A small fishing village in Myanmar, Dala is a perfect spot for a day trip from Yangon. A trip to Dala village gave us a quick snapshot of life in a small Burmese village. A visit to Dala village is perfect for those who want to take a quick look at simple Burmese village life and need a change of scenery from Myanmar’s touristy spots.
Inside Dala Village near Yangon, Myanmar
Where is Dala Village
Dalla or Dala is a small village across the river from Yangon. There are many things to do in Yangon and a day trip to Dallah village from the main city was a lovely experience.
How to reach Dala Village from Yangon
A building near Pansodan Pier, Yangon for Dala ferry terminal, Yangon
This village is a 10-minute ferry ride away from Pansodan Pier in downtown Yangon. Pansodan Pier is very close to downtown Yangon and Sule Pagoda. You can easily reach this pier by walking by using Google maps or by just asking the locals to point you in the right direction.
Like most of the things in Myanmar, the cost of this ferry is different for locals and international tourists. When we reached Pansodan Pier, things were a little confusing. Being the only tourists there, we were spotted by a government officer who pointed us to the ticket window for tourists that had no queue. We paid USD 4 per person for a return ticket.
Ferry from Yangon to Dala village
A visit to Dala village is surely interesting but the ferry ride is literally as interesting as the village itself.
Dala ferry ride from Yangon to Dala Village
The ferry irself was like a mini floating market and had a lot of interesting sights. Many locals brought their bicycles on board and some of them got their little shops too. In this brief ferry ride, we saw many people (mostly women) selling different things – clothes, cigarettes, combs, mirrors, bird eggs, fresh fruit and so much more.
One the decks of Dala ferry (or Dallah ferry as some call it), we also saw plastic chairs for rent. Just like Yangon’s tea shops, these plastic chairs were tiny and in reality are for children. These are the same chairs that my father used to rent for my birthday party when I was a little girl. The seats on the upper deck are for free.
Our Day Trip to Dala Village
A trip to Dala gave us a quick snapshot of life in a small Burmese village. We saw fish markets, bamboo houses, teashops, and many farm animals that wandered about freely. The common mode of transport appeared to be tricycles but we avoided them at the Dala village pier since we had read about a few scams.
A roadside food stall in Dala village, Myanmar
Right next to the pier where the boat dropped us, we enjoyed a nice lunch at a roadside shop. This place had a few local men inside who were chatting and drinking beer. The menu was in Burmese and one of the staff members spoke English. We ordered a random thing on the menu and crossed our fingers.
Our delicious meal in Dala Village, Myanmar
Our meal ended up being very interesting because it was a simple noodle soup with loads of veggies and tiny bird eggs. It was not as spicy as normal Burmese food. I don’t remember the exact cost but our meal was even cheaper than our ferry ticket, so around $1 – $2 in total.
After our meal, we explored this village on foot and visited a lovely monastery and golden pagoda. The monastery was very close to the pier and was interesting to explore.
A monastery in Dala Village, Myanmar
There were no people around and we walked from one section to another and ended up reaching an elderly Monk’s room by mistake.
Inside a monastery in Dala Village, Myanmar
We didn’t mean to intrude and were about to leave but he gestured us to stay. He was sitting on his chair by the window and did not look in the best of health. His room had many framed pictures of his younger self. We pointed at the pictures and at him and he nodded, letting us know that those were indeed his.
Dala village’s Monastery, Myanmar
We eventually left his side and went out of this monastery to explore the rest of this village. After walking straight for a few more minutes, we reached another big pagoda. Soon a bunch of Burmese schoolboys surrounded us for a picture.
San with a group of Burmese boys in Dala Village
After spending a few hours in this village, I tried to look for a toilet here but couldn’t find one. As a blessing in disguise, a helpful tricycle pusher took us to his hut so that I could relieve myself.
San enjoying his tricycle ride in Dala Village, Myanmar
He proudly showed us around his lovely hit and made us meet his family. We eventually ended up exploring a Dala green village on his tricycle. He did not speak English but a word here and there and gestures helped us hold a conversation.
Our visit to Dala Village was definitely short but is an experience we will remember for life.
There are many reports of tourists getting scammed while trying to go to Dala village from Yangon. In some cases, locals have tried to sell a day trip package to Dala village, which is 10 times the actual cost of visiting, eating and exploring.
In other cases, some tricycle pushers have scammed international visitors at the pier. Most of them will quote 5 times the actual cost to show people around. A few of them also pretended their tricycle stopped working because of their customer and demand an exorbitant payment.
One lady posted on Lonely planet forum about being guilt tripped by their tour guide into buying sacks of rice for poor villagers.
Don’t let these incidents discourage you from visiting Dala village. It is easy to avoid these scams when you do this trip on your own and don’t buy a package. Be firm and don’t say yes for a tricycle ride as soon as you arrive in this village. It is easy to explore this village on foot because it is small. San and I were not scammed and had a lovely experience with a tricycle pusher who showed us around and did not even ask for money. We had to literally force him to take money from us.
