Yangon is most likely where you’re going to get your first impression of Myanmar. Don’t touch down thinking it’s going to be anything like Bangkok though as tourism has yet to really hit Myanmar and the city is a mix of chaos and religious sites.

It feels completely different to the rest of Asia and is a refreshing change where you don’t see as many tourists and the hot spots aren’t overly packed (yet!). Finding where to go in Yangon is made easy with this guide that shares the best things worth seeing and doing.

Yangon is one of the largest cities in Myanmar but it also holds the most attractions that you’ll want to see in one spot than compared to the rest of the country. Yangon may seem rough on the edges but when you dig down and experience the culture, food and incredible sites first hand then you’ll start to love just how different and unique Yangon is, making it the perfect starting point for your Myanmar trip.

How to Get to Yangon

The most common way to get to Yangon is by flying. Buses can be taken if you’re coming from elsewhere in the country.

I highly recommend booking transportation through 12Go as it is the largest and most trusted company for transport throughout Southeast Asia for bus, trains, ferries, transfers and flights.

Powered by 12Go Asia system

Myanmar Essentials

There are a few things that you will absolutely need while in Myanmar.

Adapter: Obvi. But seriously people always forget. I like to use a universal adapter so if you don’t have one already get one stat and never worry about it again!

Reusable Water Bottle: This is an essential for ANY trip but even more important for Southeast because recycling here is not really and thing and when you see the plastic littering this beautiful island you’ll be sad that you’re contributing to the plastic issue. You can fill up your reusable bottle in lots of places.

Mosquito Repelling Bracelets: These are a thing? Totally! Mosquitoes can get nasty in Southeast Asia and unfortunately can carry diseases. This is the healthiest option because they don’t use deet!

Activated Charcoal: When your tummy is not feeling so great and you may need to run to the bathroom at any second you’ll be happen this within arms reach. Food and stomach issues are common in Myanmar and these will help you get back to health and enjoying your vacay in no time.

Travel Insurance: Just don’t travel without it, end of story. But if you need more convincing read this.

READ MORE: Southeast Asia Packing List for Ladies

Things to do in Yangon

Find out what to do in Yangon for an epic time in the city!

Myanmar travel | Myanmar backpacking | Shwedagon Pagoda

Visit Shwedagon Pagoda for Sunset

When it comes to Yangon attractions, Shwedagon Pagoda is the most popular. It stands 99 metres tall and is covered in gold. It really is a beautiful site to see and I highly recommend you visit in the late afternoon to see it in the sunlight and then stay for sunset as the lights turn on and the gold starts to sparkle. The very top part is filled with thousands of diamonds and gems and it’s woth taking a look through the binoculars to see.

Shwedagon Pagoda is an important religious site and is where you can see people moving around the pagoda practicing rituals according to the day that they were born. It is extremely well preserved as it’s over 2500 years old which makes it the old Buddhist stupa in the world and the most important sacred site in all of Myanmar.

Pro Tip: The difference between a temple, pagoda and a stupa is that a pagoda is a general term for a temple or a stupa. A stupa you can go around but not into while a temple you can go into.

Shop at Bogyoke Aung San Market

Bogyoke Aung San Market was built in the 1920’s and was originally named Scott Market when Myanmar was colonized by the British. The market is large and touristy but it’s a good spot to check out many local Burmese souvenirs from jewelry to fabric, handmade goods and art. Keep in mind that it is more expensive and haggling here is difficult.

When I visited the locals were extremely kind and will show you around, however, they do expect you to buy something at the end (I bought a cheap card that he had painted). I also picked up some fabric here for a longyi which is what the locals wear and got good use out of it when I was visiting religious sites and needed to cover up.

READ MORE: 10 Tips for Myanmar Travel

Yangon Myanmar | Yangon food | Yangon city | Things to do in Yangon | Myanmar travel | Myanmar destinations
Source: Sule Pagoda by Jason Eppink – Under Creative Commons license

Take in Sule Pagoda

Sule Pagoda is not nearly as impressive as Shwedagon Pagoda but it’s worth seeing. It’s best from afar and is interesting because it acts as the centre of a traffic circle. It’s a small fee to get inside and there isn’t much to actually see other than more gold up close. But it does hold plenty of history as it was here that many rallies and protests took place.

