9 wonderful things to do in Yangon (+ our 2-day Yangon itinerary)

Our 2-day Yangon Itinerary | The Common Wanderer

Looking for things to do in Yangon? From the Shwedagon Pagoda to the city’s hidden gems, our guide covers the best Yangon sightseeing, and includes a perfect 2-day Yangon itinerary with where to stay, what to eat, and more!


Most travellers to Myanmar simply skip over Yangon, opting to head straight for the, admittedly, many and varied delights of the rest of the country.

We’re here to tell you to not to do that.

In fact, we’re here to tell you that the former colonial capital of Myanmar is so much more than merely a jumping-off point for other adventures in the country.

Sure, the streets are time-worn and wear the faded beauty of a once grand city, and there’s more than a little chaos going on around you. But this city, more than most in asia, is where the entire region’s pace of change be most keenly felt.

In a country closed for so long to the rest of the world, Yangon is the epicentre of development. Here, old-world charm and tradition collide with rapid modern progress; red-robed monks share the street with sleek new cars, old colonial buildings droop as neon billboards pop up around town.

It’s a city divided into both the future and yet clinging onto the past, and if you linger a while, just a few days, and wander its charismatic and weathered yet frenzied streets, we’re fairly certain you’ll discover its charm too.

To help you on your way, we’ve put together this travel guide with 9 wonderful things to do in Yangon (plus a few extra, if you have time!), our recommended 2-day / 48-hour travel itinerary to help you make the most of your time here, and all your essential travel information. Happy travels!


THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN YANGON + OUR 2-DAY YANGON ITINERARY


 

-
YANGON QUICK FACTS |
THE SHORT OF IT

Yangon population | 7.36 million

Yangon sightseeing highlights | Shwedagon Pagoda, Sule Pagoda, Chinatown, Downtown Yangon, Yangon Circle Line, Yangon street markets, Bogyoke Aung San Market, Kandawgyi Lake

How long should you spend in Yangon? | 2 - 4 days

Best time to visit Yangon | Dry Season (November - February)

Currency | Burmese Kyat

Language | Burmese

 

 

-

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT YANGON

There are three seasons in Myanmar: the dry season (November - February), the hot season (March - May), and the wet season (June - October).

Yangon is best visited during the dry season, when day temperatures are pleasant (up to about 30c) and the nights cool down to anywhere between 15 - 20c. 

It makes exploring a far more pleasant experience when compared with the average 40c+ temperatures of the hot season, and the heavy tropical rainfall and humidity of the wet season! 

Unfortunately, this is also peak tourist season so do be aware prices may be slightly increased and attractions might be more crowded.

We’d recommend trying to time your visit to Yangon for either late October / early November, or late February to avoid this!

 

 

-

THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN YANGON | YANGON SIGHTSEEING GUIDE

-

Before we get into our 2-day Yangon itinerary, here’s a quick rundown of some of Yangon’s major attractions.

Of course, the below is by no means exhaustive — but these are the main things we’d recommend trying to see and do in the city if you only have a couple of days (keep scrolling for the 2-day itinerary!):


-

#1 WANDER THE STREETS OF DOWNTOWN YANGON 

The old colonial-era city, or Downtown Yangon as it’s known today, is very much the heart of Yangon and is home to one of the world’s greatest collections of colonial heritage buildings, including The Strand, one of Asia’s best-known heritage hotels.

Many of the streets in this area are still lined entirely by grand old 19th century buildings, and though most have fallen into rack and ruin, their tired facades wobbling a little drunkenly these days, their character and charm make them a wonderful place to explore. 

Downtown Yangon is also where much of the city’s tourist attractions can be found, as well as being a hive of life in the city. Here, against the old-world fabric of the city, the streets bustle with energy, pavements spill over with food stalls, markets, honking traffic, thanaka-painted locals and red-robed monks. 

Go slow, lose yourself in the streets, savour all the tiny details, and be bowled over by Yangon’s charm.

