Yangon, formerly Rangoon, is no longer Myanmar’s capital but it still is the biggest city of the country. It is home to the Shwedagon Pagoda, an enormous pagoda that is one of the many highlights of Myanmar. The city itself is crowded, covered in red spots thanks to the Betelnut chewing and spitting inhabitants and is the startpoint for most travelers for their Myanmar trip.
Like most travelers going to Myanmar we flew from Bangkok to Yangon. We first took the BTS to Pretchaburi station around 8 am and changed there to the Rail Aiportlink Makkasan which brought us to the Bangkok International Airport really cheap (104 Bath for 2 persons one way), within 1 hour.
Arriving at the Bangkok International Airport we could not find our flight, what happened? Wrong airport! Does Bangkok have 2 International Airports? Yes it does! We quickly attacked a taxi driver and forced him to bring us to the other airport called Don Mueang Airport which is situated 50 km away. This taxiride took us 2 hours due to traffic jams and costed us 500 Bath + 200 Bath Toll fees. And yes we missed our flight!
Note: there are minivans that bring you from one airport in Bangkok to the other one for free.
Nothing else to do then to book another flight at NOKAIR for 2200 p.p. Bath to Yangon at 7 pm and we did manage to get in time for that flight. We arrived around 8 pm and after an easy immigration we took a taxi to Yangon centre for 9 USD.
Traveling for almost a year, and being big fans of meat (especially steaks), we are always on the lookout for a good piece of meat. In the elevator of our hotel we saw a poster that said they have the best steak in town. We decided to give it a try and went up their rooftoopbar. Not only does this place give you a perfect view overlooking the Shwedagon Pagoda, their steak truly is good! And we do believe that they serve the best steak in town, for a really fair price as well.
Upon recommendation of our hotel, we went to a real Myanmar restaurant called Danuphyu Daw Saw Yee for diner. It is simple, you get your food fast and a lot of extra things next to that like soup and vegetables, it’s really tasteful, the staff is friendly and the food is pretty cheap. We had 3 portions and 3 drinks for 12.000 Kyat. When staying in this area, this is a great place to go to.
One of the most known neighborhoods among tourists is 19th Street (Chinatown), this is where we tried some skewers. When walking to the Shwedagon Pagoda we also had some snacks at a street seller. It looked like triangle shaped spring-rolls filled with potato and red peppers on the side. We liked it!
We had a wonderful stay at Hotel Mila Noa. The staff is super friendly and can help you with booking bustickets or provide you with information about what to do in and around Yangon. The rooms are equipped with a water cooker and little luxuries like coffee and tea which is always nice. Well working aircon and wifi and a good bathroom with strong shower. Breakfast is included and pretty good as well. You can choose out of different dishes, Burmese or Western, and the portions are good.
When you leave the hotel it places you right in the real streetlife of Yangon and you are in walking distance of the Shwedagon Pagoda and Peoples Park.
** You can find them on booking.com
Near the hotel you will find Dagon Shopping Mall, where you can get some cash at the KBZ Bank (this is the only bank from where we could get money, 300.000 Kyat max). And a Tenlenor Simcard if you need one (we bought one for 20.500 Kyat, this included 5GB and 120 minutes of calling).
The main attraction in Yangon is the Shwedagon Pagoda. You can visit the Pagoda between 04 am and 10 pm and the entrance is 8.000 Kyat p.p. If you do not have clothes that cover the shoulders and knees you can buy a manskirt and jacket there for 5.000 Kyat each. We apparently did, without knowing at first. We are used to getting them provided for free in Thailand, and figured it would work the same way here as well. Not really knowing how much the entrance fee was, and everything going really fast, we apparently bought these clothes. They probably come out handy during our time in Myanmar, hopefully..
The Pagoda is 2.500 years old and 110 meters high. It is covered with hundreds gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4.531 diamonds! The bustling of devotees and monks washing the statues, offering flowers, worshiping and meditating makes it’s a great place to visit. Take a plastic bag with you where you can place you shoes/flipflops in to carry around the Pagoda. This way you can leave any exit you want without the problems of finding your footwear and explaining the right size/color to the people who keep them for you. The Northern entrance is the nicest entrance. We went there during sunset and this is the best time to go here.
The funny thing is, Myanmar it is the other way around when it comes to taking photos of monks. They come up to you and want to take selfies with their iPhone 6 and become friends on Facebook.
Next to this, there are lots of other smaller Pagoda’s spread around town, that we didn’t visited (yet). We will fly out of Yangon as well so maybe we will still have time to do so.
Going around Yangon is possible with the Circular Train. We bought a ticket for 200 Kyat p.p. It will take about 3,5 hours to complete the whole loop and you can experience the local life. Every time the train stops, lots of vegetables and other goods bought at the market have to be brought in to the train or taken off the train. And this is not just one bag, sometimes one woman brings 6 enormous bags into the train. Everything has to be done in a hurry and that makes it quite chaotic. It’s remarkable that the tiniest women, can carry the biggest bags. And they do appreciate it if you help.
Walking around, we stumbled upon Peoples Park. You have to pay a small entrance fee (200 Kyat p.p.) and you will get a nice sticker. We were surprised by what was inside. There is a little theme park, some with older rides but a lot of new ones as well. You can get on a rollercoaster, bumper cars, carousel and some other attractions. It seems to be visited mostly by young couples and it is nice to just stroll around.