Yangon (Rangoon) is the former administrative capital of Myanmar (Burma). Although the government has moved the capital to Naypyidaw, Yangon remains the commercial capital of Myanmar (Burma). Yangon is the only port of entry in Myanmar, and because there are many historical places in Yangon, it is worth visiting the City a few days before traveling up country.
Brief Historical Note
Yangon was established by King Alaungphaya in 1755. Formerly known as Dagon, a small town at the end of Hlaing River (Yangon River), the town rapidly established itself into a booming port town under Burmese kings. Because of its strategic location, British forces invaded Myanmar (Kingdom of Ava) by amphibious assault through Rangoon, in both first and second Anglo-Burma Wars. After the second Anglo-Burma War, British took control of the lower Burma and established the capital in Rangoon. Since then, Rangoon become the most important City in Myanmar (Burma).
Shwedagon Pagoda – Most important place to Visit
Myanmar (Burmese) people believe Shwedagon to be the first pagoda to be built on earth, although many historians express doubt on the claim. (Archaeologists believe Shwedagon was built somewhere around 6 and 10 century AD by Mons). However, Shwedagon is undoubtedly the most famous pagoda on earth. Built on the highest hill in Yangon and around, the pagoda can be seen from up to 50 miles away. Indeed, it is the most prominent landmark in Yangon. Base of the pagoda is 1420 feet while the height is 326 feet from the base, and is plated with approximately 30 tonnes of gold. History claimed that a number of Burmese kings and queens donated gold equal to their body weight. The umbrella of the pagoda is ornamented with hundreds of jewels. Hundreds of smaller pagodas and stupas surround Shwedagon. There are a few things you should pay attention to, when you pay a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda. The most important thing is to pay proper attention to the dress you wear. You are not allowed to wear any shorts or skirts or any revealing dress. Pagoda for Myanmar (Burmese) people is a sacred place and every one pay proper attention to proper dress code. You should also avoid behavior considered rude by Myanmar people. Such behavior include, but not limited to, shouting, talking loudly, speaking rude words or swearing, holding or kissing between opposite sexes and pointing your feet towards the pagoda or Buddha image. You must also remove your shoes as well as socks. There is an entrance fees of US$ 5 per foreign visitor.
Just across the Shwedagon Pagoda is Maha Wizaya Stupa. This pagoda was built recently, and does not attract many devotees. However, there is one thing extraordinary about the architecture of this pagoda. There is a hole in the roof through which the sun will shine onto the Buddha images in the middle of the pagoda. This day is the Myanmar New Year Day.