Yangon, the capital City, is the main gateway to Myanmar. Evergreen and cool with lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes, Yangon has earned the name of “the Garden City of the East”. Relatively simple city without skyscrapers, neon-lit clamour, crowded squalor and the pace of modern life, Yangon is attractive in its own special way. Yangon was founded by ‘King Alaungpaya’ on the site of a small settlement called ‘Dagon’ when he conquered Lower Myanmar in 1755. The name ‘Yangon’ means “End of Strife” which was anglicized to ‘Rangoon ‘ after the British annexed Myanmar in 1885. At present, ‘Yangon’ covers about 500 sq-km and has a population of over 5 million.
The historic Shwedagon Pagoda, which towers almost 98 metres (326 feet) above the green city-scope of Yangon, never fails to enchant visitors.
The shimmering main stupa soars high above the capital and is visible for miles around.
One of the wonders of the world, the Shwedagon Pagoda is believed to be the earliest Pagoda of Gautama Buddha Era and it had been built on the Singottara Hill more than 2500 years ago.
The Pagoda was renovated many times over the centuries by various Myanmar Kings.
There are many pagodas in Myanmar but few were come closer to it in scale or beauty. It is not just one main stupa but a complex of many stupas.
All around the principal stupa is a cluster of smaller stupas, temples, shrines, prayer halls, pavilions, religious images and statues.
Lengthy staircases lined with stalls selling religious articles, Silver-wares, Souvenirs, Lacquer-wares, handicrafts, flowers, ceremonial umbrellas, and etc.
The best time to visit Shwedagon Pagoda is at sunset when its gilded stupa is bathed in the fading rays of the sun and takes on a magical glow.
It is situated right in the centre of Yangon-beside the Myanmar Travels and Tours office, Maha Bandoola Park and Independence Monument, Town Hall and Supreme Court. Sule Pagoda is said to be over 2,000 years old and to enshrine a hair of Buddha. “Mon” name “Kyaik Athok” translates as “the pagoda where a Sacred Hair Relic is enshrined”. The golden pagoda is unusual in that its octagonal shape continues right up to the bell and inverted bowl. It stands 46 metres (152 feet) high and is surrounded by small shops and all the familiar non-religious services such as astrologers, palmists, photo studios, mini-stores, etc.
Kaba Aye Pagoda
The name “Kaba Aye” in Myanmar means “World Peace” to which this pagoda is dedicated. Built in 1952, this pagoda is significant for the Sixth World Buddhist Synod which was held in its large precinct in 1954.
The Buddhist Art Museum, Maha Pasana Cave and newly built Wizaya Mingala Dhammathabin Hall are also located in the same precinct.
Chauk Htat Kyee Reclining Buddha Statue
Located on Shwegondaing Road, this colossal (70 metres long) Reclining Buddha Statue is one of the largest images in Myanmar. The original image was built in 1907. But it has suffered damage due to climate over the years. In 1957, it was demolished and rebuilt to this structure in 1966.
Mei Lamu Pagoda
A wonder land of spired pagodas and sculptured figures located in North Okkalapa, a satellite town about 20 minutes drive from the city centre. Mei Lamu Pagoda is famous for the giant images depicting Buddha’s earlier lives.
Maha Vijaya Pagoda
The Maha Vijaya Pagoda is situated adjacent to the Shwedagon Pagoda. The symbolic memorial of the First Successful Congregation of the Sangha of All Orders held in 1980, this elegant Maha Vijaya Pagoda is a unique blend of traditional pattern and the modern styles. The sanctuary contains the finely wrought Buddha image and the reliquary donated by the King and Queen of Nepal.
“Bo” means “Military Leader” and “Tahtaung” means “one thousand”, the “Botahtaung” Pagoda was named after the thousand military leaders who escorted relics of the “Buddha” brought from India over 2,000 years ago. Its hollow inside can walk through and a sort of mirrored maze inside the pagoda with glass showcases containing many of the ancient relics and artifacts which were sealed inside the earlier pagoda. Above this interesting interior, the golden pagoda spire rises to 40 metres (132 feet).
Buddha’s Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda (Yangon)
“Gautama” Lord Buddha’s Sacred Tooth Relic was conveyed to the Union of Myanmar from the People’s Republic of China for the Second time on 20th. April, 1994 under the programme of friendly cooperation between the two countries and kept for 45 days for Myanmar public homage.
Tooth Relic from China was kept together with two Replica Tooth Relics of Myanmar. Of the two, one Sacred Replica Tooth Relic was enshrined in the Buddha’s Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda (Yangon) on Dhammapala Hill in Mayangon Township.
