Yangon and Around
You would not have visited the 'Golden Land' without having stepped foot into the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in thecountry. This towering 326 feet of glistening gold with diamond studded stupas is an impressive work of religious architecture. It is believed to have been built around 2500 years ago where the eight heirs of Buddha and other relics are entombed at the bottom of its base. Witness the ceremonial affairs taking place in the pagoda such as the devotees and monks washing the statues, offering flowers to one of its many shrines, and meditating.
Bogyoke Aung San Market
Walk down the cobblestone streets and wander through the corridors of Bogyoke Market that are almost a century year old. This vibrant bazaar which began under British rule has over 2,000 shops, selling a wide selection of antiques, handicrafts, jewelry, artworks, and clothing. Haggle prices and purchase memorabilia for your excursion to Myanmar such as puppets, lacquerware, and ethnic garments.
The National Museum is a must for history enthusiasts who would like to view the progression of the country across time and dig deep into its past. The museumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s four stories house royal artifacts such as the prized Thihathana throne of the last Burmese monarch, court furniture, and other items connected to past Burmese kings. It also exhibits Buddha images from various eras, the evolution of the Burmese script, works of art, fossils dating back to millions of years, and earlier forms of attires worn by the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s various ethnic minorities.
Kandawkyi Park & Karaweik Palace
Surrounding the serene, color changing Kandawkyi Lake is the beautifully kept Kandawkyi Park with beautiful flora, verdure, and wooden bridges for a relaxing break from the bustling city streets. It is a popular recreation zone for locals, encompassing a children play-ground, mini zoo, souvenir shops and many restaurants. Sitting on the edge of the lake with the Shwedagon Pagoda in the backdrop, a gold plated structure in the shape of the mythical creature, Karaweik, appears as if it is setting off to sail. Enjoy the international buffet offered in this building while live performances from various cultural troupes put on a lively show.
Join many in the pilgrimage up Mt. Kyaiktiyo, a sacred hill in Mon state. Here you will see why the pagoda known as Golden Rock has astonished worshippers and travelers alike. Perched on the very edge of the hill, is an enormous granite boulder masked in gold leaves affixed there by devotees. Legend holds that this gravity defying rock rests on the hill by the very strand of Buddha's hair. Observe the lighting of candles, meditation and offerings to the Buddha as men endeavor to cross a bridge over a gorge to fasten golden leaves on to the Golden Rock.
Twante, a charming little town across the river from Yangon, thrives as one of the few pottery making centers in the country. In much of rural Myanmar, ceramic pots still leads as dominates in Burmese households and it is at Twante where one can observe the industry in action all year round. You can attend various workshops offered by the locals and observe the traditional process of pottery making from the sieving of clay to the drying of the finished products.
Thanlyin was a major port city in Bago Division that had fell over to various empires such as the Rakhine, Portuguese, and British. So, the city is known for its historic buildings and other remnants of its past under shifting authorities such as an oil refinery constructed by the British which is still utilized till this day. Another major attraction here is the Kyaik Hmaw Wun (Thanlyin Kyaut Tan) Pagoda, housed on an island in a river by the picturesque Kyaut Tan village. Because the entire island is a temple compound, visitors take off their shoes after arriving by boat.
Bago is a small bustling city in Bago Division of Mon origin which had been handed back and forth between Burmese, Mon, and foreign rule. You can look back to its imperial past by visiting the reconstructed Kanbawzathadi Palace, a golden abode originally built in 16th century during a prosperous era. You can also view an interesting assortment of pagodas, most notably, the Kyaik Pun Pagoda in which four gigantic images of Buddhas who had achieved nirvana sit back to back, facing in four different directions. Bago is also visited for the Shwethalyaung reclining Buddha image, the second largest of its kind in the world.
Along the way to Bagan from Yangon, you cannot miss the archaeological gem that exists near the city of Pyay. Here the excavated remains of Thayekhittaya the last capital of the Pyu dynasty from 5 to 9 century AD endures as a reminder of the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s magnificent past. The Pyu were the earliest inhabitants of Myanmar known to record and their seat of power was located in Thayekhittaya. As the Pyu were devout Buddhists, there are cylinderal shaped pagodas unlike its later counterparts among the remains to see.