The once-capital of Myanmar, Yangon is a growing, bustling city on the cusp of bigger things to come.

After only a day or so of walking around the city and speaking to the locals, you get the feeling that this is very much a city in transition.

Yangon, Myanmar

It’s a place with big plans for the future, aspirations to mix it with the Bangkok’s and Singapore’s of the world, but an obvious lack of experienced leadership to get it there.

As you walk the streets, the abject poverty hits you nearly as hard as the equatorial heat.

Like Nairobi in recent years, Yangon seems a city still grappling with it’s identity post-British rule.

On one street corner you can marvel at the immense beauty of what should be regarded as one of the world’s modern wonders, the Shwedagon Pagoda, and on the other you will despair at the abandoned and fenced off 10 hectare colonial warehouse or hotel.

The streets are characteristically wide as post-colonial cities come, but the traffic is as characteristically jam-packed.

The Yangon river runs freely and is a major thoroughfare for cargo ships and fishing trawlers alike, but Malaria is still present.

But amongst all of the run-down colonial infrastructure is a real beauty that cannot be underestimated.

And it is this beauty, once the city knows how to advertise and preserve it, that will attract tourist and praise from afar.

The Shwedagon Pagoda is a structure not many foreigners would have heard about, but one just as impressive and unifying to its people as the statue of liberty, Eiffel Tower, or Taj Mahal.

Karaweik lake sits peacefully in the middle of town, and is host to beautiful architecture and hundreds of locals who visit daily to rest away from the chaos of the streets.

Bogokye Markets is an enormous and packed marketplace offering everything from fabrics to food, laquerware to electronics, and jewels to paintings.

It’s that packed that this self-proclaimed human-GPS got lost trying to get out.

Like many capital cities, the real beauty of a country lies in the regional parts of Myanmar.

But underestimate Yangon at your peril, for it will certainly rival it’s neighbouring major cities in years to come.

In a country where a local phone call still costs a few dollars, ATMs were only just introduced, and the currency max’s out at the equivalent of $10 bills, it’s baby steps for this city.

If you’re thinking of visiting this interesting and booming city, feel free to check out my posts on the best things to do in Yangon and the best places to stay in Yangon.

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  • Have you been to Yangon before?
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