The City of Yangon



In 1755, King Alaungpaya (the founder of Kon-Baung Dynasty) accomplished his military campaign to reunite the whole of Myanmar, following his conquest of Dagon. At that time, Dagon was no more than a village or a small town. The king realized that the conquest of Dagon implied a total victory over Lower Myanmar because of its strategic location. Accordingly, he renamed the town Yangon which literally means end of strife. Afterwards, the town went by the name of Yangon for nearly a century. In 1851, however, the British annexation of Yangon resulted in getting the town refounded. And the name also was changed to Rangoon. Since then, the city has been designated as the capital of Myanmar and known to the world as Rangoon. The new city was modelled and constructed by Lieutenant Fraser, a British Officer of the Engineering Corps who, it was believed, also designed and constructed Singapore. The city was laid out on a chess-board pattern with wide roads running North to South and East to West.

The city lies where 16 19'N Latitude intersects 96 52'E Longitude. It now covers an area of about 500 square kilometers populated by nearly five million people.

A relatively simple city without skyscrapers, neon-lit clamor, crowded squalor and the pace of modern life, Yangon is attractive in its own special way. Towering over the city is the glittering world famous Shwedagon Pagoda with its spire rising to a height of 99.4 meter (326 ft.). It is the essence of Myanmar and a place that never fails to enchant. Other places worth visiting are the National Museum, the Natural History Museum, Marine Museum, Zoological Gardens, Kandawgyi (Royal Lake), Karaweik Hall and People's Square and People's Park.

Motor roads, rail roads, waterways and airways connect the city with the whole country. Yangon Port is the main gateway to the country for all imports and out of the country for all exports. It is handling 85% of the nation's overseas trade.


As Myanmar is situated in the tropical zone, Yangon has a very fertile alluvial soil. A year is divided into 3 distinct seasons in the region: namely, hot season, rainy season, and cool season. Temperatures often reach 33 degrees Centigrade in hot season. The city usually receives a high annual rainfall. In Yangon, the period from October to February is most enjoyable: the city blooms under the azure cloudless sky and the weather is pleasantly cool and dry with the fresh northerly winds.
 Population: Nearly 5 million Area: 223.217 sq.miles Township 31 townships Density: 13,880 per sq.mile (1991) 

Economy And Industry

Yangon is the centre of the country's administration and economy and the city is usually vibrant with various commercial activities emanating from the delta area which is the rice bowl of the country. With the new economic policy of opening up the country to the outside commercial world, Yangon has witnessed rapid growth and expansion of trade in the private sector within last few years. More than 3,000 commercial firms, all located in Yangon, have been established so far. New hotels, motels, inns and private lodging houses as well as other amenities such as golf courses are under construction on a large scale. The Y.C.D.C which is the Capital's metropolitan authority is now involved in the plans to establish factories in cooperation with foreign firms.

Administrative Organization

During the 1920s, the city administration was under the virtual control of the Governor himself. The Municipal Commissioner who had direct access to the Governor, enjoyed tremendous authority at that time. After the country regained her independence in 1948, the Central Government carried out the administration of the city. Today, the city committee comprises a minimum of seven members and a maximum of fifteen members in addition to the Chairman who is concurrently the Mayor of Yangon and the Joint Secretary who acts as the Head of Office.

Total Area Of Parks

Area of parks per citizen: 3.3 sq. feet(l992). This figure is only for urban parks excluding natural and wildlife parks.


There are many famous pagodas in Yangon. The greatest one is the Shwedagon Pagoda, Kaba Aye Pagoda, Sule Pagoda, and Botataung Pagoda also are a few of the others worth visiting. Other places of interest include National Museum, Zoological Garden, Wildlife Park in Hlawga and the Peoples' Park on Pyay Road.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Towering almost 100 metres above the green city-scape of Yangon, the Shwedagon Pagoda is the prominent landmark visible from miles around. One of the wonders of the world, the Shwedagon is believed to have been built approximately 2,500 years ago. It is the essence of Myanmar and a place that never fails to enchant. The great golden dome rises 98 metres (326 feet) above its base. The legend of the Shwedagon tells of two merchant brothers meeting the Buddha who gave them eight strands of His hair to be enshrined in Shwedagon. With the help of a number of celestial beings, the brothers and the king of this region (Myanmar) discovered the hill where the relics of the previous Buddhas had been enshrined.When the strands of the Buddha's hair were safely enshrined together with the relics of the preceeding Buddhas, a golden slab was laid on the relics chamber and a golden pagoda built on it. Over this a silver pagoda was built, then a tin pagoda~ a copper pagoda, a lead pagoda, a marble pagoda and finally an iron brick pagoda. Pagodas, indeed all Buddhist structures, should properly be walked around clockwise.

Sule Pagoda

Situated right in the centre of Yangon -- right beside the Myanmar Travel and Tours office -- the Sule Pagoda is an excellent landmark. It is said to be over 2,000 years old. The pagoda is said to enshrine a hair of the Buddha: its Mon name, Kyaik Athok translates as "the pagoda where a Sacred Hair Relic is enshrined". The golden pagoda is unusual in that its octagonal shape continues right up to the bell and inverted bowl. It stands 46 metres (152 feet) high and is surrounded by small shops and all the familiar non-religious services such as of astrologists, palmists, and so on.

Botahtaung Pagoda

Bo means "leader" and tahtaung means "a thousand" -- the Botataung Pagoda was named after the thousand military leaders who escorted relics of the Buddha brought from India over two thousand years ago. The Botataung is hollow inside and you can walk through it. It's a sort of mirrored maze inside the pagoda with glass show-cases containing many of the ancient relics and artifacts which were sealed inside the earlier pagoda. Above this interesting interior, the golden pagoda spire rises to 40 metres (132 feet).

