Myanmar, formerly Burma, has a plethora of attractions to offer. Just within the vicinity of its capital city, Yangon, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring this country's unique culture and the influences that history has had on it. From pagodas to churches and synagogues and from markets to lakes and public parks, here is a list to top places to see in Yangon.
No tour of Myanmar is complete without a visit to the 2500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda, which enshrines strands of Buddha's hair and other holy relics. Located west of the Royal Lake, on a 114 -acre Singuttara Hill in Yangon, Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred and impressive Buddhist site for the people Myanmar. From a humble beginning of 8.2 meters, the Shwedagon Pagoda today stands close to 110 meters.
Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha
The impressive 65 meters long and 16 meters high Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha image wears a golden robe; the right arm of the Buddha supports the back of his head. The Reclining Buddha image is decorated with expressive colors, a white face, red lips, blue eye shadow, and red finger nails. The soles of the feet contain 108 segments in red and gold colors that show images representing the 108 lakshanas or auspicious characteristics of the Buddha.
The Botataung Pagoda is located in downtown Yangon, near the Yangon river. According to local belief, the pagoda was first built by the Mon around the same time as Shwedagon Pagoda — over 2500 years ago, and it was known as Kyaik-de-att in Mon language. The pagoda is hollow within, and houses what is believed to be a sacred hair of Gautama Buddha.
Saint Mary's Cathedral Church
Saint Mary's Cathedral or Immaculate Conception Cathedral is a Catholic church located on Bo Aung Kyaw Street in Botahtaung Township, Yangon. The cathedral's exterior, of red brick, consists of spires and a bell tower. It was designed by Dutch architect Joseph Cuypers, son of Pierre Cuypers. The cathedral is the largest in Burma. Located on the grounds of the cathedral is a Basic Education High School which is locally known as "Saint Paul's High School", although it has no religious affiliation to the Catholic Church today.
Kandawgyi Garden or Kandawgyi Nature Park is a popular recreation centre in Yangon. The area of the Garden is 110 acres, water areas is 150 acres, which makes it spread over a total of 260 acres. You can find a variety of beautiful flowers and large shady trees here. There is also an orchid garden, the children play-ground, Mini Zoo, the souvenir shops and many restaurants. The playgrounds and picnic areas are a favourite spot for locals.
Inya Lake (University Avenue Road)
Inya Lake (Lake Victoria) is the largest lake in Yangon and a popular recreational area for Yangonites, especially young couples. Inya Road is on the southwest, University Avenue on the south, and Kaba Aye Pagoda Road is on the east.
Inya Lake (Pyay Road)
Located 6 miles (10km) north of downtown Yangon, Inya Lake is bounded by Parami Road on the north, Pyay Road on the west.
Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue
Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue is the last remaining Jewish house of worship in Downtown Yangon and Burma's only synagogue. The temple stands nestled between Indian paint shops and Muslim traders on a small street near the city centre. A plaque at the entrance of the building states that the present stone building which was built between 1893 – 1896 replaced an earlier, smaller wooden structure that was erected in 1854. It is one of 188 sites on the Yangon City Development Council’s list of Heritage Buildings. It serves the few remaining Jews of the country - mostly descendants of Sephardic Jewish Iraqis.
Bogyoke Aung San Market (Closed on Monday)
Bogyoke Aung San Market is a major bazaar located in Pabedan township in central Yangon. Known for its colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets, the market is a major tourist destination, dominated by antique, Burmese handicraft and jewellery shops, art galleries, and clothing stores. Bogyoke Market is a popular black market location to exchange currency. The market also has a number of stores for local shoppers, selling medicine, food, garments and foreign goods.
National Museum (Closed on Monday)
The National Museum in Yangon showcases Burmese art, history and culture. Founded in 1952, the five-story museum has an extensive collection of ancient artifacts, ornaments, works of art, inscriptions and historic memorabilia, related to history, culture and civilization of Burmese people.
Down town (China town, colonial buildings, Sule Pagoda)
Downtown Yangon (also known as the Yangon Central Business District or Yangon CBD; formerly the Cantonment) is the central business district of Yangon, located close to the geographic center of the metropolitan area. The area features many of the city's major arts institutions and sports facilities.
Tomb of Bahadur Shah Zafar
Tomb of Bahadur Shah Zafar is one of the most famous destination in Yangon. It is the final resting place of the exiled 18th-century Indian king.
The Maha Wizaya Pagoda is a pagoda located on Shwedagon Pagoda Road in Dagon Township, Yangon. The pagoda, built in 1980, is located immediately south of the Shwedagon Pagoda on Dhammarakhita Hill.The enshrined relics were contributed by the King of Nepal, while the pagoda's hti (umbrella) was consecrated by Ne Win, the country's former leader. The construction of this particular pagoda is believed by some scholars to have been a form of merit-making on the part of Ne Win. The pagoda was built to commemorate the convening of the First Congregation of All Orders for the Purification, Perpetuation and Propagation of Sasana in 1980, which formed the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, a governmental regulatory body of Buddhist monks.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
Holy Trinity Cathedral is the primary Anglican cathedral in Myanmar, located on Bogyoke Aung San Road (next to Bogyoke Aung San Market) in Latha Township, Yangon. The cathedral was designed by Robert Chisholm, a Madras-based architect, in the Indo-Saracenic style in order to adapt to warm and humid conditions. Construction began in 1886, with the laying of the foundation stone by Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy of India, and was completed in 1894. The pipe organ was destroyed during the Second World War and could not be restored; so an electric substitute organ was installed. The stained glass windows were repaired in 2003. The cathedral is listed on the Yangon City Heritage List and is located next to a formerly associated missionary school, Basic Education High School No. 2 Pabedan (formerly Saint Mary's School). The current Vicar/Dean, the Very Rev'd Reginald Bennett, is also on the faculty of Holy Cross Theological College, 104 Inya Laan, Yangon. The cathedral has, historically, strong connections with the British military regiments who were in occupation during the period of the British Empire. Here, are several wall tabletures in memorium of the deaths of many young members of the military, although the well kept surrounding gardens do not contain any burials.
Armenian Apostolic Church
There is actually one older church which is a ruined Portuguese church dating from 1740 but this church from 1869 is the oldest church in active use. It is a small chapel built by the Armenian community in Yangon in the mid 19th Century. It is a charming colonial church in downtown Yangon. It is relatively plain with some nice Gothic windows, some decorative details inside and a painting of the last supper hanging above the altarpiece. There is a nice churchyard and the church itself is shaded by verandas on two sides. There is a small steeple on top.
University of Yangon formerly Rangoon College, Rangoon University and Rangoon Arts and Sciences University is located in Kamayut and is the oldest and most well-known university in Myanmar. The university now offers mainly undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in liberal arts, sciences and law.
Kheng Hock Keong Chinese Temple
Kheng Hock Keong Temple located on the corner of Sintodan Street and Strand Road in Latha Township, Yangon is the largest and oldest Chinese folk temple dedicated to the goddess Mazu. It was originally built as a wooden temple in 1861 and completed in 1863. A new brick building was completed in 1903, costing over 153,000 rupees. Kheng Hock Keong is maintained by a Hokkien Chinese clan association. The temple attracts mostly Hokkien and Hakka worshipers, while the other temple in Latha Township, called the Guanyin Gumiao Temple, attracts Cantonese worshipers.