Yangon (formerly Rangoon) was once the official capital of Myanmar (Naypyidaw is the present capital), yet it is still the most commercial and largest city in the country. One of the major features of the local skyline is the Shwedagon Paya, which is a stunning Buddhist temple with the ability to attract pilgrims from across the world.
The vibrant city of Yangon is located in the south of the country and on the eastern bank of the Hlaing River. This city is well worth a visit on the Myanmar tour packages for its fantastic sights that make it possible to explore well-preserved Buddhist temples, stupas and pagodas.
For travellers that are arriving by air, it is possible to watch down on the city's amazing landscape that is covered in greenery and golden domes.
The preferred time to visit Yangon on the Indochina tour packages is between November and February when the climate is a lot drier and cooler than the rest of the year. The temperature range from December to January is in the region of 33° C, but this will start to increase from February to May. During this period the temperature is more intense with high humidity and reaching 38° C. From June to September the rainy season starts and this can disrupt the travel experience and make exploring the sights more difficult.
How to get there
The easiest route into Yangon according to the Myanmar travel guide is by flight with plenty of international and domestic services flying at regular intervals. Domestic flights come from a lot of cities throughout the country, including Mandalay, Bagan, Heho, Kawthaung, Kalaymyo, Myeik and Dawei. From the Yangon International Airport it is a relatively short taxi ride to reach the centre of downtown Yangon and costs in the region of $6.
Getting around in Yangon on foot is relatively easy, with many of the tourist areas not that large. But, most of the pavements get quite crowded during the day, especially in areas like Anwaratha Road. Plus, the streets are busy with vendors selling day-to-day items to hot food like curry and samosas. Also, the paths and sidewalks aren’t well-maintained with a lot of unstable drains, mismatched pavers and large holes. So, for travels in low-light conditions it is essential to take more care when walking through town.
For longer journeys around town, the preferred mode of transport is the taxi which is easily picked up on the Yangon streets. But, similar to the condition of the paths, the taxis aren’t that well maintained with most in a quite dilapidated condition. The roving taxis are the most affordable. Even though the taxis parked up waiting for custom outside the hotel are convenient, the cost is more than double the cost of flagging down a taxi on the street.
The taxi drivers rarely use the meters, so it is essential to negotiate prices before starting the journey. Most trips in the local Yangon area, such as visiting the major hotels, Kandawgyi, or downtown should cost in the region of $2-$3. But the price can increase when travelling to major tourist attractions like the Shwedagon Pagoda. Plus, the rates can also increase late at night or when it rains.
Where to stay
The hotels in certain regions of Myanmar can be quite expensive (compare to neighbouring Thailand) because the demand outweighs the supply. This is certainly true for Yangon, which has plenty of upscale hotels that can cost in excess of $500 per night. Most of the hotels intended for the tourists on the Indochina tour packages have access to electricity with no power cuts, while also offering a decent Wi-Fi service.
Eat and drink
The food served in Yangon has plenty of influences from neighbouring cuisines such as China, Malaysia and Thailand. A benefit of this is the varied mix of dishes in the local restaurants. Several of the preferred dishes in the local area include Nga Phe Ohn No Chet (Fish cake in coconut curry), Kyther Hin (Traditional chicken curry), and Mohinga (Rice noodles in fish soup).
There is a great street stall scene in the local area which makes it really easy to try the local and authentic Myanmar food. Street sellers provide a varied diet with a choice of crabs, omelettes, kebabs and grilled fish.
The Monsoon is the perfect choice for the travellers that preferred the traditional restaurant atmosphere with its high-quality food and housed in a colonial building. The menu is a combination of Vietnamese, Laotian, Thai and Myanmar dishes.
Other choices include 50th Street Cafe Restaurant Bar which is a perfect destination for the tourists and local expats. The menu consists of Asian and Western food and has the look of an American style bar with its widescreen TV, darts and pool tables.
Yangon is a very colourful and bustling destination that makes it possible to shop for a wide range of goods, such as handicrafts, jewelery, artefacts, silverware, clothes and textiles. Plus, Myanmar is well-known for its production of gems, such as jade, sapphire and rubies, so there are plenty of shops that trade in these particular types of items.
The most attractive prices for the gifts and souvenirs are in the local markets which are easily found in the centre of town.
Things to see and do
The Shwedagon Pagoda
One of the top destinations to visit on the Myanmar tour packages to Yangon includes the Shwedagon Pagoda which is a very important Buddhist site. Tourists can explore the pagoda from early morning and is estimated to be nearly 2500 years old. It is set on a hill and stands out from far off in the city. The pagoda is covered in precious stones and gold bells with over 2300 rubies and 5400 diamonds.
A visit to Inya Lake is great to completely relax after a busy period of sightseeing. There are a few nice hotels by the lake for the longer stay if preferred. Beyond the activities on the lake, there is also an amusement park in the local area.
Myanmar is well known for its gems, so for the tourists interested in learning more about the gem history this museum is certain to be a practical destination. A major source of gem mining is located close to Mandalay. Popular gems include jade, sapphires and rubies. The exhibits in the museum are showcased by state run and private enterprises.