15 Best Things to do in Yangon, Myanmar

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our Disclosure Policy here

Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, is one of the most unique destinations that you can visit in Southeast Asia. After decades of isolation, the country has begun opening up to tourism, and for travelers, the gateway to Myanmar will be Yangon.

This is the historic and cultural capital of the nation, although the government recently moved the official capital much further north to a purpose-built site some hundreds of miles away.

Yangon was the old British capital during the colonial era and many of the former colonial buildings and hotels are still found in a remarkably untouched, if slowly crumbling state.

Yangon has none of the glitz of other Asian cities, but what you will find here is an authentic look at traditional local lifestyles, historic sites and some excellent Myanmar style food with little of the mass tourism you find in other, nearby countries.

It’s an intriguing place to visit and to help you to plan your trip to Myanmar, here are our favorite things to do in Yangon.  

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma) (Travel Guide)

15 Best Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar

Shwedagon Paya -Things to do in Yangon

1. Shwedagon Paya

One of the best things to do in Yangon is to visit the impressive golden domes of the Shwedagon Paya. This is one of the oldest and most important Buddhist stupas in Asia, and it’s one of the most iconic sites to be found anywhere in Myanmar.

The stupa is thought to be thousands of years old and contains sacred relics from different Buddhas throughout history that have found their way here to Yangon.

The golden pagoda rises to 99 meters in height and being atop a tall hill can be seen shimmering in the sunlight from across the city.

Our top recommended tours of Shwedagon Paya:

The Strand in Yangon

2. The Strand

No, you’re not in London, but walking along the Strand will send you into a time warp back to the colonial era when Yangon was the British capital of Burma. The Strand is the old main street of Yangon, where the colonial rulers lived and built grand government buildings and lavish hotels for guests.

Many of the buildings are abandoned today, given that the capital of Myanmar was moved north, alongside government workers too.

It’s a wonderfully rustic place to visit though, and there are few better examples of British colonial architecture left anywhere else in Asia.

National Museum of Myanmar in Yangon

3. The National Museum of Myanmar

To learn more about the country’s history, then one of the best things to do in Yangon is to visit the National Museum of Myanmar. This quirky museum was opened a few years after Myanmar was granted independence by the British, and it focuses on the history of the Burmese people.

There are some excellent artifacts on display, collected and curated from around the country. You can learn about the vast Burmese empires of old, the British occupation, and much, much more.

Our top recommended tours of The National Museum of Myanmar:

The Circle Line Train in Yangon

4. The Circle Line Train

A great way to experience local life in Yangon and to see many of the city’s best sights at the same time is to ride the Circle Line Train.

This is the local commuter train that circles the city and takes locals to work every day, and for that reason, it’s a fantastic opportunity to be immersed in Burmese life within Yangon.

The railway dates back to the British era and many of the trains in use still very much look like antiques. The journey crosses into the countryside too, offering great views of rural Myanmar on the three-hour loop.

Our top recommended tours of The Circle Line Train:

Sule Pagoda in Yangon

5. Sule Pagoda

Another of Yangon’s wonderful Buddhist temples to visit is the Sule Pagoda. At 44 meters in height, it’s not quite as tall as Schwedagon Pagoda, but it’s equally as important.

In true Burmese fashion, the stupas are glittering with gold, and abound with legends. It’s said that strands of the Buddha’s hair are enshrined within the temple and that the base of the pagoda dates as far back as 2600 years.

Our top recommended tours of Sule Pagoda:

Botataung Pagoda in Yangon

6. Botataung Pagoda

The Botataung Pagoda is one of Yangon’s most important Buddhist temples, and it’s a great place to visit to see more of the city’s religious side. Although the original pagoda was built over 2500 years ago to house a sacred Buddha hair, the temple was unfortunately destroyed during World War II.

It was rebuilt as faithfully as possible and despite the destruction continues to be integral to Buddhism in Yangon.

Our top recommended tours of Botataung Pagoda:

Things to do in Yangon

7. Aung San’s House

One of the most important characters in recent Burmese history has been Aung San, father of the political activist Aung San Suu Kyi who was imprisoned for years by the ruling military regime.

Aung San is revered in local history because as a revolutionary he fought the British and the Japanese for Burmese independence and became a leading figure advocating for democracy.

After World War II, he became the first Prime Minister of an independent Burma, but he was assassinated in 1947 before he could really begin to rule.

Visiting his old house is one of the best things to do in Yangon to learn more about his life and legacy, as the small museum is full of intriguing stories and personal possessions.

Our top recommended tours of Aung San’s House:

Bogyoke Market in Yangon

8. Bogyoke Market

One of Yangon’s most exciting marketplaces is the Bogyoke Market, where you can see local life in the city firsthand as you mingle with residents and buy souvenirs.

