Yangon is the capital city and gateway to Myanmar by air and sea. It is situated on the Yangon River and is 30 km up from the sea. Its ancient name was Okkala. After the Shwe Dagon Pagoda was built to enshrine the Sacred Hair Relics of Gautama Buddha given during His lifetime (over 2,500 years ago), it gained popularity as a pilgrimage center and generally referred to as Dagon. When King Alaung Phayar, the founder of the KoneBaung Dynasty conquered lower Myanmar in 1755, he renamed the town from Dagon to Yangon meaning " End of strife". After Syriam (Than-Hlyin) the foothold of Portuguese, was destroyed by King Anauk-Hpet-Lun. Yangon became an important seaport for internal and external trade.
In the second Anglo- Myanmar War fought in 1852, Lower Myanmar was ceded to the British. They anglicized Yangon into Rangoon and since then became the seat of government. But the Royal capital of Myanmar Kingdom remained at Mandalay till 1885. Rangoon city was modeled and implemented by Lieutenant Fraser of the British Engineering Corps, who had also drawn the city plan of Singapore. The evergreen tropical trees, shady parks with beautiful blossoms and lakes in Yangon earned the named of Garden City of the East''.
Yangon meaning "End of Strife" (also known as Rangoon from the British colonial times) has earned the name "The Garden City of the East" due to the large number of tropical trees, it's cool, shady parks and beautiful lakes. Although the population hovers around 5 million, the city seems so full of trees and shade that some areas are practically jungle.
Yangon offers a totally different feel from other Asian cities of a similar size and it's not yet overwhelmed with the desire for modernization. It's making its own progress at its own pace, in its own calm, unique way. At night, Yangon's wide boulevards come alive with hordes of stalls selling delicious food and piles of huge cigars. If you can close your eyes to the decay of the old colonial architecture downtown, you'll probably agree that this is one of the most charming cities in Asia.
A visit to Myanmar is incomplete without seeing the Shwedagon Pagoda. This glittering world-famous gold-plated Pagoda is 99 meters high, and surrounded by 64 stupas. It dominates the city from its hilltop site. This mighty monument was built in the 18th century and is surrounded by an incredible assortment of statues, temples, shrines, images, and pavilions. The Shwedagon was called 'a beautiful winking wonder' by Kipling and it truly is a magical place, especially at sunset. In Yangon, you'll also find the legendary Strand Hotel, the colossal reclining Buddha in ChaukhtatgyiPaya, and the peaceful Kandawgyi and Inya Lakes.
Bagan, lying on the left bank of the Ayeyarwady River in the dry zone of central Myanmar, is the most popular historical sites in the country. Ancient monuments of Bagan cover an area of about 16 square miles. All edifices numbering over 2200 were devoted to Buddhism. The kings who reigned during the 11th to 13th centuries, united the people of Bagan and created the fundamental structures to govern the social, economic, and administrative systems which would form the foundation for present-day Myanmar.
Under their guidance Bagan became a sophisticated city of wealth and power. People from neighbouring area partook in its flourishing center. Bagan was a walled city, the pagodas and temples can be seen everywhere. These religious buildings mainly consists of solid pagodas and hollow temples. The solid stupa is usually in the form of a bell-shaped dome resting on a series of receding terraces and crowned by a finial. Bulbous forms of elongated domes are indicative of their great antiquity as opposed to tall and tapering structures of later periods. The temple is another predominant type of religious building characteristics of Bagan architecture.
Bagan is one of the main tourist attractions in Myanmar. Located on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River, it is also one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. Once the capital of the first Myanmar Empire, Bagan contains over 2000 well-preserved pagodas and temples from the 11th - 13th centuries and covers an area of over 40 sq. km.
- Ananda Temple Built by King Kyansittha in 1090, the Ananda Temple is the masterpiece of early style temple architecture. There are four huge Buddha images in the standing position and a series of eighty relief's depicting the life of the Buddha.
- Thatbyinnyu Temple Over 66 meters high, the Thatbyinnyu Temple, built by King Alaungsithu in the middle of the 12th century, overtops all other monuments and its terrace affords visitors a magnificent panorama of the Bagan plain.
- Gubyaukgyi Temple (Wetkyi-in) A 13th-century temple with a spire resembling the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodha Gaya in India, the Gubyaukgyi is noted for its wall paintings, depicting scenes from the previous livers of the Buddha.
- Htilominlo Temple Built by King Nadaungmya in 1211, the 50-meter high Htilominlo is one of the largest temples of Bagan and is noted for its fine plaster carvings.
- Dhammayangyi Temple This massive temple: built by King Narathu in the 12th century, displays the finest brickwork in Bagan.
