Top 7 coolest things to do in Yangon

Change is afoot in the central Midtown area of Yangon, where you can get a glimpse of traditional Burmese city-slicker life and nourish your soul, too.

  • Paul Ewart
  • September 2018

1. The Rough Cut

Yangon’s go-to hipster hangout, this café-cum-bar and arts venue is loved by locals and expats alike. It hosts a slew of creative events, ranging from edgy photography exhibitions and inspiring poetry slams to comedy (a true rarity in Yangon); plus, there are open-mic nights every Thursday and indie movie screenings on Sundays. You’ll want to come back.

19 Minn St, Sanchaung, +95 09 961 337 278

Experience the colonial charm of Yangon

2. Win Star

Famous among the resident population, Win Star is definitely a great option for a social vibe. Spread over two floors, it’s a short walk north of People’s Park (which boasts a cracking view) and is the biggest restaurant on the Sanchaung strip. They have an English menu so you’ll know what you’re ordering even if your knowledge of the local lingo is limited.

Sanchaung St, Sanchaung, +95 9 788 877 712

Series Giant Statue of Buddhas pagoda Yangon Myanmar Burma.
Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar.

3. Shwedagon Pagoda

It’s widely agreed that if you haven’t visited this iconic bell-shaped temple, you haven’t really been to Yangon. The spiritual heart of Myanmar, this massive, 110m-tall golden stupa – constructed 2,500 years ago – is said to enshrine hairs from the Buddha and is crowned with more 4,500 diamonds. Visit at sunset when it’s cooler and the fading daylight offers the best snaps.

Singuttara Hill, Dagon

Street market in Yangon, Myanmar
Many food stalls sit underneath colorful tents and feature woks and grills.

4. National Museum of Myanmar

Get a grounding in Myanmar’s culture and history in the form of 14 halls jam-packed with ancient artefacts, artworks and exhibitions. They cover everything from rural life to national history (there’s an impressive collection of fossils dating back millions of years) and Buddhism. A standout is the gem-encrusted throne that belonged to the last king of Myanmar.

66/74 Pyay Rd, Dagon, +95 1 378 652

Over view Dragon boat Karaweik Palace on Kandaw Gyi Lake, Yangon, Myanmar
Karaweik Palace is where the only place in Yangon where you can discover authentic traditional performances, arts and crafts, great food and sincere Myanmar hospitality in the air conditioned comfort of a majestic setting.

5. Myaung Mya Daw Cho

You’ll find tasty mohinga (fish soup with rice noodles) on many street corners of Myanmar. It’s considered to be the unofficial national dish and a staple Burmese breakfast. But this hole-in-the-wall eatery boasts one of the best bowls of mohinga in the city. It opens early and is located only five minutes’ walk down the road from Shwedagon Pagoda so you can feed the body before feeding the soul.

118A Yay Tar Shay Old St, Bahan

Overview famous temples of Bagan, Myanmar, during sunrise
The sun rises over the Bagan Buddhist Temple.

6. Kandawgyi Lake

In the mood for some serious people-watching? The reservoir here was constructed during colonial times and is now surrounded by a lush, tree-filled park. Entry to the boardwalk is free and a great way to observe a slice of Yangon life at any time of the day. You’ll see monks rub shoulders with fitness-fanatic joggers and strolling families. The surrounding areas have great restaurants and cafes, too.

Kan Yeik Thar Road

Two male and female selling dried seafoods at the street market of chinatown Yangon Myanmar.
Street markets are everywhere in Yangon.

7. Phoenix Myanmar Lethwei Gym

Get a peek into local culture with a high-intensity workout here. The ancient Burmese martial art of Lethwei (similar to Muay Thai in Thailand), also known as Burmese bareknuckle boxing, has seen a recent resurgence in popularity, with both locals and foreigners stepping into the ring for a go.

Thein Phyu Stadium Stadium, Thein Phyu Rd, +95 9 964 300215