THE DETAILS 

Where | Downtown Yangon

 
exploring the streets of downtown Yangon, Myanmar
 

-

#2 SHWEDAGON PAGODA 

If you’re travelling to Myanmar, Shwedagon Pagoda is likely already firmly underlined on your list of things to do in Yangon. At 99m high, this glimmering 2,500 year-old golden pagoda studded with thousands of diamonds, rubies, and precious stones is probably the city’s most recognisable and famous landmark. 

Shwedagon is one of the world’s oldest Buddhist stupas, as well as one of the most important religious monuments in the whole of Myanmar and a sacred pilgrimage site for many of the local devotees (90% of the population is Buddhist).

Plated with over 27 metric tonnes of gold leaf, it’s an ostentatious yet absolutely breathtaking sight to behold — if not slightly blinding (definitely wear sunglasses!).

We recommend visiting in the late afternoon and sunset when the atmosphere is very social, the light and colours on the pagoda are much softer (ideal for photography), and air around you much cooler. If you fancy a stroll, you can also check out the people’s park (and elephant fountain) nearby.

Prefer a guided tour? This cultural tour takes in the best of Yangon’s cultural sightseeing highlights, including Shwedagon, and Kandawgyi Park (check prices and availability here).

THE DETAILS 

Where | Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

Opening hours | 4:00am - 10:00pm every day

Cost | Quite steep - 8,000 kyat (about $8 USD per person)

BOOK | Yangon cultural tour with Urban Adventures

 

 

-

#3 SULE PAGODA

You’d be forgiven for typing Sule Pagoda into google maps and thinking the directions must be wrong. After all, it does show its position as being the centre of an extremely large, very busy major intersection in the city…. which is, in fact, exactly where it is.

Sule Pagoda is rumoured to be more than 2,600 years old (although it might be much closer to the 10th century), and is very much the heart of Yangon, physically and figuratively. All roads seem to lead to it, and distances are often measured by the distance from the Pagoda to the intended destination. During the 1988 uprisings and 2007 saffron revolution, the pagoda was also the rally point for pro-democracy demonstrations. 

We recommend visiting at sunset or early morning, as the Pagoda is popular with tourists and locals alike and becomes quite busy during the day (not to mention the endless stream of traffic around its perimeter!), and you’ll have far better light for photos!

THE DETAILS 

Where | Junction of Sule Pagoda

Opening hours | 4:00am - 10:00pm each day

Cost | US $2

 

 

-

#4 BOGYOKE AUNG SAN MARKET 

With more than 2,000 stalls, the historic Bogyoke Aung San market is the place to shop if you’re looking for, well, pretty much anything.

Here in the bustling covered market, everything from gold jewellery to traditional textiles, ornate antiques to fake clothing brands, fresh fruit to carefully-designed local lacquerware, puppets and  handicrafts can be found. 

Opened in 1926 and once known in colonial times as the Scott Market, the market was renamed Bogyoke (General) Aung San market in 1948, in honour of Myanmar’s national hero who fought for independence from the British but was assassinated a year before it was granted. 

It’s well worth visiting just to take in the atmosphere — although do be prepared to bargain if you decide to purchase anything. Bogyoke has become an extremely popular tourist spot in recent years with prices to match! 

THE DETAILS 

Where | Bogyoke Market, Bogyoke road, Yangon 

Opening hours | 9:00am - 5:30pm every day except Monday (closed). 

 
Bogyoke Market in downtown Yangon
 

-

#5 GET LOST IN YANGON’S STREET MARKETS

Yangon’s street markets are a centrepoint of daily local life in the city, and are also the kinds of markets that captivate a curious traveller’s imagination. 

Thriving and colourful, they’re a somewhat chaotic jumble of vendors hawking everything from second-hand electronics to veggies picked fresh that morning, multi-coloured umbrellas, and locals wandering or attempting to cycle through.

These are more than just spots to shop up a storm or devour delicious street food; they’re also where the myriad of Yangon’s cultural influences and ethnicities come together in an intoxicating and charming way, and were a definite highlight of our time in the city. We recommend: 

  • Shwe Bontha Market

  • Theingyi Zei Market

  • Anawrahta Road Market (including 26th Street Market!)

