Yangon is a truly unique city with a lot of amazing attractions to offer. There are so many things to do in Yangon that it can be hard to narrow down the choices down into a two to three day itinerary.
While the first two Yangon attractions that will inevitably pop up on any Myanmar site area Swchedagon and Sule Pagoda, I wanted to keep these off of this list since they are so well-known.
Yangon is a city that is bursting at the seams with rich and varied culture. I wanted to create a list of things to do in Myanmar that would allow travelers to dive headfirst into that rich budding culture.
So sparing you more introduction, here is my list for top things to do in Yangon Myanmar.
1) Stroll Through People’s Park at Night
Just on the other side of Schwedagon Pagoda is one of the best parks in Yangon, People’s Park. People’s Park is a gorgeous green space that feels a little bit like a cultural carnival. Many locals can be seen here every night enjoying picnics, local music shows, and the various rides and attractions that are spread throughout the large space.
Check flyers around town because there are always crazy events happening at People’s Park. Last time I went, there was a carnival, and a huge outdoor concert by Myanmar rock band Forever Alone.
There are lots of cultural events that happen at People’s Park also.
I had the pleasure of going to People’s Park on National Shan Day, and they had a beautiful festival with music, food, dance, arts and crafts, and all kinds of traditional costumes and customs on display.
Don’t miss out on the rides either! Although 4,000 kyat a pop might seem a bit expensive, I definitely recommend riding the blue and yellow coaster at night. The views of Schwedagon at the top of the hill are spectacular.
But as if the above reasons weren’t enough to convince you already, People’s Park also hosts fountain light shows in front of the Schwedagon Pagoda from time to time, and they are truly a spectacle to behold. See the article featured image to know what I’m talking about!
People’s Park Admission Cost: $3 Dollars
People’s Park Hours: 7AM– 11 PM
2) Myanmar National Races Village
Myanmar is divided into 7 different states which are named after the largest ethnic groups that occupy those areas. Inside of those seven states are even more ethnic groups that culminate to over 135 different cultural identities! That’s right, over 135 different groups of people with their own customs, languages, holidays, beliefs, and delicacies.
You could probably spend your entire life traveling through Myanmar, and there would still be culture left to explore and learn about.
Now If only there was a way you could experience many all of those cultures in one location…Wait a minute, there is!
Myanmar National Races Village is divided into seven different areas. Each area of the park celebrates the cultures and people that inhabit the state it’s named after.
There are traditional mock houses, costumes, farming equipment, and monuments strategically placed all throughout the park to help travelers and locals get a window into the lifestyles of the many people who live in Myanmar.
Aside from the amazing cultural experience that is Myanmar National Races Village, the park is also a nice green respite from the hectic, smoggy roadways of Yangon.
I highly recommend renting a bike, and cycling through the park. The whole park is dotted with beautiful gardens and greenspaces. This is one attraction not to miss while in Yangon.
Myanmar National Races Village Admission Cost: $5 Dollars.
3) Take the Ferry Across to Dalah & Twante
If you’re like me, you love to get out on the open water. Directly across the street from the famous and historic Strand Hotel in downtown Yangon is the ferry terminal. The ferry costs 4,000 Kyat, and it goes across the river to Dalah and Twante two places that are as true to Myanmar village/rural life as you will find close to Yangon.
The ferry ride is short but offers gorgeous views of downtown Yangon. Come back around sunset, and you’ll get a great view of the sun coming down over the city.
There isn’t much to do in Dalah and Twante, other than explore and take in the sites of Myanmar country living. Rent cycles and do a tour of the land, or hire a trishaw or motorbike driver to take in the local sights.
There is an enigmatic and beautiful snake temple that’s about a 20 minute drive from the ferry dock. There are many villages to cycle through. If you hire a trishaw driver, they will normally take you to a couple of food shelters where some of the really impoverished children go for food donations. It’s heartbreaking, and if you’re not ready for it, the sight can take you by surprise.
Be careful going over the Dalah and Twante. Myanmar is a really comfortable and safe place for foreigners, but the vendors and drivers on the other side of the river are known to charge exorbitant prices for foreigners.
Tips for saving money:
*Go in a group of 3-4 to cut down transportation costs.
*Haggle the price
*Agree to the total price. Drivers will often charge you by the half an hour.
Visiting Dalah and Twante is a really nice way to see a side of life in Myanmar that you won’t find in Yangon. It’s also a lot of fun to take the ferry over.
Beware of scams though! I hardly ever fall victim to travel scams, but Dalah was one place where I did!
Despite my scam experience though, I still highly recommend going. It’s a really eye-opening and cultural experience.
