Yangon is the country’s economic hub and the biggest city with nearly 6 million people. It is a city with very special charms. You can walk under green trees through its neighbourhood, and take trishaws, which are taxi carts pulled by bicycles, through the streets with a few hundred kyats’ fare. Every day people sit at the low small tables at its unique teashops sitting next to the sidewalks. When you visit Yangon, you will be impressed by its greeneries, colonial-era buildings, and wonderful religious structures built with their own uniqueness.
Around 500AD, Yangon was just a tiny fishing village called “Dagon”, covering a small area around the Shwedagon Pagoda. The city we know as Yangon today began to emerge in 1753 after King Alaungpaya of Shwebo, from present-day Sagaing Region, conquered the Land of Mon (the lower part of modern Myanmar), and seized and renamed the city Yangon, which means “cessation of the enemies.”
Yangon subsequently developed into a major port, and was made the capital of British Burma following the British occupation in 1852. The population at that time was only 36,000.
One of Yangon’s unique attractions is its hybrid mix of modern and ancient architectural heritage. The city is home to the most-extensive collection of urban colonial architecture in Southeast Asia; most of it from the early 1900s. While you are in Yangon, you can take in a full breadth of cultural and historical aspects of the city.
A must place for visit is Shwedagon, a golden spire that stands 326 feet high on small hill overlooking the spread, sprawling city. English poet Rudyard Kipling, when he visited there in 1889, described it as “a beautiful winking wonder that blazed in the sun”, and Ralph Fitch, the first ever Englishman to visit Myanmar in 1586, supposed that Shwedagon was “the fairest place… in all the world”.
Believed to have been built over 2500 years, the pagoda is said to enshrine eight strands of hair from the Buddha’s head.In addition to its awesome architecture and traditional artefacts, Shwedagon is a safe haven for those who want to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. In addition to those praying or meditating cross-legged in front of a Buddha image, you will see many local visitors sitting, relaxing quietly and listening to their inner thoughts, as well as the kids running about freely, lying on their backs and looking up at the glittering spire or twinkling stars in the cloudless sky.