Sule Pagoda

The modern urban planning of Yangon was extended around Sule Pagoda which was seen as the heart of the city. At the same time, the pagoda has been a symbolic focal point of the Burmese democratic movement. 

The gold-plated Sule Pagoda in octagonal shape is believed to be built 2,600 years ago. Before Buddhism was introduced to Myanmar, the country had its local belief with 37 nats which are spirits worshipped in Myanmar. The nats represent different elements in nature, like mountains, trees and rivers, and one of them is Sularata. The place where the Sule Pagoda stands used to enshrine Sularata. As Buddhism was introduced to the country, the site was changed into a pagoda where statues of Sularata are still housed. 

Apart from its religious significance, Sule Pagoda served as a rally point in two important democratic movements. In the 8888 Uprising in 1988 and Saffron Revolution in 2007, the pagoda was a starting point for the march. During the latter movement, thousands of monks, who enjoy high status in Burmese society, gathered to pray around the pagoda, adding more impact on the revolution.

Bogyoke Aung San Market

You can spend half a day here at Bogyoke Aung San Market. There are more than 2,000 shops selling lacquerware, puppets, jewellery and so on. Of course, there are traditional Burmese style handkerchiefs, shoulder bags as well as “paso” and “htamein”, which are “longyi” the traditional long dress worn by Burmese males and females respectively.

Bogyoke Aung San Market is located in the Pabedan Township in central Yangon. In the township, which was part of the British city planning, there are many British colonial buildings, including the market. The white dome of the market’s main building, clock and inner cobblestone streets are the symbols of the colonial style. The market was opened in 1926, originally named after James George Scott, a British civil servant. After Burmese independence in 1948, it was renamed after Bogyoke Aung San. 

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred place in Yangon and where the Burmese people take pride the most. Legend has it that the pagoda enshrines the relics of four Buddhas, namely the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama. 

The Shwedagon Pagoda today stands close to 110m, covering in hundreds of gold plates. The top of the stupa is encrusted with 4,531 diamonds. The largest of which is a 72 carat diamond. There are hundreds of colourful temples, stupas and statues in the pagoda for your exploration.

If you cannot walk barefoot on the hot ground, you are recommended to visit the pagoda at dusk or even at night because no shoes are allowed inside. Besides, short skirts, shorts, and vests are also prohibited. The scene of monks and Buddhist worshipping and tourists taking photos is very typical in Shwedagon Pagoda. Surrounding the pagoda, there are white statues of gods and elephants. Worshippers would get water with a cup and pour water over the statues, again and again. Finally, they would worship sincerely by pressing the palms of the hands together. At dusk, Buddhists would ignite the white candles in the candle area to lighten the golden pagoda.

Chauk Htat Kyi Pagoda

Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple was built in 1899. The giant Buddha statue at that time was half reclining and was worshipped outdoor. For the current Buddha statue, it was made in 1958 to show the reclining gesture of the Buddha with the head propped on the hand before his nirvana. The gesture symbolises luck. The new statue is arguably more relaxed and jovial than the previous one.

The reclining Buddha in Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple is about 67m long and 17m tall. It is the largest reclining Buddha in Myanmar. The construction of the statue was an immense challenge to the craftsmen at that time. There is even a short story about the production of the eyes of the Buddha. 

The temple requested the eyes to be made of giant glass beads with the dimension of 1.77m by 0.5m. The craftsmen inquired glass factories in Germany, Japan and more but none of them was willing to produce. Eventually, the local Naga Glass Factory crafted the glass eyes successfully in 1973 with the help of every staff and after five failures. As the glass eyes were ready, they were delivered to the temple by an automobile in gold. Tens of thousands of believers were gathered along the way to witness the installation of the eyes which was filmed by Myanmar Radio and Television. It was a great event of the year.

Inya Lake

Inya Lake is the largest lake in Yangon. It is also an artificial lake built by the British colonial government. Now the lake is a leisurely place for citizens of Yangon during weekends and holidays. It is also a spot for romance in Myanmar’s popular culture. Strolling around Inya Lake takes about two hours. On the southwestern shore of the lake, there is a park belonging to the University of Yangon nearby. The rest of the lake area is an affluent residential area.

54 University Avenue in the southeast of the lake is the residence of Aung San Suu Kyi. From 1989 to 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest in her residence by the military government. Since Myanmar has implemented a democratic system recently and moved the capital city to Naypyidaw, many believe that Aung San Suu Kyi does not stay in her Inya Lake residence often. 

Kandawgyi Lake

Located in the east of Shwedagon Pagoda, Kandawgyi Lake is more beautiful at dusk with the golden reflection of the pagoda. Kandawgyi Lake is an artificial lake built by the British colonial administration in order to supply the city with clean water. The water is channelled through a series of pipes from Inya Lake, the largest lake in Yangon.

Along the eastern shorelines of the lake is the famous landmark of Myanmar– the Karaweik Hall. The palace built in 1974 is a replica of a Burmese royal barge. The word “karaweik” comes from a mythical bird with a melodious cry called “karavika”. Viewing afar, it is like Shwedagon Pagoda is on the back of the mythical bird floating on Kandawgyi Lake. It represents luck and peace. The Karaweik Hall is now a buffet restaurant on the lake, providing traditional Burmese and international cuisines. Every night, the palace features performances of traditional music and dance as well as puppetry.