Of all the spectacular pagodas in Yangon, and indeed the entirety of Myanmar, the gilded, bell-shaped Shwedagon Pagoda located near the Kandawgyi Lake at the centre of the city is considered the most sacred for Myanmar Buddhists. In fact, Myanmar is often called the ‘Golden Land’ precisely because of the shimmering golden spires of Shwedagon. Also worth a visit to deepen your understanding of Myanmar’s longstanding traditions and rituals, the octagonal golden Sule Pagoda which dates back over 2,000 years and according to legend was the onetime home of a powerful nat, as local spirits are known. Located in the heart of downtown, Sule has served as a focal point for modern Myanmar politics as well. To the west of Sule sit the exotic street food stalls, gold stores and bountiful fruit markets of Chinatown.

Priceless to us is the 100 to 300 Kyat per person Yangon Circular Train, a 3-hour journey which loops from downtown Yangon through residential neighbourhoods, some which appear as they stood when the country achieved independence from Britain six decades ago and most rarely visited by tourists. Memories are made sharing the wooden bench on this under the radar ride with monks, locals and yes, their chickens.

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