Myanmar (former Burma)
Glorious temples, monuments and pagodas glint in the sunshine of Yangon, rising from a sea of lush greenery. Although it’s no longer Myanmar’s capital - since 2006 - the city remains the country’s largest and most culturally alluring. Having fallen under British control, it is littered with colonial architecture, in amongst the chaotic and colour-stacked streets. The day starts early here - with tea in one of the many inviting tea shops, fit in like a local by sipping a laphet yay – Burmese tea of black tea, and condensed milk.
Explore the bustling streets, which are alive with energy, before heading to Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon’s best-known sight, and a glorious golden wonder arising from a sea of palm trees. The Buddhist pagoda is almost 100 metres tall and its glinting dome is crusted with a dazzling display of 5,000 diamonds and 2,000 rubies. Locals claim it was built 2,600 years ago – which would make it the oldest pagoda in the world, but scientists date it to the 6th century. Regardless of the true age, it’s an unforgettable sight, and an astonishing golden vision.
One way to throw yourself into the deep end of authentic Yangon life is by jumping aboard the Yangon Circular train – which was built by the British in 1954. The rickety train takes you on a three-hour round tour of the city, offering a real insight into local life, as you travel amongst kind-hearted locals. See merchants coming aboard to sell vegetable, eggs and jewellery, as the city rolls past the windows. Escape the bustle at Inya Lake, which offers a little tranquillity, with paths for strolling amid the palm trees, floral displays and ferris wheel.