Yangon – or Rangoon as it was known – the former capital of Burma, is the bustling city full of colors, amazing sights, and wonderful experiences. It is also a great place to shop – handicrafts, antiques, textiles jewels and the beautiful lacquerware that Burma is famous for. Here is our guide to the best popular places to go shopping on your Yangon tour.
1. Augustine's Souvenirs
This treasure used to be called Augustine’s Antiques; however as the Burmese government doesn’t allow antiques to be sold outside the country’s border, its name has been changed. Today, the shop concentrates on newer items but the quality remains to be guaranteed. Visiting Augustine's Souvenirs when you tour Yangon, you can find carvings from Mandalay workshops, colonial-style furniture, lacquer from producers in the Shan States, gilded wooden statues and some beautiful 20th-century silver and brass temple offering bowls, which are sold by families in need of the cash. Make sure that you receive a receipt and a stamped letter proving that the items you purchase are not antiques.
Address: 23 Attiyar Street, off Thirimingalar Street, Kamayut Township, Yangon, Burma
2. Shwedagon Pagoda
The stunning Shwedagon Pagoda, nicknamed “the jewel of Yangon”, is considered the symbol of Yangon tourism and an absolute must-see for any visitor to the city. The pagoda symbolizes the cultural and religious life of the former capital in particular and Burma in general. Additionally, it’s an amazingly wonderful place to shop. Lots of small stalls line the staircases up to the pagoda selling exquisite flowers religious icons and votive offerings, as well as handmade crafts and other unique souvenirs.
Address: Shwedagon Pagoda, Dagon, Yangon, Burma
3. Bogyoke Aung San Market
The Market is commonly included in the itinerary of any Yangon tour. Built by the British in 1926, the market was considered as the larger and oriental version of London’s Covent Garden market. It’s now largely given over to stalls designed to draw tourists: woven textiles from the Chin and Naga tribes, woodcarving from Mandalay and lacquerware from Bagan. Friendly saleswomen will size you up for a traditional longyi skirt and blouse, made-to-measure upstairs in minutes. Make your outfit more perfect with a pair of traditional velvet slippers which are sold on the south side during your Myanmar travel. Along the west side is a range of antique shops although much is new-made-old these days. Some negotiation on prices seems to be acceptable and expected. If you go with a local Yangon guide, sellers will tend to quote fair prices. On the south side are also several currency shops with goods with good rates for changing dollars into kyats. Do not pay attention to the roving moneychangers.
Address: Bogyoke Aung San Rd, Pabedan Township, Yangon, Burma
4. Myanmar Gems Museum
The Myanmar Gems Museum plays exactly the role of a museum; however, it also houses 82 vendors over three floors, selling high-quality raw gems and finished pieces with sapphires, rubies, jades and pearls, semi-precious stones, gold and silverware - some exquisite pieces of jewelry here such as Burmese carved jade.
Address: 66 Kaba Aya Pagoda Road, Yangon, Burma
5. Myanmar Traditional Manufacturing Company
In your Burma tours, you can see umbrellas everywhere in Burma. People are using colorful ones to protect themselves from rains and sunlight. Moreover, they hold religious and cultural significance that the ornamented final on pagodas is called Hti (which means “umbrella in Burmese language) and history the umbrella was part of royal regalia. It still denotes high honor in Burmese monastic life. If you want to bring back beautifully decorated, traditional handmade Pathein parasols from your Yangon tour as original souvenirs for your beloved, friends and even yourself, the shop will be an ideal place to purchase them.
Address: 276, Strand Road, Pabedan Tsp, Yangon, Burma
The addresses mentioned above may help you have good decisions on shopping in Yangon. We will provide you with more Yangon tourist information in other articles so that you would get wonderful travel experiences in the city.
Rangon (or Yangon), the former capital of Myanmar, is a fascinating blend of buildings that have gone unchanged for nearly a century, plus modern café and bar. Many travelers consider Rangon as the first stop on their Myanmar tours and spend two or three days exploring the city and its outskirts. Here we suggest some useful tips for Rangon tourism
Top three tourist sites around Rangon
The pagoda is the most important Buddhist shrine in Myanmar and considered as the symbol of Yangon tourism, nicknamed “the jewel of Yangon”. Surrounding the main gilded 95-metre stupa topped with a thousand diamonds is a wide platform filled with shrines and pavilions. Here visiting nuns, monks and pilgrims from all over the country pray, chant, eat and snooze beneath beautifully carved eaves.
A visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda can last all day or half of day. You do not need to worry about the shortage of things to see as there are various mini-museums and photo displays throughout the pagoda. It will cost you $8 for an entrance fee.
