New arrivals, whether they are staying long or short-term, might be surprised at the range of activities on offer in Yangon. The city has markets-galore, so there is no shortage of places to go to browse and buy your local crafts.

In a city like Yangon, where very few clubs or groups existed until a few years ago, it is possible to start almost any activity that you want. Normally it’s a case of having a conversation with some friends, or posting something on a forum, and within hours you have a group of like-minded people wanting to start something.

Just in the past year, that is exactly what has happened in Yangon with sports such as rugby and Gaelic football becoming popular. As such, it is inevitable that more groups and activities will develop as the city grows.

1. EXPERIENCE YANGON’S DOWNTOWN
Walk the gridded, and gridlocked streets of downtown Yangon to experience one of the loudest, most vibrant cities in the region. The streets are lined with hawkers selling everything from maps, to books, to antiques and it is also here that you will see the majority of the impressive colonial-era buildings that were built by the British. It’s worth stopping in many of Yangon’s lively teashops for a quick break.

Shwedagon Pagoda

2. BE ENLIGHTENED AT THE SHWEDAGON 
Myanmar’s most pious site, the Shwedagon Pagoda, sits at the top of most people’s must-do lists with good reason – not only is it a still-functioning religious and pilgrimage site, it is also an aesthetic beauty that dominates Yangon’s skyline

3. LEARN ABOUT MYANMAR’S PAST
The National Museum of Myanmar offers an eclectic mix of interesting, striking and slightly odd artifacts of the country’s past. There’s a range of areas covering different aspects of Myanmar’s history, such as language, the Taungoo dynasty and celebrations of the country’s many ethnic groups.

4. STROLL AROUND THE ROYAL LAKE
Yangon’s Kandawgyi Lake is home to lush vegetation, relaxing restaurants, cafes and love-sick youths. It’s a wonderful spot to spend an afternoon relaxing in the park’s vast space, while the area close to the Karaweik (on the lake’s south eastern edge) is a lively area by both day and night

5. SAMPLE THE LOCAL FOOD
While the unofficial national dish is mohinga (a sort of fish broth), some of Myanmar’s best food comes from the ocean to the country’s west. Rakhine sea food offers all your treats from lobster, to crabs, to prawns and many more. The best place to sample them in Yangon is at any of Minn Lan’s seafood restaurants.

 

6. WITNESS SOME PUPPETRY
With the official title of ‘Yoke the’, this traditional Burmese puppetry is thought to have regal origins, having been performed before the country’s kings and queens. It is a practice that continues today; the best place to see it is at Htwe Oo Puppetry.

7. GET YOUR LOCAL CRAFTS
Bogyoke Market, in downtown Yangon, is your spot if you want to take home some typical Myanmar arts and crafts from your trip. The extensive market sells products ranging from gems, to longyis, to the unique Pathein umbrella

8. TRY SOME BURMESE BOXING
Burmese boxing (‘Lethwei’) is similar to its better known cousin in Thailand, but with a few differences. It’s a brutal sport to watch, and even more brutal to practice, the latter of which can be done at the Thut Ti Lethwei Boxing School.

9. EXPERIENCE ONE OF THE WORLD’S QUIRKIER MUSEUMS
The Drugs Elimination Museum is strange by name and even stranger by nature. Built by the previous military government to show how seriously they were taking the country’s large drug problems (and copy-catting a similar museum in Shan State), the museum is housed in a huge mansion that is filled with odd facts and artefacts about what the government has done to deal with the drugs problem.

10. VISIT A HAUNT OF KIPLINGS
Myanmar’s version of the Raffles Club is in a somewhat worse state than its Singaporean equivalent. The main buildings remain standing but in a remarkably rundown fashion. Still, the Pegu Club offers a fascinating insight into how some of the higher echelons of society would have lived during their Burma postings

Photo Credit
Daniel Roca, Julian Ray, Sura Photography, Gerhard Joren, Christopher Ian Smith

This article was first published on MYANMORE’s first edition of their survival guide, KnowIt, November 2014 issue.

 

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