My Remote Lands guide was excellent in every sense. She was truly sensitive and instructive on local customs and their meanings and applications.
Although it ceded its capital status during the years of military rule, Yangon remains the de facto economic, religious, cultural and artistic capital of Myanmar. It is the start and end point of most trips to the country. Known as Rangoon when the likes of George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling, Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham were passing through, Yangon's crumbling colonial remnants seem a world away from the modern, capitalistic bustle that has reshaped other Southeast Asian cities. That all is changing, however, and quickly. This city of 4 million has witnessed a huge influx of foreign visitors in the past years, prompting authorities to modernize the city's infrastructure, telecommunications and hospitality industry. Today, Yangon is poised to lead Myanmar into a new era in its modern history.
Particular highlights include the elegant Strand Hotel, once frequented by the likes of Graham Greene and W. Somerset Maugham; the gleaming Shwedagon Pagoda, immortalized in poem by Rudyard Kipling; and the unique Shwe Phone Pint Pagoda, home to fortune-tellers and soothsayers.
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Our co-founder Jay Tindall has been visiting Myanmar since 1993. He prefers to escape to remote areas such as Loikaw & the Chin State, as well as sailing in the Mergui Islands.
Spend the afternoon at the spectacular and seemingly endless Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma's most sacred temple and one of the world's great man-made wonders. “A golden mystery...a beautiful winking wonder,” is how Kipling described it. Archeologists believe it was built between the 6th and 10th centuries AD. Today, Shwedagon is very much a working temple, and is actually more like a collection of dozens of smaller temples, filled with devout Buddhists practicing their faith.
Bogyoke Aung Sun Market
Visit the 70-year-old Bogyoke Aung Sun Market, where countless shops and hawkers peddle everything from Burmese silk and rattan to traditional musical instruments and tea.
Go to a local gym for a lesson in Myanmar Letwae (Myanmar kickboxing), which differs from its Thai counterpart in that it is done without gloves. Chat with the students for a deeper insight into this ancient sport dating back to the 15th-century Bagan Era. Take a few of the boxers out to lunch at their favorite local restaurant, and speak with them about their lives and their sport.
Shwe Phone Pwint Pagoda
Visit the famed Shwe Phone Pwint Pagoda, site of Yangon's fortune-telling community, where over 30 astrology and fortune telling shops engage in one of Myanmar's oldest and most revered pastimes.
Colonial Architecture Tour
Go on a tour of Yangon's remaining British colonial buildings, led by an award-winning architect and historical scholar now based here. Highlights include the former diplomatic quarter, the majestic Strand Hotel, the Post and Telegraph office, and the Yangon Port Authority and the Customs Department.
Lunch with Monks
Visit a local Yangon monastery for a private lunch with some of its resident monks. This is a very un-touristy experience where you will likely be the only foreign visitor. You will join the monks for their "lunch" at 11:00 a.m., their last meal before fasting for the remainder of the day. This is a great chance to witness firsthand the quotidian life of a Buddhist monk in one of Southeast Asia's most rapidly changing cities.
This pagoda is said to date back more than two millennia and, according to legend, originally housed a hair of the Buddha. The earlier structure on this site was completely destroyed by Royal Air Force bombing in World War II, with the present structure having been rebuilt to original specifications after the war.
Visit a high-end jewelry shop specializing in quality gems and minerals. Pending her availability, the owner will gladly tell you about her family’s gem mine, give you a firsthand glimpse at how the stones are prepared for sale, and show you some very large and impressive items from her personal collection. The store is very popular among the country’s elite, and is well worth a visit.
Contemporary Art Tour
Myanmar is one of Southeast Asia’s burgeoning art destinations, thanks to continuing political developments within the country. Visit the studio and instruction center of local Yangon artist and, pending his availability, chat with him about his influences and artistic philosophy, as well as the historical effects of censorship on local art and exhibitions.
Explore Yangon's National Museum, whose exhibition halls detail Myanmar’s history starting from ancient times, covering the tradition’s of the country’s ethnic minorities, the formation of the Burmese alphabet, the progression of painting from caves to the canvas, and other topics.
Enjoy a 10-day luxury tour of one of Southeast Asia’s most mysterious countries: Myanmar. You’ll discover the charming nation’s most adored spots, flying in a hot-air balloon over Bagan’s temples, shopping at an Inle Lake floating market, dining with monks in Bagan, and staying in the country’s most luxury hotels.
Experience mysterious Myanmar from top to bottom on this thrilling 14-day journey through its hotspots. You’ll take in the temples of ancient Bagan, interact with locals at a local silk weaving factory, and cruise down the calm waters of Inle Lake, all the while spending your nights in some of Myanmar’s best hotels.
Explore Myanmar’s great outdoors on this exhilarating 14-day adventure. You’ll make friends with local villagers, check out Bagan’s 2,000 temples, cruise down the legendary Inle Lake, raft the exciting Malikha river, and stay in some of Myanmar’s most luxurious hotels, like the iconic Governor’s Residence.
