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Yangon (Rangoon)

On a piece of fertile delta of Southern Myanmar lies Yangon. You'll be surprise to see just how green Yangon is despite its population of around 4 million people. In fact, some areas around the city are practically a jungle - quite unique for an Asian city of that size. At night, the scene changes and Yangon's wide boulevards come alive with many stalls selling an array of delicious food and huge cigars. Just turn your back on the old colonial architecture, and you'll realized that Yangon is actually a most charming city.

Named "a beautiful winking wonder" by Kipling, you'll also find the gold-plated Shwedagon Paya in Yangon. This place dominates the city from its perch on the hill. According to legend, the Shwedagon Paya was built to enshrine eight of Buddha's hairs. The mighty monument was built in the 18th century and consists of many statues, temples, shrines, images and pavilions. On this magical site, you'll also find the legendary Strand Hotel, the colossal reclining Buddha in Chaukhtatgyi Paya and the peaceful Kandawgyi and Inya Lakes. There are also pro-democracy landmarks such as the Martyr's Mausoleum and Aung San Suu Kyi's House.

You needn't worry about accommodation as there are many hotels and guesthouses in Yangon. Near the western part of the city is where you'll find cheap guesthouses. For a cleaner and friendlier option, try the ones near the railway station. For the best authentic Burmese cuisine, head on to the Shwedagon Paya area. There are also many nice ones around the city center. However, do take note that it's tough to find food anywhere in the city past 9 p.m.

Getting around Yangon is not too difficult although the buses tend to be crowded at times. For short trips, a trishaw (sai-kaa) is unique and will suffice. If the journey is longer, catch a car taxi or one of the cute tiny three-wheeled Mazdas.


Mandalay is the cultural center of Myanmar with the most "Burman" essence in it. Besides being the country's second largest city, it is also the last capital of Myanmar before the British took over. Must-see at Mandalay includes the Shwenandaw Kyaung, Mandalay Hill and the ancient Rakhine Buddha image at Mahamuni Paya. The Shwenandaw Kyaung is the last remaining building of a once luxurious palace whilst the Mandalay Hill is unique for its spiraling stairways, temples and breath-taking views.

Another unique feature of Myanmar is the bustling markets that produce handicrafts from all over Upper Myanmar. Do visit the "deserted cities" of Amarapura, Sagaing, Ava and Mingun too. The most interesting of the four is Mingun. There are some attractive monuments in various states for observation. As Mingun is only accessible by river, getting there on a boat from Mandalay is a treat in itself.


Bagan is one of the wonders of Asia with its fabulous pagodas and temples on the banks of the Ayeyarwady. Its beautiful history stretched from the 11th to the 13th century. Many magnificent buildings were constructed there. In 1287, the city was devastated by Kublai Khan and was never rebuilt. Out of the 5000 temples, the most interesting of which are Ananda, Thatbyinnyu, and Gawdawpalin.

Bago (Pega)

Bago used to be a fabulous city, a major seaport and the capital city for lower Myanmar. However, the Burman destroyed it in 1757. In the 19th century, it was partially restored. The city never did restore its full grandeur when the Bago River changed its course and cut the city off from the sea. While you are there, do visit the Shwemawdaw Pagoda, the Hintha Gone Pagoda and the reclining Shwethalyaung Buddha that is 55 m (180 ft) in length.




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