The crowded streets of Yangon (formally Rangoon) nod to their colonial past while still paying homage to a culture steeped in tradition. European-style buildings like the old Railways Headquarters and the Bogyoke Aung San Museum exist beside impressive pagodas and ancient temples. A three-day trip to this former capital of Myanmar gives visitors enough time to sample the Burmese cuisine, tour colonial landmarks and wander the halls of gilded temples. It will leave tourists with a true taste of the history, the culture and the tradition that make this city one of the nation’s most-traveled.
Day One: Pagodas
Start your day with a bowl of piping hot Mohinga, a rich fish stew considered to be the national dish of Myanmar. Following breakfast, head to Chaukhtatgyi Paya. The brilliant colors and impressive detail on this pagoda’s 65-meter reclining Buddha make it a must-see destination on a tour of local temples.
Next head towards the golden stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda. Arguably the most impressive pagoda in Yangon, the religious structure is topped with more than 4,500 diamonds—including a 72-carat sparkle. Its inspiring design and relics from four previous Buddhas have attracted visitors like Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. Finish your day with a drink at the Sky Bar, near the Sule Pagoda at the top of Sakura Tower for an impressive view of the golden pagoda lit up at night.
Day Two: Burmese Shopping and Cuisine
Start your day at the Bogyoke Aung San Market, where merchants have been selling traditional crafts, rare antiques and beautiful gems since 1926. Arrive early, since the first sale of the day is considered good luck—sellers are more willing to offer discounted prices before the day kicks off.
After wandering the stalls of Bogyoke, take a traditional Burmese cooking class and learn to make dishes, like Htamin jin—a rice, tomato and potato salad, the country is known for. Travelers will begin by collecting ingredients in a local green market and finish by sampling their homemade dishes.
Round out the day with a casual drink from the luxurious Strand Hotel. The bar offers travelers a perfect vantage point to observe a different kind of local flavor.
Day Three: Travel by Train
Hop aboard the Circle Train for a three-hour journey through the farms, suburbs and hillsides that lie beyond Yangon’s city limits. A single US dollar buys visitors a scenic trip on this commuter train with locals who are leaving for work or heading home from the market. A uniquely Yangon experience, this trip will likely to be a highlight of any visit to the city.
After a ride on the Circle Train, head to the old Myanmar Railways Headquarters. The colonial-style buildings and lush gardens are ideal for wandering. In several years they will also become part of a major redevelopment project, which includes a luxury five-star hotel.