What to See in Yangon
There are many different attractions to see and experience in Yangon. Visitors will be pleasantly surprised to find many places of interest which will keep them busy for many days.
These include places of a spiritual nature, green parks and gardens, and museums that provide an insight into the rich history and culture of Myanmar. We have listed some of the more popular attractions in the city, along with some attractions that may be lesser known and less visited, but may also be of interest.
Yangon Payas (Pagodas)
The many ancient and spectacular paya are the most distinctive, and most popular attractions in the city. They are actually stupas, which are dome-like structures that contain a Buddhist relic. They are called paya by the Burmese. The name pagoda came from the British who call any Buddhist religious structure by that name. We have included some of the more important paya here.
Note: As with other Buddhist religious sites, footwear is not allowed inside. This rule is especially strict when entering paya in Myanmar. There is a place to leave your shoes or slippers located at each entrance/exit. But it may be best to put your shoes in a plastic bag, and take them with you. This way, you can leave by a different exit if you want.
Kaba Aye Pagoda
Constructed in 1952, this is a new paya, built for the sixth Buddhist synod, held from 1954 to 1956. The name means 'world peace' in English, and is known as the World Peace Paya. It is 112 feet high, the interior is hollow, and contains some Buddhist statues. Admission is free.
- Opening Hours: 06:00 – 20:00
- Location: Kaba Aye Road, Mayangone Township
- Tour Available: Yangon and Pottery Village Full Day Tour
Maha Pasana Guha
This is an excavated cave which was also constructed for the sixth Buddhist synod, held from 1954 to 1956 to coincide with the 2,500th anniversary of the enlightenment of Buddha. It is known as the ‘Great Cave’, and this enormous cave took more than a year to construct. It can hold up to 10,000 people, and is still used for large religious ceremonies.
- Location: Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Mayangone Township, just north of the Kaba Aye Pagoda
Maha Wizaya Pagoda
As with the Kaba Aye Paya, this is a relatively new construction. It was built in 1980 as a memorial to the First Successful Congregation of the Sangha of All Orders, when all sects of the Buddhist monastic order came under one supervisory body. It is a well-proportioned paya that combines modern and traditional styles, and is connected to the Shwe Dagon Paya by a pedestrian bridge.
- Opening Hours: 05:00 – 21:00
- Location: U Htaung Bo Road, just south of Shwe Dagon Paya
Reminiscent of the Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, this temple date back 1,000 years, although parts were added in 1952 and in 1954.
- Tour Available: Bago Full Day Tour
After the destruction of Bago in 1757, this historic reclining Buddha was swallowed up by the jungle, not to be rediscovered until the British era, during construction of the railway line from Yangon to Bago. The 55 metre long and 16 metre high Buddha image dates back to 994AD, and is one of the most revered statues in the country.
Bogyoke Aung San Museum
This is the 1920s house where General Aung San lived, with his wife, Daw Kin Kyi, and their three children. It is still in original condition, and has several interesting items on display, including Aung San's car, his library, photos, and his suit.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 to 15:00. Closed on Monday and public holidays.
- Location: Bogyoke Aung San Museum Street, Bahan Township (north of Kan Daw Gyi Lake)
National Museum of Myanmar
This five-storey museum is the repository for a priceless collection of artifacts and items of historical significance. The main feature of the collection is the Sihasana, or Lion Throne, which was the throne of King Thibaw Min, the last king of Myanmar. Among the artifacts on display is royal regalia from the 19th century, jewel encrusted beds, silver and gold rugs, and ornate palanquins. There are also artifacts from ancient times, cultural heritage artifacts, art, weaponry, musical instruments and paintings.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 16:00 Closed on Monday, Tuesday and government holidays
- Location: 66/74 Pyay Road, Dagon Township
- Remarks: Tickets are available only up to 15:30
- Tour Available: Yangon City Full Day Tour
The Strand Hotel is not actually an official tourist attraction, but it is the oldest and most famous hotel in Myanmar. The Sarkies brothers built it in 1901, and it is a national landmark. After years of neglect, it was renovated in the 1990s. The hotel doesn’t look like much from the outside, but for those who are interested in historic old buildings, it is very much worth a visit.
- Location: 92 Strand Road, across from the Pandosan Jetty
Bogyoke Aung San Park
A small scenic park located on the north side Kan Daw Gyi Lake with hills and shady trees. It is a popular park where city dwellers come to relax and enjoy leisure time. You get a good view of Kan Daw Gyi Lake from here. The playgrounds and picnic areas are favourite spots for children and teenagers.
- Location: Natmauk Road
Happy World Amusement Park
There are several amusement parks in Yangon, and going to an amusement park here is a somewhat like going back in time, just like arcades used to be years ago. They have fun houses, haunted houses, bumper cars, rides of all kinds, and many arcade games.
