Yangon, the pagoda capital

Yangon, Myanmar, travel, Kinga Szilagyi, Kettle Mag
Written by kszil

This year I stepped outside of my comfort zone and I travelled solo around Myanmar for winter vacation. Before I left on vacation, I told many of my friends where I am going and I kept getting the same response, “What country you going to? Oh, so where is that again?” Myanmar, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and also known as Burma, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia sharing borders with Thailand on the east and Bangladesh on the west.

Before departing, ensure that you check whether you need a visa. As an American citizen, I had to get an electronic visa before arrival which was $55 and it took about 24 hours to process (online application and picture must be uploaded, e-visa sent via email).

Geography lesson, check! Visa, check! 72 hours in Yangon, let’s start!

Yangon is the most populated and former capital city of Myanmar. I’d say I enjoyed Yangon the most and it reminded me a little of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. As a city girl, I cannot say how much I loved Yangon. (Warning: You will be suprised to see food being prepared on the corner of the street and babies crawling around in the sewage.) 

Local highlights

I stayed in Chinatown at 15th Street @ Downtown Yangon. (Warning: Most taxi drivers in Yangon don’t speak English and can’t read Romanized letters. Make sure you have your address written in Burmese letters and/or a working cell phone to call the hotel.)

I started out my morning at Lucky 7 which is a small-chain traditional tea shop with small dishes (but very cheap) like samosa and noddles. Since I am a person who likes goes to cities to explore food,  I ended up walking to Little India to eat some more Indian food. Towards the end of the street you will see Sule Pagoda where you can shopping and go up on a small pedestrian bridge to further enjoy the city views. I enjoyed an cup of afternoon tea at the Rangoon Tea House where I had traditional Burmese brewed sweet tea. And to watch the sunset I went to the famous Shwedagon Pagoda which is a sacred and religious site for Buddhists. 

The next day, I started my day at Bogyoke Aung San Market where you can find anything and everything you want. (Warning: Be ready to haggle and ask for lower prices usually but only about 10-25% lower (500 to 1000 kyat)) If you walk towards the end of the market, there is a bridge and you can watch the slow inner city train run underneath your feet. (Warning: Be patient because the train runs slow and infrequnetly.)

Right off the bridge on the left side, there is a wonderful café where I had a wonderful cup of coffee and Nutella crepe. After a little refreshment, I went to Chauktatgyi Paya, which is also referred to as the largest Reclining Buddha in Yangon. After a pit stop for samosas and some tea, I was ready to go to Kandawgyi Lake. It is sometimes referred to as the Royal Lake being one of the two major artificial lakes in Yangon.

After a long stroll around the park and endless pictures, I ended up at Easy Café (Check out my Instagram page for a direct map location). The area where Easy Café is located is well known for their western bars and restaurants therefore everyone speaks English. Before ending my evening, I went for a quick tour around the National Museum which covers ancient history to the present day. (Warning: There are lots of old pre-historic rocks (kudos if you like that) and information about British colonial occupation might have been missing.)

If you want to explore some of the local night scene without going clubbing, head to the marina near the Vintage Luxury Yacht Hotel. I was told that this is a secret local hang out area for people in their twenties. There are lots of areas where you can sit on the dock and relax with a few cold drinks and snacks while getting a nice breeze. 

Yangon is trying to become an upcoming new modern city but it still needs a few more years until its ready to fully handle a city explorer like myself.