Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is the largest city in Myanmar and serves as the country’s economic, cultural, and political hub. Located on the banks of the Yangon River, Yangon boasts a rich history, a vibrant culture, and a fascinating mix of architectural styles. From its impressive colonial-era buildings to its bustling street markets and vibrant nightlife, Yangon has something to offer every traveler.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a closer look at everything you need to know about traveling to Yangon, from getting there and getting around to the best things to see and do while you’re in the city.
Getting to Yangon
If you’re planning a trip to Yangon, the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out how to get there. Luckily, there are several options available, depending on where you’re coming from and your budget.
The easiest and most convenient way to get to Yangon is by air. The city is served by Yangon International Airport, which is located about 20 km north of the city center. There are several airlines that fly to Yangon from major cities around the world, including Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong. Some of the major airlines that serve Yangon include Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, and Cathay Pacific.
If you’re traveling overland from Thailand, you can enter Myanmar via the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border crossing, which is located about 4 hours from Yangon. However, it’s important to note that this border crossing is not always open to foreigners, and you may need to obtain a special permit to enter Myanmar.
If you’re coming from India, you can also travel to Yangon by sea. There are regular ferry services that operate between Chennai and Yangon, with the journey taking around 3 days.
Getting Around Yangon
Once you’ve arrived in Yangon, you’ll need to figure out how to get around the city. There are several options available, depending on your budget and your preferred mode of transportation.
Taxis are widely available in Yangon and are a convenient way to get around the city. However, it’s important to negotiate the fare before you get in, as taxi drivers in Yangon are notorious for overcharging tourists.
There are several bus routes that operate throughout Yangon, and this is a great way to get around if you’re on a tight budget. However, the buses can be overcrowded and uncomfortable, especially during peak hours.
Yangon has a comprehensive railway network that connects the city with other major destinations in Myanmar. This is a great way to see the countryside and experience the local culture, but the trains can be slow and not always punctual.
Where to Stay in Yangon
Yangon has a wide range of accommodation options, from budget guesthouses to luxurious hotels. Here are some of the best places to stay in the city:
If you’re traveling on a budget, there are several guesthouses and hostels in Yangon that offer affordable accommodation. Some of the best options include Agga Youth Hotel, Backpacker Bed & Breakfast, and Little Yangon Hostel.
If you’re looking for something a little more comfortable, there are several mid-range hotels in Yangon that offer great value for money. Some of the best options include Hotel G, The Loft Hotel, and Hotel Grand United.
For those who want to indulge in a little luxury, there are several high-end hotels in Yangon that offer luxurious amenities and world-class service. Some of the best options include The Strand Yangon, Belmond Governor’s Residence, and Sule Shangri-La Yangon.
Top Things to See and Do in Yangon
Yangon is a city rich in history and culture, with plenty of attractions and activities to keep you busy during your stay. Here are some of the top things to see and do in Yangon:
The Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most iconic landmarks in Myanmar and a must-visit attraction when in Yangon. This towering gold-plated pagoda stands at over 100 meters tall and is said to contain relics of four Buddhas.
The Sule Pagoda is another important religious site in Yangon and is believed to be over 2,000 years old. It’s a great place to take in the city’s skyline and immerse yourself in local culture.
Yangon Circular Train:
The Yangon Circular Train is a great way to see the city and experience local life. The train takes you on a 3-hour journey through Yangon’s suburbs and rural areas, giving you a glimpse into the daily lives of the locals.
Bogyoke Aung San Market:
The Bogyoke Aung San Market, also known as Scott Market, is a bustling indoor market that sells everything from souvenirs and handicrafts to clothing and jewelry. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs and pick up some local goods.
Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple:
The Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple is home to one of the largest reclining Buddha statues in Southeast Asia, measuring over 65 meters long. The temple is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in Buddhist culture.
Food and Drink in Yangon
Myanmar is known for its delicious and unique cuisine, and Yangon is no exception. Here are some of the best dishes and drinks to try while you’re in the city:
Mohinga is Myanmar’s national dish and a must-try when in Yangon. This hearty fish soup is made with rice noodles, fish broth, lemongrass, and a variety of herbs and spices.
Tea Leaf Salad:
Tea leaf salad is a popular dish in Myanmar and a great way to try something new. This salad is made with fermented tea leaves, peanuts, sesame seeds, and a variety of other ingredients, giving it a unique and complex flavor.
Burmese curry is another staple of Myanmar cuisine and is a must-try when in Yangon. This dish is typically made with chicken or beef, along with a variety of spices and vegetables, and is served with rice.
Myanmar Beer is the most popular beer in Myanmar and a great way to cool down on a hot day. This lager is light and refreshing, with a crisp, clean taste.
Safety and Security in Yangon
Myanmar has experienced political unrest in recent years, and it’s important to take precautions when traveling to Yangon. Here are some safety and security tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid political demonstrations and protests, as they can quickly turn violent.
- Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.
- Keep a low profile and avoid displaying any signs of wealth.
- Carry a photocopy of your passport and visa with you at all times.
- Keep your valuables and important documents in a safe place.
- Use common sense and trust your instincts.
Yangon is a fascinating and vibrant city with a rich history and culture. From its impressive pagodas and temples to its bustling markets and delicious cuisine, there’s something for everyone in Yangon. While the city has faced political challenges in recent years, it remains a safe and welcoming destination for travelers who take the necessary precautions. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just want to experience something new, Yangon is a destination that should be on your travel bucket list.