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Yearning For Yangon

3 Days 2 Nights
Writer
Izzat Haziq
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Get set for an adventure where old-world mysticism meets metropolitan boom.

Formerly known as Rangoon, this underrated city in Southeast Asia is a golden land with iconic monuments, untouched landscapes and the ambience of a living time capsule from the Anglo-Burmese era. Fall head over heels for this enchanting destination with our three-day itinerary of must-see places in Yangon, Myanmar.

Day 1
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The iconic Shwedagon Pagoda.
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A scenic view of Kandawgyi Lake.

Start your exploration at Shwedagon Pagoda, located some 14km away from Yangon International Airport. The striking shrine dates back to 2,500 years ago and is often considered as the most prominent Buddhist site in Myanmar. The central piece of the pagoda, glistening in gold, dominates Yangon’s skyline and is a sight to behold. In its foreground, you’ll also get to bear witness to the idyllic scene of monks and devotees in deep reverence, lending an air of peace and overall zen to the holy site.

After that, head west to the Kandawgyi Lake to enjoy the serene atmosphere of the surrounding nature. Go for a quick stroll on the boardwalk by the picturesque lake, which presents a magical view from every angle. Here, besides your usual grub, the vendors also sell chunks of bread. Why, you ask? To feed the lake’s resident catfish!

Later in the day, head back to the city centre for a traditional English afternoon tea at the Strand Hotel. The baronial building brings colonial charm from the early 1900s and now holds the esteemed reputation of being Yangon’s grandest hotel. Nearby is Chinatown, where locals and tourists congregate for cultural and gastronomic experiences. Expect to find the usual fare - ubiquitous barbequed skewered meat, preserved fruits, beers and beverages - as you make your way through the lively crowd.

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The Strand Hotel with its colonial influences. (Photo : www.hotelthestrand.com)
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Street food at Yangon's Chinatown.
Day 2
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The Chauk Htet Kyi Pagoda.

Start your day by paying a visit to Chauk Htet Kyi Pagoda that houses one of the most revered images of the reclining Buddha. The reclining Buddha - which measures up to 66 metres - dons a golden robe with its right arm supporting the back of the head. On the sacred ground, devout Buddhists pay their respect by burning incense sticks and offering flowers to the reclining Buddha.

Then, make your way to the National Museum at Pyay Road to learn more about Yangon’s rich history. You’ll find an impressive list of artefacts on display, as well as galleries decorated with antiques tracing back to the Konbaung Dynasty. Roughly, there are over 50,000 collections from the Burmese kingdoms to World War II to the days of the Burmese liberation, spread across five floors.

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Puppet shows and related activities at the Htwe Oo Myanmar Traditional Puppet Theatre. ( Photo : FB @puppettheatre )

Enjoy the rest of the evening by attending a puppet show at the Htwe Oo Myanmar Traditional Puppet Theatre, which is just 7 minutes away from the museum. We highly recommend that you book ahead as seats for the family-run troupe show are quite limited. The award-winning puppetry performance delivers a charming cultural experience for all. On top of that, you also get the chance to learn how to handle the puppets, too!

Day 3
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Yangon Central Railway Station.

Hop on the Yangon Circular Train for one last round of the captivating city starting at the Yangon Central Railway Station. The track runs for about 45 km, with different stations connected to the outskirts of the city. The end-to-end journey loop takes about 3 hours but you’re free to hop off at any stations. Brace yourself for the incoming commotion from locals as the carriage passes each station. Pay close attention to the spectacle outside, as it gradually changes from the bustling cityscape to the quaint countryside - you’ll most likely find yourself mesmerised by what’s buzzing inside the coaches, too. The locals are fairly amicable, so don’t hesitate to strike a conversation with them.

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Views from the Yangon circular train.

Don’t forget to sample the local dishes while you’re in Yangon! Try Lahpet Thoke, which is essentially pickled tea leaves salad. The dish is topped off with a combination of peanut oil, fish sauce and lime juice as dressing. Another widely popular dish is Mohinga, which is rice noodles in curry gravy sauce. You can find these dishes at nearly all Burmese restaurants and of course, street food stalls. Muslim travellers can also check out Shin Thant Restaurant located at the city centre for delicious Halal Burmese spread.

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Lahpet Thoke (Tea Leaves Salad)(L); Mohinga (Burmese Noodle Soup )(R).
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Rangoon Tea House (Photo: FB @RangoonTeaHouse)

If you could squeeze in one more place in your itinerary, it's definitely Rangoon Tea House. Built in the early 1900s, the upscale tea house conjures up a regal image of both classic and modern Burmese culture. The extensive list of Lat Phet Yay (Burmese Pulled Tea) may overwhelm you, but the handy chart available on the menu will help you decide on one. Patrons also come here to tuck into a distinctly unique dining experience. You’ll find modern twists on traditional classics such as Biryani and Tea Leaf Salad, fusion dishes such as Rangoon Rack and Bamar Fish Taco and of course, cherished traditional cuisines such as Ohn No Kauk Swe (Burmese Chicken Coconut Noodle Soup) and Mohinga.

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