24 hours in Yangon? Here are the best things to do

If you are planning to visit Myanmar, then we have devised a day to always remember in Yangon, which will leave beautiful memories.

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  • Yuen Yi Ying
  • September 2018

If you’re planning a trip to Myanmar, this action-packed one-day plan for Yangon is the perfect taster for first-time visitors who are short on time.

9am: Soak up some history

Once a glittering gem in the British Empire, the city has retained many of its grand colonial structures (and possibly has the most you’ll find in a Southeast Asian city). Unfortunately, a century of neglect has dimmed some of the shine, but if you walk through the Downtown region, you’ll spot the stately High Court, Secretariat and Port Authority buildings. Many of these are covered on the two-and-a-half-hour walking tours organised by the non-profit Yangon Heritage Trust, which run in the morning and afternoon three times a week. The tours cost USD$30 (SGD$41) per head and all proceeds go toward conservation efforts for the city’s heritage sites.

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A pair of leogryph statues guard the Independence Monument in Maha Bandula Park.

11.30am: Shop, stroll and snack

Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly Scott Market) might be a bit touristy, but you’ll get a sampling of just about everything Myanmar has to offer in this 90-year-old complex. You’ll find stores selling local handicrafts, clothes, medicine and even precious stones. There’s a good selection of food, too. Must-tries include local signature delights like mohinga, (a sweet and sour noodle dish), flavoursome curries and zesty Burmese salads.

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A street market in the Chinatown area of Yangon.

1pm: Grab lunch at a chic eatery

You’ll spot several roadside tea stalls during your trip, but you can really get a taste of the city’s burgeoning hipster culture at Rangoon Tea House, which has been receiving good reviews in local and overseas publications. You might even see a celeb or two – actors Bill Nighy and Catherine Deneuve are rumoured to have dropped by. Focusing on Burmese foods and drinks with an international twist, the eatery’s bestsellers include samosas and chicken biryani.

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The reclining Buddha inside Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda in Yangon.

3pm: Be dazzled

Just a short cab ride away, Shwedagon Pagoda looks magnificent atop Singuttara Hill, decked out in genuine gold leaf and laden with thousands of diamonds. It has 2,500-year history and is believed to house several holy relics, including Buddha’s hair. It’s also a great spot for people-watching, but if you visit, remember to dress modestly, keeping shoulders and above the knees covered.

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Worshipers pray at Shwedagon Pagoda.

6pm: Dining and entertainment

Since you’re within walking distance of Kandawgyi Lake, be sure to visit Karaweik Palace. Although it operates mainly as a floating restaurant, the barge is so iconic that it’s been featured on local currency and incorporated into the logos of indigenous companies. The buffet is worth trying for the accompanying culture show featuring puppetry and traditional dancing.

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The jaw-dropping sight of the Karaweik Palace.

9pm: After hours

Still peckish? Where there’s nightlife, there’s good food. In Yangon, the 19th Street in Chinatown is where you’ll find street stalls selling delicious grilled meats and seafood as well as more adventurous snacks like fried insects. For the latter, Shwe Mingalar is a popular pick with its colourful racks of fresh produce.