  • Chinatown and surrounds night market

  • The new(ish) street food night market around Strand Road

 

 

-

#6 RIDE THE FAMOUS YANGON CIRCLE LINE TRAIN

The few hours we spent in rickety carriages, traversing the 45.9 km railway loop of the Yangon circle line train are still amongst some of our favourite memories from our year of travel in 2015/6.

Yangon’s Circle Line train was built during colonial times, and its affordability (it’s far cheaper than bus fares) means it's still the main commuter line for many of Yangon’s locals taking their wares to market. Carriages transform into noisy moving marketplaces; Papaya salads, fresh fruit, the day’s paper, cigarettes and Betel quids are bartered and exchanged. It’s a lively and exciting scene, while the views out the window are equally captivating. 

At Da Nyin Gone, the wholesale market spills onto the tracks; traders hustle at train doorways; vendors dash to stalls with arms full of produce; Thanaka-painted children dart between legs.

Trains depart from Yangon Central Station between 6:10am - 5:10pm every day. If you’re on the search for a unique, authentic insight into Burmese daily life, taking this train is one of the best things you can do in Yangon. 

We joined Urban Adventures on their full-day Yangon circle line tour and highly recommend booking the experience with them as you get a local guide who can also take you to the best spots at Da Nyin Gone too.

THE DETAILS 

Where | Yangon Central Station

Times | Trains depart 6:10am - 5:10pm every day

BOOK | Yangon by Slow Train tour

READ | Our experience riding the Yangon Circle Line train

 
The Yangon Circle Line train is one of the best things to do in Yangon
 

-

#7 EXPLORE CHINATOWN 

Also known to locals as tayoke tan, Yangon’s chinatown might look like a small rectangle on the map but packs a whole lot of life into its busy streets. 

Lively, diverse, and with plenty of action, the area is a bit of a cultural and gastronomic hub in the city, making it a must-see stop on any traveller’s Yangon itinerary. 

The most famous stretch of Chinatown is undoubtedly 19th street (also called Barbecue street!), crammed on both sides with street food stalls hawking barbecued delights, cheerful plastic tables and hordes of hungry locals and tourists enjoying a bite with friends. 

There’s also the historic Keng Hock Keong and Guanyin Gumiao Temples, both of which are amongst the oldest and most culturally significant religious sites for Chinese Buddhists in Yangon.

Chinatown is generally best visited in the evenings, when the streets come alive with markets and the atmosphere is cheerful and social. 

THE DETAILS 

Where | Chinatown of Yangon

 

 

-

#8 SRI KAALI TEMPLE

The Sri Kaali Hindu temple is undoubtedly one of the Yangon’s most colourful landmarks. 

Covered with hundreds of Hindu gods, the temple is devoted to the fierce Hindu goddess Kali and was built in 1871 as a flood of Tamil migrants arrived in the city during British colonial rule. 

Sri Kaali is one of the city’s most important Hindu sites. Thousands of Marigolds are woven into garlands out the front and the area surrounding it (unofficially Little India) is also full of fascinating people-watching opportunities too. 

THE DETAILS 

Where | Sri Kaali Amman Temple, Anawrahta Road

Opening hours | 5:00am - 11:00am, 3:00pm - 9:00pm every day 

Cost | N/A 

 
Sri Kaali Temple in downtown Yangon
 

-

#9 ENJOY SOME PEACE AT KANDAWGYI PARK AND LAKE

Kandawgyi (great royal) park and lake is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of Myanmar's largest city. 

The lake is artificial, built by the British during the colonial era to provide Yangon’s residents with a clean water supply. It’s a peaceful, pretty, and quiet haven in the city, cocooned by the sprawling Kandawgyi park and the Yangon zoological park.

There’s a lovely boardwalk to wander along (although watch your step, as the slats aren’t always nailed in as they should be!), peaceful gardens and picnic grounds to explore, and the beautiful Palace Karaweil, an elaborate gilded mythical bird on a bird barge where a culture show and restaurant can be found too. 

