Our second stop in Myanmar is Yangon, located in the south of the country. Also known as Rangun, it was the country's capital until 2006. It is the largest city in the country, chaotic, messy and vibrant. We spent two days in this city and we think it is enough to get to know it.
How to get around Yangon?
The best way to get around the city is on foot and by taxi. Taxis are not at all expensive, but as in most Southeast Asian countries, they don't use a taximeter and the price is agreed in advance. We recommend downloading the Grab app (the Uber of Southeast Asia), either to order a taxi through the app or to see what the price is for the journey in question, so that you can negotiate better.
What to do in Yangon?
1. Schwedagon Pagoda
A must-see in Yangon. As soon as you set foot here you can feel the spirituality and special energy of this place.
This pagoda is believed to be over 2500 years old. The story goes that two Burmese brothers travelled to India to meet Siddhartha, the Buddha. He plucked 8 hairs from his head and gave them to them. On their return to Brimania, they give the hairs to the king, who decides to erect the pagoda and keep the hairs along with other relics in it.
Since the 26th century the pagoda has been rebuilt and enlarged by various kings to its present height of 100 metres. The stupa is gold-plated and decorated with 3,154 gold bells and 79,569 diamonds and precious stones. All the gold was donated by the Burmese.
It is undoubtedly an impressive place. You can spend hours appreciating the stupas, the neighbouring temples and watching the Buddhist faithful in one of their most sacred places.
- The entrance fee is 10,000 Kyats ($7USD).
Both men and women should enter barefoot and with their knees and shoulders covered. We also advise you to bring water, as it tends to be very hot and there is nowhere to buy it once inside.
2. Botatuang Pagoda
Another of Myanmar's oldest pagodas is Botatuang Pagoda, built 2500 years ago by the Mon dynasty and destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in 1948.
It is located near the river and is one of the most revered pagodas in Myanmar.
The main stupa is 40 metres high and is characteristic for being hollow inside and open to the public, and it is believed to enshrine a hair of Gautama Buddha inside. This is what impressed us the most, being able to enter inside the pagoda.
Following a walkway with glass mosaic walls, you can see several chambers containing glass cases with ancient artefacts, including some very old Buddha images that were discovered in the stupa after its destruction in 1943. There is one chamber whose walls and ceiling are covered with gold and contains the sacred relic of the Buddha. It is enshrined and displayed in a shrine made of ivory and decorated with diamonds and precious jewels.
We went at sunset and we could appreciate the Pagoda illuminated, we loved it. As in all religious places in Myanmar it is necessary to have shoulder and knee covers, if you don't have them, you can borrow them at the entrance. You must also enter barefoot.
- The entrance fee is 6,000 kyats ($4 USD).
3. Theingyi Market
It is the largest traditional local market in Yangon, ideal for a morning stroll. Walking around here is an experience for all the senses. It is located on 26th Street in Chinatown. It consists of hundreds of stalls on the street selling fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, etc. It is a beautiful chaos that will give you a glimpse of Burmese culture.
4. ChaukHtatGyi Paya or Reclining Buddha
Known for its incredible 65 metre long and 16 metre high reclining Buddha. The soles of the feet contain 108 red and gold segments representing images of the 108 lakshanas of Buddhism (the fundamental teachings).