5 Unusual Yet Must-Visit Places to Visit in Yangon Myanmar
Almost all visits to Myanmar start in Yangon because the country’s major international airport is located here. With its 5 million inhabitants, Yangon – also known by its colonial name Rangoon – is also the largest city in the country and its economic and cultural capital.
A first stroll through the streets of Yangon may come as a minor culture shock for some people: It’s bustling and loud, sticky and warm, but it’s also incredibly exciting. There is more to do in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, than visiting Shwedagon Pagoda for sunset, touring the colonial area, stopping at the Sule and Botataung Pagodas, exploring the National Museum, and shopping at Scott’s Market (Bogyoke Market). These sites are typical tourist fare, and you don’t want to miss any of them, but there’s so much more. Here are some of the wonderfully unique places to visit:
1. Spend A Day with Yangon Locals
Meet locals and get an intimate look at life beyond Myanmar’s tourist sites. Making memorable connections with your hosts, you learn about their outstanding achievements, daily struggles, and pleasures.
2. Play Traditional Chinlone and Meet the Caneball Players of Myanmar
Chinlone, also known as “caneball,” is over 1,500 years old and was once played by the Kings of Burma. Today chinlone is the national sport of Myanmar. Similar to hacky-sack, the goal of chinlone is to keep the ball from hitting the ground while passing it to other players without using hands. You can observe the game in action, meet a chinlone master and, if you can keep up, play with the locals.
3. Visit the Gitameit Music Center
Begun in 2003, this non-profit community center and music school in downtown Yangon is devoted to music teaching and nurturing, performing, offering exchange possibilities for Burmese students to study abroad and inviting international artists to perform and teach in Yangon. Learning about local music can be a wonderful way to expand your horizons while visiting Yangon.
4. Take a Bando Lesson and Learn the Burmese Philosophy of Self Defense
Bando is a martial art that originated in Myanmar and is based on the theory that “defense is the best offense.” A fighter studies his or her opponent and evaluates the actions. Only after understanding how the opponent acts will the fighter choose a counter strategy. The offensive forms are based on animal movements, such as that of a boar, python, or tiger as well as a black panther, whose moves combine those of the other animals. Taking a self defense class can be a unique diversion in Yangon.
5. Have Your Palm Read at Sule Pagoda
Locals say you should never make a serious decision without consulting either a palm reader or a numerologist. Believe it or not, the government decision to move the capital from Yangon to Naypyidaw was based on a palm reader’s advice! So, with your birth date, day of the week and time, and your questions to be answered, head off to a palmist at Sule Pagoda.