Two days are good enough for a first-time trip to Yangon according to our personal travel experience there.
Day 1 Yangon City Tour for highlights
9am–9:30am: Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple
Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple is the most renowned Buddhist temple in Bahan Township, Yangon. This is because it houses one of the most revered and largest (66 meters / 217 feet long) reclining Buddha images, which attracts travelers from around the world.
In 1899, a rich Burmese Buddhist named Sir Po Tha sponsored the building of the Buddha image. Unfortunately, another construction company completed it but the face became slightly aggressive looking.
In the 1950s, the Buddha was reworked and the image was replaced by tailor-making large glass eyes with dimensions of 1.77 meters by 0.58 meter (5 feet 10 inches x 1 foot 11 inches). After the construction work was finished in 1973, it became one of the most popular landmarks of Yangon.
Tip: For travelers, the Buddha is a must-see attraction, but it normally takes 30 minutes to finish the visit.
10am–12:30pm: Yangon Circular Train (Main Station — Insein)
Taking a train is a good way to enjoy a cross section of life in Yangon. Although Myanmar's British-built railways are less developed than its neighboring countries, travelers feel that trains are still a great way to get around and experience the country at ground level.
Trains are mostly utilized by lower-income commuters as they are (along with buses) the cheapest type of transportation in Yangon. The journeys are as much of an adventure as the country itself. For instance, travelers can see vendors yelling and walking in the compartments.
You can get off at any stations you want, but you’d better book a car to pick you up in advance. Since 2017, brand new and modernized trains have been put into use, giving more comfort and convenience to travelers.
1. The entire circular trip takes approximately 3 hours.
2. The timetable for departures at Yangon Central Railway Station is shown to the right. Note that there are several posts on the Internet with inaccurate departure times.
3. Notation "R" indicates 'eastbound' at Yangon Central Railway Station for a counterclockwise direction, and "L" indicates the opposite direction.
2pm–3pm: Inya Lake and Aung San Suu Kyi's House or the National Museum
Usually at this time of day, the temperature is high and you’d better stay inside or somewhere cool. Inya Lake and Aung San Suu Kyi's house or the National Museum will be two good options for you.
Inya Lake is the largest lake in Yangon and a well-known natural sightseeing destination. Yangonites usually visit in their leisure time; it is also a good place for lovers to enjoy the romantic ambiance. There is a canoe club nearby and professional canoeists can lead you to enjoy a ride on the lake.
Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician, diplomat, and the leader of the National League for Democracy. She was put under house arrest on three separate occasions in 1989, 2000, and 2003. Aung San Suu Kyi's house is located near Inya Lake and it is rumored that visitors are not allowed to enter it.
The National Museum is located in the northwest of Yangon. It was founded in 1952 and covers a full aspect of Myanmar’s history, including the natural history, folk art, performing arts, Buddhist imagery, and ancient ornaments.
Ancient items from the Stone Age can be seen closely, such as fossils, jewelry, examples of clothing, clay pots, furniture, tools, and ethnic scripts along with works of art. It is a good destination for visitors to learn about the history, culture, and civilization of Myanmar.
3:30pm–4:30pm: Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott Market)
Bogyoke Aung San Market, previously called Scott Market, is located in Pabedan Township in central Yangon, Myanmar. It is well-known for its colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets, as the country was originally under British colonial rule. .
All kinds of traditional items can be viewed in the market, such as antiques, Burmese handicrafts, jewelry, works of art, and ethnic clothing. Local vendors sell medicine, food, garments, and foreign goods. The market is also renowned as a black market for currency exchange.
1.The market is closed on Mondays but opens the rest of the week, including Sundays.
2. Duration time: We recommend spending one hour there.
3. Opening times: 10am–5pm
4:30pm–6pm: Shwedagon Pagoda
The Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist building, requires visitors to walk barefoot when entering it. It is better to visit in the late afternoon rather than at noon, as the temperature is extremely high at noon.
Other Suggestions for Day 1
The Sule Pagoda is one of the well-known pagodas in Myanmar and is listed on the Yangon City Heritage List. The pagoda is located in the center of downtown Yangon, covering the center of the city, and is significant in the areas of present Burmese politics, ideology, and geography.
It is said that the pagoda was constructed before the Shwedagon Pagoda during the time of the Buddha, making it over 2,500 years old.
Kandawgyi Lake is located to the east of Shwedagon Pagoda. It is an artificial lake, built by the British as a reservoir. When you visit during a sunset, the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda is reflected in its water, creating a harmonious and romantic atmosphere.
You can find good restaurants nearby; indeed, it is a good place to have dinner while enjoying a good view.
Karaweik Palace is located on the eastern shore of Kandawgyi Lake. It was built in the mid-1970s. You will watch a Burmese cultural show in the palace, and a variety of Burmese and other Asian foods will be served in the meantime.
Day 2 A day trip to Dala by ferry and Twante for pottery activities
When you have finished sightseeing in downtown Yangon, spending a full day in the suburbs of Yangon is a great option. Dala and Twante are two good destinations.
Visitors can take the daily ferry connecting Yangon with Dala Township. It takes around 10 minutes to get to Dala, where you can enjoy many wonderful things and energetic activities. The boat is large and able to accommodate hundreds of people. Vendors sell snacks, fruit, bread, and eggs on the boat.
All in all, the ferry is a fun photo tour; you can enjoy the view and experience the customs, and can take many interesting pictures.
Twante Township is famous for its pottery activities, which have been handled by some families over several decades. Not only can you watch the pottery-making but you may also have a chance to make something yourself.
It is believed that the township contains strands of hair from the head of Gautama Buddha. The township is home to the Shwesandaw Pagoda, and some other small pagodas can be seen as well. After finishing the tour, it is easy to return back to the downtown area.
Other suggestions for Day 2
Sakura Tower is in the center of the commercial area of Yangon and was built by a Japanese company in 1999. The 100-meter high tower, with a total leasable space of 12,245 square meters, enables you to view the large pagodas.
Inside the building, there is a restaurant, art gallery, and bar. You can enjoy the tasty meals and heartwarming service in the restaurant. Yangon Yangon, the highest bar in Yangon, offers a panoramic city and river view with an endless ceiling of sky and stars.
Colonial Era Buildings
Dating back to 1852, the British built large numbers of grand, impressive, and majestic constructions in Victorian, Queen Anne, art deco, British Burmese, and neoclassical styles. Presently, Yangon has the highest number of colonial era buildings among all the Southeast Asian countries.
The High Court Building is one of the most impressive colonial era buildings. The red brick building was built in an early colonial style, having reflected its splendid charm from its past to present. Unfortunately, improper maintenance has caused some parts to decay, but it is still worth visiting to witness its glory.
The Ministers' Office is an impressive building too. In the past, it was the core of British administration in Myanmar. It is a grand and elegant building that impresses the Burmese people. To experience the colonial building style, we suggest you walk to see it.
The colonial buildings occupy a vast area and it takes a day or more to see all the buildings in Yangon from the downtown area. So before you go, you’d better decide on a sightseeing tour according to your personal preferences.