Yangon is the cosmopolitan city and gateway to Myanmar. The city is known for its lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes and is referred to as the “Garden City of the East”. It was founded by King Alaungpaya on the site of a small settlement called Dagon when he conquered lower Myanmar in 1755. The name Yangon means “End of Strife”. The city today still maintains its colonial charm and gracious turn of the century architecture. Towering over the city is the magnificent gold-encrusted Shwedagon Pagoda - one of the country’s most beautiful treasures and a place to observed devout Buddhists as they meditate and pray.
Other recommendations in Yangon include Chaukhtatkyi - the Reclining Buddha, the colorful markets of Chinatown, a Meditation Centre, Sule Pagoda, Botataung Pagoda, Kaba Aye Pagoda, Maha Pasana Guha Cave, Kalewa Monastery, the Buddhist Art Museum, the National Museum, Naga glass factory and the Bogyoke Aung San (Scott) Market.
An ancient city founded the 15th century, Mon Kingdon, Bago is one of the richest archaeological sites in Myanmar. It is situated 80km from Yangon and is a two hour drive through the countryside a convenient day excursion. Recommended tour highlights include Shwemawdaw Pagoda, Kalyani Sima Ordination Hall, Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha, Bago Market and the Htaukkyant Allied War Cemetery.
KYAIKHTIYO (THE GOLDEN ROCK)
Rising 1100 meters above sea level, this small golden stupa stands on the top of a huge gilded boulder. This Golden Rock is precariously perched on the edge of the hill and is a place of important pilgrimage for Buddhists. Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is located about 160 km from Yangon.
A peaceful excursion by boat along the Ayeyarwaddy River from Bagan, Pakokku and its surroundings offer travellers a unique glimpse into typical village life of the area. The nearby 19th century town of Pakhangyi has one of the oldest wooden monasteries in upper Myanmar with 254 teak pillars. Locals produce tobacco, jaggery palm sugar candy and the famous checkered blankets and woven fabric of the region.
Today, Salay is known as an important centre of Buddhism with many functioning monasteries. Salay created its own unique style of Bagan era architecture which still exists today. Highlights include Payathonzu, Hkinkyiza, Kyaung and Yougson Kyaung. Sites reminiscent of the British colonial past can still be found and a day’s excursion from Bagan can be combined with a visit to Mt. Popa