5 161 000
7 361 000
Population Density (km2):
Population Density (mi2):
Largest City in Myanmar
9th Largest City in South East Asia
67th Largest City in the World
Former Capital of Myanmar (until 2006)
Avg. Summertime High:
Avg. Summertime Low:
Avg. Wintertime High:
Avg. Wintertime Low:
The spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda, in which only the spire is rumored to consist of enough gold equivalent to 5% of Myanmar’s total GDP, is the main sight in Yangon. If there's only one thing you have time to do during a short visit it's the Shwedagon Pagoda, which is located slightly north of the city center. Right in the middle of the center of the city, you'll find another Pagoda which is worth a visit - Sule Pagoda. Around Sule Pagoda, you have Chinatown, Mahabandula Park, and Downtown with its many colonial buildings still standing, albeit often in bad shape.
Republic of the Union of Myanmar | ပြည်ထောင်စု သမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်
676 578 km2
Ranked 39 out of 195
54 410 000
Ranked 26 out of 235
Ranked 165 out of 194
Population: 1 160 000
Population: 5 332 000
Economy & Development:
Human Development Index:
Ranked 147 out of 189
N / A
Ranked --- out of 189
GDP (PPP) Per Capita:
Ranked 175 out of 225
Democracy & Freedom:
Ranked 166 out of 167
28 points out of 100 possible
Ranked 176 out of 180
Ranked 147 out of 162
4th of January
What Is Celebrated On The National Day:
The Burmese Declaration of Independence, which was officially declared on the 4th of January of 1948. This was done peacefully and following the Burma Independence Act that was voted for and accepted in the British Parliament on the 10th of December 1947. The events leading to the declaration were not always peaceful though and the years of British rule in Burma were shaky.
Facts & Codes:
UTC +6:30 (MMT)
Country Calling Code:
Administrative Region of Myanmar
Rankun Tuing Desa
10 276 km2
Ranked 14 out of 15
7 361 000
Ranked 1 out of 15
Of National Population
Population: 5 332 000
Population: 5 332 000
GDP Per Capita::
Tropical Monsoon Climate
UTC +6:30 (MMT)
Meaning of the Name:
The literal translation is "End of Strife". However, the name comes from the combination of the words Yan (Enemies) and Koun (Run Out Of) in Burmese.
Rangoon. It is still often referred to by this name, especially in the English-spoken world. It is however currently an incorrect name for the city.
Scattered Throughout Downtown
15 km / 9 mi (N)
The main airport in Myanmar. Terminal 1, which is the International terminal, was demolished and rebuilt between 2014 and 2018. The airport is still quite small and only handles around 6 million passengers per year.
There are taxis available outside the terminal. The price to go into Downtown or Chinatown is between 10 000 to 15 000 Kyats (5 - 10 USD), with the most commonly cited price being 12 000 Kyats (8 USD). The price is negotiated at a flat rate before starting the journey. You can also use Grab, but it's more of a hassle as you will have to walk to the edge of the airport to catch it. Going back to the airport from the city I strongly recommend using Grab though as the price will be about half of what you paid getting from the airport to the city.
The cheapest option is the Airport Shuttle Bus by Yangon Bus Service (a network of eight private companies). It costs as little as 500 Kyats (~ 50 cents). Considering how little it costs to use a taxi I would still recommend using a taxi rather than the bus. There have been reports of safety issues with the bus. There's no train or rail-based options available.
Tram / Light Rail
Elevated Rapid Transit
There is no meaningful public transport in the city, except for buses. Considering the cheap prices for a taxi it's always better to just order a taxi, through Grab, than to bother with the bus. There is a railway line called the "Yangon Circular Railway". It's a commuter rail line that goes in a circle throughout the Northern suburbs of the city. For a visitor, it's more of a tourist attraction than a useful mode of transportation as the only station in the center of the city is the Main Railway Station.
The center of Yangon is very walkable with dense quarters. Sidewalks are often in very bad shape though. Most of the sights are within walking distance from Sule Pagoda.
Sidewalks are in terrible conditions, and in some cases with large missing pieces and open sewers.
Cash Or Credit:
Cash! In Junction City, you can use a credit card if you want to. But that was the only place I saw where you even could pay with a card.
Good To Know:
You can't exchange the Kyat outside of Myanmar. You need to bring US Dollars, and in pristine condition, which you will then exchange while you're in the country. And make sure to either spend all your Kyats or remember to exchange it all back into USD before leaving as you won't be able to exchange it once you leave the country.
What About English?
Other Common Languages:
People generally don't speak English and those who do speak a very broken variant of it. But people generally love to try and you can easily find yourself in situations where people try to hold a conversation with you without them knowing more than one or two words of English. It happened in just about every taxi that I traveled in. Be aware if you're approached on the street randomly though, it's probably not so random...
Due to the willingness to do their best, and the general friendliness of the population, I never found it hard to navigate in Yangon.
Maha Bandula Road
Chinatown & Downtown
Maha Bandula Road cuts through the center of Chinatown and Downtown at a West-East angle. In the middle, there's a roundabout with the Sule Pagoda. In Chinatown, there's a lot of jewelry stores on the street. In Downtown several of the sights are found along Maha Bandula, such as Yangon City Hall, Mahabandula Park, and The Secretariat. It's not a street known for restaurants, those are instead found on the side streets branching out from the main street.
