A local's guide to Yangon, Myanmar

Planning a trip can be tough work, especially when the destination is like Myanmar. Local expert and Insight Guides trip planner Wai Lin shares local knowledge to help plan a memorable trip to the former capital of Myanmar...
Unidentified talk to enjoy of burmese and foreign tourist at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.
Unidentified talk to enjoy of burmese and foreign tourist at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Photo: Shutterstock

Locals and tourists talking at Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon. Photo: Shutterstock

Taking a holiday to Myanmar: how to get started

Insight Guides can help you with planning, organising and booking your trip to Myanmar. Simply, get in touch and share your budget, interests and travel style. Our local experts will create an itinerary exclusive to you and your requirements, which you can amend until it's just right. Alternatively, browse and modify ready-made holidays to create your dream trip today. For more inspiration, take a look at our online guide to Myanmar to plan your visit and discover when's best to go, the top attractions, historical highlights and some of the best cultural features.

When should we plan our holiday to Yangon and why?

October to February is the best time to visit; when the sun is shy, there's blue sky and the temperature is moderate to cool.

May to September is also lovely, with rain for one or two hours a day. When the sun shines again or when there are clouds, the sky can be very dramatic – actually a lot more picturesque than a pure blue sky. It's also less expensive and there are fewer travellers at this time of year.

Where would you recommend we stay?

The best mid-range option is East Hotel, located in the city centre on Sule Pagoda Road. You'll find a cinema, restaurants and plenty of tea shops around it – it takes five minutes to walk from here to the Sule Pagoda and Bogyoke Market.

An excellent luxury hotel is The Governor’s Residence, located in a quiet, diplomatic area, a 5- to 10-minute drive from the city centre. Closest tourist sites are the National Museum and the magical Shwedagon Pagoda. Another great high-end option is the iconic Strand Hotel. This colonial hotel is the oldest in Yangon – more than 110 years old – and is just across from Pansodan Jetty – it's easy to take the ferry to the other side of Yangon River from here. It's also only two blocks away from Pansodan Street with old colonial buildings and 15 minutes' walk to Sule Pagoda and Yangon City Hall. Discover the best of Yangon, with Insight Guides' Love Yangon trip

Shan noodle, Myanmar. Photo: ShutterstockShan noodle, Myanmar. Photo: Shutterstock

Where is a great place for dinner?

If you're looking to try local specialities, Padonmar Restaurant, near to The Governor’s Residence, has incredible Burmese dishes. The butter-fish curry with tomato paste is very delicious. Feel Restaurant, near the French Embassy, has a variety of local Burmese dishes and snacks too.

Alternatively, L'Opera near Inya Lake Hotel has great Italian food, if you're missing Western cuisine. My favourite high-end restaurant is located just across the lake at Le Planteur, which creates French Indochinese dishes. Sabai Sabai is still best Thai restaurant in town. While, Ashoka, close to the Chatrium Hotel, offers the best Indian food in Yangon.

Happy Noodle, on Inya Street, has a variety of dishes from across the country. This is a paradise for noodle lovers and always busy with well-to-do locals. Taing Yin Thar has a wide range of ethnic Myanmar dishes: grilled fish (Shan style) and chicken curry (Kachin style) are both highly recommended.

For small vendors and Yangon's best street food, head to 19th Street. This area has a very lively atmosphere, which is popular with locals, where you can taste locally-made draught beers. Savour Yangon's best street food with Insight Guides' Love Yangon trip

Is there a 'must-try' dish while we're in Yangon?

Mont Hin Gar, a fish soup with thin rice noodles, is a favourite national dish. There are shops serving this everywhere.

Where is the most romantic spot in town?

Kandawgyi Nature Park, with its long wooden bridge and views of Shwedagon Pagoda, is a charming spot.

Unidentified monks walk around Kandawgyi Lake and Kandawgyi Nature Park in Yangon. Photo: ShutterstockMonks walking around Kandawgyi Lake in Yangon. Photo: Shutterstock

Where can we hang out with locals?

Visit Sport Bar or DJ Bar (a night club), if you want to meet affluent young locals. Pioneer Nightclub, near Summit Park View Hotel, is busy with both locals and expatriates.

Do you have any additional "insider" tips?

Spend some time in tea shops during the day. Sample the local condensed sweet tea, and also chat, do business or just sit and watch people go by. Lucky Seven at 49th Street is lively with locals the whole day.

What souvenir should we bring home from our Yangon and Myanmar travels?

Lacquerware from Bagan, silk shawls from Mandalay and Inle Lake, plus the finest rubies, sapphires and jades are all available from Bogyoke Market.

Lacquerware in Myanmar. Photo: ShutterstockLacquerware in Myanmar. Photo: Shutterstock

This blog was originally published on May 31, 2016

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