Walking the old City Center of (Rangoon) Yangon

A city day tour through Yangon (Rangoon)

Yangon is the largest urban area in Myanmar (Burma) with over 4 million inhabitants and a great landmark domination the skyline that is the Shwedagon pagoda. 

The differences are with the buildings here are several built during colonial times still under the supervision of the English and now other by locals from Rangoon. 

What the English built although rotten from decay still look somehow not so bad and has some charm, the other are just bad by any means. Those are the ones in the very city center where plenty of people from India live who came in with the British. It doesn't look much like SEA it rather appears like squatters in Calcutta.

There are some very pretty buildings left one of it is the old railway station and another one is the old "Ministers Office" above. The two main fixtures are the Bogyoke Market and the center around there plus the City Hall Mahabandola Park and along Anawratha Road until down to the Yangon River with the harbor.Visiting Myanmar usually starts in the old capital because of the airport and the harbor. There are plenty of other attraction in Yangon a truly old fashioned Asian metropolis where the visitor can feel colonial times almost at every second corner.

Walking through the old City Center of Rangoon A day trip through Myanmar's main city which rather reminds to Calcutta and not South East Asia plus other things to do. 

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is the most famous in the country. Every day pilgrim come from everywhere in the country and other countries to pay respect  or are just curious what's up here and get a real surprise since this is huge, read more.

Sule Pagoda and Bismillah Mosque

Starting at the Sule Pagoda which the British designated as the center when they rebuilt the city (entrance fee $ 5,-), it’s enough to watch from outside. People say it was built over 2,000 years ago, but there is no evidence, there are plenty of legends in Myanmar. Strolling down the dirty roads is like a time machine turns you back to the time when the British occupied the country. A good idea would be to take a breathing mask with since the exhaust from the stinking buses, trucks and cars is awful. 
The whole is ambivalent on the one side the interesting nostalgic feeling and on the other the mess of a totally rotten environment. However, the people are working to improve the structures course just missing the means for.
Colonial Style Villa need some renovation

Pretty old building in the center
Many colonial style buildings are still around
Yangon high court building at Maha Bandoola Park

Maha Bandoola Park and city hall in the back
Buddhist nun at the park
Buddhist novitiation time
Maha Bandoola Park is next to the Sule stupa. Walking to the east on Anawratha Road a magnificent assembly of old brick buildings appear this is called “Ministers Office”. Unfortunately these structures are totally rotten on top of it there is a double fence wall around; I wonder what strange things happen here, but it is definitely worth to have a look. Maybe they try to keep people out because the old bricks fall down.

Monk walking in Yangon to find food
two Buddhist novices going shopping

City Hall at Maha Bandoola Park

At the Pansodan Ferry at Yangon River

Every day thousands of people cross the Yangon River to the Dalla Side which is to the west. The stream is part of the Irrawaddy Delta and quite large. Dont try to do it since they boatmen have the advice not to take any foreigner for a ride because sometimes this small sampan overturn and after everyone has a problem, read more.  

Yangon Condo also visible on a tour in the center

The old Railway Station opposite Shangri-La Sule Hotel

It's a shame to see all this magnificent old structures around just being left to rot. Since the British had a very negative double impact, first looting Burma and after helped destroying it (WW2 were Burma was no party) it would be their job to help on renovation. 

Actually in Yangon are many interesting things to do, one of it is to visit this old places before they are gone completely.

But English only take, they never give or show any responsibility for the awful stuff they did in the past. 

Actually in 2015 they started some renovation at least to the old railway station pictured right which is just across the road from the Sule Pagoda Shangri-La Hotel.

Although Buddhism is the main religion in the country the veneration for the Nats is still very alive as seen in the picture below.

pray to the nats is still common

Yangon tour around 28th street.

Here is a walking tour on Anawrahta Street 

This part is around 38th street in front of the church, there is a great flower market, the tropical plants are beautiful and real cheap compared to western prices. For more on the main street of the city check this page, there is also a bit of history with it, read more.

