tour guide as they will approach you at tourist attractions. A tour of Yangon for half a day costs around US$5-10 while a full day trip or half a day trip to another city such as Thanlyin from Yangon costs around US$10-15.
The most common crime in Yangon is being short-changed by a money changer, so count your kyat carefully when you exchange money. Opt to exchange at the Bogyoke Market, where the rates may be slightly worse, but the jewellery shop owners won't rip you off. Do not fall for the "bad serial number" excuse, it's another attempt to con you (however, US dollars with "CB" serial numbers may be fakes). Be especially careful with the money changer around Sule Paya. They count the money in front of you, but will trick you while doing that (they have fast hands.) People are strongly advised not to change money there.
There are a multitude of fake monks along the street near Sule-Shangri La Hotel (formally Traders) and Bogyoke Market. Authentic monks do not hang around tourist attractions soliciting donations.
- Yangon can be extremely hot with intense sun. Shield yourself from the sun and heat by using an umbrella, drinking plenty of water, and staying inside during the noon hours.
- Yangon's tap water is not potable. Always buy bottled water or refill bottles at purified water jars. Temples supply free purified water (large steel tanks), and most shop keepers are happy to let you top up at their water jugs.
- Mosquitoes carry dengue and malaria. Insist on using a mosquito net at night if it is available. Make sure there are no holes or gaps left in the net. Your second line of defense is mosquito coils and mosquito repellent.
- Street food is almost universally unsafe and can be a source of everything from diarrhoea to typhoid and parasites. Stick to indoor restaurants and tea shops with non-dirt floors.
- Street dogs are occasionally rabid: Pass them with caution, and be aware that can form aggressive packs.
- There are open sewers all over Yangon. Be extremely wary during rainy season when many flood. You could accidentally find yourself standing chest deep in a sewer. The typical layout is shop-sewer ditch-pavement-street-pavement-sewer ditch-shop. Some sections of sewer are covered for walking ease, others are not. During rainy season, be cautious of any cuts you may have on your feet as the flooded water in the streets is contaminated and can lead to infections.
- Drivers are reckless. If your taxi driver is behaving recklessly tell them to slow down. Be insistent; traffic deaths are extremely common.
- Many drugs in pharmacies are fake. Golden Bell Pharmacy listed below is reputable.
Tuberculosis and AIDS (known as "A-I-D Five" among locals) afflict a disproportionately high percentage of the people. However, HIV infection is not at the epidemic level (infection rates are much less than 1%). There is a risk of dengue fever. Malaria is a risk in rural areas.
Medical care is limited, but is most expedient at private medical clinics. Government hospitals are usually unreliable and require bribes. Do not seek medical care at the General Hospital (on Bogyoke Aung San Rd, sandwiched between Bo Ywe St and Lanmadaw St). It is unsanitary and inefficient. Most guesthouses and hotels will be able to provide you with the address of a private doctor with experience in treating foreigners. Be sure to take the proper vaccinations before you leave for your trip. Carry a small first-aid kit with you containing at least painkillers, band-aid, ORS and a loperamide-like medicine. Anti-malarial pills and DEET are recommended.
- 15 Yangon General Hospital, Anawratha Rd, Dagon (Latha Bus Stop).
- SOS Clinic, Inya Lake Hotel complex (Tell the taxi driver to take you to the Inya Lake Hotel). Western trained doctors can provide you urgent care. Faster than going to Bangkok. Charges in US$, accepts cards. Price to see a doctor and get medicine for food poisoning 70$.
- Pun Hlaing Clinic, 4th Floor, 380, Bogyoke Aung San Rd, FMI Centre, Pabedan, Yangon (Tell the taxi driver "FMI Center Bo-joe Len" FMI Centre, next to Bogyoke market.). Good quality local doctors available in a range of specialities. Many of them studied or practiced in the West. Charges in Kyat.
- Golden Bell Pharmacy, NO.006 Yuzana Tower, Shwe Gone Dine (Tell the taxi driver Yuzana Tower). The only Pharmacy SOS Clinic trusts to sell genuine medicine.