Bogyoke Aung San Market
The market is another attractive destination of Yangon tourism. The market, built in 1926 under a design from the British colonial period, is a wonderful destination for shopping. In need, you will be able to find almost all products there such as souvenirs, artwork, handicrafts and Burmese dresses. More particularly, the market is a famous address in selling jewelry and gemstones.
A day trip to Bago is a great way to get away from the busy and dusty Yangon and admire a dozen impressive pagodas during your Myanmar travel. To get around and explore the city, it’s best to hire a Tuk Tuk (a motor with a cart attached with wood planks on which to sit) for the day. The Tuk Tuk drivers know the many temples know the most typical temples and where tourists want to go. They also know the good local restaurant to stop for a quick lunch.
Restaurants in Yangon
The diverse cuisine is a bid plus point for Rangon tourism. Here you can find from the street food to fancy places that prices of those in large European cities. One that is worth visiting multiple times, for price, taste, and ambiance is Shan Noodle 999. The restaurant is located behind city hall, having appetizing and very low priced food (vegetarian-friendly). And like all friendly people you will meet in Myanmar, their staff are amazing. They will even help you mix noodles if they see you do that incorrectly.
If you want somewhere to spend an afternoon reading, writing, or just relaxing, Pansuriya is a great place. They have great tea and tasty traditional food. Their co-owner is often there during the day and is always willing to chat with you.
Rangoon Tea House offers good food at prices which are a little higher than the other two, and the ambiance is similar to any hipster hang-out in the USA. Its highlight is chocolate-filled samosas with so delicious taste.
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Others tips for Rangon tourism
ATMs seem to now be readily available in Yangon and dispense kyat. However, many of them are sometimes out of service. As a result, it’s better to bring along some cash. US dollars can be exchanged but they must be pristine with no marks, creases or damage (any kyat in this condition is rare). Some locations will accept payment in US dollars.
If you travel in a group of 3 or 4, taxis will be a good reasonable choice. They are very inexpensive with the average price of 2,000 kyats in town. Remember to get business cards from your hotel so that you can show it to the driver if they do not know the place by name. It’s much easier than trying to show them on a map and they will likely call directly to the hotel for directions.
Buses are common but the drivers and you may misunderstand each other due to their low capacity of English. Walking is also common to see with sidewalks on most streets, often shared with vendors but still enough room to roam. Just e sure to watch the traffic as well as the lights – or better yet, cross with locals as they understand the traffic patterns.
People’s friendliness and hospitability are the most valuable beauty of Rangon tourism. You will even meet complete strangers who actively ask if you need help and offer detailed instructions.
Yangon has a wide variety of accommodations for your Burma tours at this point. Allegedly, it is one of the more expensive than other cities in South East Asia, but you can find affordable places, some of which may be further outside the main hub of the city. Note that room rates increase remarkably in the high season of Rangon tourism, so book your room at least a month in advance.
We expect that the useful tips for Rangon tourism will help you have great experiences in the hectic city. Do not stay your home and hear “someone say something about Yangon”, come hear and feel by yourself.
Mandalay is the second largest city and one of 4 tourist highlights in Myanmar (besides Yangon, Bagan, and Inle Lake). The city not only is the sacred land for major Buddhists’ pilgrimages but also contains many mysterious things that await being discovered. Here we provide you with Mandalay tourism useful information so that you could have best travel experiences in the city of Mandalay and its outskirts.
The best time to tour Mandalay
Summer in Mandalay lasts from March to May, and then temperature cools down in the rainy season. Because Mandalay is in the central dry zone, it receives far less rain than the more tropical south. Winter lasts from November to February. The peak time of Mandalay tourism season is in between October and December when it’s cool and dry. However, traveling in the high season may be much more expensive, so you can visit Mandalay in late winter (January and February) and early rainy season (June and July) when the weather is relatively good.
How to get there
By plane: Mandalay International Airport organizes flights to most cities in Myanmar and some cities abroad, such as Thailand or China. However, the airport is 45km far from the city, and you will have to take a taxi for about 10USD.
By train: You can reach Mandalay from Yangon via the rail network service. Nevertheless, the journey lasts 15 hours and may be a little unpleasant. The price for a first-class ticket is of 5USD. In your Myanmar travel, you can also come to Mandalay from Lashio, Hsipaw, Pwin U Lwin and Myitkyina. However, trains are often slow and crowded.
By bus: There are three main bus stations in Mandalay. You can reach them from Pyin U Lwin, Kyaukme, Hsipaw and other cities of the country (of course including Bagan and Inle Lake).
The journey from Yangon consists of a night bus which takes 9 hours to go to Mandalay. The VIP bus (18USD) offers the best value for the journey between the two biggest cities of the country.
By boat: You can reach Bagan via one of the many companies that offer this route. It takes about 10 hours to go there with the price of 40USD. Note that this service is stopped between April and June when the water level is low.
