Yangon: An Introduction
Although, since 2006, it’s no longer officially the country’s capital city, Yangon - named Rangoon by British during Colonial years - is Burma’s largest & most internationally famous metropolis. Although tranquil & relatively undeveloped compared to other large Asian cities, Yangon possesses one of the most exotic urban landscapes on the continent. Its many lush, leafy parks are interspersed with narrow rivers, large clean lakes, decaying Neo-Classic British Colonial streets, dusty concrete downtown blocks & traditional wooden architecture. Mopeds have been banned from the city centre which has helped ease the congestion associated with so many Asian city centres.
The city’s skyline is devoid, on the whole, of skyscrapers, defined instead by the astonishing gilded stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda. This 2,000 year old temple is one of the most significant religious sites in Burma & is a truly magical place, intimately, informally spiritual with none of the haughty chill that can deter secular folk from Western churches. You will need to remove your shoes & cover up, at least further than your elbows & knees, although you can borrow longyi - traditional Burmese wraps - from the ticket booth.
Unquestionably worth an extra day or two if your time allows, the Shwedagon is by no means the only attraction, here. The two Anglican cathedrals left behind by the British have stunning interiors, the parks & zoological gardens offer many lovely rambling walks, & the market shopping is great fun, especially for souvenirs. Yangon’s main sights & colonial old city are contained within a fairly small area which is easily explored on foot, providing you pace yourself & don’t stuff yourself with too many noodles en route.
Marvel at the incredible Colonial architecture, lush green parks and beautiful lakes. Then there's the small matter of the Swedagon Pagoda, described by Kipling as 'a beautiful winking wonder that blazed in the sun'....