Final Thoughts about Dala Village
Sunset from Pansodan pier bridge, Yangon
You can make a day trip to this village or cover it in just a few hours. You can come back in time to catch the sunset at Pansodan Pier. In my experience, the best view is from the pedestrian bridge that goes over the road.
If you’re heading to Myanmar, can check iVisa for info about how to get your eVisa, requirements, info and more details.
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Ngew Saung Beach or Ngewsaung is a lesser known beach destination in the Irrawaddy region of Myanmar that is easily accessible from Yangon. The name Ngwe Saung Beach means silver beach in Burmese language and is a suitable description. Many guidebooks state that this is one of the best beaches in Myanmar, but I’ll leave that decision to you.
Here’s Me Enjoying Massive Ngwe Saung Beach in Myanmar
If you know anything about traveling to Myanmar, then you would have heard of Ngapali Beach. It’s the most popular beach destination of Myanmar, but I had something else on my mind while I was visiting Myanmar with San back in 2015-16. I really wanted to visit Ngwe Saung because of its low key vibe.. and also because I saw a of a picture of THIS spot on the beach with pagodas.
Pagodas on rocks on Ngwe Saung Beach in Myanmar
Seriously, Ngwe Saung offers more than just this spot and my travel guide will tell you exactly how to plan your trip, where to stay and what to do there.
How to Reach Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar
We booked Asia Dragon’s night bus from Yangon to Ngwe Saung that departed at 9 pm and arrived in Ngwe Saung just before 4 am. Unlike most of the other buses that depart from outside Yangon, this departs from downtown, so it’s possible to walk to the bus station from the hotel. Moreover, this bus also dropped EVERYONE directly outside their hotels. If you’re traveling in peak season, I’d strongly recommend you book ahead of time. We booked last minute and got the last two seats. The bus was comfortable but we got woken up many times throughout the night because the bus conductor would start announcing things on his microphone after every hour. If you decide to take a bus from Yangon to Ngew Saung, carry noise canceling headphones and eye mask so that you can sleep. Return bus tickets costed us around USD 30 per person.
Places to Stay on Ngwe Saung Beach
We stayed in Oceanfront Campground, which is a part of Ngwe Saung Yatch Club. We had booked literally at the last minute so Oceanfront Campground was kind of like the most affordable place to stay on Ngwe Saung Beach. Luckily it was pretty good because Ngwe Saung Yatch Club is one of the best Ngwe Saung beach hotels and our humble campground was a part of it.
Most of the people had informed us that Ngwe Saung has more budget accommodation options compared to Ngapali Beach but because we traveled in peak season, we didn’t find anything cheaper than this.
The friendly staff at Oceanfront Campground let us check in at 4 am, which was 8 hours before the check in time. Any other hotel would have charged us an extra night for this.
Ocean Front Campgrounds, Ngwe Saung, Myanmar
Our tents were super luxurious and were right on the beach. I wouldn’t really call it camping, it was more like “glamping”. The shared toilet had many stalls and was massive. This was the first time where I received free to use toiletries, a super clean towel and free water stayed on a camp ground. After exploring the nearby areas, we were very happy that we booked this place because it has the most amazing part of the beach area.
Oceanfront Campground is actually a part of a very high end resort called Ngwe Saung Yatch Club and Marina, so they had an excellent swimming pool and other facilities. Their breakfast buffet is served in an open air restaurant that overlooks the ocean. I fell sick on my first day here and one of the staff members walked me to an in house doctor in this complex. Seriously, I cannot recommend this place enough! Before you book, be sure to read reviews about this place on TripAdvisor.
Cash and ATMs in Ngwe Saung
Carry enough cash to last you a for few days. Even though there are two ATMs in Ngwe Saung, we were informed that they can be a little unreliable. Most of the high end places accept credit cards but they charge a 3-5% transaction fee.
Things to do in Ngwe Saung
01 | Enjoy The MASSIVE Beach of Ngwe Saung
White sand Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar
We were pretty sleepy eyed when we reached Ngwe Saung, but our sleep deserted us when we saw the surroundings. The beach here is spectacular! It’s perfect for a good swim and the sandy part is massive – so plenty of room for sun bathing. The main white sand beach of Ngwe Saung stretches for many kilometers. No wonder WikiTravel calls it an “endless” beach!
02 | Walk on a Sandbat to reach Lovers’ Island
Sandbar at Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar
If you walk a little north of Ngwe Saung Yacht Club, you will see a little island in the distance. It’s called Lovers’ Island and a little sandbar emerges when the tide is low so you can walk to this island. As you walk on the sandbar to reach Lovers’ Island, you will notice a Buddha temple on your right and a little mermaid statue on your left. Climb on top of the Buddha temple to photograph the entire sandbar.
Chilling Under a Massive Tree on Lovers Island, Ngwe Saung
This island has many trees and a few viewpoints, so be sure to wear flip flops while exploring the island. We visited during the peak season so this part was a little too crowded for our liking.
03 | Admire the Pagodas on the beach!
Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar
In Myanmar, we saw pagodas everywhere. Even on the beach! If you’re curious about the exact spot of this picture, it is just outside Silver View Resort’s beach bar. For a local, the pagodas are a usual sight but to me they made the beach more beautiful. I could not stop photographing them from different angles because they made my sunset pictures special.
What else? Is there anything more to do in Ngwe Saung?
Lovers Island Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar
Not much! Chill on the beach, enjoy the laid back vibe of this place and sip some fresh coconut water. If you have a scooter, head to the North side of Ngwe Saung to check out the village area.
Should you wear a bikini on Ngwe Saung beach?
A Cute Burmese Family on Ngwe Saung Beach
Even though I didn’t see even a single local woman wearing a bathing suit on this beach, I think it’s perfectly okay if you want to wear a bikini as long as you carry a sarong to cover up. Most of the local women were fully dressed in jeans / longyi and shoes on the beach.
Local Burmese Girls on Ngwe Saung Beach
Burmese people are extremely polite and will never want to make anyone uncomfortable so none of the locals stared at the handful of tourists that wore bathing suits.
Getting Around in Ngwe Saung
While most of the things in Myanmar are highly affordable, the hotel and scooter rental prices are shockingly high. The hourly rate of scooter rental here is same as the usual per day in most of South East Asia. However, I highly recommend you rent a scooter for a few hours to explore the area around.
Sunset at Ngwe Saung Beach
Ngwe Saung Beach Sunset and Market
Lovers Island – Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar
To my surprise, I saw many people riding on the beach with their scooters, so we did the same and it was an amazing experience. We saw many interesting sights such as bullock carts on the beach with many hand painted paper umbrellas, which is a special handicraft of the nearby town – Pathein.
Food in Ngwe Saung
Delicious Crab Curry in Ngwe Saung
Some of the most popular places to eat in Ngwe Saung are Bay of Bengal restaurant and Ume Café. We ate a delicious meal of chili garlic crab and squids at Blue Sky Seafood Restaurant. If you head towards the village area towards the North, you will find cheaper places to eat and a few beer stations. (Bars in Myanmar are called beer stations).
Nightlife in Ngwe Saung
There’s not much to do in this sleepy beach village except having a drink at Ume Café and Bar where they sometimes have a fire show at 7:30 pm in the evening.
“Then, a golden mystery upheaved itself on the horizon, a beautiful winking wonder that blazed in the sun, of a shape that was neither Muslim dome nor Hindu temple-spire.”
— Rudyard Kipling
Shwedagon Pagoda or Paya is the biggest and the grandest Pagoda in Myanmar. You will see many pictures of this famous landmark that has religious, historical and cultural significance. However, no picture can ever do justice to the real beauty of this golden stupa. It’s incredible that something like this exists on earth.
To help you make the most of your visit to this beautiful temple, we have divided this post into four parts:
Interesting Facts and Fables
Practical Information and Tips
Area Around Shwedagon
The top part of the pagoda
Interesting Facts and Fables about Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda is built on a hill
Shwedagon Pagoda is called the pride of Myanmar and totally deserves that title. As you arrive in Yangon, you can’t help but notice the magnificence of this pagoda as it glimmers in the backdrop in the heart of the city. It is built on an elevated hill so you will notice it from a distance as you move around within Yangon.
The legend and a little bit of history
Legend has it that it was built more than 2600 years back and is the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world. The Pagoda stores significant holy relics of four previous Buddhas. The relics contain a few strands of hair of Gautama Buddha, water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and the staff of Kakusandha.
As per the fable, two brothers from ancient city Balkh (present day Afghanistan) got the opportunity to meet Lord Gautama Buddha when he was alive and received eight of the Buddha’s hairs. The brothers traveled to Myanmar (then known as Burma) and found Singuttara Hill with the help of the King Okkalapa of Burma. This is where the relics of other Buddhas previous to Gautama Buddha had been preserved.
Destruction, Damages and Restoration
Several kings and queens of Burma had a role to play in raising the height of the stupa. The pagoda survived many earthquakes but the biggest damage was caused by an earthquake in 1768 that brought down the top of the pagoda. King Hsinbyushin later raised it to its current height of 99 m (325 ft).
Golden Shwedagon Pagoda at Night
About All that glitters – Shwedagon Pagoda’s Gold and gems
This 325ft (99 meters) stupa that’s plated with 8688 sheets of gold, shimmers in the day light and sparkles when it’s dark – is indeed a sight to behold! Oh and by the way, it is studded with more than 7000 diamonds and precious gems like rubies, sapphires, topaz along with a massive piece of emerald. It is said that the emerald bounces of the last rays of the sun as it sets. The crown is topped by a diamond bud called ‘sein bu’ which carries a 74-carat diamond.
Practical Information and Tips for visiting Shwedagon Pagoda
How to reach
The best way to reach is by a local bus. Stand on one of the bus terminals and ask the bus driver. Even if they don’t know English, they will be able to understand the words “Shwedagon Pagoda” and will nod so that you can enter. The bus ticket was only MMK 100.
