Welcome to Yangon
Part British Colonial throwback, part emerging modern city, Yangon (Rangoon) is welcoming a tourism boom after several decades of isolation. Myanmar's largest city is also its former capital and commercial hub, populated by a diverse blend of cultures. Shiny new skyscrapers have sprung up amid beautifully restored colonial buildings, ancient pagodas, and traditional fisherman's huts, but much of the infrastructure remains behind the times, so it's wise to rely on a guide to show you around. Make the pilgrimage to Shwedagon Paya, a glittering, 114-acre temple compound topped by a 344-foot (104 meter) golden stupa that is studded with diamonds and rubies. The local Buddhist monks are eager to chat about their traditions and will even tell your fortune—for a small donation. Also on the don't-miss list: Sule Paya, a 2,000-year-old gilded temple; colorful Bogyoke Aung San Market; Chaukhtatgyi Paya's 213-foot-long (65 meter) reclining Buddha; the lavish displays of royal wealth at the National Museum; and the floating dining hall at Karaweik Palace. Travelers wishing to explore further can board the Circular Train, a pleasant ride that includes oft-overlooked spots such as Little India and Chinatown. Along with its many important historical sites, modern Yangon offers fine dining, art galleries, and day spas. Wind down your city tour with a drink at the venerable Strand Hotel, an oasis of relaxed elegance since 1901. And while Yangon is a worthy destination on its own, it's also an easy jumping-off point for trips to Pegu (Bago), Inle Lake, Mandalay, and beyond.