36 Hours in Yangon – Wished We Had 48 Hours to Explore the City in a Day
March 03, 2018
Aren’t you glad that Myanmar has reopened to the world? Well, I definitely am! Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial and artistic hub, not only attracts investors. Hundreds of travellers visit Yangon for the pagodas, food, and to learn about Myanmar’s culture and traditions. I like the eclectic mix of colonial buildings with local Burmese architecture. There has been an increase in new restaurants, shops and buildings after Myanmar reopened. Follow my itinerary for Yangon if you only have less than 2 days to explore around.
Mohinga, a dish of thin noodles in a fish-based broth, is the “national dish” of Myanmar. There is plenty of shops and street stalls in the downtown area of Yangon specializing in this local delicacy. Even during summer when it’s sweltering hot outside, these eateries are still flooded with mohinga-slurping customers during meal times. Prices start from around K500 for a bowl and you can add items such as fritters, eggs, and beans at an additional cost.
I recommend starting your day with a heartwarming, flavourful bowl of mohinga before doing a little sightseeing in the city centre. To make full use of your time in Yangon, the Maha Bandula Park is a great starting point because this public park is surrounded by significant buildings such as the Sule Pagoda, the Yangon City Hall and the High Court.
You can drop by Father’s Office for lunch and try the Lahpet (Burmese Tea Leaves salad) – a favourite local cuisine. The friendly owner studied culinary in Australia and is a qualified chef. Her rendition of Lahpet consists shredded pork, peanuts, eggs and tea leaves salad served with rice. The shredded pork here is very special because she marinated the meat with wine. She used a whole leaf instead of pounded ones as per tradition. The Lahpet here is also served with Burmese Balachaung, a condiment made with fried onions, shrimp, garlic, ginger & red chilies. It tastes quite similar to Singapore’s version of belachan. Imagine the explosion of flavours and textures in every mouthful – so delicious!
After the satisfying meal, head over to the Shwedagon Pagoda which is an attraction you can’t leave Myanmar without visiting. 4pm is a good time to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda as you will be able to see the crowd of devotees and monks washing the statues, offering flowers, worshipping and meditating before catching the candle lighting ceremony in the evening. The pagoda exudes a magical vibe when 1,000 candles were lit up during the sunset hour till the sky turned dark. Click here for more information on the Shwedagon Pagoda.
Address: On Sanguttara Hill in Dagon Township, Yangon Division, Myanmar
Opening Hours: Daily 4am to 10pm. The Shwedagon Pagoda is open 24 hours on the following days – (1) Waxing Day of Tabaung – the day before full moon day of the Myanmar Lunar month Tabaung (around March) and (2) Waxing Day of Wakhaung – the day before full moon day of the Myanmar Lunar month Wakhaung (around June which is the beginning of the Buddhist Lent).
Entrance Fee: $8 per person
Although mohinga is Myanmar’s “national dish”, the locals seem to eat a lot of curry. This scrumptious dish is perfect for dinner. A simple Burmese curry set includes rice, a large basket of salad, a slightly sour soup to clear the palate, a vegetarian curry, prawn sambal, a dried meat or fish and some vegetables. There are many versions of Burmese curry but the pork curry is my personal favourite. The lack of coconut milk is what sets Burmese curries apart from most Southeast Asian curries.
Begin the day with breakfast at the Rangoon Tea House which serves traditional cuisine, the usual teahouse snacks, curries and biryanis. Tea house is a trend in Myanmar and the locals are crazy over their tea (just like how some of us are crazy over coffee or kopi in Singapore). There are dozens of different variations, featuring different ratios and strengths of tea, condensed milk and evaporated milk. Like how we, Singaporeans, order kopi-o-gau, kopi siew dai, kopi si kosong and more, the Burmese also has their own comprehensive way of ordering tea. I like mine sweet and creamy so I always go for “Cho Saint”. If you prefer a less sweet and less creamy tea, go for “Pawt Saint”.
The tea house attracts the younger, hipster crowd, as well as, the expats. To experience the lifestyle of local Myanmar people, head to the Bogyoke Aung San Market, formerly known as the Scott’s Market. Featuring colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets, there are over 1,000 stalls at this market. You will find many stalls selling jade and jewellery along the main market street. Shops which are tucked in the back lanes and situated along the inner stretch sell clothing, souvenirs, and food. It’s easy to get lost, but I had fun finding my way back. Oh! Please remember to bargain!
Bogyoke Aung San Market
Address: No. 66,67,68,69,78,79, East D, Bogyoke AungSan Market, 11141, Pabedan, Township, Yangon 11141, Myanmar
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10.30am to 5pm (the opening hours for some shops might vary). Closed on Mondays.
Who says you can’t get to experience the best of Yangon even though you have insufficient time? Hope this itinerary is helpful for those of you who are heading to Myanmar soon.