Yangon, Myanmar

The former Burmese capital offers an experience like nowhere else in the world. Textbook colonial architecture remains from 120 years of British rule, breathtaking pagodas tell an ancient tale, while hundreds of beer stations dotted around the city mean there’s never a dull moment. Grab a hot mohinga and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. The quintessential image of Yangon is undeniably the glistening Shwedagon Pagoda, an impressive 99-metre tall structure first built more than 1,500 years ago. Today it is the shining star of Yangon; its gold-plated exterior lighting up the lives of anyone lucky enough to see it. This is just one of several beautiful gold pagodas to see in Yangon.

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Currency Kyat
Population 5,209,541
Languages Burmese, English
Area 598.75 km2
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Time Zone UTC+6.30
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Dining

A street food adventure is a journey all travellers to Yangon should embark on. Begin the day with a quick breakfast of sweet tea with flatbread (usually roti or parata), commonly served together at street vendors. Recharge the batteries later on with a samosa salad and yoghurt drink or green tea. Complete the ultimate street food experience with the local favourite, mohinga - a dish of rice noodles in fish soup. For cheap beers, a buzzing atmosphere and downright unusual snacks, spend an hour or two exploring 19th Street in the Chinatown precinct. Adventurous types might like to try the quail eggs or fried grasshoppers on offer here. For the less daring, there’s a never-ending row of barbecue stalls serving up tasty skewers of fish, meat and vegetables. At less than 50 cents a skewer it’s hard to go wrong. When street food starts to get a little tiresome, there’s a surprisingly broad range of high quality restaurants to try. In recent years the international dining scene has taken off in Yangon, as the city continues to find its cosmopolitan feet. Aside from traditional Burmese restaurants and the countless Indian and Chinese options, diners can also enjoy Thai, Korean, Italian and even Mexican cuisine throughout Yangon.

Shopping

Myanmar’s best shopping opportunities lie in the categories of lacquerware, gems (particularly rubies and jade), wood products, textiles and antiques. Where to shop will depend on what exactly is on the shopping list, with different areas catering for different product groups. For wood carvings and lacquerware, it’s impossible to beat Bogyoke Aung San Market. There are more than 1,000 vendors here selling handcrafts of all shapes and sizes. While there are plenty of great authentic products on offer, be wary of cheap imitations. The markets are also home to a huge selection of clothing and fabrics at ridiculously cheap prices. Be sure to browse the surrounding streets for stalls selling similar products at cheaper prices. The first port of call for gem hunters should be the Myanmar Gems Museum, about 10 minutes north of the city centre. The museum itself is on the fourth floor of the building and is well worth a look, but it’s the first three floors where visitors can buy all sorts of gems from the numerous stalls. It’s a wise move to take US dollars if looking to make some purchases as some vendors will not accept kyat. For a more comfortable and upscale shopping experience, visit Blazon Shopping Centre, five minutes’ drive from the Shwedagon Pagoda. This three-level complex offers Yangon’s best collection of designer label outlets and specialty stores. There are also plenty of food and drink outlets available when hunger strikes.