Situated on the banks of the Hlaing or Yangon River, it
was the capi-tal of the country from 1852 to 2005 – when the generals
established a new capital named Naypyidaw (i. e. Residence of Kings),
situated roughly halfway between Yangon and Mandalay. But Yangon is
still the business capital and the country’s gateway to the world, even
though nowadays Mandalay and Naypyidaw can be reached directly from
Thailand and other neighbouring countries. All outside influences
firstly make themselves felt in Yangon. Here you will find the widest
selection of hotels, the best restaurants and the best entertainment
facilities - even a rather Burmese way of nightlife...
Yangon’s major attraction doubtlessly is its world- famous golden
Shwedagon Pagoda, the biggest of quite a number of pagodas in the
capital. However, compared to Shwedagon the others all pale into
Next to its pagodas Yangon offers a number of bustling
markets, a noteworthy National Museum and a remarkably well preserved
colonial downtown - in neighbouring countries these fell prey to the
pick axe long ago. During the colonial area (1852 - 1947) Yangon was one
of the most important ports in the British Empire and a cosmopolitan
city as well. Even today people of Indian and Chinese origins constitute
a very substantial part of Yangon’s population. The downtown has quite a
number of Chinese joss houses, Hindu temples, Sunni and Shi’a
mosques...yes, even a Jain temple and a synagogue can be found there.
Starting from Yangon, travelers can go on one- or two-day
trips: The old Mon capital Bago is only 80 km from Yangon and
well-connected to the capital by road and rail.
The famous Golden Rock is about five hours
drive from the capital; however, for an excursion to this famous
landmark two days should be calculated. One can also continue east, via
the famous old city of Thaton to Mawlamyine at the mouth of the Thanlwin
River or to the bizarre limestone-rocks of Kayin State around Hpa-An.
The beaches of Ngewsaung and Chaungtha can be reached in half-day trips
from Yangon via the fascinating Ayeyarwaddy Delta...
2008 Axel Bruns