If you’re about to head to Yangon, even for a short trip, you’re in for a serious treat. Myanmar is a vibrant Southeast Asian country, and since it only recently opened up to tourism it still exudes an authentic, untouched vibe.
If you’re looking for things to do in Yangon, you’re in the right place. To experience the best of Yangon, here’s a suggested itinerary for three days in Myanmar’s largest city.
Yangon Day 1: Downtown, Bogyoke Aung San Market, 19th Street
Start your day by eating a full breakfast at a local teahouse.
There may not be a solid menu to choose from, but the people working there will without a doubt be friendly and help guide you to something delicious. Your breakfast will likely consist of some puff pastries with a yummy filling, curried chicken, and flatbread.
When you’re nice and full, it’s time to set out for a day of exploring.
Set out for downtown Yangon to get a good look at the vast diversity this city holds.
The centerpiece of the downtown area is Sule Pagoda, which is surrounded by charming colonial buildings, local homes, and other religious sites. Right around this large Buddhist place of worship, you’ll see a Muslim mosque, a Hindu temple and a large Catholic church.
You can visit Sule Pagoda and immerse yourself in golden structures and Buddhist statues before continuing your sightseeing of the area.
Once you’ve had enough, head over to the large and beautiful City Hall, located right next to the pagoda. City Hall is an expansive structure and a great place to snap a few photos. You’ll really feel the contrast between the buildings in this area as you look up at the large pillars, oval windows, and spires.
After a morning of walking around this area, you’ll probably be hungry, so hop in a cab and head over to Shan Kitchen for some nourishment.
Be warned though, this is a local and tourist favorite so be sure to avoid peak times, otherwise you’ll end up waiting! This is my favorite restaurant in Yangon and I ate there almost everyday. Have the chicken soup (no matter how hot it is outside) and the pennywort salad. You can thank me later.
With a full belly, walk over to the nearby Bogyoke Aung San Market.
This is one of the best places to do some shopping in Yangon. It’s an expansive market filled with fabrics, jade, and of course souvenirs. Just remember to bargain!
While wandering from stall to stall, you’ll definitely run into a nun or two, dressed in their beautiful pink robes. Admire them from afar — it’s important to stay respectful and refrain from touching them!
Right outside the market are tons of narrow streets filled with tall, colorful houses and the hustle and bustle of locals going about their daily life. This is a great place to catch a glimpse into local culture and see where the people of Yangon do their shopping. After seeing nuns in the market, you may also spy a monk or two gathering provisions!
After a full day of exploring, head to 19th Street for a dinner of BBQ and beer.
This is a spot where locals come to unwind after a long day! Choose from veggies, chicken and pork to be thrown on the grill, and wash it down with some local beer. This is truly the best way to end your first day in Yangon.
Yangon Day 2: Inya Lake, Shwedagon Pagoda, Dinner & Drinks
Gather your energy for another exciting day of discovery in Yangon. There’s still so much more to do and see, so be sure to rise early as the locals do and get a jump start on your day.
Have a good breakfast and set out for Inya Lake, the biggest lake in Yangon and a popular spot for locals to spend a morning, afternoon, or a sweet date night.
I recommend spending time walking around the lake because there’s something to see from every side! See if you can find the abandoned ferris wheel and outdoor exercise equipment. Both great places to snap a few pictures before moving on with your day.
Once you’ve seen enough of Inya Lake, grab a cab to the famous Shwedagon Pagoda.
The entrance fee is 10,000 kyat ($6.60 USD) for foreigners. There’s a dress code so be sure to wear the proper clothing. Both men and women need to be in long pants or a long skirt, and have their shoulders covered as well. You’ll also need to take off your shoes to enter, so be prepared for that too.
To make the most of your trip to this world famous golden pagoda, go during the day while it’s still light out so that you can see everything. And if you can, I’d suggest staying for sunset and a little bit longer because as it gets dark, you’ll see the temple change dramatically.
Plus, there’s so much to see, it takes a few hours to visit every part of this massive compound.
When you’re finished at Shwedagon, you’ll probably be starving. When I was in Yangon, a few of my local friends took me to this awesome restaurant and bar called Tipsy.
The food was good, but the drinks were better. They have different levels of beer, and it’s essentially a mix of a sweet liquor and a local beer to add to the strength of the drink. After a few of these and some yummy food, play a game of pool or two before heading back to your hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Yangon Day 3: Yangon Circular Train and Botataung Harbour
For your final day, take a ride around the city on the Yangon Circular Train, the most popular means of transportation for locals and a growing attraction for tourists.
Taking the train is an amazing experience because you really get to catch a glimpse of what life is like in Yangon and meet different locals. The people of Myanmar are the friendliest in the world and spending time on the train, you’ll inevitably be approached by locals who want to practice their English or just share a friendly smile.
Plus, they love to have their photos taken so snap away!
The train will travel through small towns, local neighborhoods and pass by markets galore, really giving you the chance to see Yangon beyond the center of the city. People hopping on and off will give you a revolving cycle of smiling faces to keep you entertained throughout your journey.
You can catch the circular train at any of the many stops, but I recommend starting at the Yangon Central Railway station which is the largest train station in Myanmar and was built in the late 1800s by the British.
You’ll have to ask around to find out which platform the circular train comes to, but that’s all part of the adventure, isn’t it? The entire journey takes about three and a half hours, and costs 200 kyats ($0.13 USD).
After you’ve ridden the circular train all the way around, hop off at the Yangon Central Railway station and jump into a cab to Botahtaung Harbour for sunset.
Here, you’ll get to walk along the boardwalk and watch locals rowing around in traditional boats. It’s the best place to end your short trip to Yangon that has without a doubt imprinted on your heart.
Tips for Visiting Yangon, Myanmar
Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Yangon to ensure you have a smooth trip in Myanmar’s largest city.
The traffic in Yangon is absolutely outrageous — think New York City combined with Bangkok on steroids.
Always keep this in mind when you get in a car and know that it’s going to take way longer to get to your destination than your GPS says. And wear your seatbelt!
While Myanmar is a widely Buddhist country, there are many different religions and regardless of what they practice, everyone dresses modestly.
I got many looks on my first day walking around in a pair of shorts and a tank top, so from then on I wore flowy pants and t-shirts. Plus, you can’t visit pagodas or temples without wearing pants and having your shoulders covered so it’s good practice to cover up.
Learn Basic Phrases
Learning basic phrases like “hello,” “thank you,” and “goodbye” really goes a long way with the locals.
While it’s not completely necessary, it’s a great way to show that you respect the local language and culture. The locals will appreciate it, and reply with a huge smile! What could be better than that?
I hope this 3-day itinerary gives you a good sense of all that’s available to you in Yangon, even for a short trip. Enjoy your time, eat lots of yummy food and immerse yourself in local culture — this is an experience that most people will never have!
To learn more about traveling to Myanmar, check out our guide to Myanmar.
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