Yangon: exploring Myanmar’s biggest city

Our final stop on our trip to Myanmar was Yangon, the biggest and former capital city.

Yangon is a fascinating city. On one side of the road you have old, crumbling colonial English buildings, and on the other side there would be a stinking market full of fresh fish, meat, vegetables – you name it, they’ve got it. The blend of the old and new is interesting, and we suspect Yangon will look quite different in the years to come owing to the amount of building work we saw going on.

We stayed at Ocean Pearl Inn for $30US per night for a double room with private bathroom. It was perfectly adequate but quite a long walk from the city centre in the heat!

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We spent a large portion of our time in Yangon wandering the streets. The traffic is chaotic there due to the banning of motorbikes a few years back (apparently a high-ranking military official was involved in an altercation with a bike), so there are only cars, buses, and trishaws. Try imagining Bangkok or Hanoi without bikes! Street life in Yangon is a big part of the culture – people sitting on the sides of the road in makeshift tea houses next to buses belching diesel fumes, and little old ladies huddling over their wok deep fryers next to makeshift markets selling vegetables.

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The most revered Buddhist site in Myanmar is located in Yangon – the Shwedagon Pagoda. It’s the biggest temple in all of Myanmar, which is quite a feat! The pagoda is beautiful, we saw it at sunset and it was shimmering golden as the sun went down. Photos don’t do it justice!

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Catching the ferry over to Dallah on the other side of the river was fun, the ferry was full of locals and their chickens, and the town of Dallah was like stepping back to the villages we saw on the trek! Lots of livestock and kids running around – it was really worthwhile.

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We really enjoyed Yangon, with its contrasting blend of the old and the new.

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Myanmar was an amazing country to visit – we are so glad we made the decision to travel there. The people are what make the country a fantastic destination – they are so warm, gracious, and happy to see tourists visiting their homeland. Myanmar will surely undergo significant changes in the next few years as it tries to catch up with the rest of the world – make sure you visit before the charm wears off!

P&S xx

4 comments

  1. Hi guys, just spent a while looking through your Myanmar posts and wanted to say thanks – we’re currently debating whether we should add it into our travel plans or not and your posts are fab. Did you organise your travel independently and was it pretty straightforward?

    • Petra
      Author

      Hey Claire! Absolutely DO add Myanmar to your plans! You’ll never regret it – it is such an amazing country with amazing people. We organised our travel independently and it was a bit challenging, but you just have to be flexible! We found it difficult to contact hotels ahead of time via email (although this was about a year ago so I expect a lot has changed – it’s developing pretty quickly over there). We met a fantastic guide called Soe Soe, he posts on the Trip Advisor forums and things like that for Mandalay. We went out with him for a day (this post here) and it was amazing! He will also help you out with any questions you may have, and can even call hotels for you and book them for you before you arrive! His email address is kosoesoemdy@gmail.com. I’d absolutely recommend contacting him. Generally speaking everything is pretty straightforward once you get there, the only thing is that accommodation can be hard to come by at certain times of the year so if you’re worried about that I’d try to email some places beforehand (if you want, I can send you some email addresses from where we stayed) but also have a few others up your sleeve if that hotel is ‘booked out’ when you get there!
      Haha sorry for the long reply… Petra 🙂

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