Myanmar (or Burma) is still one of the few destinations in South East Asia that has remained largely unknown. It is only more recently that it has become one of the most sought after destinations for travelers. If you are thinking of visiting Myanmar and its charming former capital Yangon, here is how to experience some of the highlights that this city has to offer.
Myanmar tea experience (early morning)
A classic scene in Myanmar are the men and women sitting on plastic stools drinking milk tea. For an authentic local Myanmar tea experience make a stop at the STK Tea Shop at Mo Po Street in Yangon and sit between the colorful local characters as you watch the lively activity of tea being prepared right in front of you.
Shopping at Boyoke Market (late morning)
If you are looking to find some great textiles, traditional lacquerware, or indigenous jewelry from various ethnic tribes in Myanmar make a stop at Yoyamay Textile shop situated on the second floor of Boyoke Market. A family run business with very reasonable prices and friendly service.
Wholesome gourmet lunch (afternoon)
Visit Sharky’s for lunch and try their locally cured meats and legendary home made gelato ice cream. The charismatic owner, Ye Htut Win (also known as Sharky), was educated and raised in Geneva before opening up a restaurant in Yangon. He is passionate about food and about promoting locally grown products.
Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda (late afternoon)
The Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most ancient of all Buddhist places and an extraordinary site to visit. Also known as the Golden Pagoda it is 99 meters (325ft) high and the crown on top of the pagoda is tipped with 5,448 diamonds and 2, 317 rubies with the very top tipped with a 76 carat diamond. Circumabulate the pagoda in the late afternoon when the lighting is magical and walk alongside the Myanmar people who come and do their early evening Buddhist rituals.
Cocktails at Monsoon (early evening)
After a full day of exploring Yangon, stop at Monsoon for happy hour (5 – 7pm). A charming three-story colonial building, their staff are extremely friendly and their menu offers a wide variety of cuisine that ranges from traditional Myanmar food, to Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian dishes. On the third floor there is a gift shop which features a nice collection of Myanmar’s handicrafts and art.
Dinner at Le Planteur (evening)
Indulge yourself by having an exquisite romantic dining experience at Le Planteur, a restaurant that is beautifully situated amidst a charming and intimate garden setting. Great attention has been given to the food and ambience.
The Governor’s Residence by Orient Express (evening)
Stay at the the colonial style mansion that dates back to the early 1900s. The Governor’s Residence is a charming and welcoming sanctuary from the lively hustle and bustle of Yangon. Live music on Friday and Saturdays. ( Recommended rooms are: the Governor’s Room, 411, 412, 711, and 713 which have a balcony and looks out onto the garden).
Cristy Elmendorp is Managing Director of Soma Journeys.