You can also hire a taxi from anywhere in the city.
What to wear
It is an unwritten rule about not wearing shorts while visiting a temple in South East Asia, but to my surprise, I saw a few tourists who appeared to be unaware. Well, no problem! At the entry area, if they notice that a visitor is wearing shorts, they don’t let them enter till they buy the traditional Burmese sarong like dress – longyi. You can wear pants or a modest maxi dress.
San was wearing long shorts that covered his knees but even he had to buy a longyi. It was funny that it happened right after we exchanged meaningful looks when some other tourists got stopped by the guards for wearing really short shorts.
Sandro buying his longyi outside Shwedagon Pagoda
Opening Hours and Best Time to Visit
The opening hours are 6 am to 10 pm. If you’re an early riser, then do visit when it’s still dark so that you can see a magnificent sunrise. However, for lazy people like me, the best time to visit this is 4 pm so that you can enjoy it in daylight, watch the sunset and see how it glitters when the darkness descends.
Shwedagon Pagoda Complex Night
The entry charge for this pagoda is MMK 8000 for a day for per international visitor.
Me carrying my flipflops with me in a bag at Shwedagon Pagoda
Wear shoes that are “pagoda ready”, i.e., easy to remove. Do what the locals do and bring a carry bag with you for your shoes.
There are no toilets in the main temple area. We asked a few guards and they told us to climb down the stair case till mid-way. We saw a few arrows that led us to the toilet area. However, we were not allowed to wear our flip flops inside the toilets, but to my surprise, the floor was sparkling clean.
Shwedagon Pagoda’s Key Features
There are four entrances with stairs that lead to Singuttara Hill where the temple is built. Two giant mythical lion like creatures (leogryphs) guard each entrance. These stair cases are full of vendors that sell Buddha idols, tiny paper unbrellas, flowers, good luck charms and many other souvenirs.
Planetary Posts and Day Shrines
The Shrine at Wednesday or Rahu Corner at Shwedagon Pagoda
This octagonal base of this Pagoda has a post on each corner depicting the day of the week. Wednesday is divided into two shrines for am and pm. Most of the visitors pray at the shrine that represents the day of their birth.
Bell Inside Shwedagon Pagoda
There are 1485 bells inside this pagoda – ranging from different sizes and weights. It’s beautiful when so many of them chime together in the evening as the sun begins to set. Shwedagon once had the Great Bell of Dhammazedi – the largest bell to have existed in the recorded history. However, it was stolen by a Portuguese warlord. However, his ship sank due to the weight of the bell.
Bodhi Tree of Shwedagon Pagoda
There is a 150 year old Bodhi tree which is said to be a descendant from a seedling from the original Bodhi tree under which Gauram Buddha gained enlightenment. The original one was in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India.
The backside of Shwedagon Pagoda
The pagoda looks beautiful from every angle. However, we spent the maximum time at the back area where it was pretty much empty and it proved to be an excellent corner for photos. We also noticed a massive gong here.
The Base of the Pagoda
The base is made with bricks and we saw a monk walking on it. Do you see that little dot in the picture? Yup that’s a monk. It kind of tells you about the size of this pagoda in comparison.
Monk Walking on Shwedagon Pagoda’s Base
Candles at night
Candles around Shwedagon Pagoda
As the darkness descends, many devotees light up thousands of lamps and candles all around this pagoda. It is a sight to behold.
The Area Around Shwedagon
Outside Shwedagon Pagoda – can you see the lion guards at the entry?
The streets around Shwedagon are full of color with many roadside eating places, tea shops, temples, flower shops, fruit shops, carpenters and Dagon Beer stations.
Where to go before Shwedagon
If you arrive early, we suggest you explore the small streets around Shwedagon and spend time eating, drinking tea and clicking some memorable pictures. Moreover, there are many parks around this temple where you can relax in the shade of trees to escape from Yangon’s heat. You can also visit Kyay Thone Pagoda on Gyar Tawya Street and check out the artifacts on display inside.
Where to go after Shwedagon
Kandawgyi Lake is walking distance from Shwedagon Pagoda and it offers stunning views of this glittering stupa at night. Alternatively, you can take a taxi and head to Inya lake. You will find many lakeside restaurants in both these places where you can go for dinner and drinks. I found the restaurants in the Kandawgyi Lake complex to be a little pricier as compared to the ones on Inya Lake banks.
This post is not just about things to do in Yangon but is also a mini travel guide with information about where to stay and public transport. It was originally written in 2016 but has been updated every few months with new information. If you’re looking to spend a few days in Yangon, then look no further because we’ve got you covered.
Yangon may not be Myanmar’s capital anymore but is still the largest and the most visited Burmese city. With its shimmering golden pagodas peeping through a backdrop of colonial architecture and streets that are dotted with vendors selling food, fruits, gadgets, and all sorts of interesting things – Yangon is a photographer’s delight.
If you’re visiting Southeast Asia, we strongly recommend you don’t miss out on this exotic city. Of course, you can read about typical touristy things to do in Yangon, but we have made a list for you which is a mix of sightseeing activities along with a few offbeat things, with just a few temples, lakes, parks, streets and hidden finds.
