Days 1-2 of our 12 Days in Myanmar (Burma) trip.
The capital of Myanmar until 2006, when the government relocated the capital to Naypyidaw, Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city.
Day 1 – Yangon
We arrived in the morning and were greeted at the airport by our friend. We taxied to her house and spent a very pleasant morning with her and her mother. We were treated to a delicious meal of mohinga (the famous Burmese rice noodle and fish soup). This was the first time that I had juicy, crunchy banana tree stems in a soup, and I loved them!
After our meal and catching up, we explored her local neighborhood and market by foot.
In the afternoon, we taxied to the Hotel Grand United (Ahlone Branch) (66,900 MMK / 50 USD per night) to check-in and drop our bags before heading downtown. We took bus 57 to Maha Bandula Road to begin our walking tour.
We saw many buildings and sites on our walk. Some of my favorites were:
Sule Pagoda (3000 MMK /2 USD each) – We did not enter; we viewed the gilded pagoda from the outside (free). A major landmark and the focal point of both Yangon and Burmese politics, the 46 meter tall Sule Pagoda is estimated to be over 2000 years old! Rebuilt in the 1880s, the pagoda was established as the center of Yangon (then Rangoon) by the British and served as the nucleus of their grid pattern for the city.
Independence Monument in Maha Bandula Park (free) – The monument was built in commemoration of Burmese independence from the British in 1948. The park offers scenic views of Sule Pagoda, Yangon City Hall, and Yangon Regional Court.
Strand Hotel (The Strand) – Built in 1901 and located on the historic waterfront, The Strand is one of the most famous hotels in Southeast Asia and is listed on the Yangon City Heritage List. Since the nightly rate is over 400 USD per night, it was only in our budget to look!
The Ministers’ Building- This was the location of the July 19, 1947 assassination of Aung San (father of Aung San Suu Kyi). Aung San, instrumental in bringing about Burma’s independence from British rule, was assassinated six months before independence. He is recognized as the leading architect of Burma’s independence and the founder of the Union of Burma. To this day, mystery surrounds the assassination, and there are persistent rumors of a conspiracy involving the British.
We had a great day, and it was a great treat to visit so many of the famous sites in Yangon with our friend and terrific tour guide!
Day 2 – Yangon
In the morning, we walked to People’s Park (300 MMK / .2 USD each) – This is a very nice park and a great place to visit either before or after visiting Shwedagon Pagoda.
The park is large and there are many different areas to explore.
At the park’s northwestern corner is the Natural World Amusement Park. The amusement park is wonderful for people watching. Of course, we couldn’t resist riding the roller coaster (3000 MMK / 2 USD each) with its awesome view of Shwedagon Pagoda!
Shwedagon Pagoda (10,000 MMK / 7 USD each) – Open 6:30 AM – 10 PM. The 2,500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda is the single most important religious site in Myanmar. The 326 foot high bell-shaped tower is covered with hundreds of genuine gold plates, and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4,531 diamonds. The diamond at the very top is 72 carats. Estimates of the quantity of gold vary from 6 to 60 tons!
Tip: Take a bag for carrying your shoes if you plan to use a different exit.
When you enter, you will be given an English language map that has lots of interesting information and history. It is just enough to whet your appetite, but not too much to overwhelm. Since our visit, my interest has been piqued, and I have been reading more and more about the pagoda and its fascinating history.
After visiting Shwedagon Pagoda, we walked across the street to the Myanmar Culture Valley retail complex and looked at the car show before having lunch at YKKO People’s Park Restaurant. We had grilled fish, and it was delicious!
After lunch, we taxied to Yangon Central Railway Station and bought a ticket for the Yangon Circular Railway (200 MMK / .15 USD each).
We enjoyed seeing local life as we watched commuters and the vendors on the train. To complete the 45.9 kilometer loop takes close to 3 hours.
We simply wanted to experience using the train as transportation, so we exited the train at Kemmendine Station and walked 1.5 kilometers to the Drug Elimination Museum (4200 MMK / 3 USD each). It would have been closer (700 meters) to get off at the next station (Hanthawaddy Station), but we were watching our distance from the museum using MapFactor and did not want to go too far! Once we saw that we were within walking distance, we hopped off.
Opened in 2001, the museum has three floors which contain exhibits on drug abuse and the government’s efforts to eradicate the problem. We were interested in visiting this museum as a continuation and comparison of our visit to Thailand’s Hall of Opium.
After our museum visit, we taxied back to our hotel to rest before taking a taxi to Maha Bandula Road for one last meal with our friend, her mother, and her sister at one of their favorite restaurants located on 31st Street.
It was a fantastic dinner (I especially loved the duck!). It was sad saying goodbye to our friend and her family, but we very much look forward to our next meeting!
Before turning in, we arranged through our hotel a 5 AM taxi to Yangon International Airport for our 8 AM flight to Heho Airport.
GPS Coordinates: Day 1 Day 2
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Yangon International Airport @ 16.902838,96.135461
Hotel Grand United (Ahlone Branch) @ 16.784779,96.135189
Sule Pagoda @ 16.774465,96.158833
Maha Bandula Park @ 16.773125,96.159500
The Strand Hotel @ 16.769612,96.162592
Ministers’ Building @ 16.775550,96.165236
People’s Park @ 16.796136,96.141918
Tree Walk @ 16.795403,96.144725
Natural World Amusement Park @ 16.798895,96.140828
Shwedagon Pagoda @ 16.798308,96.149614
Myanmar Culture Valley @ 16.798393,96.145370
YKKO Restaurant @ 16.797790,96.145604
Yangon Central Railway Station @ 16.781752,96.161488
Kemmendine Station @ 16.807010,96.126741
Hanthawaddy Station @ 16.817052,96.126292
Drug Elimination Museum @ 16.815658,96.131429
31st Street @ 16.774510,96.157702
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You can copy and paste the latitude and longitude into Google Earth, your browser, or into your GPS.
*Disclaimer- ALWAYS verify locations, transportation routes, GPS coordinates, etc. Errors are made, routes changed, sometimes we are just plain wrong. No one knows what you like more than you. If the trip is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Do your homework.