Last Day in Yangon – Shwedagon Pagoda, Relaxing Day

We arrived in Yangon around 6.30 am and our driver hasn’t arrived yet by that time. So we went into JJ express office and waited on the bench. At 6,45am our driver came and drove us to our first destination, Lucky Seven Restaurant for breakfast. The restaurant was very crowded and there were plenty of tourists.

After fully recharged with energy, we went to Shwedagon temple, finally. Entrance was USD 8 for foreigners. It was a huge compound. Unfortunately, there was some restoration going on, therefore the big pagoda was covered with scaffolds, but the shape is still very visible. There was a smaller golden pagoda that was restricted to foreigner, and we felt very disappointed with this discrimination.

A monk praying under the sacred Bodhi Tree in Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
A monk praying under the sacred Bodhi Tree
Buddha's life events paintings in Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
Buddha’s life events
Shwedagon Pagoda under restoration
Shwedagon Pagoda under restoration, sigh!
Shwedagon Pagoda under restoration
Restoration
The huge compound of Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
The huge compound of Shwedagon
The huge compound of Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
The huge compound of Shwedagon
The huge compound of Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
The huge compound of Shwedagon

After spending over an hour in Shwedagon, we went to Sule pagoda. It was a small and old pagoda, and we spent less than 10 minutes inside. Afterwards, we went to our hotel to check in, take shower and rest, and followed by lunch at Urashi japanese restaurant nearby our hotel. Midway through our lunch, it rained. It was our first and only rain in Myanmar, lol.

Japanese food in Yangon, Myanmar
Our lunch at a Japanese restaurant near our hotel

Our driver drove us to river at Bota Taung area. We strolled along the not very beautiful river side and stumbled upon Vintage Luxury Yacht Hotel. It was a luxury hotel inside a yacht that is permanently anchored at the jetty. The best thing about it is the affordable price! Walk-in price is about USD 120, including one night stay in a nicely pirate-decorated room and breakfast for 2. How do we know it’s nicely decorated? Well we talked to the receptionist and request to view the room lol! It was luxurious for our standard and we felt that it had a good value for money. We would consider it if we ever visit Yangon again. Too bad I didn’t take any photos so I couldn’t post it here, but the photos can be easily found on the internet.

Bota Taung area at Yangon, Myanmar
Bota Taung area

Then we told the driver we wanted to do shopping and he drove us to Taw Win Centre, which is a shopping mall! We actually wanted a market where people sell souvenirs, but anyway, we found good snacks in the supermarket so we were glad. After shopping, we went back to hotel around 5pm to rest again. Driver has been working for 10 hours and he was rushing to go back.

At night, we met our travel agent who has been making all the necessary arrangement for our trip. We have had great time in Myanmar thanks to our travel agent. I recommend anyone requiring car rental and bus transport to check their website. We went for dinner at YKKO Myanmar. The minus point of the restaurant was the mosquitoes. But a simple mosquito repellent will solve the issue. The noodle that we ordered was indeed very good and worth a try if you stay nearby Chinatown. After dinner, we went back to hotel and had our final night rest in Myanmar.

We woke up the next morning and rushed to the airport. Bought some last minute souvenirs and had lunch at the airport before we bid farewell to the land of golden pagoda, Myanmar.

Date visited: 27-28 October 2014

Yangon Sightseeing

Relief was overflowing as we landed on this golden land. Perhaps it was the worry and stress that have built up during the planning stage. Or perhaps it’s the visa issue.

We spent few weeks going back and forth discussing whether we should take customised tour from travel agent, or to do DIY trip that involves heavy detailed planning of places to visit and how to navigate. The former would be expensive but convenient, while the latter is super cheap but extremely inconvenient. Eventually we settled on renting car & driver for sightseeing during the day, and overnight buses for travelling between cities. Thus the cost incurred and the convenience level is at medium range.

We thought that travel between ASEAN countries doesn’t require visa anymore. We didn’t worry about that until 5 days before our trip. We realised on Thursday night, and our flight would be on Tuesday. Thus we went down to Myanmar Embassy in Singapore, but they said that we have to make appointment online. And there was no more slots on that day. So we made appointment for Monday, luckily the visa can be granted on the same day! That’s a panic attack.

And there we were, safely landed at Yangon International Airport, on time, despite recent outrage about Jetstar’s delayed flight that affected thousands of passengers the week before. After immigration, we changed our money to kyats at the airport. The rate was very good, 1 SGD = 775 kyats. And then we met our guide for the day, Mr Zo.

Our first stop of the day was Reclining Buddha Temple (Chauk Htat Gyi), no admission fees required. It was a quiet temple with dim lighting and a grand statue of reclining buddha. There is even a corner in the temple with metal staircase for visitors to take photo from the angle that could capture the whole statue.

Reclining Buddha Temple

Next stop was lunch at Feel Restaurant. It was quite a chaotic restaurant because there are way too many guests, too many staffs, and SO many food. We chose about 7 dishes. The meal comes with a plate of vegetables with chili, soups. free flow rice and tea, and desserts. My favorite was fried pork with dry chili, yummy.. The total cost was about 16000 kyats in total (SGD 20).

Lunch at Feel Restaurant

After lunch, we went to Bogyoke Aung San Market. The majority items for sale are jade and longyi, which are not my favorite things in life. I felt bored with the market and didn’t spend a single cent, except for mineral water.

In front of Bogyoke Aung San Market
Paintings for sale at Bogyoke Aung San Market

Next stop was Sule Pagoda and Colonial buildings. We decided not to enter Sule Pagoda on that day and to return during our second last day in Yangon. So our guide brought us around the colonials area, including Independence Monument at Maha Bandula Park. Beware: massive attack of street photographs follows!

Sule Pagoda
People protesting about land rights
Yangon High Court
Sule Pagoda behind fountain
Yangon City Hall
Street views at colonial area
Street views at colonial area
Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation
Street views at colonial area
Street views at colonial area
Street views at colonial area
Street snacks that I didn’t try
Street views at colonial area
What a delicacy

Afterwards, we went to Schwedagon just to take the photos from outside, because we don’t have enough time to explore the pagoda but we wanted to see it with our eyes on the first day. After that, we went to the driver house to use their bathroom for shower because we were going to take overnight bus on that day and didn’t have any place to shower. From the driver house, he drove us to a restaurant on the way to bus station. We were in a rush so I didn’t notice the restaurant name, it was just a simple restaurant with cheap but not that nice fried rice lol.

Schwedagon Pagoda from far
Dinner before overnight bus journey

And eventually we arrived at bus station just in time to board our JJ express bus at 8pm to our next destination: Bagan. It was a first class bus with built-in monitor to listen to songs and to watch TV / movies. They provide coffee/tea and snacks for breakfast. In the middle of the bus journey, they had a few stops for supper and toilet break. It was a good bus.

First class JJ Express bus

Date visited: 21 October 2014