Rangoon Things to Do Tips by planxty Top 5 Page for this destination
Rangoon Things to Do: 174 reviews and 382 photos
Strand hotel, Rangoon, Myanmar.
The Strand Hotel is nothing short of a national landmark. It speaks of a time all but gone, and is the very height of colonial refinement. It is almost inevitably equated with the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and it is very impressive inside and out following a multi million pound refurbishment a few years ago. I'm told it even has a steam driven lift (elevator)! Apparently, Mick Jagger stays here when he's in town.
With rooms starting at over 400 USD I'm not suggesting that you actually stay here, unless you are on an expense account or extremely rich. However, as a small "splurge" it's nice to visit the extremely pleasant bar which is open to non-residents. The surroundings are lovely, with a baby grand piano and a half-size snooker table serving as a pool table, and the service, as you might imagine, is superb.
It is certainly a lot more expensive than other places in Yangon, but not outrageously so. the draught beer is 2 USD a glass (it is about 35 cents in a normal bar) but this still works out about the same price as London.
Address: 92 Strand Road, Yangon, Myanmar
Directions: On the Strand opposite the ferry terminal, near the Customs House.
Other Contact: email@example.com (email).
Phone: +00 95 1 243 377
Shwedagon Paya, Yangon, Myanmar.
Whilst there is a National Monument in downtown Yangon (see seperate tip) it is a modern, concrete pillar. For my money the true National Monument of Yangon, indeed Myanmar, has to be the Shwedagon Paya. You can see it from just about everywhere in town, but it is only when you go there that you appreciate the scale and majesty of the place.
The bald figures themselves are impressive but do not nearly do justice to it. It stands on 14 acres of ground, is about 300 feet high, covered in 90 tons (yes, 90 TONS) of gold and topped by an 87 carat diamond. Given that amount of gold it positively glows in the bright Myanmar sun, and becomes even more magical when lit up at at night.
The complex itself consists of various prayer halls, great bells, shrines etc. and there are also a couple of exhibitions tracing the history of the place and of the life of Buddha. It is no exaggeration to say that no visit to Myanmar would be complete without a trip here.
There is a $5 entrance fee for foreigners, and the complex is open from very early until 2200 hours. I would suggest the best time to visit is in the late afternoon. The sun is not so hot (remember you have to walk atound in bare feet) and the sunset views over the city are spectacular.
I took so many photos here, I haven't got room to put them all here on the tip, so please check out my Shwedagon travelogue on this page for a few more.
Address: Shwedagon Paya Road.
Directions: You literally cannot miss it. Walk up Shwedagon Paya Road from downtown and it's in front of you.
Botataung Paya, Yangon, Myanmar.
I suppose anything must suffer somewhat from comparison to Shwedagon Paya (see seperate tip and travelogue) and this place, another of the major temples in Yangon (Rangoon) certainly does, being neither so old nor so grand, but it is certainly an intersting place to visit.
The name Botataung actually means 1000 generals and the story behind this runs as follows. Eight strands of Buddha's hair were obtained in India by a pair of Burmese merchants and returned home up the Ayerawaddy River to Yangon (Rangoon). So important was this event deemed to be that the boat was met by the aforementioned 1000 generals as a sign of reverence. The eight strands of hair were all held on this site for a time before being distributed elsewhere, although there is still said to be one hair within the stupa.
The reason the Paya is not as ancient as Shwedagon is that during World War 2, Allied bombers reduced the place to rubble whilst bombing the nearby docks. After the War, a great effort was made and the place was rebuilt, a process which continues to this day (I saw a new temple being constructed near the entrance gate).
One unusual feature of the place is that the stups is hollow and you can walk round a glass mosaic walkway where numerous religious artefacts are displayed (see photo). I have never seen another stupa like this on my travels in Southeast Asia.
Another interesting little sight are the turtles in the pond beside the bridge to the left as you enter.
entrance is 2 USD for foreigners with an additional fee of 1USD for a stills camera or 2USD for video. You can leave your footwear with the guy in the office where you get your ticket.
Address: Strand Road.
Directions: between Strand Road and the river, near Botataung jetty.
planxty diligently researching, Yangon, Myanmar.
Theingyi Zei market is even larger than Bogokye Aung San market (see seperate tip), and so this would stand quite easily as a shopping tip. However, the new "mall" style section of the market affords great opportunities for sitting, having a beer (as pictured) and people watching. The place to be is in one of the several outdoor bars on the first floor. You see all the passing shoppers and are in a great position to observe the teeming street life below. I had a great time here with numerous people stopping by to have their photo taken. I felt a bit like one of the papparazzi!
As for the shopping, I found the new mall bit atouch disappointing, with many of the shop units empty. Perhaps the residents of Yangon just prefer old-fashioned markets.
Address: Shwedagon Paya Road.
Sunset over the Ayerawaddy river, Yangon, Myanmar.
I love rivers. I live near a large river. I particularly love Asian rivers (the Mekong is probably my favourite), so you can imagine I gravitated fairly quickly towards the Ayearawaddy (Irrawaddy) when I got to Yangon (Rangoon). This particular river really is the main artery of the country, providing a transport infrastructure and livlihood for countless thousands of Burmese people. The tmeporary "islands" created by the annual floods are tilled as arable land by the industrious river people and fishing provides another source of income. In Yangon, the river is bustling with life - it is a major port, after all, and is well worth a walk along.