Formerly known as Scott Market, the shopping plaza was renamed Bogyoke in honor of national hero Aung San after independence – Bogyoke translates from Burmese into English as ‘General’.

The market dates back well over one hundred years and is full of intriguing shops and bustling with vendors spread across several floors of the heritage-listed colonial building.

Our top recommended tours of Bogyoke Market:

Night Markets in Yangon

9. Night Markets

If you’re looking for great food when you are in Yangon, then head out after dark to visit one of the many local night markets that set up shop on the streets.

This is the most authentic way to sample Burmese cuisine, as it’s fresh, home-cooked and full of flavor!

You can find street food on almost any road after the sun sets, but head to the Strand to visit one of the city’s most bustling and busy night markets, and to try some of the best local dishes.

Our top recommended tours of the Night Markets:

Rangoon Tea House in Yangon

10. Rangoon Tea House

One of the best things to do in Yangon is to drink tea, as the city has its own local style sweet Burmese tea that will have you craving for more.

Mixed with copious amounts of sugar and condensed milk, it’s a delicious way to start the day or to wind down with a refreshing beverage, and you can find it for sale almost anywhere.

For a true tea experience though, head to the famous Rangoon Tea House, one of the most revered cafes in central Yangon. As well as great tea, you can also try some excellent Burmese cuisine and even a few cocktails in the evening.

Kandawgyi Lake in Yangon

11. Kandawgyi Lake

To escape the busy streets of the city, then head to Kandawgyi Lake, one of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in Yangon. The lake is completely artificial, having been built during the colonial era as a water reservoir for the people of the city.

There are walking trails leading around the length of the lake and it’s a wonderful place to go for an afternoon stroll and to simply enjoy the greenery.

Karaweik Palace in Yangon

12. Karaweik Palace

On the water of the Kandawgyi Lake, you can find the glimmering form of the Karaweik Palace, a giant barge that’s layered with a gold facade and that was designed to emulate the royal Burmese palaces of old.

The Karaweik Palace has become a symbol of local identity and history, but as well as looking magnificent it actually houses a restaurant too where you can enjoy a lavish buffet meal after exploring the lake.

Our top recommended tours of Karaweik Palace:

Things to do in Yangon

13. Chinatown

Myanmar has had a long history of immigration, despite its recent isolationism away from the world, and one of the best things to do in Yangon is to visit the diverse streets of Chinatown.

Found in central Yangon, Chinatown is full of unique Chinese and Burmese-Chinese heritage. Much of Chinatown dates back to the British colonial era when immigration was encouraged, and it’s a district that’s brimming with old houses and shops that look wonderfully rustic.

Chinatown is the place to go shopping, to take in the culture and to dine on some of the best food in Yangon, as here you’ll find a fantastic mix of Burmese and Chinese cuisine.

Our top recommended tours of Chinatown:

Thanlyin in Yangon

14. Thanlyin

Just across the river from central Yangon, you can find the city of Thanlyin, which makes for a great day trip out. The historic port city was founded over five hundred years ago and has grown into a diverse and unique place, that’s full of culture and heritage.

You can find colonial buildings standing alongside golden pagodas and temples, as well as busy markets and some great local eateries.

Our top recommended tours of Thanlyin:

Golden Rock in Yangon

15. Golden Rock

The Golden Rock is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Myanmar, and it makes for a long but excellent day trip from Yangon. It’s a sacred Buddhist site, and you’ll find a large, golden rock balancing seemingly precariously on a clifftop.

Atop the rock is a small pagoda, and although it’s a three-hour drive from the city, it’s well worth the time and effort to see this marvelous religious site.

Our top recommended tours of Golden Rock:

More on Myanmar:

Did you like this story? Share it!

15 Best Things to do in Yangon, Myanmar


Looking to get started on your trip planning process? Let us help!

Travel Gear & Packing: Check out our packing lists and travel gear guide to ensure you're bringing the right items on your trip.

Book Your Flight: Ready to fly? Check out our tips for finding cheap flights.

Find A Car Rental:We use Discover Cars to compare car prices, find deals and book rentals.

Book Your Hotel: Compare prices and book with our recommended hotel search engine. You should also check out our tips for finding cheap accommodation.

Find Vacation Rentals: Search vacation rentals & apartments on VRBO for the best prices and options.

Protect Your Trip:Don’t forget your travel insurance! Protect your investment and yourself. Read Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

If you need more help planning your trip, be sure to check out our Step by Step Trip Planning Guide where we break down our process for getting the trip planning process right every single time.

About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We are also a member of other affiliate programs. For more info please read our disclosure page

Leave a Comment

Divergent Travelers- Adventure Travel Blog