THE DETAILS

Where | Kandawgyi Lake

Opening hours | early till 10:00pm every day

How to get there | Taxi from downtown, up to 2,000 kyat

Cost | Boardwalk entrance: 2,000 kyat

 

 

-

MAP OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN YANGON

We’ve created a detailed map of the best places to visit in Yangon, as well as where to eat, which you can download for your visit.

To save our map, click the star the right of the map title while will download the map to: your places - maps in your Google account.

Easy!

 

-

OUR 2-DAY YANGON ITINERARY | 48-HOUR YANGON GUIDE

-


-

AFTERNOON - 5PM | TAKE A ‘YANGON BY NIGHT’ TOUR

Chances are you’ll actually arrive in Yangon in the afternoon or early evening, so we recommend jumping straight on a Yangon night market tour with Urban Adventures  (read about our experience on the tour here).

The reason we suggest taking this tour is that not only does it give you an awesome local insight to local cuisine and the best street food to snack on, it’s also a great orientation walk to help you get your bearings for the rest of your time in the city too.

You’ll weave through Yangon’s meandering local alleyways, like Shwe Bontha market street, while also stopping at some of the city’s best loved night markets, including Chinatown and Anawrahta Market, (plus both the nearby Chinese Guanyin Gumiao Temple and Hindu Sri Kaali Temples) before ending up with dinner along bustling 19th street. 

Retire back to your hotel room, and get ready for a big day tomorrow!

 
the colourful food markets of Yangon
 

-

DAY ONE | YANGON 2-DAY ITINERARY

This is your day one ‘proper’, and we hope you’re ready for a big day of adventures! Today is going to be pretty busy, but we promise that it’s totally worth it:



-

MORNING - 8:30AM | YANGON CIRCLE LINE TRAIN

This morning is all about delving into local life in Myanmar, and there’s no better way to do that than jumping aboard the Yangon city loop train. 

This Yangon Circle Line train tour is our favourite way to explore the line; our local guide Thura was a wealth of knowledge, a great translator, and the ultimate guide (especially when weaving through the Da Nyin Gone market!).

It’s the perfect way to delve into the rhythm of the city and its surrounds, and get a glimpse of how Yangon’s many locals really live.

The tour is 6 hours total, and also takes you to St Mary’s Catholic Church. 

 
Watching the world go by on the Yangon Circle Line train
Exploring the markets of Yangon on the Yangon Circle Line train - Yangon Itinerary
 

-

AFTERNOON - 3PM | KANDAWGYI LAKE

You should get back into Yangon from your tour in the early afternoon, which means you’ve got a few hours up your sleeve before heading to Shwedagon Pagoda for sunset.

We recommend visiting Kandawgyi Lake (9 minutes drive / 20 minutes walk from the pagoda) to soak up the natural surrounds, explore the nature park, wander the boardwalk, and admire the stunning Karawaeik Palace.

From the lake, you’ll also have great views of the Shwedagon Pagoda!

 

 

-

EARLY EVENING | SUNSET OVER SHWEDAGON PAGODA

Shwedagon Pagoda is, in our opinion, best visited in the evening — so that’s what you’re doing this evening! Take a short stroll (or a taxi) from Kandawgyi Park to Shwedagon Pagoda to watch the city’s most famous attraction light up for the night.

Yangon’s best-known and loved highlight is beautiful bathed in sunset colours, plus the vibe around the pagoda is social as locals gather to catch up on their day and worship, and monks stroll around the premises. At dark falls, the lights come on, giving it a whole other perspective entirely.

Give yourself a couple of hours to really see the best of the pagoda (remember to walk clockwise!), before heading back into downtown to grab some dinner.

 
A monk prays inside shwadagon pagoda, Yangon
 

-

DAY TWO | YANGON 2-DAY ITINERARY

-

-

MORNING - EARLY | SULE PAGODA

Like Shwedagon, Sule Pagoda is best visited in the morning, before the traffic really starts blaring and the crowds start arriving. There’s also a great viewpoint of the pagoda, traffic, and buildings from the pedestrian overpass on the Sule Pagoda road.

