Heading to Burma's former capital and unsure where to begin?
Here are a few ideas to get you started...
1. Head to the Shwedagon Pagoda
Nobody could visit Yangon and fail to notice the Swedagon Pagoda. This glittering, golden spire presides over Burma's largest city, winking in the sun just as it did when Kipling first alighted here in 1889 - and indeed (if you believe the legends) as it has done for over 2,600 years.
Shwedagon is not just the holiest monument in Burma, it is also one of the oldest Buddhist pagodas in the world, and provides a religious and social hub for the people of Yangon.
2. Take a Sunset Cruise on the Yangon River
What better way to conclude a busy day of sightseeing than with a relaxing cruise on the Yangon River as the sun goes down on the city? You'll be able to enjoy a cold beer or cocktail as you take in the city from a different perspective, watching life on the waterfront as the city melts away into countryside.
3. Go Cycling in the Suburbs
It may be the country's capital, but Yangon is still a relatively small city. The surrounding countryside and its small towns and villages are therefore easily accessible by bicycle.
An excellent route to try begins in Dhala, a short ferry ride across the Yangon River, and takes you along winding roads through paddy fields, bamboo forests and stilt villages (via the Snake Temple, where 50 Burmese pythons have the run of the buildings!) to the town of Twante. This is a fantastic way to explore the contrasts between central Yangon and its rural outskirts.
4. Discover Yangon's Colonial Heritage
Yangon boasts more colonial buildings than any other Southeast Asian city, many of which have stood untouched throughout Burma's long period of isolation. A colonial walking tour of the city centre will introduce you to some of the city's architectural gems, including City Hall and St Mary's Cathedral, while introducing you to some of the country's troubled history. Be sure to include a stop at the Strand Hotel for high tea!
5. Ride the Circle Train
For a taste of everyday life in Yangon, we recommend heading away from the city centre with its grand buildings and religious monuments. One of the best ways to explore the city suburbs is by catching the circle train, alighting at a few stops along the way to explore the local districts, where tourists are few and you can appreciate the day-to-day routine of the ordinary Burmese.
Though anybody can buy a train ticket and explore at their leisure, we highly recommend enlisting the services of a guide to introduce you to the best markets and give you some background on Burmese culture and traditions.