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The former capital with a population of some seven million people is a city of style and dilapidated grandeur. The broad leafy boulevards complement the colonial architecture, some of the best in Asia. A conservation body has now been formed and slowly the buildings, some in very bad repair, are being renovated. The Shwedagon Pagoda shimmers over the city, from near and far it floats into view, pure beauty. Yangon is predominately a low rise city – a few high rises punctuate the sky line, the other end of town from the Shwedagon. Downtown Yangon bustles – if bustle is the word –gently. One rarely sees anyone pick up their longyi and run for the bus: there is always another one not far behind. Little markets, food stalls, tables overflowing with second hand books populate the narrow side streets. For today’s visitors there are comfortable hotels, good restaurants plenty of taxis and interesting sites to visit. Or just slip into the slower pace of Yangon, wander around the Kandawgyi Park, enjoy the abundant flowers and majestic trees, sit and look across the lake at the Shwedagon Pagoda.


The final royal capital of Myanmar built by King Min don in 1857 is today the country’s second largest city. The ‘Gem City ‘, as it was known, was the scene of incredible splendor and a wealth of religious buildings- during Min don ’s reign it played host to a commemoration of the 2’400 anniversary of Buddha’s death. 1885 saw Mandalay and “Upper Burma“ (present day Upper Myanmar ) annexed by the br4itish with King Thee baw and his wife Queen Suphayalet, the last royal couple , being e exiled to India. Many of the religious buildings are intact including the beautiful teak monastery, Shwenandaw where King Mindon died. Kuthodaw is one pagoda not to be missed. Around the golden stupas, a copy of the Shwezigon in Bagan, stand 729 marble slabs, each one inscribed with part of the Tripitika (Buddhist sacred texts).


The remains of the old capital city Bagan (Pagan) are scattered across a vast plain, once semi-arid now green thanks to a successful scheme to re-establish the landscape. The monuments positively exude antiquity and mystery. One visits individual pagodas and temples and each has its own special qualities, but it is the whole that is magnificent. In the early morning mists the pagodas seem to “loom, huge, remote and mysterious, like the vague recollections of a fantastic dream“ as Somerset Maugham wrote in 1930. The majority of the monuments date from 1044 to 1287 when the city was invaded by Kublai Khan. Earthquakes as well as war have hit the city over the centuries. In restoration program has been undertaken. Bagan boasts many attractions in additions to the monuments, a marvelous museum, many traditional lacquer ware businesses, or just enjoy life beside the magnificent Ayeyarwaddy.

Golden Rock

Kyaik-htiyo Pagoda is one of Myanmar’s most spectacular sights. Atop a huge golden rock precariously balanced on the edge of a crag sits the little pagoda. Not easy to reach, a bumpy road through tree-clad hills with high mountains in the distance. At the end of the road a steep climb begins, for those not so fit there are sedan chairs carried by four young men. The path is narrow and steep so the bearers have to possess the agility of a goat. Once in the village the boulder with its tiny pagoda sits slightly below the square. Only men are allowed into the enclosure to place gold leaf on the boulder. The mystery of how the boulder remains balancing is unsolved legend says it is held safe by a strand of the Buddha’s hair which is enshrined in the pagoda.


The Inle Lake area is stunning – it sits on a plateau in the Shan Hills with the lake some 12 kilometers long and five kilometers wide. The lake reveals itself gradually to the approaching visitor. One advances down narrow streams hedged with high rushes, probably aboard a long canoe propelled by a lusty outboard. After several miles one emerges from this maze of waterways into a more tranquil world on a mirror of water. To the left and right the picture is framed by serried green mountains. The fishermen of the Inle Lake have evolved an eccentric method of the rowing and fishing – they stand on the canoes bow the oar tucked under one leg leaving them two arms to deal with the fishing net. Another oddity of the lake are their floating gardens-strips of dense weed from the lake floor is consolidated with earth and eventually forms one of the most fertile growing media imaginable. The strips are pegged to the lake floor with long bamboo poles and the ‘ garden ‘ produce an abundance of vegetables – delicious tomatoes – and flower.

Beaches in Myanmar

A quick 25 minute hop by plane from Yangon, Ngapali lies on the plane from Yangon. Ngapali lies on the Bay of Bengal and is one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. The place to go at the end of a hectic business trip or an exhausting sightseeing program - enjoy the miles of silver sand, charming beach hotels and fresh sea food.


Situated on a peninsula jutting out into the Andaman Sea, Myeik has been a busy and strategically significant port for over 500 years. Previously known as Mergui (and still sometimes referred to by that name), the town itself has lost some of its character to modern development, although there are a few characterful colonial-era buildings and churches to be found. The main interest in this area is the vast and untouched Myeik Archipelago, comprising over 800 islands, which can be found off the town’s shore and far out to the south and west. These islands can only be accessed by foreigners with by pre-arranged cruises, most of which sail from Kawthaung.


Mawlamyaing is a charming small town built at the mouth of Thanlwin (Salween) River with the Mawlamyaing Hill behind. The town was a trading post famous for pearl- fishing and teak which was floated down the mighty Thanlwin (Salween) River. Made famous in the English language by Rudyard Kipling who visited in 1889 and wrote: “By the old Moulmein pagoda, looking lazy at the sea’ There’s Byrma girl a-sittin…” The pagoda in question is thought to be Kyaikthanlan a gilded pagoda which overlooks the town. Mawlamyaing is a perfect place for a quiet few days, take an evening stroll along the 19th-century Strand admiring its paste coloured stucco houses with bougainvillea tumbling over the iron balconies, stop off in one of the many cafes or restaurants and then during the day there are many sights to visit .


Dawei is a sleepy tropical town with a long history of trade – and an increasing importance as a port. The town features some interesting architecture, with many old wooden, thatch-roofed bungalows and some colonial brick and stucco mansions. Under British rule Dawei was known as Tavoy, and is still sometimes referred to by that name. The Shwe Taung Zar Pagoda is the main religious site in Dawei, and is set in a charming little complex. The short walk from the centre of Dawei is also a pleasant one, following streets lined with colonial era-buildings. In the centre of town, the busy Si Pin Tharyar and Minagalar markets are worth a visit – they can be found opposite each other.


Kawthaung (known in colonial times as Victoria Point), is Myanmar’s southernmost town. An important trading point, many people make the 20-minute trip across the water from the Thai border town of Ranong for a visa run or a bit of sightseeing and shopping. Despite its waterside setting, Kawthaung itself is not a particularly beautiful town – but it is an interesting and culturally varied place to wander around, with strong Indian and Muslim influences. The nearby Maliwun waterfall is a beautiful spot which is worth a visit if you have the time; you can swim there, and it has a small water park with slides. It is located 24km from Kawthaung, and a taxi there and back will cost around $30 (or you can get a cheaper motorbike taxi).


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Central bank of Myanmar | 2022-08-16

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