One of the best places to visit in Asia is Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. Nature lovers will appreciate the city’s stunning lakes, shady parks and verdant tropical trees. These are the reasons why it is dubbed ‘The Garden City of the East’. However, Yangon has more to offer than impressive scenery. This city is a melting pot—a diversity of cultures and communities in terms of people, settlement and religions. Because it serves as the country's main entrance and seaport, it is also the country’s centre of business. Yangon was founded in 1755 by King Alaungpaya; he established Yangon on the location of a small town named Dagon when he dominated the lower part of Myanmar. He was the one who gave the name Yangon, meaning ‘End of Strife’. In 1885, the name was anglicised as Rangoon when the British annexed the country. Yangon is a city that balances tradition, culture and modernity, making it a must-see for anyone who wants to see a different side of Asia.
There are many different attractions to see and experience in Yangon. Visitors will be pleasantly surprised to find many places of interest which will keep them busy for many days. These include places of a spiritual nature, green parks and gardens, and museums that provide an insight into the rich history and culture of Myanmar. We have listed some of the more popular attractions in the city, along with some attractions that may be lesser known and less visited, but may also be of interest.
Aung San Suu Kyi's House in Yangon Yangon
Until her release from house arrest in November 2010, anyone who wished to see Aung San Suu Kyi's house did so from the the other side of the Inya Lake, from a distance of 300 metres. All you could see then was the back of this crumbling colonial style mansion, shaded by a large tree. The front of the house on University Avenue was barricaded and guarded by security police. The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and leader of the National League of Democracy was put under house arrest here off and on for 15 years since 1989. Subject to international pressure, the Burmese ruling military junta agreed to release Aung San Suu Kyi in 2010.
Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon
It is said that no visit to Myanmar is complete without a trip to Shwedagon Pagoda. Considered one of the wonders of the religious world, the magnificent Shwedagon rises majestically over Singuttara Hill to the north of central Yangon, casting its golden gleam over the low-lying capital. This 2,500-years old structure, which contains the relics of four Buddhas, is the guardian temple of Yangon and the most sacred site for the people of Myanmar.
The Sule Pagoda is an excellent landmark. It is said to be over 2,000 years old and contains a hair given by the Buddha to two Burmese merchants. Located on a roundabout in downtown Yangon. The golden pagoda is unusual in that its octagonal shape continues right up to the bell and inverted bowl. It is surrounded by small shops and all the familiar non-religious services such as of astrologists, palmists, and so on.
Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott Market)
Bogyoke Aung San Market is situated in the heart of Yangon, on Bogyoke Aung San Road. The market was first built and inaugurated on the present premises in 1926. It was named Scott Market after Mr. C. Scott, the then Municipal Commissioner. Nowadays, it is called Bogyoke Aung San Market in honor of our national leader General Aung San.
It is known for its colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets. The Bogyoke Zay, as it is commonly known, is the most popular tourist destination for shopping in Yangon. It has the largest selection of Myanmar souvenirs you can find under one roof. You can buy a variety of interesting Myanmar lacquerware, gems and jewellery at this market.
Mae Lamu means Maid of the Mangrove. There was a legendary saying about this Pagoda. It was said that a hermit once came upon a mangrove tree bearing an abnormally large bud which he took to his retreat and it later produced a girl child. The child was nurtured and brought up by the hermit who named her Mae Lamu on account of her being born of a mangrove fruit. She grew up into a beautiful woman and Sakka (or the Indra), monarch of the celestial divinities, fell in love with her. After asking for her hand in marriage from the hermit, the lord of the celestial gods fathered a child who, it was said eventually became King of Okkalapa, the name by which Yangon had been referred to in the remote past. Representations of the Maid of the Mangrove and her heavenly suitor can be seen at the southwest corner of the Shwedagon Pagoda.