With its vibrant mix of colonial architecture, old-time cocktails and ancient customs, Yangon will whisk you back to yesteryear.
Tourist numbers are soaring and Burma’s largest city, Yangon (also known by its colonial name of Rangoon), is fast becoming South-east Asia’s latest boomtown.
Glass skyscrapers are rising up to take their place among the skyline’s glittering gold pagodas. Insider Sophie Garnier takes Citizen Femme through her top spots for your next Eastern fling in South-East Asia’s diamond in the rough.
About Sophie Garnier: Sophie moved to Yangon in 2015 and launched Kalinko in 2016 after spending a year living in there working for an investment and advisory firm who build sustainable businesses in Myanmar.
It was then that Sophie started to meet incredible the artisans that they now work with in her own sustainable business Kalinko. She lives there with her husband and have the privilege of watching such an exciting country develop before their eyes.
THE PACKING EDIT
Where To Stay
Unwind from a day exploring downtown at the gorgeous GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE, a 1920s colonial teak mansion off a quiet, leafy side street. In 1952, it became the official residence of the governor. In the ’90s, the building was converted into a luxury hotel, after which it joined the Belmond group in 2006.
Warning: poolside massages and five o’clock mango sorbets may cannibalise any sunset pagoda plans.
No.35 Taw Win Rd, ရန်ကုန်, Myanmar (Burma)
Double rooms start from $333.50, including breakfast
If your vibe is more Gatsby than Kipling, the brand-new YANGON EXCELSIOR is right in the heart of the action, a pomelo’s throw from Yangon’s bustling markets and galleries. Watch the boats on the river from the comfort of your giant double bath, before heading out to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
Double rooms from $137), including 15% tax
19, 43 Bo Soon Pat Street, ရန်ကုန် 11143, Myanmar (Burma)
Where To Eat
Burmese food is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Ease in to the flavours at the teeming RANGOON TEA HOUSE, a bit of Brixton in Burma, where classic local dishes are served with a side of hipster.
Just across the road in a beautiful restored colonial building is GEKKO, the go-to for sushi, soft-shell crab and the best atmosphere in town.
Or for something really special, watch the dragonflies on the lake from the garden of LE PLANTEUR over high tea, or a swanky candlelit dinner. Look out for the peacocks.
Where To Drink
Start your evening in style and channel your inner-Orwell with an Old Fashioned at SARKIES BAR in the Strand Hotel. The century-old Strand Hotel, overlooking the Yangon River has been a famous venue since 1901, and has played host to many a thirsty traveller, explorer and celebrity alike, and the names of Noël Coward, Rudyard Kipling and Orson Welles are worth a mention.
Or try a flight of craft beer at BURBRIT, Yangon’s first microbrewery.
What To Do
A DOWNTOWN WALKING TOUR is the best way to see the city. Make sure your phone is charged – you’ll take ten thousand photos of crumbly columns and shabby pastel shutters.
Rummaging for beautiful jugs and hurricane lamps in the piles of broken glass at the cyclone-battered NAGAR GLASS FACTORY makes for an eccentric afternoon.
Or take in a flow class at the YANGON YOGA HOUSE, and a post-shavasana smoothie at their vegan café.
What To See
You can’t miss the giant SHWEDAGON PAGODA, Burma’s gold-plated show-piece and the most sacred Buddhist site in the country (Buddha’s actual hair is buried inside it). Go at sunset or sunrise for maximum shininess.
The SECRETARIAT and its famous staircase is also a must. This was the seat of government and has one hell of a history. Then bring things into 2018 at MYANM/ART, where you’ll get an insight into the simmering Burmese Contemporary Art Scene.
Where To Shop
Go big and bring back a piece of history from the treasure-trove at AUGUSTINE’S ANTIQUES, or an immaculate bronze bowl from PARIBAWGA. For something smaller-scale pick up a ring from TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN’s jewellery workshop.
And for anything you can’t fit in your luggage head to KALINKO.COM, for stunning Burmese cushions, furniture and accessories which are stocked in the UK and will beat you home.
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