A city that balances tradition, culture and modernity, making it a must-see for anyone who wants to experience a different side of Asia
One of the best places to visit in Asia is Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. Nature lovers will appreciate the city’s stunning lakes, shady parks and verdant tropical trees. However, Yangon has more to offer than impressive scenery. This city is a melting pot — a diversity of cultures and communities in terms of people and religions.
Bogyoke Aung San Market
This is the most famous and popular local market in Yangon. The large colonial building was built in 1926, and houses some 1,641 shops selling everything you might want including handicrafts, lacquer ware, wood and ivory carvings, tapestries, silverware, brassware, silk and cotton fabrics, clothing, hardware, food and so on.
A popular shopping destination for local residents, the plaza is something more like an old shopping mall than a traditional market. On the ground floor there are many wholesale outlets, selling packaged food, beverages, and even pets. Shops on the upper floors sell locally made products, fashion and household appliances.
Shwedagon Pagoda or Paya as it is known locally is a 100 metre high bell-shape structure that sits atop an octagonal base. Its complex structure is plated in gold and the upper dome is studded with more than 5,000 diamonds and precious gems. At the tip of the stupa, a single 76-carat diamond graces this magnificent structure. Shwedagon is dazzling by day but becomes truly magical by night when the whole place is lit up.
Karaweik Hall at Kandawgyi Lake
Yangon is suitably surrounded by lush tropical gardens and leafy trees, the product of the north easterly monsoon rains that continuously fall here six months of the year. If you love parks and need a break from the city, take a stroll among the luxurious tropical woods that surround the Royal Lake of Kandawgyi.
Hlawga Wildlife Park
There are some 70 kinds of animals and almost 100 species of birds in this park that covers about 1,650 acres and includes a lake. Popular activities here are bird watching, elephant rides, boating and fishing. There is also a museum with replicas of traditional Myanmar buildings, and a small zoo with a rock garden.
Myaing Hay Wun Elephant Camp
The elephant is revered in Myanmar, being an animal of historical and cultural significance. Elephants also have economic significance because of their use in the timber industry. This elephant camp, established in 1986, is on a 10-acre site. Visitors can trek with the elephants and observe them being washed and fed by mahouts.
The Dallah Ferry
The small village of Dallah is on the other side of the Yangon River from Yangon City and the ferry ride across the river is a trip in itself. The ride is only about 15 minutes but the ferry takes on an atmosphere more like a local market than a form of transportation. It is very noisy with hawkers selling everything from fruit, maps, candy, hats, snacks, CDs, calendars and everything else one could possibly need for the journey.
ABC Country Pub
It is possible to enjoy live country-western music in Yangon. Tourists who have a taste for such genre can simply go to ABC Country Bar to listen to live performances of favourite country and western songs by the bar’s resident band.
Asia Plaza Disco
Asia Plaza Disco is another well-known night-life destination. While it is a discotheque, this favoured night spot has more to offer than just dancing. Aside from organising traditional dance shows, the people behind Asia Plaza also treat patrons to fashion shows, wherein beautiful models showcase one-of-a-kind collections. People can expect to see haute couture as well.
A version of this article appears in print on October 08, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.