In the event of an emergency, always take the precaution of registering at your embassy. Many details can also be found here: https://www.embassypages.com/myanmar
- 16 Australia, 88, Strand Rd (Faces the Strand Hotel).
- Bangladesh, 11B Thanlwin Rd.
- Cambodia, 25 New University Ave Rd.
- Canada, The Australian Embassy provides assistance.
- China, 1, Pyidaungsu Yeiktha Rd, is a clearly visible building with red paint.
- France, 1, 102 Pyidaungsu Yeiktha Rd, is near the outskirts of the city.
- 17 Germany, 32, Natmauk Rd (North of Kandawgyi Lake).
- 18 India, 545-547 Merchant St (Two blocks east from Maha Bandoola Garden).
- Indonesia, 100 Pyidaungsu Yeiktha Rd.
- 19 Israel, 15 Kabaung Rd (West of Inya Lake. Nearby: Ta Dar Phyu Bus Stop).
- Italy, 3 Inya Myaing Rd.
- Japan, 100, Natmauk Rd (North of the Kandawgyi Lake).
- Korea, 97 University Ave Rd.
- Laos, A1 Diplomatic Quarters, Taw Win St.
- Malaysia, 82 Pyidaungsu Yeiktha Rd.
- Nepal, 16 Natmauk Rd.
- Netherlands, The German Embassy provides assistance.
- New Zealand, The UK Embassy provides assistance.
- Pakistan, 4A Pyay Rd.
- Philippines, 50 Sayasan St.
- Russia, 38 Sagawa Road
- 20 Singapore, 238 Dharma Zedi St (East of Savoy Hotel).
- Sri Lanka, 34 Taw Win St.
- Sweden, The UK Embassy provides assistance.
- Switzerland, The German Embassy provides assistance.
- Thailand, 94 Pyay St.
- 21 United Kingdom, 80, Strand Rd (adjacent to the Australian embassy.).
- 22 United States, 110 University Avenue Rd.
- Vietnam, 72 Thanlwin Rd.
- Yangon International Airport - Taxi to airport is 7,000 kyat per head including baggage. Your hotel manager may well drive you to the airport. There is a beautiful 3-storey mural, a nice composition of Burmese countryside and lifestyle in the style of idyllic romanticism worth taking souvenir photo of as you go to immigration on the second floor departure area.
- Bago (Pegu) - an important city with pagodas and monasteries 60 km north of Yangon. An easy day trip.
- Mandalay - overnight buses, and expensive government trains, leave for Mandalay daily. Bus tickets can be booked at the number of travel agents just north of Yangon railway station.
- Mawlamyine - A pleasant seaside city with a few daytrip possibilities. 9 hr express train runs there each morning about 06:15 (and an 11 hr slow train at 07:00). Ordinary tickets (with no seat reservations) cost foreigners US$5, while upper class tickets are US$14. You get your own seat and it's slightly less crowded, but there isn't much difference between classes.
- Pathein (Bassein) - famous for its paper umbrellas and stunning religious architecture, and an overnight boat away (or 4 hours by rented car, more by bus) to the west. From Pathein it's only a few hours by bus or pick-up truck on to the beaches of Chaungtha and Ngwe Saung.
- Taukkyan - about an hour's drive (35 km) of central Yangon, and site of the Taukkyan War Cemetery.
- Thanlyin - once an important city on the Irrawaddy Delta, and gateway to Kyauktan (Syriam), a small island in the Yangon River, which is the site of the 4th century Ye Le Paya.
- Twante - the most accessible delta town to Yangon, makes for a nice half- or full-day trip.
- Bagan - 18,000 kyat 13 hr
- Bago - 7,000 kyat, 2 hr every hour from 07:00
- Mandalay - standard 10,500 kyat, VIP 5,000 kyat 9 hr
- Mawlamyine - 10,000 kyat, VIP 7 hr, 21:00 & 08:30