Kaba Aye Pagoda

The name Kaba Aye in Myanmar means "world peace" to which this pagoda is dedicated. This pagoda was built in 1952 for the 1954-56 Sixth Buddhist Synod. The 34 metre (111 feet) high pagoda also measures 34 metres around its base. It stands about 11 km north of the city, a little beyond the Inya lake Hotel. The Buddhist Art Museum and Maha Pasana Cave are also located in the same compound.

Mahana Guha

The "great cave" is a totally artificial "cave" built close to the Kaba Aye Pagoda. It was here that the Sixth Buddhist Synod was held to coincide with the 2500th anniversary of the Buddha's enlightenment. The participants at the Synod recited, edited and approved the entire Buddhist scriptures known as the Tipitaka. The cavern measures 139 by 113 metres (455 by 370 feet).

Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda

The reclining Buddha image here is one of the largest images in Myanmar. The original image was built in 1907. But it has suffered damage due to climate over the years. In 1957 it was demolished and rebuilt to this structure in 1966. The pagoda is on Shwegondine Rd, only a short distance beyond the Shwedagon Pagoda. If you can't get to Bago to see the Shwethalyaung, then don't miss this colossal image.

Mai-Lamu Pagoda

A wonderland of spired pagodas and sculptured figures located in North Okkalapa, a satellite town about 20 minutes' drive from the city centre. Mai-Lamu Pagoda is famous for the giant images depicting Buddha's earlier lives.

Mahavijaya Pagoda

The symbolic memorial of the First Successful Congregation of the Sangha of All Orders held in 1980, this elegant Mahavijaya Pagoda is a unique blend of traditional patterns and the modern styles. The sanctuary contains the finely wrought Buddha image and the reliquary donated by the King and Queen of Nepal.

National Museum

Located at 26, Pansodan Street, the National Museum exhibits the Lion Throne of King Thibaw, the last Myanmar King, Royal Regalia of l9th century, artifacts of various ancient periods, musical instruments and paintings. It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 15:00 p.m. except Saturday and Sunday.
Entrance Fee: US $ 4

Zoological Garden

Located near Kandawgyi Hotel , the Zoo is noted for its collection of wild animals, flora and fauna which have been collected over the years since it was opened in 1906. On weekend and public holidays Snake Dance and Elephant Circus are performed for visitors.
 Open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entrance Fee: Kyat 4 

Myanma Agriculture Service Vegetables & Fruits Research & Development Centre

This garden offers plenty of fruits and vegetables of Myanmar agricultural sector which has a rich farmland and abundant fruit orchards. It is located on the Yangon-Mandalay Road. It takes a little more than an hour-drive before reaching Bago. The entrance fee is US $ 2. In the garden, visitors may experience a bullock ride.

Hlawga Wildlife Park

This Park is about 45 minutes drive from the city. The Park which covers 1, 650 acres of land and the Lake is home to over 70 kinds of herbivorous animals and 90 species of birds. Flocks of migratory birds frequently visit the park. It is an ideal place for picnickers, naturalists, botanists and bird-watchers. Visitors can also enjoy elephant rides, boating and fishing in the park.

People's Square and People's Park

This Park occupies over 130 acres of land between Shwedagon Pagoda and Pyithu Hluttaw (Parliament). There is a Museum housing life-size models of nationalities in their colourful dress and flora and fauna. The Restaurant serves Myanmar, Chinese and European Food.
 Open from 7a.m. to 7p.m. Entrance Fee US $ 3 Camera Fee US $ 3 Video Camera Fee US $ 6 

Bogyoke Aung San Park

A scenic park with a lovely view of Kandawgyi Lake is located on Natmauk Road. The Park is a popular recreation centre where city-dwellers relax and enjoy their leisure in peaceful tranquility. The playgrounds and picnic areas are favourite spots for children and teenagers.

Allied War Memorial Cemetery

Located at Htaukkyant, about 32 km from Yangon on the road to Bago. It is a memorial cemetery of Allied soldiers who died in the Myanmar Campaign during the Second World War. The cemetery's beautifully kept grounds has 27,000 stone-graves of Commonwealth and Allied soldiers.

Martyrs' Mausoleum

Close to the Shwedagon and on a hill offering a good view over the city stands this memorial to Bogyoke AungSan and his fellow cabinet members who were assassinated with him.

Thanlyin(Syriam) & Kyauktan

It is an interesting excursion across the river to Thanlyin and on to an interesting pagoda at Kyauktan. In Thanlyin a bus ride out of town will take you to the large, golden Kyaik-khauk Pagoda rising on a hillock to the right of the road. Just before this pagoda are the tombs of two famous Myanmar Poets Laureate -- Natshinaung and Padethayaza. There are many places of interest in Thanlyin worth visiting; the ruins of an old Portuguese Church built during 18th Century, the Sacred Heart Church built in 1870 by French Missionary.
There is Ye Le Paya which literally means "the pagoda at the centre of the river" at Kyauktan. It's appropriately named since the complex is perched on a tiny island in the middle of the river. In the temple there are pictures of other famous pagodas all over Myanmar and even further afield. The longest bridge in Myanmar lies between Yangon and Thanlyin. It takes only an hour-drive to reach Thanlyin.


A boat cruise to Twante (24 km from Yangon) along the Twante Canal takes about two hours. Twante is noted for its pottery and cotton-weaving industries and it also affords visitors an opportunity to see life along the canal.