Yangon

Yangon-detailRangoon – now Yangon – lingers long in your thoughts, evocative for all the right reasons. From the beauty of some of southeast Asia’s most impressive colonial architecture to the frenzy of street corner cafes, there is an overwhelming sense of old-world Asia here.

This is Myanmar’s biggest metropolis, the country’s intellectual and commercial hub. And yet even today, street vendors smile, taxi drivers – teeth red with betel juice – engage in friendly conversation and food hawkers cheerfully offer tastings to passing foreigners.

The city is reaping the benefits of Myanmar’s political and commercial liberalisation, with new shops, bars and restaurants springing up everywhere.

Luxury Yangon hotels

Luxury hotels in Yangon were once in short supply and even today are not exactly commonplace. However, in our inexhaustible pursuit for excellence, we have sampled a wide variety of Yangon hotels, narrowing our selection to just a couple of belters. Granted they are not the cheapest, but hey, luxury hotels never were. It’s the unique hotel experience you are paying for. But if your budget doesn’t quite have the elasticity to stretch that far, we can recommend plenty of other places to stay in Yangon.

Yangon is also the cradle of Buddhism in Myanmar, a country where pious monks are more revered than rock stars.

Spiritual Yangon

Yangon is also the cradle of Buddhism in Myanmar, a country where pious monks are more revered than rock stars.

The Shwedagon Pagoda is the most revered site in Myanmar, around which everything else in Yangon revolves. It is genuinely stunning: A golden dome topped with a 76 carat diamond and 2,317 rubies and rising 110 meters into the air. It has been standing, on a relic of Buddha’s hair, for over 2,500 years.

If you only do three things in Yangon…

  • Stare in awe at the Shwedagon Pagoda, unquestionably Yangon’s number one place to visit. The photos just don’t do this astonishing spire justice.
  • Drive around Yangon’s centre and absorb the beautiful colonial architecture. Much is crumbling but there is now a sustained attempt to restore some buildings to their former glory.
  • Stroll round Inya Lake. Not only are the best addresses in town here (you might even catch a glimpse of ‘The Lady’, Aung San Suu Kyi) but it’s also the city’s most romantic spot, where young Yangonites come to canoodle.
Unforgettable sights

There are other unforgettable sights. Early morning Tai Chi in front of the Sule Pagoda – sorry slugabeds, you’ll have to set your alarm for before sunrise – is mesmerising. As is the never-ending maze of alleyways which form Scott’s market, an enduring commercial hot spot from the British era. It has more than 2,000 shops with handicrafts and souvenirs ranging from lacquerware and Shan shoulder bags to puppets and jewellery. You could pick up some nice slippers here (convenient for all the on-and-off shoe shuffle demanded by local protocol) or even a longyi, the ubiquitous sarong-style lower garment should your man want to try dressing a la David Beckham. Suits you, Sir!

And we haven’t even touched upon the expressive modern art scene which was a vent for public feeling during the days before democracy returned.

Out and about

Yangon is the commercial hub of Myanmar. And it’s a city that is changing daily. New infrastructure is being built by the Chinese and the tentacles of Western culture – including cinema, music and fast food – are starting to take hold. But at its core, Myanmar and Yangon in particular, remains a deeply spiritual place with Buddhism at its centre.  You’ll see barefooted monks carrying their tiffin boxes, using mobile phones or hailing a taxi on their way to the plethora of shrines around the city.

If you want to see a different side of Yangon, dig out the art scene. Previously an underground movement, Yangon’s artists are now flourishing, with new exhibitions popping up every month.  A favourite of ours is Gallery 65 on Yaw Min Gyi Street. It’s small but always buzzing with people and the ever changing displays make it an exciting visit.

Eating and drinking

If you desire something a little more refined than a bubbling wok and couple of plastic chairs on the pavement, the foodie scene in Yangon is exploding.  A couple of years ago there was nothing. Today, you can get anything from Italian to Thai, from Greek to Japanese, with a whole load of other cuisines thrown in. It’s generally good, albeit a little pricy, and the eateries are well frequented.

There is also an evolution in the bar scene. A host of new venues are emerging, most created by Western expats, who seem to know a thing or two about having a good time. It’s extraordinary but true that some of the newer bars and restaurants in Yangon wouldn’t look out of place in London or Paris.

Thoughts on a postcard

Sitting on the marble floor of the Shwedagon Pagoda and gazing up at the dazzling gold whilst listening to the mesmerising sound of the gongs was a soul soothing experience.

 
Yangon : The map
LANGUAGE
Myanmar. English is spoken in most restaurants and shops but can be limited.
CURRENCY
Myanmar Kyats. There are plenty of ATMs around which means that when one runs dry others will be available in the vicinity. Most shops and restaurants now take credit cards.
FOOD & DRINK
Other than Burmese food, Yangon is awash with Chinese and Thai restaurants. Western food is becoming increasingly widely available too. There is a busy street food scene which is exciting and rewarding the the adventurous.
FLIGHT FROM
London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow via Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok.

Pillow Talk

Our Escapologists only recommend hand-picked, delectable properties we have sampled and savoured ourselves. We judge all our hotels by their excellence, the sheer hedonistic pleasures they have to offer. And we reject a lot that don’t meet our exacting standards.

Some of our selections are classics, with reputations recognised the world over. Others are discoveries: boutique havens where hospitality, relaxation and fine cuisine have been distilled into a rare art form. You’ll find a few options for the budget conscious too, where Yonder’s principles are still to the fore. And for those who just need an airport stopover on their way to paradise, there’s one or two convenience choices, too.

We provide in-depth descriptions of every property, based upon our own experiences there, along with our unique Yonder rating and icons that will give you further insights into what’s on offer. We even tell you the types of clientele you might soon be rubbing shoulders with!

Now that’s choosing a hotel Yonder style!

Highlights

In each of Yonder’s main destinations, we have selected a range of highlights you might like to include in your personalised Yonder trip. Whether they are fabled regions, resorts or cities, single destinations or entire itineraries, these are the Yonder ingredients we know will help you begin to piece together the ideal trip…

Journeys

Here at Yonder we have devised some exciting itineraries that will illustrate just what amazing journeys you could enjoy through Yonder’s exciting far-away destinations.

Of course every one of Yonder’s clients is a unique individual and we only create personalised itineraries that reflect those personal desires and wishes. So your Yonder journey will be as individual as you are. But to help you envisage just what amazing adventures might be possible, we have devised sample itineraries that we are confident will inspire you. You only have to pick up the phone to explore how any one of these ideas might be adapted to create your own perfect journey Yonder.

Offers

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Notes In Our Journal

A focus on Shwedagon Pagoda as part one of my two part article on Burma's must see pagodas

A Few Tips to Consider When Booking a Luxury Holiday

Beat the Post-Holiday Blues with Yonder

YONDER'S HAND-PICKED GEMS

Whether you're looking for one perfect hotel stay or to create an exciting itinerary, all our properties are hand-picked and only selected if we absolutely love them!