 

 

-

DAYTIME | BOGYOKE AUNG SAN MARKET

From Sule Pagoda we recommend wandering straight over to Bogyoke Aung San Market to spend a few hours wandering the stalls. Bargain for some local handicrafts, snag yourself some new jewellery, or even have a new suit made (level 2)!

If you’re keen to check out more authentic local markets, we recommend the markets to the south of Bogyoke, like Theingyi Zei.

These are what proper Burmese markets looks like (chaos included); expect to find yourself amongst a crush of bargain hunters and hawkers, veggie stalls stacked precariously and any assortment of odds and ends you can think of.

We recommend grabbing some food around here for lunch.

 
Exploring the markets of downtown Yangon is an essential things to do
 

-

EVENING | EXPLORE THE COLONIAL DOWNTOWN AND THE NIGHT MARKET ON STRAND STREET

If you’re still in Yangon this evening, we recommend taking your time to stroll the downtown colonial area slowly, where the colourful yet decrepit old colonial buildings add a certain old-world charm, and the streets bustle with daily life.

There’s a hardware street where any useful gadget can be found, luxurious heritage hotels, chaotic food stalls, and curious locals — and it’s the kind of place where people-and-building-watching is a fascinating way to spend a few hours.

Once you’ve got your fix of the streets, we recommend heading to the new(ish) night market on Strand Street for a bite to eat and a last-minute souvenir shop.

Be sure to admire The Strand hotel too, a heritage hotel standing since 1901!

 
The colonial buildings of downtown Yangon
 

-

MORE THINGS TO DO IN YANGON IF YOU HAVE TIME  

The above itinerary is perfect for those travelling to Yangon with roughly two days up their sleeve. If you’ve got a little more to play with, we’d recommend adding the following things to your Yangon itinerary:

Bogyoke Aung San Museum | The former residence of General Aung San, revered as the founder of modern-day Burma, and childhood home of his daughter Aung San Suu Kyi (the current leader). The museum itself is a little sparse when it comes to information, but if you enjoy absorbing places where history-changers lived, this might be a good place for you to explore. 

The reclining Buddha at Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda | Home to a 65-meter long bejewelled reclining Buddha with intricate inscriptions etched on its feet. It's a ten-minute taxi ride from downtown Yangon and the temple is open 24/7. The pagoda is also walking distance from Nga Htat Gyi, home to a 14m-tall seated Buddha.

You can also visit both of these on this cultural tour of Yangon

National Museum of Myanmar | A somewhat tired and rundown museum, but with a decent collection of historical and cultural artefacts from various periods in Myanmar’s history, particularly of its royals. Give yourself at least a few hours here — audio guides are available and entry is 5,000 kyat.

Golden Rock | Most people tend to travel overnight to Golden Rock, but it is possible to visit one of Myanmar’s most religious sites in a single day if you’re stretched for time by taking this full-day trip

The Secretariat | After decades of being closed to the public, this historic red brick landmark, once the former seat of the British Colonial rule and site of Aung San’s assassination has been reopened to the public for guided tours.

It’s still in the process of a long 4-year restoration project.

 
2 day Yangon itinerary
 

-

WHERE TO EAT IN YANGON

We have to be honest with you guys, our food adventures in Yangon generally centred around the various street food markets (which is also the way we like to dine best!).

They’re cheap, cheerful, and full of so much delicious food you could never go hungry.

We recommend the following markets and restaurants:

  • Chinatown / 19th Street (aka Barbecue street)

  • Yangon Night Market

  • Anawrahta Road

  • 999 Shan Noodle - a definite tourist fave, right near Sule Pagoda

  • Rangoon Teahouse - another famous tourist haunt

 
Street food in Yangon, Myanmar
 

-

WHERE TO STAY IN YANGON

We recommend staying in downtown Yangon during your travels here, as it’s closest to the action and is the best connected in terms of transport:


LUXURY HOTEL

The Strand | One of Myanmar’s most famous heritage hotels, opened by the Sarkies brothers (who also opened Raffles in Singapore) in 1901. Reopened again in a super luxurious

BOOK | The Strand Yangon


BUDGET HOTEL

15th Street @ Downtown Yangon | Comfortable rooms, breakfast included, centrally located and super friendly staff. Rooms start from £19

BOOK | 15th Street @ Downtown Yangon


HOSTEL/BACKPACKERS

HOOD Hostel | Located in the heart of Yangon, HOOD Hostel is refurbished from an old colonial building. It’s also a social enterprise offering vocational training for local youth; your stay directly funds their education.

