I had a great opportunity to visit my sister in Yangon, Myanmar, which is a city in southeast Asia. It’s known for its many pagodas and its political history. Now, Myanmar (only speaking from my Yangon experience) is relatively safe and full of smiling people.
Yangon isn’t a huge touristic spot. There are things to see (mainly pagodas), but the thing to do here is EAT. In this post, I’ll share some of the things I did. Hopefully, I can remember all the restaurant names, since my sister is the one that took me to most of them.
I flew into Yangon from Singapore, which was only a 2-hour flight. I had an e-visa, so the wait for customs was quick. However, be prepared for a really long wait for your checked luggage.
After I dropped my things are my sister’s, we went to eat at a Shan restaurant. I can’t remember the name, but there are many good Shan restaurants so just Yelp it. I ended up getting fried chicken skin. It totally ruined my “original” idea to sell fried chicken skin in chips bags. And of course, the appetizer was very good.
Then, we walked through Yangon’s famous market, Bogyoke Aung San Market, where I picked up a couple of souvenirs for a coworker. I picked up a beautiful Thai-inspired lyongi, a male/female wrap. Also, I saw two pony marionettes for her children, and some Burmese snacks.
To escape the heat, we stopped by Rangoon Tea House (I think). I was surprised at how Western it was. Myanmar has a lot of British influences, so I saw that throughout the place in terms of the decor. Also, the food was good. I only ordered a fresh coconut and a fruit platter, but it was still good.
Then, we went to stop by a park, Maha Bandula Park, to see a monument in honor of Yangon’s hero, General Maha Bandula. I recommend going towards the evening, because the sun is brutal in Yangon and there aren’t many trees for shade.
In the evening, I stayed in and fell asleep. Tired…and I was on vacation so you do what you want.
I was on my own, since BIL and my sis had to work.
First, I worked out. It’s not my favorite activity, but I had to continue my rhythm for the wedding. After freshening up, I headed outside in the thickest jeans (packed the wrong ones) and walked to see some famous pagodas.
First, it was the reclining Buddha pagoda (Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda) and then the sitting pagoda (Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda). Remember to cover your shoulders and wear long pants. Also, you should take off your shoes before entering the temples. I really liked the gold detail in the pagodas. I tried not to take too many photos, because people were having a private moment praying.
Then, I walked down to Kandawagyi Lake. I thought the lake was beautiful and there was plenty of shade. However, the humidity is crazy and I was thirsty at this point. Don’t make the same mistake I did. I only had big bills like (10,000 kyats) and I couldn’t buy a water bottle at the park. The locals prefer smaller bills there.
I also ended up walking the perimeter of the lake because I missed my turn, which was good because I saw this really cool dragon boat. I’ll end up going there on my last day. After walking for a really long time, I ended up downtown again and stopped by the Great Sandwich for a Vietnamese banh mi.
Then, I walked across the street to EASY Specialty Coffee for some tea, because my throat was scratchy. I sat there for a good 1.5 hours. It’s a good technique to pop into shops to escape the sun. I ordered a teapot and kept asking them to refill it with hot water until I was ready to go.
I continued walking south for maybe 10 minutes before I was in Bogyoke Aung San Market again. This time I thoroughly walked the stalls and looked at what each stall had to offer. I didn’t buy anything, but it was cool to see the “it” thing to sell at these markets.
I walked passed Shwedagon Pagoda and took a couple of photos of the exterior. It was magnificent, especially northbound on Shwedagon Pagoda Road. The road splits around the Pagoda, and I bet that must be a grade A view driving towards it. I was going inside the following day.
I rested at home until BIL and my sis got home and then we headed to Gekko. It’s another cool upscale place. This place had Japanese small plates and yummy cocktails. It’s more variety, in my opinion. We ended the night around 9 PM since we were all tired.
It was the big day!
We headed to Shwedagon Pagoda, which is THE pagoda to see in Yangon. I was excited and my sister was excited, since it would be a a new experience for both of us. I decided to wear a T-shirt and lyongi, since that is the only conservative clothes I had left, and off we went.
The inside is so bright and rich. There is a big central Pagoda, but surrounded it are many more mini ones. Each one looks a little bit different from the others and it’s a significant place for the locals. You see locals praying at multiple pagodas. You also see a bunch of tourists, myself included, circling the area.
I got hungry after awhile, so we went to a relaxing, bar (I don’t remember the name). I can’t explain the vibe too well other than it was like what you expect 1970s U.S. military men’s hangouts to be in Vietnam. Instead, it was in Myanmar: Concrete flooring, soccer graphics/posters, open-floor concept, etc.
We took a 5 minute walk to the Belmond Governor’s Residence, just to take a peak at the luxury hotel. It’s tropical and manicured as one would expect. I would stay a night or two at that place if I were to return to Yangon, just to experience it.
We went home to nap, because the heat really beats the energy out of you. Then, around 5 PM, we had a 3-hour Burmese Street food tour. Most of the unique foods I tried can be seen on my Unique Foods post (click here). I recommend you try the Sa Ba Food Tours. Our guide was kind, knowledgeable and fun. See my Trip Adviser Review here.
The last day was completely chill for me.
I killed the morning lounging around and waiting for my sister to get up. Then, we went to a British tea house, Acacia. It was really good, and we saw a couple of chicks doing a 30-minute photo shoot for probably Instagram. I got my favorite drink of choice, tea, and a mousse cake. Drool.
Before we move on to our souvenirs, we walked to Karaweik, which is a floating Dragon Boat restaurant. It’s adorned in gold and have a grandeur size. We asked to go to the door to take pictures, but I think we went farther than expected because the next tourists weren’t allowed near the door.
Then, we went to Mountaineer Coffee to pick up coffee beans as souvenirs. I saw a couple of barrels and thought they were cute containers with coffee beans inside. I didn’t see a price tag and asked the cashier how much for the barrel. However, there was a language barrier, so he had to call his colleague who ended telling me, “It’s only for decoration.” LOL.
We went back one last time to Bogyoke Aung San Market, and I perused for some jewelry. I ended up purchasing a diamond band. It was a punch to my wallet, but I think worth it since I had to buy one for my wedding day anyways.
Then, my sister had a craving for Wa food, so we went to Roots. This was a middle-range restaurant, but for Yangon, this might be considered more upscale. The food was spicy and vegetable-heavy. My favorite two words. I loved the tofu soup I got and honestly felt like I got my second wind.
We headed back to my sister’s stay, and I did mainly errands. I washed some clothes and packed my bags. Then, we stayed in order food from a Japanese restaurant, Hokkaido Japanese Restaurant, and watched “Say Yes to the Dress.” I think those are the best times I had in Yangon, which is just spending quality time with her.
Around 8:30 PM, I took a Grab to the airport for my flight home.
Overall, Yangon is a city with a character of its own. It’s aesthetic is like many other SE Asian countries, but its food and history is very unique. For Yangon itself, I would say 2 full days max is good enough to explore the city if you’re only passing through the area.
I know this place isn’t on many people’s radar, but you’ll be surprised what you discover.