If you’re looking for more information about what to do in Myanmar, check out this backpacker’s itinerary for exploring the country in 8 days. Here’s what to do in Yangon, Myanmar if you’re there for a few days:
Perhaps one of the most famous Yangon attractions, Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the top things to do in Yangon. No itinerary or city guide for Yangon will ever leave Shwedagon Pagoda out – after all, it’s the biggest and the grandest Pagoda in Myanmar.
Shwedagon Pagoda is built on an elevated hill so you will notice it from a distance as you move around within Yangon. We saw it on the way to our hotel from Yangon airport and couldn’t wait to go back. Yes, it is one of the most famous sights in Yangon.
This 325-foot stupa that’s gold-plated, shimmers in the daylight, and sparkles when it’s dark – is indeed a sight to behold! Legend has it that it was built more than 2600 years ago and is the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world.
We suggest you arrive here by 4 – 4:30 pm to walk around and admire the beauty in the daylight. Find a place to sit and enjoy the sunrise as your mind relaxes listening to chimes of the temple bells. Enjoy the beauty as devotees light up thousands of candles and incense sticks. Get ready to be awestruck by the majestic beauty as the darkness descends and everything lights up.
If you have read my post on Myanmar Travel Tips, then you definitely know how to dress and what to do with your shoes when you visit Shwedagon Paya.
How to reach: Many buses go to Shwedagon Road – just ask around and you will surely find a bus. We asked a few locals and got on to a bus from Sule Pagoda that took us to Shwedagon Road for 100 MMK per person.
2) Sit on a Tiny Chair Along the Road and Sip Tea
One of the first things that we noticed about Yangon is the abundance of tea stalls. These tea stalls are usually located on every block and sidewalk.
It’s easy to spot these tea stalls from far away because of their tiny plastic tables, stools, and chairs. These chairs look like they are right out of a baby’s bedroom!
Seriously – these are the exact same chairs that my dad used to rent for my birthday party when I was in school. Nevertheless, they look super cute and it’s a fun experience sitting on them and sipping tea.
In these roadside stalls, you will mostly find two kinds of tea – one is plain Chinese-style green tea and the other is Indian-style chai. None of the teashop owners that we met spoke English but understood our gestures well.
Tip: do as locals do and pour a few drops of hot green tea into your cup to rinse it before you drink the tea.
3) Head to Inya Lake and Enjoy Yangon’s Nightlife
We ended up visiting Inya Lake at night just by chance and it ended up one of the best evenings that we spent in Yangon.
We arrived here because we had absolutely no idea where to go for a few drinks. As soon as we reached it, we knew we had made the right decision. Inya Lake was a complete change of scene right after Shwedagon Pagoda because it wasn’t packed with tourists at all.
Inya Lake appeared to be a popular hangout area for Yangon’s youth who were sitting around the lake on the grass with their guitars and openly drinking beer.
We had a lovely dinner at one of the restaurants with a view of the lake. After dinner, we decided to head to the lawn area for a stroll. To our delight, there were many roadside vendors selling Dagon beer and Myanmar beer. If you’re looking for things to do in Yangon at night, then a visit to Inya Lake is something that you should totally do.
While we saw conservatively dressed women everywhere else in Yangon, here we saw many local women who wore shorts. Oh and by the way, we did not see even a single tourist here. A visit to Inya Lake is one of the best things to do in Yangon if you want to avoid tourists.
How to reach: Hire a taxi. We paid 5000 MMK from Shwedagon Road. Carry your own beer because it’s expensive if you buy it from the vendors here.
4) Ride the Dala Ferry to Visit Dala Village
A small fishing village across the river from Yangon, Dala village is the perfect spot for a day trip from Yangon.
This village is a 10-minute ferry ride away from Pansodan Pier in downtown Yangon. The ferry ride is as interesting as the village itself, if not more. Like many other places, the ferry ticket prices are different for foreigners. We paid USD 4 per person for a return ticket.
On this brief ferry ride, we saw many people selling different things – clothes, cigarettes, combs, mirrors, bird eggs, fresh fruit and so much more! A trip to Dala gave us a quick snapshot of life in a small Burmese village.
You can make a day trip to this village or cover it in just a few hours. For more information, you can check my blog post about Dala Village.
How to reach: Walk to Pansodan Ferry Terminal in downtown Yangon to start your journey.
5) Visit the Mysterious Kyay Thone Pagoda
None of the guidebooks mention this place but we strongly recommend you visit it. It is on Gyar Tawya Street, a little before Shwedagon Pagoda’s East gate.
This temple is a little different than the typical Burmese temples that are built in the Stupa style, instead, Kyay Thone Pagoda has a Chinese architectural style.
The main temple is on the water with a bridged pathway leading to it, connecting to a few islands with mini temples. There is a massive golden Buddha idol inside along with many smaller ones around it – probably depicting Buddha and his disciples.