Taxis: If you are travel in groups of 3 to 4, taking a taxi is a good choice. Taxi drivers, who can speak English quite good, will take you to some famous attractions in Mandalay within a day and charge you about $10 - $12/person/day.
Motortaxis: Motorcycle taxis are a cheap alternative, and will usually give you a cheap helmet to wear as well. A day of sightseeing in the city (north and south sights) should cost around 10,000 kyats, and a three-city tour (Sagaing, Amarapura, Inwa) costs about 15,000-20,000 kyat for the day.
Motorbike rental: If you are an experienced rider. Renting a motorcycle it is a great way to see the city or nearby villages. Note that motorcycles are usually not really new, so it’s better for you to check them carefully before you hire. It costs you about 12,000 – 15,000 kyat for renting a motorcycle per day.
Bike rental: Cycle hire is much cheaper at USD1-2 a day. It is a very feasible option if you make a small tour to main sights in the city center. Buy a Mandalay tourist map so that you would not get lost in this “grid” city.
Trishaws (cycle rickshaws) are a convenient way of getting around in Mandalay, and if you find a driver who speaks good English you can have a tour guide and transport together for a reasonable price with a little bargaining.
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What to see and what to do
The city of Mandalay: Golden Palace Monastery, Mahamuni Pagoda, Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Gem Market (Mahar Aung Myay), etc.
The outskirts: There townships of Amarapura, Sagaing, and Innwa. Particularly, U Bein Bridge, the longest teak in the world, is the symbol of Mandalay tourism and where you can admire one of the most stunning sunset scenery in the world.
Dee Doke Waterfall: About 60km from Mandalay you will find the waterfall of Dee Doke, formed by a lava flow thousands of years ago. It’s suggested that you should visit it between November and February when the water is clear and pure.
Food and drink
The cuisine is one of the most standout and attractive features of Mandalay tourism. Indeed, Mandalay has a notable array of specialties both from various regions within Myanmar as well as from other countries thanks to its history as a former capital of Myanmar, and its position as a major trading center between Myanmar and its neighbors in China, India, and Bangladesh. Cuisine from the Shan State (usually including fermented pastes, meats, and vegetables) is popular in Mandalay which has a notable Shan minority. Muslim Chinese noodles, pronounced pan-THEI-kao-sweh (flat thin noodles mixed with chicken and an array of spices), are also famous in Mandalay as well as the surrounding hills. Regardless of where you eat, try and leave space for Htou moun (to-moh), a traditional Burmese dessert which is only sold in Mandalay. Note that it is extremely sweet and contain a lot of oil.
Hotels and guesthouses in the city are very available for the development of Mandalay tourism. Many hotels are located in the Palais Royal area. However, finding accommodations with reasonable prices may be problematic during the high season of Mandalay tourism, so you should book your room at least one month in advance of your Burma tours.
As the royal capital of Burmese Kingdom, Mandalay delights visitors with its wealth and diversity of monuments that can be found throughout the city. Keep the useful information in your mind when you tour Myanmar to have a favorable and exciting stay in the city.
Mandalay was once the last imperial capital of Burma. It’s now the second largest city and recognized as the main religious center of the north of the country. It is said that half of the Myanmar monks live in and around Mandalay. Being one of 4 “classic” tourist destinations of Myanmar (besides Yangon, Bagan, and Inle Lake), a Mandalay tour is a great opportunity for you to explore the Burmese cultural and spiritual life. We recommend 8 places you should not miss when you tour Mandalay.
1. Golden Palace Monastery
Most travelers choose Golden Palace Monastery as the first stop on their Mandalay city tour. The structure was originally a royal apartment built by King Mindon. After his death in 1878, his son, King Thibaw, moved it to the current location as he believed that his father’s ghost still lived there. Five years later, it became a monastery and has kept that role until now. The Golden Palace Monastery is famous for its unique and magnificent beauty, formed by teak carvings depicting tales from Buddhist mythology from roof to walls. In addition, it has a historically special meaning for being the only remaining wooden building of the ancient Royal palace complex.
2. U Bein Bridge - Amarapura
U Bein Bridge, stretching over scenic Taungthaman Lake in the township of Amarapura, is one of Burma's most iconic sights as well as a highlight for your Myanmar travel. It is credited for the creation of the bridge in the 1850s, using scavenged teak pilings from the discarded palace of Amarapura when King Mindon moved the capital to Mandalay. U Bein Bridge is 1.2 km, considered as the longest teak bridge in the world. As an ideal destination to admire stunning sunrise and sunset and take photos, the bridge should not be missed on your Mandalay tour, especially if you are a photographer.