On a map, look for Sule Pagoda. It stands in the middle of a roundabout. I would say that is where Central Yangon truly is. From there it extends east until Lanmadaw Road in Chinatown and Thien Phyu Road in Downtown to the west. Anywhere between those two roads, Yangon River and Bo Gyoke Road (where Junction City and Bogyoke Aung San Market are located) are what I would consider the main central area in Yangon.
Despite it being a very poor city, and it's visibly poor, I never felt unsafe. I even accidentally ventured under an overpass where people were living and not even there did I feel threatened or that someone had an interest in my camera equipment around my neck. The people are friendly and will come up to you and talk, there are not that many tourists on the streets yet so it's not as exploited as many other cities in the region. While you will stand out as a Westerner you will still not be harassed by people trying to sell you stuff as in many other places. But be aware of the main sights, especially the Shwedagon and Sule Pagodas as there will be people there offering guided tours of the complexes and they have been known to demand money after the tour has finished.
As of 2023, the information above is invalid. The city has become very dangerous and crime-ridden after the coup in 2021. I've kept it as a reminder of how the city was and what has been lost here.
Note: My assumption is of the basis that you will always take normal precautions when you're out traveling, just as you would do at home. Even the safest cities have bad elements and no matter how safe you might feel you must always take basic precautions. I'm always aware of my surroundings when I walk around, both with and without the camera. I am however a very typical tourist and it shows so I am a person that will undoubtedly draw the attention of those who targets tourists. If you can you should of course always try to blend in as much as possible, but with my big camera around my neck, it's impossible. That's two things that are good to know when reading my assessment of how it felt from a safety point of view.
Maha Bandula Road
Yangon is one of my favorite cities for street photography! Something is happening at every corner and you have lots of opportunities to photograph interesting situations. Wherever you go you will find something to take pictures of. Either buildings or people. In general, people didn't mind being in pictures either. It was much more common to have people spontaneously pose or wave than to try to avoid being in the picture (in which case you shouldn't take the picture of course).
The mobile application "Grab" is a must-have while exploring Yangon. First of all, communication with the cab drivers can be tricky since the level of English is almost non-existent. Aside from that, you don't have to hassle or pay overprices. The app will give you the "local" price right away, and it's super cheap! A typical ride within the city center will cost less than $2 and while going back to the airport I paid 6,000 MMK (~$4) instead of the "official rate" of 12,000 MMK (~$8). The cars can be of a less than good shape and Yangon have been described as where Toyotas go to die due to that many of them are used cars from Japan.
- Remember To Exchange Your Money
Since the Kyat can't be exchanged outside of Myanmar you have to remember to get rid of all currency while still inside Myanmar unless you want to keep it. I always like to save a low value of the currency of the countries I'm visiting, but I would not like to be stuck with $1,000 in Kyats that have no value outside of the country.
- Shwedagon Pagoda At Dusk
The best time to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda is at dusk. Arrive while it's still daylight to see the details of this enormous monument. Then spend the next hours wandering and exploring the huge complex and see how the light is shifting as the sun sets.
- Be Careful Of Potholes
Walking the streets of Yangon can be tricky. A lot of the sidewalks are just cement blocks over a ditch. The blocks are old so they have started to crack and in places could even be gone completely. And you do not want to fall into it since it's sewage ditches.
- Be Aware Of The Religious Tension
The first thing most people asked and were interested in was which religion I had, or which religion was most common in Sweden. They take their Buddhism seriously, and while the low-intensity civil war is not visible in Yangon, you can still feel the religious tensions. This is not something you had to care about, and I never felt unsafe or anything for not being Buddhist. But it's good to be aware of the tensions and to keep a low profile in these matters.
Yangon is not a destination for fast food lovers. There are hardly any chains in the city. The few that have a presence are almost always much more expensive than a nice local restaurant. Since my visit in late 2019, the supply has decreased even further. Genki Sushi was open in Junction City but has since closed permanently. Burger King is now only available at the airport.
Type of Food:
Did I Try:
N / A
I've never tried this chain even though I've been to several countries where it exists. It looks like your average burger chain in the same style as McDonald's and Burger King.
No Images Available
My initial reaction was quite negative. But it didn't take long until it was turned into a very positive view of the city, and its inhabitants. It was so interesting to just walk the streets of Yangon and watch everything that's going on. I liked that Yangon, compared to other cities in the South-East Asian region, is more compact and dense. There are well-defined closed quarters, more similar to Europe but with an Indian-Asian touch.
Do I Recommend You To Visit?
Before the military coup in 2021, I definitely would have recommended it. When, or if, tensions decrease and semi-democracy are re-instated I will once again recommend everyone to visit Yangon. But for the time being, I would advise against it.
Will I Come Back Again?
Maybe. I don't feel an intense urge to re-visit, mostly because I'd like to visit other similar cities in the region first, but I wouldn't mind if my path crosses this city once again in the future.
Weather During My Stay:
Sunny and hot with a clear blue sky. It was perfect weather during my whole stay.
Not As Good:
A street in Downtown Yangon. The streets are not clean, but they're safe.
Overview of Yangon Central Railway Station from the Pansodan Street Bridge.
A street in Downtown Yangon.
A street in Chinatown.
A street side market in Chinatown. Most side streets are lined with markets selling fresh produce.
View of Downtown from Mahabandula Park. This park was known as Fytche Square during the colonial period.