The ministers office a beautiful colonial style structure

To the south is Merchant Street which runs parallel. Here is some of the old stuff such as the Rowe & Co. building (which was known as Harrods of the Orient), the Secretariat plus the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. The Flotilla was run by some Scots from Glasgow and had once more than 4000 vessels operating on all rivers in the country.

Victorian English Colonial Style

Watch the double barbered wire fence, the question is what they hide here? Or maybe they are afraid that the whole rotten stuff will collapse when anyone clap hands? The administration of the city is not very capable since this are hidden gems in a world where everyone is interesting in heritage, they hide it.

the ministers office behind the fence

Irrawaddy Flotilla Company River Vessel

To the south west is the well-known Strand Hotel

Strand Hotel in Yangon at the harbor

The place is nicely renovated but at the road in front run all the stinking trucks coming and going from the harbor. Anyway the is a Yangon icon and it's worth to have a look on a tour.

Trucks at the harbor they really still move

WW2 Jeep still going strong

Now just take any street to the north and walk up to the Bogyoke Market, this is a great experience at let you understand how Yangon functions. This is one of the best things to do on on a sightseeing tour.

a yangon river cruise is one of the best thing to do

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is the most famous in the country. Every day pilgrim come from everywhere in the country and other countries to pay respect  or are just curious what's up here and get a real surprise since this is huge, read more.
At the Pansodan Jetty rushing for the ferry

Burmese festivities happen throughout the year

One of the best things to do in Yangon is go shopping at the Bogyoke Aung San Market

This is a true oriental bazaar with over hundreds of shops, mainly jewelry, gemstone, jade, handicrafts, art, clothes and lacquer. Many interesting things are also going on in the side street of the center which are quarters just like in India, the Middle Age in Europe or Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok where dozens of shops with the same theme are working. 

Although it won’t make much sense to line up many stores just in the same category, better would be to decentralize this to different parts of the city. Actually this is Indian style and it needs some more evolution until the business guys get the message.

But I saw exactly the same nonsense in the Central World Mall in Bangkok the other day where there are rows of shops all have the same goods and all are empty. Since maybe two can made money but 10 in a row is not enough for each.

Now its the Shwedagon Pagoda

shwedagon pagoda main stupa
Shwedagon Platform and Stupa
novitiation ceremony at the shwedagon pagoda

Maybe you leave it for this day and visit the Shwedagon Pagoda platform the next. If you ask what to do in Yangon this probably will be the first on the agenda. There are again more than 300 stupas and temples all scram packed onto the platform on the hill. When doing so don’t go there between about noon and 3 pm since the marble slabs it needs to walk on are getting very hot, you will burn your feet since shoes are not allowed, read more.

Action during water festival

best things to do in Yangon is go shopping for exotic flowers

flower street market at Anawratha Road
a great Yangon walk  at Anawratha Road

Street food local style

Fast food stuff such as skewers made with chicken, beef and pork. But be very careful since the hygienic on doing this is not as good as it should be, it’ your health so be careful. By far the most dangerous are fish, prawn and meat balls. Because on the food they throw all the leftovers together and you don't want to eat that?

Yangon Walking Tour

There are also some noodle kitchens around and among the Indian & Pakistani community biryani in various forms with rice, chicken, mutton and beef is delicious food. At a few places they serve hamburger and Korean and Japanese style dishes.

Probably the most exciting Yangon pagoda tour is a visit to the Shwedagon platform 

That is the destination where every visitor is heading and when walking down Shwedagon Pagoda Road there is another shrine decorated with glass mosaic just opposite the defense forces museum. A unique structure and real feast for the eyes with some magnificent Buddha statues.

a Yangon glass mosaic pagoda tour

This is the Sein Yaung Kyi Pagoda tour it's a real precious looking structure.

  • Yangon
  • Anawrahta Street Yangon
  • Bogyoke Market & Yangon Shopping
  • Maha Bandoola Park
  • Old Yangon
  • Sule Pagoda
  • Yangon River