Like most places in Asia (rivers included), it is probably seen to best advantage at sunset (another thing I've got a fixation with), and, although the photos perhaps don't really do it justice, it really is quite magical.
Access isn't available all over, and the best places are either at the ferry port opposite the Strand Hotel, or else walk down by the Botatuang Paya (see seperate tip) where you can view the local people crowding onto ferries for their various journeys home.
This really is worth doing at least one evening.
Directions: Anywhere off Strand Road where there is access.
VT members Zin and planxty, Yangon, Myanmar.
Given the fairly ambivelant nature of the authorities in Myanmar to foreign tourists outside the very expensive package deal circuit, I was a little wary about posting this tip. I have, howevver, spoken to the person in question, and she's happy enough with it.
It's almost impossible to be in Myanmar and not travel through Yangon (Rangoon). I suppose you could travel in and out of Mandalay, but most people don't do it. My tip is this, and it is a great testament to the value of VT, is to meet VT member Zin whilst you're in Rangoon.
Now I know she's going to read this, and I don't want to embarass her, but she really is the most gracious and generous host you could imagine. She gave up a couple of days (the weekend)
of her time to show me round, which I thought was extremely decent of her. She loves meeting English speaking travellers, and I happen to know she's also learning German at the moment, so German speakers would also be most welcome.
Her knowledge of Yangon and it's various sights is second to none, and it really did add so much to my time in the city.
I've only been on VT a realtively short time, but this meeting really reinfoced to me the value of the Internet (and I'm a bit too old to be of the Ineternet generation!), it was truly wonderful. From the astounding delights of Shwedagon to the best local restaurants available to getting taxis at local rate, I can't speak highly enough about Zin. Apart from all her local knowledge (which is considerable), her insights into local culture and customs adds so much to your trip. If it wasn't for her, I'd never have known, for example, that because I was "Sunday born" that I was a Garuda - worth knowing when you visit temples in Myanmar.
Zin told me that she had had eight VT "meets", and I know she wants to meet more people - get in touch!
Update - Zin is no longer in Rangoon but I feel sure she can give you some good information if you contact her.
Address: Contact either me or Zin!
Directions: Not really applicable here.
Masseur and masseuse, Yangon, Myanmar.
If the stress of all that sightseeing is knotting up your muscles, you might find yourself in need of a relaxing massage. At this point, I suppose you would expect me to direct you to a large hotel, health club or even beauty salon. Actually, the place you need to go is the car park underneath the flyover on Pansudan Street beside the Panorama Hotel. Various people set up chairs here, and give a very good traditional upper body massage. A half hour massage costs about 1000 kyat (roughly 1 USD).
The people in the picture are some of the masseurs / masseuses working there, they are husband and wife, and the second photo is their little boy.
Address: Pansudon Street.
Directions: Find the Panorama hotel, and the people set up under the flyover just in front of it.
Reclining Buddha, Chaukhtatgyi Paya, Yangon.
Not too far Northeast of the Shwedagon (see seperate tip) is the Chaukhtatgyi Paya which contains quite simply the largest Buddha image I have ever seen. The people in the foreground of the photo will give you some impression of scale. Having said that, you really need to stand beside the image to properly appreciate how huge it is. I'm told there is an even larger image in Bago, but I didn't get to see it.
On the soles of the Buddha's feet are 108 symbols which all have relevance to his life and teachings. A display nearby explains what they all are.
One thing I found particularly interesting here was the donations lists. It is the practice in Buddhist temples that people who donate large sums have their names displayed. I saw names from Holland, Japan, Korea, the USA and numerous other places.
Address: Shwe Gan Daing Road.
Sule Paya, Yangon, Myanmar.
There is no doubt about it, Sule Paya must be the most beautiful traffic roundabout in the world. Standing in the middle of downtown at the junction of two major roads (Sule Paya and Mahabandoola), the 2200 year old paya dominates the surrounding area with it's golden zedi which rises almost 150 feet in the air. Unfortunately, when I visited quite a lot of it was covered in scaffolding for repair, as you can see in the photo.
Around the base of the Paya are a number of small shops.
At the weekend and in the evenings you may well be approached by English speaking students trying to engage you in conversation. It's OK, they are not actually trying to sell you anything, they genuinely just want to practice English.
Address: Sule Paya Rd. / Mahabandoola Rd.
Directions: Right in the centre of downtown, you can see it from just about anywhere.
Colonial style architecture, Yangon, Myanmar.
I remember years ago at school having a lecture from the vice-principal, a lovely man called Fred Jeffries, about architecture. In those days, I wasn't really much into being taught anything, and I certainly didn't want to hear about old buildings, but one thing he said struck me, and has stayed with me ever since. It was very simple and forms the title of this tip. People tend to walk about and look at eye level. This is certainly very true in London, where at ground level you have the usual boring modern shopfronts, but a look up will reveal some wonderful architecture.
Yangon (Rangoon) is no exception to this rule, and there is still some interesting colonial style architecture to be seen, although it must be said most of it has seen better days. You can, however, see buildings like those pictured and imagine what the place must have looked like 50 or even 100 years ago.
Directions: All round town.
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