Yangon (Rangoon), is the former capital of Myanmar with a population of just over five million people. Whilst it is currently undergoing rapid development, the city has managed to retain much of its long-established colonial charm and cosmopolitan feel – it is perfectly normal to find temples, churches, mosques and synagogues, all within close proximity to one another. Towering above all of this however at 99 metres, is the 2600 year old Shwedagon Pagoda, which if anything, pays remarkable testament to the nation’s fervent Buddhist belief.
People visiting Yangon for the first time are often surprised by the amount of greenery present – the predominantly warm and wet tropical climate, provides the perfect growing conditions for tree-lined avenues, shaded parks and, to those whom can afford it, perfectly manicured private gardens. Inya and Kandawgyi, the city’s two major lakes, provide locals with a perfect oasis to escape the hustle and bustle, whilst chatting to friends and family over a leisurely board game and picnic.
If you’re keen to really get under the skin of the city however, be sure to spend an evening in downtown. Made up of a series of leafy avenues, congested roads and narrow side streets, downtown Yangon is packed with colourful market stalls, local eateries and traditional teahouses. The area also boasts the highest concentration of colonial buildings anywhere in South East Asia, with well-preserved buildings such as the High Court, Secretariat and Custom House, all providing a fascinating glimpse into what the city would have looked like during its heyday.
Whilst most people view Yangon as a convenient hub from which to fly in and out of, it is also a great destination to start a road trip into Myanmar’s deep south. Within hours you can find yourself photographing rare species of wildlife at one of the country’s most impressive national parks, or standing shoulder to shoulder with devout Buddhist monks and locals alike as they pay respects to the iconic Golden Rock. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, we would recommend reading up on destinations such as Bago, Kyaiktiyo, Mawlamyine and Hpa-an.