The A To Z Of Southeast Asia – Y

Y – Yangon

Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is the former capital of Myanmar and its largest city and commercial centre.

Many people still regard the city as the true capital even though the government changed the capital to the new, purpose-built, city of Naypyidaw in 2006.

Yangon was originally founded in the early 11th century and was known as Dagon and soon became an important location for religious pilgrimages.

The city is home to the largest collection of colonial-era buildings in Southeast Asia. The colonial commercial centre surrounds the Sule Pagoda, rumoured to be more than 2,000 years old.

It first became known as Yangon in1755 when King Alaungpaya captured Dagon.

The city was destroyed by fire in 1841 and was then captured by the British in the second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 and transformed the town into the most important town and capital of British Burma, known as Rangoon.

The British constructed a new town and its importance increased further following the third Anglo-Burmese war in 1885 when it became the capital of the expanded British Burma.

The British continued expansion and development including Rangoon General Hospital and Rangoon University. The colonial landscape, with parks, lakes and a mix of traditional and new buildings led to Ranggon being called “the garden city of the east”.

Growing calls for Burmese independence were centred in Rangoon which were put on hold following Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945 and extensive damage occurred. Following the end of the second World War, British rule continued until independence in 1948.

The military junta government changed the name of the city back to Yangon in 1989 although many still refer to it as Rangoon.

The city has continued to be the centre of protest notably a series of anti-government protests.

Cyclone Nargis hit Yangon in May 2008 and damaged or destroyed much of the industrial infrastructure in the city.

Tourism in Myanmar started to increase in 2012, prior to then very few visitors were allowed entry. The country remains in turmoil and the recent coup has seen clashed in the streets and demonstrations in support of opposition parties throughout Southeast Asia and especially in Thailand.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Standing 99 metres (325 feet) tall, with parts believed to be 2,500 years old, this magnificent pagoda is revered as one of the best in the world and is hugely important for Buddhists.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, credit Radek Kucharski on flickr

The pagoda is visible throughout Yangon and the gold leaf structure, around 27 metric tonnes of it, and diamond crown means that it is truly an eye-catching sight.

The pagoda is surrounded by numerous shrines and temples and is a must-see in the city. The scene is made even more spectacular at sunset when the skies and pagoda are bathed in beautiful colours.

Bogyoke Aung San Market

This incredible market dates back to 1926 and features around 2,000 stalls selling pretty much anything you can think of or possible want.

The place to buy your souvenirs and daily produce although you may need your best haggling skills to get a good price.

Sule Pagoda

In many cities Sule Pagoda would be the dominant site, standing at 45 (148 feet)metres tall and also believed to be around 2,500 years ago old.

Sule Pagoda, Yangon credit William on flickr

Situated in the modern part of town, the pagoda is an air of calm and tranquility among the chaos of the surrounding roads.

National Museum

Filled with a range of Burmese artifacts dating back to the KonBaung Dynasty and giving you the opportunity to take in traditional Burmese culture, craftmanship and heritage.

Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple

Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple has one of the largest reclining Buddhas in Myanmar, it is 66 metres (217 feet).

Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple, Yangon credit Paul Mannix on flickr

The Buddha has intricate details and it is worth admiring from up close as well as being able to take in the full majesty.

Swe Taw Myat Pagoda

Believed to house a tooth of the Buddha this is an important relious site in the city as well as being as incredible sight that seems to glow in the afternoon sun.

Kandawgyi Park

The park and lake are an excellent place to escape the huslte and bustle of the city and relax in a spectacular setting.

A popular spot for locals to walk the boardwalk through the grounds, to enjoy a wonderful sunrise or sunset or to but chunks of bread to feed the catfish, which is much more fun than it may sound.

Kandawgyi Park, Yangon credit Anthony Tong Lee on flickr

The park is also home to Karaweik Palace which is an incredible sight and then you realise it is a restaurant which is a surreal realisation.

Yangon Circle Line Train

Built during the colonial era the loop of Yangon is the main commuter line for many locals giving you the chance to truly experience local life as well as enjoying the views from the windows.

You will see vendors of fruit, meals, snacks, drinks and so much more on your journey as they walk up and down the train.

Colonial Buildings

Wander the streets of the old city and enjoy the incredible colonial buildings including the old Yangon Railway Station and The Strand Hotel.

Yangon colonial buildings credit Lea_r on flickr

The city is one of the best places in the world to experience traditional colonial buildings but also daily life in this busy part of the city which often spills outside of the buildings as shopkeepers sell their wares.

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