Yangon (also known as Rangoon) may not be Myanmar’s capital any more, but it is certainly the Southeast Asian nation’s economic and cultural centre, and its many beautiful temples, great food and welcoming people will make anyone’s stay there a treat.
As you would expect from an ex-capital city, there are plenty of fascinating museums to visit. See gorgeous Burmese craftsmanship at the National Museum and visit the home of the leader of the nation’s independence struggle, Aung San. The city also hosts the final resting place of India’s last Mughal emperor, with local guides happy to tell you all about how he came to be exiled from his homeland.
A visit to Yangon is also a great window onto Burmese culture. Take a cooking lesson at the Governor’s Residence Hotel, or catch a folk and dance performance. Take a tour around the stunning golden domes of the Shwedagon Pagoda or visit a traditional palm reader outside the Sule Pagoda and learn about your fortune.
Yangon is also a marketplace for Myanmar’s farmers and craftspeople. Head to the vibrant Bogyoke Market to snap up colourful textile goods, fresh fruit and spices before ducking into the stately Strand Hotel where George Orwell once drank during his stay in British Burma.
Visitors to the city can also get out and about to see some of the region’s natural attractions. A trip on the ferry across to Dallah is recommended, while the beautiful Hlawga National Park is a few miles to the north and provides a chance to meet local residents like elephants and monkeys.
More ambitious travellers can even take a short flight to the Mergui Islands, which are filled with beautiful beaches, great diving spots and secluded caves – making them one of Myanmar’s natural gems.
As a tropical destination, Yangon experiences rainy and dry seasons. The dry season lasts between November and February, and also brings lower temperatures, making it a pleasant time to visit. The heat of the wet season (May to August) can be oppressive. So, for the best conditions for sightseeing in the city and the surrounding area, a break in February could be ideal. With dry season on the wane, this could be cheaper than December or January as well.
The most popular way to get around is by taxi. Look for cars with red number plates which denote official status. Visitors will be expected to negotiate a price before the taxi leaves, and those staying in the outskirts may need to ask their hotel for a number to order their cab.