Yangon, the capital city and gateway to the Union of Myanmar, is one of the most attractive cities in the East. Its fringes are beautiful with pagodas, spacious parks gardens and its atmosphere cooled by the Kandawgyi Lake and Inya Lake. Most of the major Myanmar and foreign companies are located in Yangon. The city is the point of entry for visitors from abroad to Myanmar by air and sea.
About 2,500 years ago, there was probably a coastal fishing village or a trading colony called “Okkala”. After the construction of Shwedagon Pagoda, the settlement grew in fame as Dagon. King Alaungpaya of Konbaung Dynasty founded Yangon when he took the village of Dagon in 1755. He called the settlement as Yangon or “End of Strife”. It becomes a port city and a centre of commercial functions since pre-colonial and colonial days. The Yangon River or Hlaing River gives it color and peninsular look (from aerial view) touching the city in the east and south flanks and the Pazundaung Creek in the west.
The world famous stupa built over 2500 year ago and gilded with 90 over tons of gold during the past centuries.Legend has it that Tapussa and Bhallika brought the original sacred hairs of Buddha from India across the ocean.Towering almost 100 metres above the green cityscape of Yangon, the Shwedagon Pagoda is the landmark visible from miles around. One of the wonders of the world, it was believed to have been built over 2500 years ago where the four Buddhas’ relics were enshrined. Successive kings had embellished the Pagoda during the 15 th century and Queen Shin Saw Pu raised it to its present height.
Sule Pagoda is recognized as the heart of Yangon, which is right beside the Myanmar Travel and Tours office and the City Hall. The Sule Pagoda is an excellent landmark. It is said to be over 2,000 years old. The pagoda is said to enshrine a hair of the Buddha. Its Mon name, Kyaik Athok translates as “the pagoda where a Sacred Hair Relic is enshrined”. The golden pagoda is unusual in that its octagonal shape continues right up to the bell and inverted bowl. It stands 46 metres (152 feet) high and is surrounded by small shops and all the familiar non-religious services such as of astrologists, palmists, and so on.
“Botataung” means “one thousand military officers”. It stands on the riverbank of Yangon River. The locality is the busy sea front with dock, their daily traffic of steamer and boats. It is hollow inside and one can walk through it and a sort of mirrored maze inside the pagoda with glass show-cases containing many of the ancient relics and artifacts which were sealed inside the earlier pagoda. Above this interesting middle, the golden pagoda spire rises to 40 meters (132feet). It’s said to have the genuine hair relics of Buddha. The Sacred Hairs that are enshrined in the Shwedagon disembarked here after the voyage from Buddha Gaya in Indian.
Kaba Aye, meaning World Peace, was built to commemorate the sixth Buddhist Synod in 1954 which was held in maha Pasana Guha(Cave) within the same compound. The 34 metre (111 feet) high pagoda also measures 34 metres around its base. It stands about 11 km north of the city. The Buddhist Art Museum and Maha Pasana Cave are also located in the same compound. Myanmar people are Theravada Buddhist and are very deeply devoted to the religion. The compound of the Kabar Aye Pagoda is a large one consisting of many monasteries and the stairways to the pagoda are full of vendors on both sides, selling many hand made products.
The Chauk-Htat-Kyi Pagoda is famous for its huge image of Reclining Buddha, built in 1966 replacing the old image built in 1907 by Sir Hpo Thar. But it was suffered damage due to climate over the years. In 1957 it was demolished and rebuilt to this structure in 1966. It measures 65 meters and is housed in an iron structure with corrugated iron sheets roof of six layers. Hence it is generally referred to as the six-tiered pagodas. The heavy cost of this construction was entirely donated by the people. The image is larger than the image of the Reclining Buddha at Shwe Thar Hlyaung Pagoda in Bago. The monasteries in the vicinity of this pagoda accommodate over six hundred monks.
Mae Lamu Pagoda located in the suburb of Yangon with spacious ground where visitors love to stroll around. Known for it’s wonderland of spired pagodas and sculptured figures located in a sub-urban town, North Okkalapa. It is famous for the giant images depicting Buddha’s earlier lives. The site near the creek of Nga Moe Yeik, was found in the 1950’s and the Pagoda was built. Near the entrance the figure of Mai Lamu can be seen. There is a huge figure of reptile into whose belly you can walk in. There is also a figure of crocodile with wide-open jaws. A legendary crocodile played an important role in a tragic romance between a prince of Yangon and a princess of Dalla, on the other side of the Yangon river. In the legend, the crocodile carried the prince in his jaws and swam acrossed the Yangon River to meet the princess of Dalla. Therefore, the figure of the crocodile shows an important image for this pagoda.