If you walk around the temple you will notice that it has a few artifacts on display, such as ancient armor, old currency notes, etc.
Something about this temple stirred my curiosity and I have tried to research about this temple online but I haven’t found anything. The sign outside is in Burmese and the only way I know the name of this place is thanks to my phone’s GPS tracking system.
Below is an embedded map with the GPS coordinates, just in case you want to visit it too.
How to reach: It’s a two-minute walk from Shwedagon Pagoda’s East Gate. Click here for directions.
6) Visit China Town for Shopping or a Late Night Snack
On our second night in Yangon, our midnight hunger pangs took us to Chinatown as we hunted for food. While all of the restaurants near our hostel appeared to be closed, the Chinatown area was alive and bustling with activity.
Noisy, colorful, lively, and full of food – this is exactly what we expected and we were not disappointed – especially the 19th street.
Like every other Chinatown, we saw roadside food stalls of things like sausages, chicken feet, chicken legs, seafood, fresh fruit, pork intestine, and some other unrecognizable meats.
During the day, Chinatown looks a tad different with fewer food sellers but more of tacky gadgets sellers.
How to reach: On foot. We reached here on foot from our hostel that was near Sule Pagoda.
7) Explore Sule Pagoda and Around
If you visit Yangon on a budget, most likely you will stay in one of the budget hotels near Sule Pagoda in downtown Yangon. Although not as massive as Shwedagon, Sule Pagoda has its own charm due to its location and shape. There are many places to see in Yangon that are around Sule Pagoda. Both Shwedagon Pagoda and Sule Pagoda are the famous pagodas in Yangon.
This temple is located in the heart of downtown Yangon and it holds religious as well as political significance since many protest marches began from here. Moreover, this octagonal pagoda also serves as a roundabout with many different lanes that merge together.
If you walk around this pagoda, you will see a large white obelisk, which is Yangon’s Independence Monument. There is a beautiful garden next to it with fountains – Maha Bandula Park. If you walk further, you will see Immanuel Baptist Church and a few government buildings such as the High Court, City Hall, the Secretariat, and the Telegraph office.
How to reach: Almost every bus crosses this important landmark, so just ask the first bus driver that stops next to you. Alternatively, you can easily hire a taxi.
8) Try Yangon’s Spicy Street Food
In my opinion, one of the best ways to experience a new place is by eating the local food. Starting from breakfast to midnight snack – my food experience in Yangon is one that I’d love to repeat.
If you are a sucker for curries like I am, especially Thai and Indian – you’re gonna love Burmese food. Everything here is a mix of these two cuisines with a few Chinese influences.
My first meal here was boiled rice seasoned with a few herbs, peanuts, onion, garlic, and chilies and I loved it. It reminded me of an Indian snack – bhel puri.
Over the next few days, I had different varieties of noodles, salads, curries, and soups and loved them all! I never had a single bad meal in Yangon. We were served a massive traditional Burmese breakfast at the hostel where we stayed, and I always finished everything on my plate.
Tip: If you’re not used to Asian street food, then please start slow with street food in Yangon to let your stomach prepare itself.
9) Visit Kandawgyi Lake and See Karaweik Hall
Although it’s a little smaller in size as compared to Inya Lake, it’s definitely worth a visit because it offers stunning views of the nearby Shwedagon Pagoda, which is within walking distance. Kandawgyi Lake is one of the best places to visit in Yangon if you want to enjoy the weather in the midst of nature.
The best time to visit it is in the dark when everything lights up. Unlike what we had read in the guidebooks, there’s no entry fee (or maybe we missed it) and it has a few lake-side restaurants as well (a little more expensive than Inya Lake).
Another interesting feature of this lake complex is that it features Karaweik Hall, a palace-like landmark that appears to be floating in the water.
How to reach: Walk from Shwedagon Paya or take a taxi
10) Ride the Circular Rail for a different view of Rangoon
If you’re wondering where to go in Yangon for people-watching, then you can Head to Yangon Central Railway Station to ride the circular rail. Yangon Central Railway Station is a few minutes’ walk away from Shanghri-la Hotel in downtown Yangon, for a ride on Yangon’s circular railroad. This is an internal mode of public transport that many locals take.
This ride lasts for 2-3 hours and you will get to witness many interesting sights such as fruit sellers, vegetable sellers, local markets, rural areas, villages, local merchants transporting massive baskets of goods, etc. This ride is an excellent way to get a quick glimpse of life in Myanmar away from famous landmarks.
How to reach: Walk to Yangon Central Railway Station downtown.
11) Balloon Ride over Yangon and See Shwedagon Pagoda
Guess what – Bagan isn’t the only place in Myanmar where you can go for a balloon ride. As of this year (2017), you can fly over Yangon and see the city from up above for a price that’s insanely affordable if compared to Bagan.
A balloon ride in Yangon with Mingalarbar Balloon costs just $22; whereas the price in Bagan is $300. Please note – this is not a hot air balloon ride but it is a tethered helium balloon that goes up and down so that you can enjoy the panoramic views.