Spend 9 luxurious days taking in Myanmar’s ancient culture in ancient Mruak U, and lazing on its stunning coastline on beautiful Ngapali beach. You’ll meander through age-old temples and palaces, make friends with Chin tribespeople, and enjoy free time looking out upon the Bay of Bengal, while staying in luxury hotels.
This 6-day luxury Myanmar adventure will take you to remote ethnic villages in the Northwest of the country. Make friends with members of the Mon Chin, Dai Chin and Magan Chin tribes, whose female members have intricate facial tattoos. You’ll trek alongside scenic rivers and farms, and stay in luxury hotels.
Enjoy an exhilarating 6-day luxury adventure through the Himalayan foothills to the west of the Nam Lang River. You’ll meet friendly members of the Lisu and Rawang tribes, hike through lush jungles, and enjoy stunning scenes from high-up viewpoints, while staying in comfortable local guesthouses.
On the west side of the Nam Lang River, there lies a nearly undiscovered way of life waiting to be explored. Enjoy this unique opportunity, and insight into old world culture on this six-day Ziya Dum Trekking itinerary. Travel by car and foot in Yangon, Putao, Upper Shanguang, Wason Dum, Ziya Dum, Hkalan Dum and Kyauk Sein Taung....
Capture the beauty of Myanmar on this luxury 5-day tour of the country’s best sights. You’ll watch the sunset over the famous Golden Rock, check out ancient wall carvings in mysterious caves, visit major pilgrimage sites, and shop at local markets, while staying in luxurious hotels like The Strand in Mawlamyine.
Located in a lotus garden not far from the Shwedagon Pagoda is The Governor's Residence. Once a governor's mansion, it has since been converted in to a 49-room hotel, a 30-minute drive from Yangon airport (RGN). Located in the hotel are two restaurants; the Mandalay Restaurant serves Asian and European cuisine and the Mindon Lounge is a comfortable spot to sit indoors overlooking the garden, or outdoors, and enjoy a refreshment. While there is a swimming pool and massage treatments are offered, there is no spa. The Governor’s Residence has a fitness center and WiFi is available anywhere on hotel grounds, in addition to having a business center for Internet and email access.
This elegant 32-room colonial palace, built at the height of the British rule in Burma, is reminiscent of the romantic era of Graham Greene and W. Somerset Maugham. It remains an oasis of tranquility in an ever-changing and bustling Rangoon. The Strand was previously part of the Aman group, and is still of Aman caliber in its splendid suites, delicious food and superb service. It is now a part of the GHM Group, which is an Aman affiliate. The hotel offers two dining options, The Strand Café, which features Burmese cuisine, and The Strand Grill, which is said to be one of Yangon’s finest dining venues. A business center is available for Internet and email access with professional secretarial services. The hotel has The Strand Boutique for shopping and The Strand Spa Suite for spa treatments. The hotel is a 30-minute drive from Yangon International Airport (RGN).
Sule Shangri-La Yangon
The Sule Shangri-La (formerly the Traders Hotel) is located at the pulse of the central business, cultural and shopping district of the city. There are numerous attractions, restaurants and traditional teashops on the hotel’s doorstep. Yangon, the economic and cultural capital of Myanmar, has previously been described as the “Garden City.” The city is blessed with wide walkways, plenty of trees, green parks and lakes. The Sule Shangri-La is one of the most well-known luxury hotels in the Yangon. The 270 rooms are spacious and decorated with contemporary and executive-style furnishing. Guest rooms boast outstanding city, pagoda or river vistas. A full array of amenities and facilities are provided including a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, fitness center, babysitting services, safety boxes, massage spa and much more. The hotel is located a short 30-minute drive from the international airport.
Kandawgyi Palace Hotel
The historic building housing the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel has undergone many lives, first as a rowing club, then as a maternity hospital, followed by a national biological museum, until its final reincarnation into a hotel in 1934. With 175 rooms and suites, the hotel is located strategically near major sightseeing spots and landmarks, and is only a 10-minute walk from the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. Facilities include a holistic spa, an in-house clinic, wireless Internet, swimming pool, business center, 24-hour room service, and a karaoke club. Dining options are plentiful, including the casual Lake View Restaurant for snacks and Thiri Cafe and Terrace, a 24-hour restaurant offering Asian dishes and a breakfast buffet. The Kandawgyi Palace Hotel is located only 30 minutes from the Yangon airport.
Founded in 1995, the Savoy Hotel is located in central Yangon just a few minutes’ walk from Shwedagon Pagoda. With 30 deluxe rooms and six suites, this boutique hotel is styled with traditional Myanmar antiques and teak furniture and features an outdoor pool and lounge area located under tall trees. Amenities include laundry service, weekly live music events, babysitting services, massage and beauty treatments, a fitness studio and a business center. The hotel offers five dining options, including Kipling’s Restaurant, which specializes in Asian and Western cuisine. The hotel is a 10-minute drive from the town center and about a 40-minute drive from the international airport (RGN).