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Yangon with a Local

by Timothy Vivian-Shaw

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The night sky above Yangon is set a deep navy. It is in the dying hours of the day that it is best to see the towering jewel found in the heart of the city, the Shwedagon Paya. The foundations of this Buddhist temple date back over 2500 years, originally standing around 8 metres tall. Over many centuries the temple was continually built upon and now stands at nearly 110 metres tall, covered in hundreds of solid gold plates and around 4,000 diamonds and jewels. At night, Shwedagon Paya is illuminated, acting as a spectacular golden beacon that can be seen from across the city. 

Shwedagon Paya The Shwedagon Paya is the perfect introduction to the sites, sounds and tastes of this unique city. In terms of things to do in Yangon, visitors are utterly spoilt for choice. To narrow down this thriving metropole, we asked our local operators for their ultimate recommendations....

As the sun rises over Yangon, the city and it’s people awaken, bringing with it a hurried frenzy of 5 million inhabitants going about their business. But there is one spot in Yangon that has been awake for hours. A veritable cocktail of fresh fruits and vegetables, the delicate scent of flowers and the loud chorus of bartering and exchange, the Thiri Mingalar Market. 

Although you will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, at the market, there will be little in the way of tourists. This makes it one of the best spots in the city to experience delicious Burmese dishes while immersing yourself in the rhythms of local life. Expect to be blown away by the sheer variety of what’s on offer at Thiri Mingalar, from long isles decked from floor to ceiling in bananas, to beautiful bouquets of flowers and locally brewed beers. 

Yangon cityThe ideal follow-up to busy and bustling Thiri Mingalar is taking time to unwind in one of Yangon’s beautiful inner city parks. Bogyoke Park, sitting beside the serene Kandawgyi Lake, is a perfect example. The park offers a number of different attractions with picnic spots, museums, and close access to the Shwedagon and Maha Wizaya Pagodas. 

As the warm afternoon sun hangs low in the sky, it’s the perfect time to catch some traditional Burmese entertainment. Burma has a long standing tradition of puppet theatre and, between the hours of 5 and 7, Hwte Oo Myanmar theatre comes to life. One of the finest puppet shows in Burma, and indeed in the world, it’s an unmissable experience. Performed by Hwte and his family in their home, the show has toured all over the world and won numerous awards. A show will normally run to an hour and includes an English explanations of the show as well as  a chance to play with and purchase the intricate puppets used in the performances. 

As the sun begins to set, Yangon comes alive. Like all major cities across the world, Yangon has a thriving nightlife with a large number of bars and restaurants to entertain you well into the early hours. A highlight is The Envoy restaurant and bar that offers a wonderful second story balcony. It’s a fantastic spot to enjoy the Burmese sunset with a number of signature cocktails the restaurant makes using local ingredients. A live jazz band also performs every Saturday night, offering the perfect accompaniment to your evening tipple. 

Make it happen
If you want to get to know Yangon for yourself, why not send an enquiry to our local experts? They can create a bespoke itinerary and make sure you get the best out of this unique and diverse city. 

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