Yangon, the former capital, with its population of over 5 million, is the gateway to Myanmar. It was founded by King Alaungpaya on the site of a small fishing village called Dagon when he conquered Lower Myanmar in 1755. The name Yangon means ‘End of Strife’.
Yangon gives a very different impression from other Asian cities of similar size. It seems full of trees and shades. Wide streets, orderly town planning and neglected colonial-style public buildings revive visions of a century of British rule, while busy street scenes and shimmering pagodas, bursting through a leafy canopy, hint the rich local culture. From miles away on ship or by plane approaching the city, you will see a golden tower stabbing the sky. This is the
the largest and oldest temple of its kind. Towering almost 100 meters above the green city, this 2,500 years old shrine is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists from many lands and is the very symbol of why Myanmar is called ‘The Golden Land’. A visit to Yangon is not complete without a visit to Yangon’s premier sight!
Over 2,000 years old and a haven of peace in the bustling downtown area, “it can be seen every day, but very rare to make a visit” – people here compare it with Picadilly Circus.
You can walk into the stupa! And believe it or not, it is the ONLY pagoda in the world where you can see a real hair relic of Lord Buddha.
KABA AYE PAGODA
means ‘World Peace’ to which this pagoda is dedicated. Built in 1952, it is significant because of the Sixth World Buddhist Synod, which was held there in 1954.
Actually it is not a pagoda but a Tazaung (pavillion) where a 70 meters long Buddha statue can be found.
MAI LAMU PAGODA
named after the mother of the legendary founder of the city, is a wonderland of spired pagodas and sculptured figures.
Wander around the Bogyoke Market where you can find a mixture of foreign made products and Myanmar antiques, wood, ivory and mother of pearl carving, lacquerware, tapestries, and, and, and…You will also meet Myanmar people from all walks of life.
CITY CIRCLE TRAIN
Take a 2 1/2 hour ride in one of the 50 years old coaches fully covered with detergent advertising. If you wish to drive through rural areas, stopping at numerous stations watching cigarette sellers, betelnut sellers, fortune tellers, and, and, and… – then just buy a ticket or – if you want to travel in comfort – charter a special carriage complete with butler service!
Located on Pyay Road, about a few minutes away from downtown, the newly built five-storied museum will let you know the glory of Myanmar. It exhibits the Lion Throne of the last Myanmar king, royal regalia of 19th century Myanmar kingdom, artifacts of various ancient periods, articles of cultural heritage and archaeological value, art and craft articles, weaponry, musical instruments and paintings.
Located near the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel, the Yangon Zoo is noted for its collection of wild animals from around the world, rare species, flora and fauna, which have been collected over the years since it was opened in 1906. On weekends and public holidays, snake dance and elephant circus are performed for visitors. The Zoological Garden Amusement Park is also a well-known spot for children and teenagers.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Situated near the Kandawgyi Lake, the Natural History Museum has a notable collection of Myanmar’s geographical, biological and archaeological diversity including flora and fauna, forest products, minerals and rocks.
PEOPLE’S SQUARE AND PEOPLE’S PARK
People’s Square and People’s Park occupy over 130 acres of land between Shwedagon Pagoda and Pyithu Hluttaw (the Parliament). There is a museum housing life-size models of nationalities in their colorful dress. A restaurant in the Park serves Myanmar, Chinese and European cuisine.
MYANMAR GEMS MUSEUM:
Of the 100 counters in the building 30 on the ground floor, 34 each on the first and second floors are privately owned, whereas the remaining two counters on the ground floor are run by the Myanmar Gems Enterprise and Myanmar VES Joint Venture Co., Ltd. These three floors of the Gems Mart present the whole range of Myanmar ruby, sapphire, period and a variety of assorted colored stones, jade, pearls in lots or embedded in exquisite jewelry, gold ware, silverware and jade figurines. These are sold in Myanmar Kyats, US$ or foreign exchange certificates (FEC). The Myanmar Gems Enterprise (MGE) under the Ministry of Mines annually holds an auction at the Emporium.
In the gems museum, you will find ruby, jade, pearl and the jewelry counters.
Within the walking distance from Minn Dhamma Hill, there is an Elephant house where the three white elephants are kept. In many Asian countries including Myanmar, white elephant is regarded as a supreme royal ornament.
NATIONAL RACES VILLAGE:
National races village is situated in Tharketa Township, on the left of Yangon-Thanlyin Bridge. You will not only enjoy fresh breeze blowing across Bago River but also get the sense of Union Spirit from the village of national brethren, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. You can see buildings with significant symbols denoting various national races residing in the country.
On a city tour to downtown and Yangon’s riverfront you will see many of the remarkable sites of the colonial and religious past of this garden city. Old Rangoon was Dr William Montgomerie’s design. He was the army superintendent surgeon and learnt his city planning skills from Sir Stanford Raffles in Singapore. Buildings of heritage in Yangon are now listed for protection. The period architecture of the old city center, among others, includes:
The City Hall
It is designed by U Tin in 1925, incorporates Myanmar themes into its facade, including floral motifs and mythical creatures.
The High Court, a red brick extravaganza by the architect John Ransome built in 1911. The impressive building sports a clock tower whose four faces are lighted at night, and can be seen floating above the city centre.
The Strand Hotel built in 1896, once described as the “leading hotel of the East”. The Strand has long been recognized as a national landmark, a model of auspicious, colonial repose. The hotel’s Victorian influence is visible even from the colonnaded entranceway.
The Customs House was built of red brick in 1902.
The Township Judicial Offices building, a long grey structure with high pillars, finished in 1920 was once headquarter of the Burma Socialist Program Party.
The towered Myanmar Port Authority, on the corner of Strand Road and Pansodan Street.
The office of the Ministry of Information, built in 1918, is a four-story structure with austere pillars that originally served as a bank, then as the National Museum and has now been returned to its original duty as a bank.
The Yangon Division Court House built in 1912, in the Queen Anne architectural style.
The Rander House, at the corner of Pansodan Street and Merchant Street.
The adjacent Government Telegraph Office was erected the same year as the High Court – though a fresh coat of paint ensures that it looks as striking as architect John Begg intended.
The compound of the Secretariat along Mahabandoola Street and Bo Aung Kyaw Street. Construction began in 1980 and was finished 1905, resulting a massive red brick building with four wings radiating out from a central dome. It was here in 1947 that General Aung San and five members of his cabinet were assassinated during a meeting.
The Yangon General Hospital, impressively designed with expansive arches and towering turrets was, upon its completion in 1911, the first public building in Myanmar constructed of reinforced concrete.
The Railway Station, ornamented with Traditional Myanmar motifs.
The jetty is situated in front of the famous Strand Hotel. From there, you may observe the daily lives of people who came across the river from the other side of the city for working or selling their local products. You can cross the river by ferry boat, which takes about 10 minutes to return.
YANGON SUNSET CRUISE:
The RV Mahaythi has daily (guarantee minimum 2 persons departure) Yangon Sunset Cruises. Departure from Botataung Jetty at 16:30 P.M. and arrival at War-tan Jetty is at 18:30 P.M.
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