3. Mahamuni Pagoda
Mahamuni is the holiest pagoda in Mandalay and the second important one in Myanmar (just after Shwedagon, Yangon). Every day, a large number of pilgrims visit the pagoda to honor the giant golden Buddha, which is said to be over 2000 years and was brought to Mandalay by a Burmese king after sacking the Rakhine capital of Mrauk U. The statue was so large that it had to be divided into small parts and then reassembled. In addition, you will be able to find here inscription stones from all over the country, the sophisticated mosaic ceiling and gilded columns of the main pagoda, and a number of bronzes originally from Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.
If you plan to visit your Pagoda on your Mandalay tour, note that the dress code is very strict at Mahamuni. Shoes are left at the main entrance, shoulders are covered and ankle-length trousers must be worn. Sarongs/longyis are for hire at the main entrance for both men and women. In addition, only men are able to witness the growing Buddha body up close; women are not allowed to cross the threshold. You also have to pay 500 kyats for camera fee.
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4. Kuthodaw Pagoda
If you are interested in Buddhism, especially Buddhist philosophy, visiting Kuthodaw Pagoda on your Mandalay tour will be certainly a wonderful thing. Situated at the foot of Mandalay, religious complex takes itself pride in possessing the “world’s largest book”. Indeed, the complete text of the Tripitaka (the most sacred text of Theravada Buddhism) is inscribed on 729 marble slabs, each of which is located in a small stupa and arranged in lines around the ground. The pagoda was started to construct in 1860 at the order of King Mindon Min.
5. Mandalay Hill
After 45 minutes walking through covered stairs from the foot, you will reach the summit of Mandalay Hill, which is 120 meters above sea level. Here you can visit Sutaungpyi Pagoda, one of Burma's major Buddhist pilgrim destinations and admire panoramic views of the city. If are not interested in a walk (especially when the weather is bad) or you do not have enough time, taking moto taxis (5,000 kyats) or taxis (10,000 kyats) will be a better choice.
6. Gem Market (Mahar Aung Myay)
If you are an enthusiast for jewelry and sparkle things, you cannot miss a visit to the largest jade market in the world on your Mandalay tour. Here you will find jades in various shapes and size, whose colors are commonly in semi-translucent greens, ranging from pale turquoise to emerald green and sometimes in pink, orange and several other colors. Foreigners need to pay an entrance fee of one dollar to watch the trading, observe the process of creating jewelry and other items from jade blocks, and then you can purchase them to support the local economy during your Burma tours.
The beauty of Mandalay is characterized by the harmonious cultural mixture and Buddhism spirituality. Visiting these places when you tour Mandalay will help you better understand the city as well as its hospitable citizens.
Myanmar, the charming country with stunning natural scenery, splendid gilded pagodas and friendly people, has become one of the hottest tourist destinations in Asia for the recent year. Taking a Myanmar vacation will be certainly a wonderful travel experience. However, traveling to Myanmar is quite expensive compared to some destinations in Southeast Asia such as Vietnam or Thailand. If you want to save your money, we suggest 5 following tips so that you can book cheap Myanmar vacation packages.
1. Book during the Off-Season
The low season is between April and October when it’s hot and rainy, and the high season is from November to February when it’s cool and dry. You will have more chance of booking cheap Myanmar vacation packages in the low season, especially in July and August (the peak of wet season). However, note that some regions become inaccessible in this time and some, such as Ngapali Beach, close altogether in preparation for the high winds and heavy rainfall that batter the coast. In addition, you should also not book the packages including hiking and biking activities as heavy rains will destroy your trip.
We suggest you should choose packages to Bagan or Mandalay in low season because those are the driest regions of the country, avoiding much of the annual rain.
2. Opt for a less expensive destination
Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake are the key destinations in Myanmar, which is synonymous with the fact that almost all tourist services are expensive. Particularly, the price of accommodations for in Mandalay is extremely high, which contributes considerably to the high total cost of packages. As a result, it’s better for you to choose less expensive destinations such as Kalaw, Taunggyi, Pyin Oo Lwin and Monywa in your Myanmar travel.
3. Take advantage of early booking bonuses
Lock in your vacation plans earlier and you’ll pay less. Early booking bonuses can sometimes save thousands of dollars on the cost of Myanmar vacation packages for your family. You’ll also likely have your pick of accommodations and dates.
4. Go the last-minute route
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If you’re not traveling at peak times (such as New Year’s Day, based on Gregorian calendar) and you’re flexible about where you go, you can get some terrific last-minute deals. Note that Burmese people celebrate their New Year in early April. You should not travel to Myanmar at this time as most units such as shops, restaurants, and banks are closed.
5. Look for deals for kids
Traveling with the kids? Keep your eyes peeled for package deals where kids stay and eat for free.
The mentioned tips may help you book Myanmar vacation packages at a better price. However, keep in your mind that price is not the most important criterion to choose a package. Do not book “cheap packages” of disreputable travel agencies as your Burma tours may become a disaster with low-quality services and turns out to be expensive.