The British colonial capital until Burma’s independence in 1948 and the independent country’s capital until 2005, Yangon - the commercial capital of Burma, is a compelling mix of poorly maintained, crumbling colonial architecture reflecting a colorful history, golden pagodas, and history-stained streets.
First time coming to Yangon, you may be shocked at how awful the traffic is; how worse the poor roads are made by an old law that makes two-wheeled vehicles illegal in the city but a bit of culture shock and awe aside, you will have a chance to fully appreciate the beauty of an almost unique example of a 19th-century British colonial capital delve into the local rich and unique culture.
A large number of pagodas here in Yangon is clearly the most stunning feature of this amalgamation of British, Burmese, Chinese and Indian influences, Shwedagon Pagoda - the golden chedi of pagoda, which shimmers in the sun with its incredibly golden surface; the Sule Pagoda - a religious and historical pagoda, a city navigational landmark as well; Chaukhtatgyi Paya (Chak Htat Gyi Buddha) – Reclining Buddha - an absolutely massive 65 meter long reclining Buddha, to name a few.
Beyond that, the beauty of Yangon is also found in the rich, vibrant life that spills out of people’s homes and onto the streets and in the curious, open and humorous Yangoonie - these genuinely generous people always warmly welcome international travelers and are willing to share with you their stories.
For an excellent culinary experience and a chance to mingle with Yangon, make your own way to the 19th Street Chinatown which teems with good spirited patrons at tables full of empty mugs and local fresh markets – Thiri Mingalar market on the outskirts of town, Thein Gyi Market, Bogyoke Aung San and the late-night fish market.
Mohinga - a bowl of rice noodles submerged in a fish based soup broth that tastes like a mild curry, full of flavorful ingredients and spices; laphet thoke, or pickled tea leaf salad - a common dish and all kinds of curry are some dishes to try in Yangon.
Situated in Myanmar, Yangon in Southern Burma also experiences the tropical climate with three distinct seasons and the relatively warm temperature throughout the year.
With highs in the low 30s and lows in the low 20s, the cool season from November to January when it is much cooling yet comfortable with relatively low rainfall is generally the best time to go visit Yangon.
Expect to meet other fellow travelers if you visit Yangon in winter particularly around Chinese New Year.
If you want to enjoy the festive atmosphere, February or March in the lunar calendar is the time to visit to celebrate the Shwedagon Festival - one of Yangon's largest festivals while April during Myanmar New Year is time for the Thingyan (Myanmar Buddhist New Year).
The most unfavorable time to visit is the period between June and November when showers are short and can be easily worked around.