The pagoda was being built with cash donations contributed by the peoples of Myanmar and Buddhist donors of entire world under the supervision of the Myanmar government.
The Myanmar government authorities and donors hoisted Buddha’s Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda of Yangon’s Shwe Htidaw (sacred golden umbrella), Hngetmyatnadaw (sacred bird perch vane) and Seinphudaw (sacred diamond bud) on 24th, November, 1996.
National Museum of Myanmar in Yangon
The new five-storeyed National Museum, constructed on 380 feet by 200 feet area, is situated at No. 66/74, Pyay Road, Dagon Township at a cost of Ks. 365.591 million.
It has been opened to the public since 18th, September, 1996. The visitors will find the statue of King Bayint Naung, the founder of the “Second Myanmar Empire of the Toungoo Period (AD. 1551-AD 1581)”, in front of the museum. The Myanmar Epigraphy and Calligraphy Showroom, the Lion Throne Hall and Yadanabon Period Showroom were on the ground floor.
The history of Myanmar alphabets (including some nationalities – Kayin, Mon, Rakhine, Shan and etc.) such as even from Pyu, Bagan, Pinya, Innwa, Toungoo, Konbaung period to the present age were exhibited in the Myanmar Epigraphy and Calligraphy Showroom.
The 180-year-old Sihasana Pallanka (Great Lion Throne) (Myay Nan) was exhibited in the Lion Throne Hall-Surrounding were all together 8 miniature replica models of the Thrones used by the Myanmar Kings in ancient times. Sihasana Pallanka (Lion Throne) (Myay Nan),Hamsasana Pallanka (Hamsa Throne), Gijasana Pallanka (Elephant Throne), Mayurasana Pallanka (Peacock Throne), Bhamarasana Pallanka (Bumble Bee Throne), Padumasana Pallanka (Lotus Throne), Sinkhasana Pallanka (Conch Shell Throne) and Migasana Pallanka (Deer Throne).
The miniature models of the Royal apartments in the Royal Palace of the Mandalay Yadanabon Period, the Couch of King Thibow’s Sayadaw (Royal presiding monk), the royal couches of King Mindon and the Chief Queen, King Thibow’s ivory chair, a cabinet for storing palm leaf manuscripts and “parabaiks”, donated to the presiding monk of Hman Kyaung monastery in Mandalay from Su-Gyi-Su, Chief Queen of Mindon, King Thibow’s attire, Chief Queen Supayalat’s ceremonial frock, a one-line royal order written on palm leaf and the copies horoscopes of King Thibow and Queen Supayalat were shown in the Yadanabon Period Showroom.
Moreover, the visitors can buy the articles of Myanmar at the ground floor souvenir shop. Myanmar Prehistoric Period and Proto Historic Period Showroom, Myanmar Historic Period Showroom and Royal Regalia Showroom can be seen in the first floor.
A miniature model of 11,000- year-old Pyadalin cave which bears witness of a flourishing neolithic culture, neolithic period articles, stone artifacts obtained from within the cave, reproduction of the paintings on the cave walls can be seen in Myanmar Prehistoric and Proto Historic Period Showroom. Articles of cultural heritage from the Pyu Period A.D 1st – 9th Century, picture of the most ancient pagodas in Myanmar, the Baw Baw Gyi Pyu Pagoda at old Thayekhittaya, a 5th. Century Silver Bodhi-Tree Casket and many interesting articles of the Pyu Period can be seen also in it.
The very distinguished Bagan Period which flourished from A.D. 10th. -12th Century is a great significant in the history of Myanmar. Original Buddha Images of sandstone and cast bronze, original clay votive tablets and many evidence of Bagan Period culture, and also the items of Pinya, Innwa, Toungoo and Nyaung Yang Period can be viewed in the Myanmar Historic Period Showroom. The visitors can study the articles such as made of pure solid gold and decorated with gems which were displayed in front of the throne to the left and right in customary order when the Kings of Myanmar gave audience to receive homage, in the Royal Regalia Showroom.
Myanmar Traditional Folk Art Showroom and Myanmar Performing Arts Showroom were in the second floor.
Myanmar Art Gallery No.1 and No.2 were on the third floor where the copies of the drawings upon the walls of the 11,000-year-old Pyadalin cave, copies of the wall paintings from the thousand- year-old vault-based temples and stupas of the Bagan Period, reproductions of paintings of successive periods are exhibited. Original works in oil and water colour of Myanmar great Artists can be viewed also.
