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Nay Pyi Taw

Yangon, the capital city, is the main gateway to Myanmar. Evergreen and cool with lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes. Yangon has earned the name of "The Garden City of the East". Yangon 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" which was anglicized as Rangoon by the British. The name of this city has changed along the history: first Dagon, then Yangon, and Okalapa Aung Myae Yan Hnin, then finally back to Yangon. The present day Yangon covers 400 sq m and has a population of over 5 million.

Sule Pagoda

The landmark at the Yangon City center and symbol of downtown Yangon is situated right at the heart of the city. The Sule Pagoda is said to be over 2,000 years old, enshrining a hair relics of the Buddha. The golden pagoda is unusual in that its octagonal shape continues right up to the top terrace. It stands 46 meters (152 feet) high and is surrounded by small shops of all the familiar non-religious services such as astrologers, palmists, photo studios and watch repair. From there, you may observe the atmosphere of the Yangon center with crowed people from all walks of life in various trades, and busy traffic.

Downtown

On a city tour to downtown and Yangon's riverfront you will see many of the remarkable sites of the colonial and religious past of this garden city. Old Rangoon was Dr William Montgomerie’s design. He was the army superintendent surgeon and learnt his city planning skills from Sir Stanford Raffles in Singapore. Buildings of heritage in Yangon are now listed for protection. The period architecture of the old city center, among others, includes:

 

The City Hall

Designed by U Tin in 1925, incorporates Myanmar themes into its facade, including floral motifs and mythical creatures.

The High Court, a red brick extravaganza by the architect John Ransome built in 1911. The impressive building sports a clock tower whose four faces are lighted at night, and can be seen floating above the city centre.

 

The Strand Hotel built in 1896

Once described as the "leading hotel of the East". The Strand has long been recognized as a national landmark, a model of auspicious, colonial repose. The hotel’s Victorian influence is visible even from the colonnaded entranceway.
The Customs House was built of red brick in 1902.

 

The Township Judicial Offices building

A long grey structure with high pillars, finished in 1920 was once headquarter of the Burma Socialist Program Party.

 

The towered Myanmar Port Authority, on the corner of Strand Road and Pansodan Street.

 

The office of the Ministry of Information, built in 1918, is a four-story structure with austere pillars that originally served as a bank, then as the National Museum and has now been returned to its original duty as a bank.

 

The Yangon Division Court House

Built in 1912 In the Queen Anne architectural style.

 

The Rander House

At the corner of Pansodan Street and Merchant Street.
The adjacent Government Telegraph Office was erected the same year as the High Court - though a fresh coat of paint ensures that it looks as striking as architect John Begg intended.
The compound of the Secretariat along Mahabandoola Street and Bo Aung Kyaw Street. Construction began in 1980 and was finished 1905, resulting a massive red brick building with four wings radiating out from a central dome. It was here in 1947 that General Aung San and five members of his cabinet were assassinated during a meeting.

 

The Yangon General Hospital

Impressively designed with expansive arches and towering turrets was, upon its completion in 1911, the first public building in Myanmar constructed of reinforced concrete.

 

The Railway Station
Ornamented with Traditional Myanmar motifs.

No Hotel.
SIGHTSEEING PROGRAMME FOR YANGON

On a walk through the city centre of Yangon and to the riverbank, you will see many notable sites from the colonial and religious past of this garden city. Old Rangoon was built based on designs by Dr William Montgomerie. He was a senior military physician who learnt about construction planning from Sir Stanford Raffles in Singapore. All culturally significant buildings in Yangon are listed as historic monuments. You’ll visit the Sule Pagoda, which dates back over 2000 years, pass by the town hall designed by U Tin in 1925, and then stroll through Maha Bandula Park, where you’ll see its independence monument before continuing onto the Supreme Court which was built in 1911 and is an extravagant red-brick architectural masterpiece designed by architect John Ransome. Next up on the tour is the red-brick Custom House which was built in 1902 for the Port Authority and is housed in a large building on the corner of Strand Road and Pansodan Street. You’ll then enjoy ‘high tea’ at the Strand Hotel which was built in 1896 and was formerly known as the ‘the finest hostelry East of Suez’. Afterwards, you’ll go to the Botataung Pagoda where a sacred hair relic of Buddha is kept.

After breakfast, you’ll travel through rural areas on the City Circular Train, with the opportunity to see cigarette sellers, betel nut traders, fortune tellers and much more at the various stops. Back in the city, you’ll visit the National Museum with the Lion Throne, which belonged to the last king of Myanmar, and the royal regalia from the Burmese kingdom of the 19th century. Lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you’ll visit the Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda which features a 70-metre long reclining Buddha, the Kandawgyi Lake and its royal barge (with an opportunity to take pictures), and in the late afternoon, the world-famous Shwedagon Pagoda which Somerset Maugham described as follows: ‘The Shwedagon rises majestically, glistening with its gold, like a sudden hope in the dark night of the soul of which the mystics write, glistening against the fog and smoke of the thriving city’. This massive, bell-shaped stupa rises 100 metres above the surrounding mountains. You’ll wander through this magnificent building and its courtyards, stupas, bells, temples and statues of Buddha, and observe religious and secular visitors from all over the world. Shwedagon is the symbol of Myanmar. You can enjoy the sunset over the pagoda.

Yangon city centre is ideal for exploring on foot but it is advisable to take a taxi for longer journeys. These are available everywhere and some vehicles even have air conditioning. The price must be agreed before the taxi journey. Shorter journeys cost 2000 kyat (US$ 1.5), a journey from the city centre to the Shwedagon Pagoda costs 2500 kyat (US$ 2), to Inya Lake 4000 kyat (US$ 3), to the Highway Bus Terminal up to 8000 kyat (US$ 6) and to the airport between 8000 (US$ 6) and 10,000 kyat (US$ 7.5). As the drivers often do not speak English, you should write down the address in Burmese. The hotel staff would be happy to help you with this.

Circular train

A journey on the circular train gives you a completely different insight. The ticket, which costs US$ 1 per person, should ideally be purchased at the central station in the city centre. Here there is a small ticket booth for tourists.

For 2 ½ hours the train trundles through rural areas and carries you into the heart of the largest city in Burma – past corrugated-iron huts,

cigarette vendors, betel nut sellers and fortune tellers.

Of course, you can break the journey at any time and continue on a later train, or take a taxi back into the city centre.

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