- Shwezigon Pagoda Built by King Anawrahta, founder of the first Myanmar Empire, and finished by King Kyansittha in special reverence by successive kings and became the prototype for later Myanmar pagodas.
Mandalay this sprawling cultural center is the most Burma of Myanmar's cities. It was the last capital of Myanmar before the British took over and is the country's second - largest city. Mandalay is 262 feet above sea level and was founded by King Mindon in 1856. It was the royal capital of the last monarchy of Myanmar. It enjoys the splendor of the golden age and still has great importance as a cultural center. The city earned its name from Mandalay Hill, a 236-meter high hill at the north-east of the palace. The majority of monuments including the palace, palace walls, pagodas, and monasteries were built soon after the city was moved from Amarapura to the present-day Mandalay. The city was completely destroyed in the fierce fighting of World War II, including the royal palace. Hence the pride and glory of Mandalay have been partially restored. There are many interesting edifices of cultural and religious importance and Buddhist monasteries with beautiful woodcarvings and masterpieces of Myanmar Mansory. Mandalay is the home of the best traditions of Myanmar music and dance. The member of the Buddhist clergy known as the "Phongyi" or the monks from other places come to Mandalay to study the Buddhist scriptures.
Shwenandaw Kyaung, the sole remaining building of the once extravagant moated palace. Mandalay Hill, with its spiraling stairways, temples, and sweeping views.The ancient Rakhine Buddha image at Mahamuni Paya. You'll also find bustling markets that sell produce and handicrafts from all across Upper Myanmar.
There are four 'deserted cities' nearby: Amarapura, Sagaing, Ava, and Mingun. Mingun is the most appealing of the four; A delightful river trip from Mandalay is required to get to this marvelous unfinished temple. Famous for the 90-tons Mingun Bell, supposedly the largest hung bell in the world.
Inlay Lake is the most famous scenic spot in the Shan State. The Lake is 22.4 km long and 10.2 km wide, shallow and extremely picturesque. Inlay Lake is the residence of the Intha People, the famous "Leg Rowers". They are known for their rowing skills in having one leg locked around the length of the oar, the other gripping the stern of the boat while keeping a perfect balance.
The Intha people live and make their livelihood depending on the lake. They build wooden or bamboo thatched houses that stand on stilts and anchored on the surface of the lake by driving the stilts into the lakebed. The land itself is a floating island. Using their ingenuity, the Intha people would weave mats and pile layers of mud dragged from the floor of the lake over these mats creating a floating vegetable and flower gardens. The gardens are anchored in a place with long bamboo poles. These plots can be towed to different locations. Sheltered among the hazy blue mountains, the Lake is about 900 m above sea- level. There are over 100 Buddhist Shrines and Monasteries on and around the lake.
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda perches on the edge of Paunglaung Mountain Range, part of the Eastern Yoma, in Kyaikhtiyo Township, Mon state. It is one of the famous Pagodas in Myanmar and is about 3,600 feet above sea level. The hill on which Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda was built is also called the Kyaikhtiyo Hill. On the Kyaikhtiyo Hill, there is a huge and steep rock. A big boulder of the circumference is about 50 feet; rest on top - to be exact- on the edge of the other rock. At a glance it seems that the boulder will fall at a slight push. The boulder is in the shape of a human head. A small Pagoda (15 feet high) was built on that boulder. By using a piece of bamboo strip as a lever, with a piece of thread tied to one end placed under the rock you can pass the thread from one side of the boulder which shows that the boulder supporting the does not touch the rock below it. Gilded by pilgrims the boulder itself is bright in the sunlight. Kyaiktiyo is 160 kilometers from Yangon.
Naples of the east as it is known, is situated on the Rakhine coast. Ngapali is one of the most beautiful beaches in Myanmar. The beach stretch over 3 km with blue sea, white sand and swaying palm trees. It is half an hour flight from Yangon. By car the journey takes, 14 hrs driving via Pyay. There is an 18-hole golf course and a variety of hotels from first-class Bay View Hotel and Sandoway Beach Resort to standard Ngapali Beach and Silver Beach. For those who love the 5-S sea, sand, sun, swim, and snorkeling. A visit to Ngapali is a must.
About 42 km west of Pathein, a divisional town lies ChaungTha beach. No flight between Yangon and Chaung Tha. The car journey from Yangon to ChaungTha via Pathein takes 5 hrs. Modern facilities can be found in bungalow type beach resort hotels. Unspoiled, deserted ChaungTha beach has white sands with crystal clear blue waters. It is one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
The mile-long virgin beach is 29 miles from Pathein. NgweSaung, situated on the western seaboard of the country, facing the Bay of Bengal. IT is bordered by tall, green palms swaying in the breeze. The beach stretches 15 km of white sand and blue sea. New bungalows are abundant.