Buddha Images Showroom and Culture of National Races Showroom were on the 4th floor-176 ancient Buddha Images of Pyu, Pinya, Innwa, Toungoo, Nyaung Yang and Konbaung in Hall ‘A’, and Totem emblems and symbols of the clan or lineage of the national races who live in cordial unity in the Union of Myanmar, musical instruments, art and craft articles, and weaponry are displayed.
It opens from Tuesday to Sunday except Mondays and gazette holidays. Open from – 10:00 to 15:30 hours.
Natural History Museum
Situated on Lu-O-Yon Street, the Natural History Museum has a notable collection of Myanmar natural resources including flora and fauna, forest products, minerals and rocks. Entrance Fee – US$ 4.
Memorial to Fallen Heroes
The “Memorial to Fallen Heroes” is situated at Singottara Hill which is very close to the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. It was unveiled on 27th March, 1990, in commemoration of 45th Anniversary of the Myanmar Armed Forces Day. The objective of the establishment of this Memorial is in honour of the Myanmar Fallen Heroes-commencing all the Fallen Heroes of Anglo-Myanmar First War in 1825; the Fallen Heroes who fought for Independence; and the Fallen Heroes who fought for the safeguard of the National Independence, sovereignty and stability of the Union of Myanmar Territory. On 27th September, 1943, War Minister General Aung San (the Great Fallen Hero and National Leader) established the first monument for the Memorial to Fallen Heroes at the said place. The honorary slogan of the Memorial is “Honour beyond compare for the noblest sacrifice”. The Memorial is open from 8:00 to 17:30 hours every day. Entrance Fee – US$ 3 (Foreigners), – Ks. 3 (Nationalities – Adults), – K. 1 (Nationalities – Children)
Defence Services Museum
The grand Museum is situated at Shwedagon Pagoda Road, Dagon Township and close to the Shwedagon Pagoda. It was unveiled on 24th March, 1994, in commemoration of the 49th Anniversary of the Myanmar Armed Forces Day. There are 12 big halls, giant hangar for Aircrafts and totally 52 showrooms – 30 showrooms of Ministries; 10 for Regional Military Commands; 10 for Service Arms; and 2 Halls of Historical Facts on Development of Myanmar Armed Forces. In those 2 large halls of Historical Section are showing historical development of Myanmar Armed Forces dating from Pagan, the First Empire of Myanmar, and the period to present day.
All the visitors will know the history of the Union of Myanmar and Armed Forces of Myanmar, after the study tour of the Defence Services Museum.
It opens from Monday to Friday except Saturdays, Sundays and Public holidays. Open from – 09:00 to 16:00 hours
Myanma Gems Museum and Gems Mart
The four-storey building is situated at No.66, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Mayangon Township and very close to the Kaba Aye Pagoda. Myanmar is the land of precious stones such as Ruby, Sapphire and Jade as well as mineral deposits. The Myanmar Gems, Jade and Pearl Emporium has been held annually in late February or early March since 1964. The mid-year sales were organized in October since 1992, to meet the jewellers’ demand of abroad and in land. At present , interim sales are also organized in July and December. Moreover, special sales are organized in January and July when Jade and Gem stones can be purchased with both Foreign Currency or Foreign Exchange Certificate (FEC), and Myanmar Currency. The Gems Museum was on the top floor of the Gems Mart building. The exhibits are presented in five main sections: Jade, Gems, Jewellery, Pearl and Minerals. Jade exhibits covered imperial jade, commercial jade, utility jade from the different jade provinces as well as jade figurines. The collection box contained 55 kinds of jade together with all the various colours of the said varieties of jade. Another collection box exhibited 22 specimens of precious and semi-precious stones. The largest Pearl weighing 9.8 momes which was created in 1977 and largest rough Sapphire height 6.7″ top circumference 14.25″, base 27.8″, weighing 11877 grams, which was recovered from Mogok Treasure Land were exhibited there. 55 varieties of Pearls were displayed in the Pearl Section. The Mineral section presented where 30 kinds of minerals occurred in Myanmar. The gold bullion and silver bullion were also exhibited. The world renowned ” Nawata Ruby “, (the flawless crimson rose ruby) recovered from Mogok Treasure Land, weighing 504.5 Carats, was refined to the present weight of 496.5 Carats can be seen by visitors during the exhibition days only. The largest jade boulder (12′ x 6.5′ x 7′) recovered from Phakant Jade Land weighs about 33 tons can be seen always between the Gems Museum and Gems Mart Hall. Moreover, for remembrance of each and every exhibition, the creations of the Buddhist Era and Myanmar’s historic miniature models which were decorated with Myanma Gems, Jade, Pearl and precious stones such as the Shwedagon Pagoda, Palace Tower and Mandalay Hill, Royal Regalia and etc. can be seen also by the visitors. Persons wishing to attend