Why Yangon is hot right now
Take a cab to town after arriving at Yangon’s International Airport and you’ll quickly realize you’ve arrived in a place like no other.
Your taxi driver may have replaced his seat with a garden chair.
Without doubt, he’ll be wearing what looks like a skirt and chewing betel, which has turned his mouth a crimson red.
There might be a hole in the floor of the vehicle, or the steering wheel could be upside down.
It’s a theme that’ll continue throughout your trip.
With a lack of international brand saturation and an abundance of parks, lakes and gleaming pagodas, vibrant street life and friendly locals, Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and former capital, is a city worth getting to know before venturing elsewhere in this strange, wonderful country.
In a city where the demand for beds far exceeds the supply .But make no mistake, there are great hotel options here.
The city’s most iconic hotel has checked-in the likes of Jagger, Maugham and Kipling and is as elaborate and classy as one would expect of a place that once represented the height of colonialism.
Built in 1901 by a British entrepreneur during British India’s heyday, the three-story hotel’s Victorian influences are evident in the colonnaded entrance, marble floor inlaid with teak, hand-carved wooden bed frames, rattan furniture, chandeliers and black ceiling fans.
Strand Hotel, 92 Strand Road, Kyauktada township, Yangon; rooms from $340
One of Yangon’s classiest hotels, the Savoy offers some of the city’s best rooms.
Restaurant and bar areas are impressively designed, the latter decked out in a nautical theme.
Savoy Hotel, 129 Dhamazeddi Road (corner of Inya Road), Yangon; rooms from $236
Yangon veterans recall a time when they were tucked in bed by 9 p.m., simply because there wasn’t anything to do after dark.Not anymore.
New bars are opening regularly, and there are plenty of into-the-night spots to drink with friendly and willing locals.
It’s loud, lively and there’s lots of neon. But this isn’t Yangon’s version of Bangkok’s Khao San Road.
Instead, it’s an authentic local experience, a strip of outdoor bars where the beer flows and where you’ll find the best grilled fish in town.
Vista Rooftop Bar
Taking advantage of its proximity to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the view here will convince you to visit; the well-stocked bar will keep you hanging around.
50th Street Bar
One of Yangon’s most famous watering holes, this one is lively most nights and runs regular themed nights.
This is the place to come for big sports matches and good pizza.
Any beer station, anywhere
Myanmar’s version of pubs, “beer stations” are often run-down, rustic spots where locals enjoy a drink — beer or whiskey, or sometimes both, mixed.
Found on many street corners, they’re easy to spot — look for the distinctive logo of local Myanmar beer.
Minn Lan Rakhine Seafood
A lively outdoor restaurant, Minn Lan offers some of the best seafood in Yangon. It’s brought in from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.
Hot items include preserved prawns and lobster.
Shwe Sa Bwe Restaurant
Located on the northern shore of Inya Lake, this boutique restaurant trains local Burmese looking to pursue a career in the hospitality industry.
They do a good job, too. The menu includes a diverse selection of delicious French-inspired dishes.
Reopens in September after a two-month break.
Open since 2004, Yangon’s Onyx Restaurant was once a private escape for members of the city’s expat community looking for a Western meal.
That’s changing and every night of the week this Korean-run steakhouse is full of people from all over the world enjoying great food and wine.
Every Yangon visit should include a trip to Shwedagon Pagoda, the country’s most famous attraction.
Surveying the city from atop a hill, it’s easy to see why it’s the nation’s pride and joy.
Other pagodas worthy of visits are Sule and Botahtaung, both located downtown.
Thaketa Crocodile Farm
This little-known crocodile farm houses more than 200 of the sinister species. It can be unnerving walking along the rundown bridge as the crocs wait below, mouths open.
Drug Elimination Museum
This sprawling museum was built in the late 1990s to show how seriously the government was taking the country’s drug problem.
Despite its rather absurd name, it offers insights into a largely unknown problem in the country.
Bogyoke Aung San Market
Tourist tack. T-shirts. Traditional Burmese garb.
A popular site, every souvenir you need from your Myanmar visit can be found here.
Located in the city’s Muslim area, this is the place to hit for an authentic Myanmar market experience.