Myanmar, formerly Burma, is one of the most exotic places in the world to visit. You will feel like you are in a different world. You will immediately notice the traditional dress (or longyi) which is worn by both men and women. It is a long skirt which is practical with the tropical heat. Different patterns and colors are found in different regions of the country. Everyone also wears flip flops or sandals.
The colonial architecture of Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is wonderful. Most buildings are a little neglected which reminds me a lot of Havana Cuba. But the textures and colors are perfect to photograph.
Our highlights of Yangon include:
Schwedagon Pagoda: This was, by far, the highlight of Yangon. It is the most sacred of all Buddhist sites in the country. The bell-shaped golden dome is spectacular. There are many temples, halls and stupas on the site and the monks, in their saffron robes, added so much to the experience. The best time to go is late afternoon, near sunset, when the colors are wonderful!
Belmond Governor’s Residence Hotel: This hotel is located in a colonial style mansion from the 1920’s. It is a wonderful spot with gardens and lotus pools.
Burmese Lacquerware: This is one of the most popular purchases. I first saw wonderful pieces in Thailand so I was pleased to find some great pieces to buy in some antique stores in Yangon and in Bagan. My guide helped me determine which ones were real antiques or what she called “made antiques”. I also purchased some new pieces in Bagan. I bought several pieces at Bonton Lacquerware Shop, No. 149/150 Central Arcade Bogyoke Aung San Market, in Yangon.
The Strand Hotel: The Strand Hotel was built in 1901 and is the beautiful old colonial hotel downtown. It is perfect for a meal, tea or a drink. You feel like you are living in a different age.
The food. I love food. I could eat papaya at every meal since it is so amazing. The morning glory (like spinach) was my favorite.
A Chicago friend highly recommends the following:
Monsoon: For Burmese/
Shwe Sa Bwe – Hotel & Restaurant Training Center: This is an amazing project and well worth taking the time to visit. They only serve lunch and there are only 12 seats so it can get full easily! The food is consistently fantastic.
Le Planteur: Le Planteur has been a classic in Yangon for many years. The restaurant is now located at 80 University Ave. It has wonderful French food (also good for lunch!). The setting, in an old house with outdoor seating, is lovely. There is a casual bistro and a wine bar as well, plus they serve afternoon tea.
Water Library: Water Library is probably the closest restaurant to the Governor’s Residence as it is in the Embassy District as well. It is delicious, but expensive and small portions (more of a New York dining experience in Yangon). This would be a good dinner spot if you wanted to stay close to the hotel.
Union Bar & Grill: This is a very fun casual spot if you are looking for something a little familiar with a good vibe! Also their food is great if you are looking for something light and casual.
Pandomar for Burmese food is also recommended.