While you’re up there, you will see the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda that seems to be physically ruling over the city with many lakes and gardens around it. You will also see Kandawgyi Lake’s golden Karaweik, the Yangon River and downtown Yangon’s colonial architecture.
If you’re visiting Yangon for a short time, then this is perhaps one of the best ways to see the city. If you’re lucky and plan it well, you will also witness one of the most spectacular sunsets that Yangon has to offer.
What about the Yangon Zoological Gardens?
I did not visit the Yangon Zoological Gardens for a few reasons. One of them is that I prefer seeing animals in National parks, instead of zoos. Another reason is that Yangon is such a culturally rich city that I spent most of my time on the streets.
Where to stay in Yangon – Suggested Hotels in Yangon
Traveling in Myanmar is very cheap but the rooms and hostels are very expensive. Myanmar is one of those very few countries where I recommend you book your accommodation in advance. Try finding something that is near Sule Pagoda so that you can be in the center of Yangon and can easily travel around on buses or walking.
Another guest house that we recommend is Ocean Pearl Inn and they provide a free pick-up from Yangon Airport. Downtown Yangon is a comfortable area but can get very crowded and stressful. If you’re looking for a peaceful area, then try Thanlwin Guest House which is near Inya Lake.
Mid Range & Luxury Hotels in Yangon with a view of Shwedagon Pagoda
One of the best hotels to stay in Yangon for mid-range is Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon, which is near the Botanical Gardens, Kandawgyi Lake, and offers a view of Shwedagon Pagoda. A few other options are Esperado Lake View Hotel, or Best Western Green Hill where you can find a room with a view of Shwedagon Pagoda. All these hotels have rooms from $60 – $100 depending on the size and season.
If you can afford luxury, you should try Belmond Governor’s Residence which is located in Yangon’s embassy district. At $330 per night, it is definitely expensive but will transport you to the old school Rangoon and the colonial times.
Where to go after Yangon?
Ngwe Saung Beach
Ngew Saung Beach is a low-key beach destination that is easily accessible from Yangon. You can rent a car and drive to it or can catch an overnight bus. It is in the Irrawaddy region of Myanmar and has a spectacular white sand beach with a sandbar that connects it to Lover’s Island.
Mandalay is Myanmar’s second biggest city and can easily be reached by train or bus from Yangon. It is an excellent base for those who want to visit Bagan, the most popular travel destination in Burma. Apart from pagodas and monasteries, you can also enjoy the nearby Doke waterfall. Check out this post for things to do in Mandalay.
Bagan is an archeological gem of Southeast Asia and has a lot of temples, pagodas, stupas, and spectacular ruins. Sadly it is influenced by overtourism and many visitors get scammed.
Inle Lake is a unique travel destination in Myanmar with huts that are built over water. It is a very popular destination for backpackers.
The Golden Rock
Shwedagon Pagoda isn’t the only famous pagoda in Myanmar, the Golden Rock is almost as famous! Almost hanging and precariously balanced on top of a hill, this golden rock with a pagoda on top is a sight to behold. Check information about visiting the Golden Rock of Myanmar here.
Myanmar Visa Tip
Myanmar offers eVisa to citizens of most countries for 90 days. Check iVisa for visa requirements to see how to obtain a visa for your nationality.
Have you visited Yangon and have a few tips to share of your own? Please let me know in the comments section.
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Myanmar Travel Tips to help you have a good time in the most exotic country in Southeast Asia.
Breathtaking temples, mysterious ruins, virgin beaches, river deltas and exotic culture – Myanmar has it all! Yet, it is one of the least visited countries in South East Asia – which is why it is usually tough for travelers to find sufficient Myanmar Travel Tips prior to their visit.
Myanmar (formally known as Burma) has been somewhat isolated under a military dictatorship until recently but is now undergoing political changes. As a result, this lovely country is opening up to tourism. If you’re planning on visiting South East Asia, I urge you to give Myanmar a chance.
To help you plan your trip, I am sharing Myanmar travel tips consisting of things I learned before and during my trip.
Travel Tips for Myanmar
1) Embassy Visa vs. eVisa
An eVisa for Myanmar costs around USD 50, whereas a direct visa application to the Myanmar Embassy will cost you around USD 17-25. Of course, we chose the latter!
We applied from New Delhi and had to visit the embassy THREE times because of some confusion. At one point, I also printed a page from their website to show them one particular paragraph. It made me wonder if I would have saved myself many precious hours by applying for an eVisa?
Anyway, you can check iVisa for visa requirements, info, and more details for obtaining a visa for Myanmar. We used their service to apply for an eVisa for India (for San) after wasting many painful hours on the Indian government’s visa website.
Yes, they charged a little fee but we ended up saving our precious time while we were island hopping in the Philippines.
Myanmar has only limited budget accommodation options that sell out months in advance. We booked the cheapest room we could find in Yangon a month in advance. It was a basic room with a shared toilet for which we paid USD 20. However, we arrived at Ngwe Saung without a booking. The cheapest we found was USD 55 per night for a tent on the beach.