Yangon Myanmar | Yangon food | Yangon city | Things to do in Yangon | Myanmar travel | Myanmar destinations
Source: Yangon Chinatown. by LWYang – Under Creative Commons license

Eat Your Way Through Chinatown

Chinatown is the heart of downtown Yangon and is one of the best places to visit in Yangon. Spanning between 18th to 24th street, it’s in Chinatown where you’ll find most of the action and where I recommend you stay. It is the best spot in town to eat, stroll the streets finding interesting dishes and one of the few places where you can have a late night drink (after 9PM).

Want to find out the best spots to eat at in Chinatown? Join a tour with a local or take advice from this foodie blogger.

Yangon Myanmar | Yangon food | Yangon city | Things to do in Yangon | Myanmar travel | Myanmar destinations

Chill Out at Kandawgyi Park

If you need to know what to see in Yangon that is more chilled out then a visit to Kandawghi Park is in order. Yangon is a very hectic city that is overpopulated with cars (as motorbikes are not allowed due to a political death) so to get away from it all head to Kandawgyi Park where you can grab a bite to eat at a lakeside restaurant, relax on the grass or make your way around the boardwalk where locals stroll or exercise. From this park you can also catch a great sunset with Shwedagon Pagoda in the background.

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Source: Reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi in Yangon by Allan Grey – Under Creative Commons license

See Chaukhtatgyi Paya (the Reclining Buddha)

Take a peek into this temple to see a reclining Buddha that tops the famous one at Wat Pho in Bangkok. The reclining Buddha in Bangkok is impressive at 46 metres but the one in Yangon reaches 66 metres in length. The feet show inscriptions about the Buddha while the crown is decorated with diamonds and gems.

Visit a Tea House

There are many things to see in Yangon but you have to taste some of the city as well. A tea house in Myanmar means a street-side stall that has little plastic chairs. That’s just how you drink tea in Myanmar! Tea is very much a part of the culture in Myanmar and is enjoyed throughout the day, not in the afternoon like the British. Tea houses are littered throughout the street so you won’t have trouble finding where you can enjoy a cuppa. The tea is Myanmar is Chinese style.

Circle Train Yangon www.taylorstracks.com
Enjoying the sites of Yangon

Take a Ride on the Circle Train

The circle train line was never meant to be a tourist attraction but it has become one. The line was originally built in the 1950’s under the British rule and today it serves as a way for locals to get around. The entire trip is 3 hours and if you have the time I highly recommend it as you’ll get to see the locals go about their day to day business, see the land outside of Yangon and markets pass by the windows. Fresh fruit can be bought on board and it is extremely cheap, about 300 kyats or $0.30.

Grab a Drink at Inya Lake

If you’re looking for things to do in Yangon at night then head to Inya Lake. It’s Yangon’s biggest lake and is where you can see sailing and rowing during the day. By night the area is filled with locals and very few tourists who are drinking and enjoying the night. The lake is artificial but it’s the perfect place to have a more authentic experience in Yangon. The area is popular for the younger crowd, roadside stalls selling beer and you can grab some food here too.

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Source: Prayers in Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda. by Brian Holsclaw – Under Creative Commons license

See Nga Gyi Pagoda Up Close

This is another great spot to visit to venture away from any tourist crowds because for some reason this place has yet to capture the attention of most people. But it’s worth visiting to see the 45 metre tall Buddha that sits here up close.

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Check Out the Crumbling Colonial Buildings

You won’t find as many colonial buildings in the rest of Southeast Asia as you will in Yangon. Take a stroll down Pansodan Street where you can see the beauty of the crumbling buildings. As stunning as they would have been during their time the decaying of the buildings over time puts you in the present and offers a glimpse into the past. Yangon Heritage Trust puts on free tours of this area and the buildings.

Yangon Tours

Fancy having a local show you around? Check out these top Yangon day tours.

Where to Stay in Yangon

Yangon Hostels

Check out my ultimate guide to the best hostels in Yangon here.

Best Hotels in Yangon

Travel Insurance Myanmar

  • Picking travel insurance is an essential part of planning a trip for everyone, including your trip to Myanmar
  • If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel
  • World Nomads is an affordable option that I personally recommend
  • I’ve made 2 claims with World Nomads for doctors appointments and antibiotics in the Philippines and Australia
  • No idea where to start? Check out my travel insurance guide to help you pick the best option for you

You’re all set for some Yangon sightseeing now that you know all of the top things to do in Yangon. Enjoy your Yangon trip!

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