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It should come as no surprise that in deeply Buddhist Burma the two main attractions in Yangon for locals and tourists alike revolve around that religion – bring your camera because both are truly special places. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors think you should be able to knock off the five best things to do and see in Yangon in two days or less:
1. Shwedagon Pagoda. You could easily spend hours basking in the peaceful ambience that blankets the area around this gilded 325-foot tall pagoda. It’s purported to house a number of Buddhist relics, including hair from Gautama Buddha, and attracts hordes of locals and tourists alike. The pagoda is particularly magical around sunset.
2. Chaukhtatgyi Paya. Giant reclining Buddhas are not particularly rare in Asia, but this one is well worth seeing. Make sure to check out the Buddha’s crown, which is encrusted with diamonds and other precious stones. You’ll need to hire a car to get out here, and make sure to have your driver wait for you as it will be difficult to find a ride back after your visit.
3. Bogyoke Aung San Market. A visit to this market is easly the best shopping experience you’ll have in Yangon. Here you’ll find longyis (Burmese-style skirts) for both men and women, pearls, gems, jewelry, handicrafts and much more. Haggling is expected, but do keep in mind that most prices are already rather low compared to Western standards.
4. Aung San Suu Kyi’s House. Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest on and off for 21 years, but was released in November 2010 and is now a member of parliament and allowed to travel outside of Yangon. A visit to her house was nearly impossible until recently, so a drive by her abode – and ultimately prison – is very much worth the trip.
5. Architectural Walking Tour. A stroll down Yangon’s busy streets, past former government buildings, the old train station and other crumbling structures, will yield a fascinating – and photogenic – look at the city’s deep ties to its British colonial past. Hire a guide, or do it yourself by locating sites on the Yangon City Heritage List.