Buddhist Art Museum housed in a 1952 Art Deco-style building. The dominant lotus window depicts all the attitudes of the Buddha. The museum’s contents were collected by the archaeology department: begging bowls, palm leaf scriptures and 18th-20th century wooden Buddha images. The Buddhist Art Museum at the Kabar Aye Pagoda has a wide collection of religious paraphernalia and Buddhist texts. The Buddhist Art Museum and Maha Pasana Cave are also located in the same compound.
Located on Pyay Road, the National Museum has five floors of exhibits. The National Museum of Myanmar was found in 1952 once on Shwedagon Pagoda Road. In 1970, the museum was moved to a building on Pansodan Street. Then, it is moved to the present location, a five storey building on Pyay Road. It opens Tuesday to Sunday (9:00AM to 3:00PM). Objects being displayed are 4560 and 15000 objects are preserved. It displays the Lion Throne, the Elephant Throne, the Royal Regalia, manuscripts, paintings, etc. On the ground floor, there are three halls which display the evolution of Myanmar Scripts and alphabets, Yadanapon Period pieces and the majestic throne: Thihathana Throne (Royal Lion Throne).The last Myanmar Monarch King Thibaw seated on this throne when deliberating with his ministers on state affairs. One of the four halls on the first floor displays the Royal regalia. The suns of royal ceremonies of Myanmar Kings can also be seeing in the hall. In the Hall of Myanmar History, on the same floor, clay pots, urns, votive, tablets and necklace of Pyu Era are exhibited. On the second floor of the Museum, in the Hall of Cultural the modes of transportation still use in rural areas, such as bullock cart, are exhibited and one hall is assigned to traditional music, song and dance. The third floor consists of three halls two for paintings and one for ancient ornaments and jewelry on the top floor; visitor can adore the Buddha images from Pyu Period to the present day.
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.
Locate north of downtown Yangon is the Kandawgyi Royal Lake. It is a pleasant place to walk about and you can find many local restaurants including luxurious Kandawgyi Palace hotel. Dinning at the floating Karaweik restaurant, while enjoying traditional Myanmar dance is one of Yangon’s most memorable experiences. Karaweik Hall is one of the landmarks of Yangon, standing in the Kandawgyi Lake (Royal Lake). This modern architecture is built in the shape of the mythical creature Karaweik bird. It has 3 floors including a ceremonial hall. This wholly gilded building is about 20 years old.
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. The Zoological Garden Amusement Park is also a well-known spot for children and teenagers. Yangon Zoological Garden has been inaugurated since 1906. Nowadays, it has an area of 69.25 acres. It is a World class zoo where one may observe a collection of animals’ habitat to Myanmar as well as the World over. There are 59 species of animals, 63 species of birds, 17 species of reptiles on the fauna side. On the flora side, there are over 15,000 trees and plants.
Hlawga Wildlife Park is situated at Mingaladon Township, Yangon Division. Here you can study the wild fauna of Myanmar in miniature-zoo and some carnivores in nature. You can also watch 165 species of residential and waterfowls and 25 species of migratory birds, observed (50) species of Myanmar butterfly, studying mixed-deciduous and evergreen forest types and observed at Environmental Education Center.
The pottery town of Twan-te is the nearer to Yangon, making an interesting side trip especially if you have little time to roam the delta region at leisure. All it takes is half a day. To get there, you hop on one of the innumerable ferries crossing the Yangon River daily from Yangon to a tiny village called Tai La. It takes five minutes, but the moment you get into a vehicle at Tai La to begin your 45-minute journey to Twan-te, you are entering a different world. Twan-te itself is home to the well-known Shwe San Daw Pagoda. The huge complex resembles the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon with a central Stupa crowned with a golden hti and surrounded by smaller stupas and nat temples. Several clusters of wooden pavilion with ornate eaves-housing either nats or paintings illustration good morals – decorate the pagoda grounds. A boat cruise to Twan-te (24 km from Yangon) along the Twan-te Canal takes about two hours. Twan-te is noted for its pottery and cotton-weaving industries and it also affords visitors an opportunity to see life along the canal.