the Emporium have to obtain the invitation by requesting Myanma Gems Enterprise at the above mentioned address. The favourite Myanma Ruby, Sapphire, Semi-precious assorted colour stones, Imperial Jade, Commercial Jade and Utility Jade, and Pearl are carefully selected and created into attractive jewellery of traditional or modern design and mounted in 18K or 14K gold put up for competitive biding on over a thousand lots. Over 500 merchants and dealers from some 17 countries used to attend the annual and mid-term sales. The whole range of Myanma Ruby, Sapphire, Peridot, precious assorted colour stones, Jade Imperial or Commercial, Pearls unmounted or created into exquisite jewellery, gold-ware, silverware and jade figurines shops in hundred counters on three floors were established as permanent Gems Mart. The articles bought by all the visitors or merchants with Foreign Currency or Foreign Exchange Certificate (FEC) can be taken abroad and bought with Myanmar Kyats can be taken throughout Myanmar legally. The Mart is open from 09:00 to 17:00 hours daily except Mondays and gazette holidays. The Gems Emporiums have been held every year. One of the significant measures taken by the Government is that capital and loans have been extended in advance to entrepreneurs engaged in gem mining field under the revolving fund system to enable them to run their businesses properly. The Government has also taken measures so that foreign exchange can be earned as quickly as possible. In the past, efforts were made to keep the ruby extraction and ruby trade within the legal fold. But illicit mining and smuggling persisted and many quality stones went out of the country via border passes. Later special measures were taken to prevent precious stones from being smuggled out of the country through investigations and supervision of the respective military Commands in accordance with the orders issued for the purpose. As a result bigger and better quality gems and jade pieces than the previous emporiums can be put on display at this Emporium. At the same time the number of lots and the amount of their value have become high. Another significance of this Emporium is that arrangements have been made through the Consulate-General in Hong Kong to enable the gem merchants from the People’s Republic of China to attend the Emporium.
Planetarium in Yangon
The ‘Planetarium’ is situated in the compound of People’s Square and People’s Park and very close to the Shwedagon Pagoda and People’s Parliament. It was constructed by the aid of Japan International Co-operation Agency-JICA aid was in Yen (equivalent to 8.2 Million Kyats), and 2.3 Million Kyats from Myanmar government’s side. It was unveiled on 4th January, 1987 legally to show the public. The objective of the Planetarium is to get the knowledge of space Phenomenon for the children, students and youths of Myanmar. In fact, it is one of the most valuable institute for astrologers and scientists. Because of the assistance of this Planetarium’s Precision Circle Apparatus, all the visitors can study the ‘Past 12,000 years’ and also ‘Future 12,000 years’ periods from the astronomy point of view. It is open on Saturdays and Sundays except Mondays to Fridays and public holidays. Open from – 10:00 to 11:30 hours, Entrance Fee – 10 Kyats (Adults), – 5 Kyats (Children)
Bogyoke Aung San Park
A scenic park with a lovely view of Kandawgyi Lake is located on Natmauk Road and close to the pagodas of Shwedagon and Mahavijaya. This Park is a popular recreation centre where city-dwellers relax and enjoy their leisure in peace and tranquility. The playground and picnic areas are favourite spots for children and teenagers.
People’s Square and People’s Park
People’s Square and People’s Park occupied over 130 acres of land between Shwedagon Pagoda and Pyithu Hluttaw (Parliament). There is a museum housing life-size models of nationalities in their colourful dress and flora and fauna.
The restaurant serves Myanmar, Chinese and European cuisine.
Located near “Kandawgyi Palace Hotel”, the Zoo is noted for its collection of wild animals, flora and fauna which have been collected over the years since it was opened in 1906. On weekend and Public holidays, snake dance and elephant circus are performed for visitors. It is open daily from 08:00 to 18:00 hours. The Zoological Garden Amusement Park is also a well known spot for children and teenagers.
Hlawga Wildlife Park
The Hlawga Wildlife Park is situated at Htaukkyant, Mingaladon Township, Yangon Division, about 45 minutes drive from Yangon. The Park which covers 1650 acres of land and lake is home for over 70 kinds of herbivorous animals and 90 species of birds. It has a museum with a background of landscapes of 7 States and 7 Divisions, picnic area, view point with pagoda, monastery and Myanmar Traditional Buildings and a small zoo with rock garden. Flock of migratory birds frequently visit the park. It is an ideal place for picnickers, naturalists, botanists and bird-watchers. Visitors can also enjoy elephant rides, fishing and boating in the park.