4) Take the Yangon Circle Train
At first I was very hesitant about taking the Circle Train around Yangon.
The Circle Train slinks all the way around the perimeter of the city, and the entire journey take 3 hours. While I would never voluntarily subject myself to a 3-hour train ride which ends in the same place it starts, luckily, the Circle Train stops about ever 15 to 20 minutes, and you’re free to get off at any of the stops along the way.
Furthermore, it’s very easy to get a taxi at any of the stops, so if you’re unable to hop back on the train, then you can easily just nab a taxi to wherever you want to go.
My friend Phil and I mounted the Circle Train, and ended up getting off after about 40 minutes.
We hopped off and took a walk through the local town of Yegu. The locals stared at us as if they had never seen a foreigner before, but everyone was very friendly.
And in typical travel memoir fashion, just as we were about to leave the town, a festival sprouted up and it wasn’t long until the locals were pulling us into the festivities, serving us food, taking pictures, and asking if we liked the music.
The circle train is an awesome attraction in Yangon. Just be sure to do yourself a favor, and get off the carts from time to time. Don’t stay on for the whole three hours. The little neighborhoods that the train runs through are what really make this attraction special.
Yangon Circle Train Cost: $2 Dollars
Location: Downtown Train Station Platform 7
5) Volunteer to Teach an English Conversation Class Downtown Yangon
At first, when the monk at Schwedagon approached me and asked if I wanted to volunteer to teach English at his school in downtown Yangon, I desperately hoped that I wasn’t blindly stepping foot into a huge scam.
None-the-less, I took the monk’s business card, and the next morning Krissy and I were off on one of the best and most exciting adventures I’ve had in Myanmar.
Once we found the school, we were whisked into a room full of almost 100 students of all ages. Generally the English level was pretty high, and it was more of a conversation opportunity than an actual class. Regardless, it was an amazing opportunity to chat with all different kinds of locals, learn more about the culture, and meet some people.
After doing an hour of conversation class with the group, a couple of our students took us out to lunch, and then gave us a free tour around Sule Pagoda and Maha Bandula Park. It’s one of my favorite memories of my time in Yangon.
Even if you have zero teaching experience, you can still join into the class, as the locals are really just looking for native English speakers to talk to. It’s a great way to meet people, and also to give back to the local community.
You might even get a crazy story out of it like I did.
Location: Down the Street from Sule Pagoda
Cost: Absolutely Free
6) The National Museum, Yangon Myanmar
The National Museum in Yangon is honestly one of the best museums I’ve been to in Southeast Asia. Admission is extremely cheap, and comes with an English speaking guide to talk you through the vast exciting history of the country. The displays in this massive building truly blew my expectations out of the water.
Aside from having displays and artifacts that date all the way back to the earliest human history in Myanmar, The National Museum in Yangon also boasts expositions that date all the way back to the prehistoric era. Bursting full of historical treasures, dinosaur bones, cave-painting evidence, and the jawlines of extinct species of giant elephants, The National Museum in Yangon is any history lover’s bliss.
7) Take A Lethwei Boxing Class
Lethwei Myanmar boxing is one of the most brutal martial arts in the world. Also known as the art of of nine limbs, Lethwei boxing is a long standing cultural sport of Myanmar. The fighting style is similar to Muay Thai, but in addition to the elbows, legs, arms, and hands, Lethwei fighters can also strike with their head.
To me, one of the most interesting things about Lethwei is that there is no point system. The only way to win is by knockout! If both fighters are left standing at the end of the match, then the fight is considered a draw.
Only by knockout, can another fighter be proven victorious. These fighters are true brutal warriors. Even if one fighter is knocked out, if they are revived, they have the option of continuing the fight.
The no point system is believed to encourage the fighters to always give 100% effort, since there is no victory if there is no knockout.
While I’m not one for jumping in the ring, I do love finding ways to get my exercise on while on the road. Lethwei was a great way for to break a much needed sweat, while also learning more about Myanmar culture.
I did my training class at Phoenix Boxing in the Lethwei Complex.
The training course was the perfect amount of challenge and a lot of fun! The trainers were enthusiastic and really willing to go the extra mile to give tips and pointers.
Just be sure to call ahead if you want to schedule a training session.
Lethwei Training Class Cost: 6,000 Kyat for 1 hour Training (well worth it)
Location: See above. Phoenix Boxing is located in the Lethwei Complex.
So that’s it folks, my top picks for unique cultural things to do in Yangon Myanmar. Now get out there and travel!
But wait! Maybe I missed a couple of cool things…
Do you have anything to add to this list? What are your favorite things to do in Myanmar?
Let me know! Comment below 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, and happy trail-blazing