Bago(Pegu) is just 80 km(50 miles) north of Yangon. It is just about an hour drive from Yangon. Bago is accessible easily from Yangon, Mandalay, Pyay and other cities. Bago is one of the richest archaeological sites in Myanmar. Apparently Mons were the first to settle at this site. Two Mon brothers Thamala and Wimala from Thaton, first founded the city about 825 A.D. In 13th century A.D. the site, which was then on the Gulf of Martaban, had already been earmarked as the location of a great city by Gautama, the historic Buddha. Bago was made the capital of the Mon Kingdom and it came to be known as Hansavati (Hanthawaddy). It was also the seaport of ancient Mon kings. Then it became the Second Myanmar Empire founded by King Bayinnaung.
Kyaik Pun Pagoda is in the form of four gigantic Buddha images all in sitting posture facing the four cardinal points of the compass. They are seated back to back against a massive brick pillar. This unusual and impressive pagoda is only a few hundred feet off the Yangon-Bago road. It was built by King Dhamma Zedi in 1476 A.D. They are kept in a fair state of preservation. Kyaik Pun pagoda is situated amidst the lush rugged countryside strewn with a large number of ancient ruins many of which are under repair. According to a legend four mon sisters were connected with the construction of the images. It was said that if one of them marry, one of the Buddha would collapse.
The Shwemawdaw or ‘Great Golden God Pagoda’ of Bago has been growing for more than 1000 years. The Shwemawdaw Pagoda, whose spire can be seen behind this impressive entrance portal, was originally built by the Mon to a height to 23 meters in the 8th century and was rebuilt higher several times until it finally reached its present 114 meter stature in 1954. The pagoda was originally built by 2 merchants, Taphussa and Bhalita, to house some hair relics of the Buddha. Originally built to a height of 23 meters, it has over the centuries become the tallest of the Burmese pagodas. As with other pagodas, this growth in size occurred during numerous reconstruction periods, usually following great earthquakes. The most recent quake, in 1930, nearly leveled the ancient structure and it was not until 1952 that it again dominated the Bago skyline. Legends say that enshrined beneath the towering pagoda are the hairs and teeth of the Buddha. Because of these relics, Shwemawdaw is visited by throngs of Buddhist pilgrims during all hours of the day and night.
Built by the Mon in 994 this big Buddha was restored several times but was overgrown by the jungle after the total destruction of Bago by the Burmans in 1757. The 55 meter long and 16 meter high reclining Buddha is well known in Bago. It was rediscovered in 1880 and restored again several times to bring it to this condition. This huge reclining Buddha with a sign on the platform in front of the image giving the measurements of each body part. It is reputed to be one of the most lifelike of all reclining Buddhas. The Myanmar people say that the image represents Buddha in a ‘relaxing’ mode.
Moyungyi Wetlands is situated at Bago Township, Bago Division. Here you can study wetland ecosystem, study and observe on 42 Species of residential birds, 34 Species of migratory birds by motorboat and observing birds from bird-watching tower. And you can observe on 26 Species of butterfly and finally observe of breeding and inhabiting site of water birds.
Once a trading port occupied by the Portuguese in early 17th Century, Thanlyin and its surroundings offers many attractions. The old buildings still stand in evidence of the days of Portuguese occupation. The 270 metre long bridge spanning the Bago River made possible the 45 minutes drive from Yangon. Kyaik-Khauk Pagoda and Kyauktan Pagoda in the creek are worth visiting. Thanlyin is situated at the confluence of the Yangon and Pegu Rivers; to be exact, on the southern bank of the Pegu River. To the south of Thanlyin is a ridge named Utaringa Kon in history but locally known as Shin Mwe Nun Kon. It is on this ridge that Kyaik Khauk Pagoda stands. The colonial town of Syriam was built by the British for it’s port and petroleum refinery plant. It is also a sub-urban town right a few miles away from Yangon, across 1.5 mile-long bridge.
Kyauk-tan, about about one-hour-drive from south of Yangon, is famous for Kyaik-hmaw-wun Mid-stream Pagoda (a Pagoda located on a tiny island in the mid-river). Perhaps the short ride of Sampan (a small powered-boat) may give you rather amusement.Ye Le Paya at Kyauk Tan means the pagoda in mid-stream built on a laterite reef. It was built by King Zeyasana, the seventh king of the Pada Dynasty in the third century BC. The first pagoda was only 11 feet high. The pagoda complex comprises several buildings including a monastery. Pilgrims and visitors are ferried across to the pagoda. One can feed shoals of long river catfish, which surface to snatch tit-bits of food thrown at them. When food is thrown, they reach out to snap at it, revealing their size, which can reach up to one meter in length.