Golden pagodas, vibrant markets and
a multicultural mix of cuisines
You may already be familiar with the taste of betel nut that locals chew like gum and the proper way to knot a traditional longyi skirt. But gazing at the jewel-tipped Shwedagan Pagoda from the wooden bridge at Kandawgyi Nature Park or watching the sunset on Inya Lake with hushed crowds from the grassy shoreline, you’ll be struck anew.
Tea culture testifies to the city’s infinite variety. Fragrant steam drifts from lively salons where you can drink sweet, plain or bitter brews from leaves grown across the country, or eat them fermented in the classic tea-leaf salad, laphet thoke, one of many national dishes that Yangonites never tire of. Order the beloved catfish and noodle broth, mohinga, for breakfast or dinner at a specialist shop like Bogalay Daw Nyo, which has its own peppery recipe.
All the ethnic groups of Myanmar converge here, bringing tribal favourites like Shan-style grilled fish or Kachin-style chicken curry, while savoury snacks like barbecued okra are served with cold beer at buzzing food stalls along 19th Street. The city’s adjoining Chinese and Indian quarters offer yet more options for teas and curries, blurring neon signs and pastel-painted Marwari houses into Yangon’s swirl of architectural styles.
The city is changing before your eyes, adding trendy, modern bars and art galleries to the weathered colonial buildings on Pansodan Street. But it’s also the same place it ever was, and Bogyoke Market remains the centre of its universe. Time stands still while you browse the stalls for silks from Mandalay, lacquerware from Bagan, rubies and sapphires from Mogok.