” Yangon War Cemetery (1939-1945) – the land on which this cemetery stands in the gift of the Myanmar people for the perpetual resting place of the sailors, soldiers and airmen who are honored here “.
” This Cemetery was built and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission “.
Where to go Shopping in Myanmar
Myanmar arts and crafts, mostly pure hand-made, are best souvenirs and prices are very reasonable. Lecquer-wares, wood and ivory carvings, tapestries, silver-wares, brass-wares, silk and cotton fabrics and bags (especially traditional sling bags) are some of the favourite items. For jewellery, there are Myanmar rubies, sapphires, jades and pearls available at the authorized Myanmar gems shops.
An ancient capital of the Mon Kingdom (15th Century), Bago(Pegu) is situated only 80km from Yangon. It is about 2 hours drive from Yangon across the countryside. The new International Airport Project of Bago is under construction.
Over 2000-year-old Shwemawdaw Pagoda, 114-metre-high Stupa overlooks the landscape, was built by two merchants ‘Taphussa ‘ and ‘Bhillika’,and was rebuilt several times because of damage caused by earthquakes. The gilded Pagoda is said to house a number of Holy Relics of the Buddha and is consequently one of the most venerated pagodas in the country. Entrance Fee – US$ 2
Maha Zedi Pagoda
The Maha Zedi or the Great Pagoda, where only men are allowed to ascend the steps to the top of the 100-metre-high structure was built in AD1560 to house a duplicate tooth of the Buddha and Emerald Bowl containing more of His Relics. There is an another similar pagoda at Sagaing in Upper Myanmar. Entrance Fee – US$ 2
Shwe Tha Lyaung Buddha Image
The huge 1000-year-old Shwe Tha Lyaung Buddha Image is reckoned to be one of the largest Reclining Buddha and the most life-like, measuring 55-metre in length and 16-metre in height. Entrance Fee – US$ 2
Kambawza Thadi Palace
Bago is one of the richest archaeology sites in Myanmar. The Archaeology Department has been excavating at the Palace site of “King Bayint Naung” at the ancient Royal Capital Bago. Actually, “Bayint Naung” was the title, not the name. “Shin Ye Htut” was “Bayint Naung’s” name. It was at “the Battle of Naung Yoe” in 1538 that “Shin Ye Htut” earned the title “Bayint Naung”. “Bayint Naung” literally means “the King’s Elder Brother”.King Tabin Shwe Hti, brother-in-Law of Bayint Naung, had high regard for “Shin Ye Htut”. The King conferred upon him the unusual title of “Bayint Naung”. King Tabin Shwe Hti and Shin Ye Htut fought side by side in wars of national unification. In A.D. 1551, a year after the death of King Tabin Shwe Hti, Bayint Naung became king. After assuming office, King Bayint Naung began his career of conquest, building the “Second Myanmar Empire”. The creditable achievement of King Bayint Naung was fully recorded in Myanmar History. Especially, the new Capital “Hamsavaddy” (Hanthawady) which King Bayint Naung founded and the new Palace “Kamboza Thadi” which he built were mentioned in some details not only in native chronicles but also in foreign historical writings. Achievement of King Bayint Naung’s millitary campaigns, political, social and religious merits, and his Capital Palace “Kamboza Thadi” were of world renown. An immortal fame and historic figure like King Bayint Naung, the Royal Capital Hamsavaddy and that of the Palace “Kamboza Thadi” at Bago has been well-known to Myanmar people. The work of excavation and restoration of old Capital and Palace was begun in 1990.The archaeological diggings make good progress with enthusiasm and high tempo. The construction work of some historic Buildings have to complete during ‘Visit Myanmar Year 1996’.
Places of other interest in Yangon Areas
Kyaikkasan Pagoda, Ko Htat Kyee Pagoda, Ngar Htat Kyee Pagoda, Shwe Phone Pwint Pagoda, Mo Gaung Pagoda, Kyaik Kaloh Pagoda, Kyaik Kalei Pagoda,Say Wingabar Pagoda, Zina Mang Aung Pagoda, Aquarium, Maha Bandoola Park, Mingaladon Garden, Kandawgyi (Royal Lake), Bogyoke Aung San Museum and Karaweik Palace are also interesting places to visit.