Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, was also the former capital of the country. Although the capital has been moved to Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon is a bustling commercial center for Myanmar.
Just recently, KFC, the first fast food chain made it’s way into the city. You can also see and feel how the city is changing and developing at turbo speed.
Getting into the city can be long and expensive. Both the airport and the bus station are well outside of the city centre. Expect over an hour for the commute, which is mostly due to traffic. The easiest way to get into the city is via taxi, around $10 (depending on time of day). There are a slew of buses you can take, but in the heat and the chaos it might just be more of a headache.
If you can, I’d suggest taking the train into Yangon. The train station is right in the financial district, surrounded by areas where you’ll probably be spending most of your time anyways.
Things to do in Yangon
The mother of all pagodas in Myanmar, Shwedagon stands at 99 metres tall and is plated with over 21, 000 solid gold bars. The tip is also encrusted with diamonds, sapphires and rubies. For foreigners it costs $8 to enter. You can also hire a guide at the entrance to show you around.
Enter through the east entrance, where you can feel the excitement and atmosphere start from much further down the street. Food, souvenir and flower stands line these streets mostly catering to the locals coming to visit the pagoda.
Bogyoke Market (Scott Market)
For those interested in getting their shopping on, this is the most famous market in the city. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon, just check its opening times beforehand, as it closes early on some days.
City Circle Train
Many guidebooks and fellow travellers told me about the circle train in Yangon. The train travels to the outskirts of the city, where travellers can see a bit of suburban life. However, it was the most disappointing activity I did in the country. It was over three hours long in a sweltering train. It only had fans blowing and windows wouldn’t open.
There wasn’t much to see aside from the train platforms and garbage lined around the tracks. Definitely skip!