- Location: at the north end of Kan Taw Mingalar Park, junction of U Htaung Bo Rd. and U Wesara Rd., Dagon Township
Hlawga Wildlife Park
There are some 70 kinds of animals and almost 100 species of birds in this park that covers about 1,650 acres, and includes a lake. Popular activities here are bird watching, elephant rides, boating and fishing. There is also a museum with replicas of traditional Myanmar buildings, and a small zoo with a rock garden. The park is a good place for picnickers, naturalists, and botanists.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 16:00
- Location: Approx. 25 miles north of central Yangon on the Hlawga Road, west of Yangon-Paya Road, Taukkyan Model Village, Mingalardon Township
Independence Monument & Mahabandoola Garden
The Independence Monument is located inside the gardens. The obelisk was erected to commemorate Myanmar's independence. Known for its rose gardens, the park provides good views of City Hall, and other colonial buildings. People come to practice tai chi in the park early in the morning.
- Location: Downtown, southeast of the Sule Paya Roundabout
This huge artificial lake is some five times larger than Kan Daw Gyi Lake. Located in the north of the city, the lake cannot be seen from the street, and some parts of the shoreline are accessible on foot. On the eastern shore is the famous Inya Lake Hotel, and the University of Yangon is southwest of the lake. Around the lakeside are many expensive villas, and upscale restaurants.
- Location: Bounded by University Ave., Pyay Rd., Kahar Aye Pagoda Rd., and Parami Rd.
Kan Taw Mingalar Park
Popular with couples and families, it is a great place to spend a few relaxing hours. It is a nice little park with an attractive lake. The lake has little duck pedal boats and rowboats for rent, and there is an interesting little pavilion. The Golden Duck Restaurant is located in the park.
- Location: corner of U Wisara Rd. and U Htaung Rd., just south of Shwe Dagon Paya
People's Square and People's Park
This is a large park with a huge expanse of grass and trees, 130 acres in all, and west of the Shwe Dagon Paya. The area of the People's Square and People's Park used to be part of the palace grounds during the reign of Queen Shin Sawbu, and then during the colonial period it was a golf course. In both the square and park, there are thousands of plants, trees and flowers.
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 19:00 except national holidays
- Location: Near the Shwedagon Pagoda.
On a hill overlooking the city, this memorial mausoleum is dedicated to Aung San and the six cabinet members who were assassinated with him in 1947. It also contains the tombs of Queen Suphayalat, wife of Burma’s last king; nationalist and writer Thakin Kodaw Hmaing; former UN Secretary-General U Thant; and Aung San Suu Kyi’s mother, Khin Kyi. This mausoleum was bombed by North Korean agents during a ceremony in 1983 in an attempt to assassinate the visiting South Korean president. The president escaped, but 21 others were killed in the blast. The mausoleum is open only one day a year on July 19th.
- Location: Ar Zar Street, north of Shwe Dagon Paya
Rangoon War Cemetery
This World War II allied cemetery is very well kept, and contains the remains of over 1,400 British, Australian, Gurkha, and Burmese prisoners of war. After Burma was retaken from the Japanese, the remains of soldiers were taken from a Japanese POW camp, and re-interred here.
- Location: 353 Pyay Road, Sanchaung Township (entrance on a side street)
Attractions Outside Yangon
Of course there are many places outside of Yangon that are interesting, and worth visiting. Some are within easy reach of Yangon for an enjoyable daytrip, and some will require an overnight stay. We have provided some of these destinations here.
This was once the glittering ancient capital of lower Myanmar, which was ruled by the Mon dynasty from the 14th through the 16th century. It was the site of the Second Myanmar Empire founded by King Bayinnaung. Bago was destroyed in 1757, but was partially restored in the early 19th century. It was an important seaport, but when the Bago River changed course, it became cut off from the sea. Places of interest in Bago include the Shwe Mawdaw Paya, Kalyani Thein (Ordination Hall), the Shwe Thalyaung Reclining Buddha (9th century), Kyaikpun Paya with four large images of Buddha, and the Bago Market. Bago is only about 60km from Yangon, and is an easy day trip.
- Tour Available: Bago Full Day Tour
Well known for its paper umbrellas and beautiful religious architecture, it is approx. a four-hour drive by car from Yangon, or an overnight boat trip. The beaches of Chaungtha and Ngwe Saung, are only a few hours’ ride by bus or pick-up truck from here.
Thanlyin (Syriam) & Kyauktan
About a one-hour drive from Yangon, across Myanmar's longest bridge, is the town of Thanlyin. From the 14th to the 18th centuries it was an important port and trading centre. You can see the ruins of an 18th century Portuguese church, and on an island in the middle of the river is Ye Le Paya (the pagoda at the centre of the river) which contains pictures of other famous pagodas in other parts of the country.
A short bus ride out of town, rising on a hill is the large, golden Kyaik-khauk Paya. The tombs of two famous Myanmar Poets Laureate; Natshinaung and Padethayaza, are just in front of this paya. You can also see local ceramic production at Bogyoke Village.
Famous for its pottery and cotton-weaving industries, Twante is best reached by a two-hour, 24km, boat ride along the Twante Canal. The boat trip provides a glimpse into life along the canal. It can also be reached by taking the ferry across the Yangon River, and then a 40 min bumpy taxi ride to the town. For lunch, there is excellent food at the Kabakyaw Restaurant located opposite the local market. The Shwe Santaw Paya is also located in Twante not far from town. This is a good full-day tour.
- Tour Available: Yangon and Pottery Village Full Day Tour