BOOK | HOOD Hostel

 

 

-

YANGON TRAVEL GUIDE | TRIP PLANNING ESSENTIALS

-

-

HOW TO GET AROUND YANGON

The whole downtown area of Yangon is super walkable (we actually recommend getting around like this — it’s the best way to get a feel for the city!) but to venture further afield we generally recommend taking taxis.

These are fast, convenient, and generally quite cheap at between 1,000 - 2,000 kyat / £1 for most journeys. You can use the Grab App to book them too.

There is a well-developed bus system, but it can be tricky to navigate for foreigners!


-

TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR MYANMAR

Whatever you do, don’t travel anywhere in the world without travel insurance; the unexpected can, and often does, go wrong.

Be it sickness, lost baggage, theft, or an accident, travel insurance is your best way of mitigating the issues and saving yourselve thousands of dollars down the track.

BUY | Click here to get the best travel insurance deals with World Nomads

READ | Our ultimate guide to travel insurance

 

 

-

TOURS OF MYANMAR

If you’re keen to explore Myanmar but would prefer to have someone else do all the organising for you, we recommend the following G Adventures tours (our fave small-group travel brand!) to see the very best of this incredible country:

CLASSIC MYANMAR

14-Day Yangon to Yangon small group tour with G Adventures takes in the major sights of Yangon, Inle Lake, Mandalay, Bagan, Kalaw.

BOOK | Classic Myanmar tour with G Adventures


MYANMAR: HILLTRIBES AND SUNSETS

This 14-day tour from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is perfect for those looking for some offbeat places to visit in Myanmar, along with some of the more famous highlights It includes hikes to hill tribe communities in the Kengtung area, plus visits to Inle Lake, Mandalay, Yangon and Bagan.

BOOK | Myanmar Hilltribes and Sunsets


MYANMAR ISLANDS: SNORKELLING & VILLAGE HIKES

This 11-day tour takes in the best beaches and epic hiking opportunities in Myanmar, including island hopping (and kayaking) around the Mergui Archipelago, visits to a community based ecotourism project in Dawei, and lush jungle-clad limestone karsts of the Tanintharyi Mountains.

BOOK | Myanmar Islands: snorkelling and village hikes

 

 

-

MYANMAR BACKPACKING ESSENTIALS

Travelling through Myanmar comes with a unique set of needs.

To help you have a comfortable, happy journey, we recommend bringing the following items with you:

 

 

-

EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF MYANMAR

ON THE RAILS AGAIN | Our adventures on the Yangon Circle Line train

THE BEST YANGON NIGHT MARKETS | Discover the chaos and colour of Yangon’s night markets

TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t leave home without travel insurance (seriously, don’t!). Click here to get the best deals with World Nomads, our trusted travel insurance provider

PHOTOGRAPHY | Love our photography? Wondering what gear we use to get all of our photos around the world?

Click here to view our detailed photography gear guide, as well as our top travel photography tips!

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL | Responsible travel is important. REALLY IMPORTANT.

Learn our top responsible travel tips to help you, your family and friends travel more consciously around the globe

ECO FRIENDLY PACKING ESSENTIALS | Don’t leave home without our favourite eco-friendly travel essentials

 

 

VISITING MYANMAR SOON? YOU’LL ALSO LOVE THESE GUIDES

 

 

Some of the links on this things to do in Yangon + Yangon itinerary post are affiliate links.

If you choose to purchase using these links, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Please know that by using these affiliate links, you're directly supporting The Common Wanderer to stay wandering, the running costs of the site, and our ability to provide you with free content to help you on your travels.

That, and you're officially a legend.