I have a friend who recently did a bike tour at Inle Lake and had to pay a bomb for his room because the accommodation was not pre-booked.
4) Carry crisp US Dollar Bills in various denominations
Legally, it is not possible to buy Myanmar’s currency overseas. Carry USDs since it is the most preferred currency there and is easy to exchange almost everywhere. Make sure you carry clean bills because many people refuse to accept the ones that look slightly old. Higher denomination bills with fetch you a better exchange rate.
5) The Thing About Withdrawing Cash from ATMs
Although there are many ATMs in big cities, they are not very reliable due to power shortages. Carry cash while visiting smaller areas. Moreover, there’s a transaction fee of USD 3-5 per ATM withdrawal on international cards.
Make sure you alert your bank beforehand so that your card doesn’t get blocked when you try to withdraw cash in Myanmar. A few high-end establishments accept credit cards but get ready to pay a 3-5% transaction fee.
6) Phone and Internet
Do yourself a favor and buy a Telenor SIM card with 3G at the airport. I bought one for MMK 12,000 kyats (Roughly USD 9) that lasted my entire trip without a single recharge. The 3G speed was pretty good and was faster than the WiFi that we experienced in an internet cafe in Yangon.
7) No need to carry a lot of toiletries
Unless you have specific needs, I’d advise you against carrying too many toiletries. Even our most simple hostels provided us with toothbrushes, toothpaste, super clean towels, shampoo, soap, etc. Moreover, the supermarkets in Myanmar had most of the common brands such as Nivea and Vaseline at half the prices.
8) Wear shoes that are easy to remove
Myanmar is full of beautiful pagodas that are everywhere – even on beaches! Visit as many as you can because they are lovely.
Even if you’re not into temples – you WILL want to visit them to admire their stunning architecture. Wear shoes that are “pagoda ready” and are easy to remove because you will need to enter barefoot.
9) Carry a plastic bag for your shoes
No matter what your itinerary for Myanmar is, you will surely end up visiting a few pagodas while you’re there.
Do what the locals do – bring a few plastic bags in your bag pack to carry your shoes with you when you visit the pagodas.
Many pagodas have multiple entries and exits so carrying your shoes with you will save you a lot of time. This is something I had to learn the hard way.
10) Dress Sensibly
Do not wear hot pants, crop tops, and sleeveless vests while you’re here. Burmese people don’t show a lot of skin (even on the beach) and it’s a good idea to respect their culture. Moreover, if you wear shorts, you can’t enter the beautiful pagodas.
A typical Myanmar local male wears a checkered longyi (similar to lungi in India) with a knot in front paired with a collared shirt. A typical local woman wears a longyi with a side knot (kind of looks like a cute wrap-around skirt) that shows a very tiny bit of leg along with a matching blouse. It’s a good idea to buy a longyi – it’s super comfortable to wear!
11) Carry noise-canceling headphones and eye masks for overnight buses
We traveled extensively by overnight buses between destinations because Burmese trains don’t have the best reputation.
Each time, we were woken up a few times during the night by strong lights and loud music. In one case, our bus conductor had a microphone and LOVED announcing things after every hour.
12) Carry a torch for blackouts
The first blackout that I experienced in Myanmar was just a few minutes after landing at Yangon airport. We heard from people that blackouts are common in Myanmar.
Carry a torch so that you can move around easily in case there’s one in your hotel.
13) Drink Bottled water and start slow with street food
As with most of the Asian countries, drink bottled water to avoid getting seriously ill. If you love Indian and Thai street food, you’re gonna LOVE the street food in Myanmar. Take it slow and let your stomach prepare itself.
My stomach has toughened after years of eating Indian street food but Sandro suffered from an upset stomach after the first night. Oh and if you don’t eat meat, you should check out this survival guide for vegetarian food in Myanmar.
14) Get ready to squat in a toilet
If you have traveled to Asia then you probably know the drill. Myanmar is no exception. If you decide to visit villages, you may not find WCs but will have to use traditional toilets where you need to squat to pee in a hole.
15) Respect and learn about the culture
Burmese people are polite and helpful. Please respect their culture and familiarize yourself with the local etiquette. Burmese people hand over things, especially money with their right hand with their left hand touching the elbow. I found it to be very respectful and started doing it while I was there.
If you have a Buddha head tee shirt, tattoo, or jewelry – please hide them when you’re here. Don’t be shocked if you smile at a local and you see a “red smile” flashing back at you. That’s not blood but betel stains since many locals chew betel leaves.
Oh, and if they make a loud kissing sound – they are probably calling out someone, not sending you flying kisses.
Have you visited Myanmar already and have a few tips to add? Let me know in the comments section.
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Namaste, Guten Tag!
I'm Sonal from India, living in Germany and exploring Europe. I've been writing about my travels since 2015. I often travel alone (and sometimes with family of 3).
I love European city breaks, nature, adventure, hiking to viewpoints, Yoga, and road trips. I have a think for creating the most amazing travel itineraries and in-depth destination guides which will help you make the most of your trip.