There is no way to skip Yangon on your way to Bagan, Mandalay or magical Inle Lake. Flight schedules cleverly force visitors to spend at least one night. But you will be happy you stayed two days or more since there is so much to see and do. You could easily spend a day at sprawling Theingyi Zei Market. Gay life here is well hidden, but we will point you in the right direction.
Citizens of most countries are required to have a visa to visit Myanmar. Please ask for details.
Where We Shine:
Two days in Rangoon, the gateway to Burma
Myanmar's capital city until only recently, the fabled holiday destination known as Rangoon in its British colonial period, has retained much of its nostalgic charm. This garden city sports exquisite architectural monuments trimmed in vibrant color, a multi-ethnic population befitting a major merchant port and displaying cultural influences from India, Tibet, Persia, and hill tribes of the Himalayan foothills, sensational Buddhist monuments rising towards the heavens in gleaming golden spires tipped with precious gems, street markets heaped with goods to surprise the most jaded shopper, and a people whose warm ways and proud history are opening once again to the world. Indulge in the unspoiled ambiance of Classic Yangon.
Day One: A Busy Day in Enchanting Yangon
Our guide will meet you on arrival outside customs with a private car to transfer you to your hotel. After lunch, you will be escorted on an introductory tour of this colorful metropolis. Scenes from a bygone era mix with the modern tempo of a bustling capital punctuated by serene Buddhist temple compounds and landscaped parks and gardens. Along the way, drop by Botataung pagoda's circular treasure vault covered in a mosaic of mirrors, and the the enormous Chaukhtatgyi reclining Buddha in a quiet, open-air pavilion.
Next, our guide will take you to a rarely-touristed monastery hosting a spectacular 5-story-high seated Buddha garbed in angelic finery on a throne of masterfully carved teakwood. End the afternoon at the sacred Shwedagon pagoda, a complex of intricately detailed prayer halls, bejeweled golden zedis (stupas) housing holy relics, monumental cast bronze bells, and shrines to nat animist spirits. After touring the grounds, take some time to sit and watch the effects of the setting sun and ever-changing tapestry of worshippers, monks, nuns, families, school children, and tourists. Your evening is free.
Day Two: The Pulse of Life in Yangon
This morning you delve into the colorful mosaic of Yangon life. Visit the National Museum, with floor after floor of cultural exhibits: the regal Lion Throne of the last Burmese king in a recreated palace interior, the royal Mandalay Regalia, the gem-encrusted crown jewels of old Burma, a modern art gallery, wood and lacquer furnishings from everyday life, a fashion exhibit of ethnic costumes, and a scale model of the fantastical royal palace which was destroyed in WWII. For lunch, our guide will be happy to take you to a simple, local place serving yummy Myanmar specialties where you'll be the only foreigner (much to the delight of the curious staff and waiters).
After lunch, wander through the Bogyoke Market (Scott Market) and buy yourself a longyi (traditional sarong) which is worn by Myanmar men and women. This is a great place to find fabrics, jewelry, sculpture, artworks, and folk crafts (Bagan is the best place to shop for deals on famous Burmese lacquer ware). Locals buy their daily goods at Theingyi Zei, Yangon's largest market stretching four city blocks. Here you will find traditional herbal medicines and cosmetics including the golden face powder with which most Myanmar artistically embellish their faces. In fact, almost any sidewalk in the city functions as a street market for fresh produce, paperback books, and the odd and inexplicable which make your exploration a delight.
For guests with a special interest in the arts, we may also arrange exclusive permission to visit the School of Fine Arts, or the School of Drama and Performing Arts (please request this prior to your arrival in Yangon). Your evening is free.
Day Three: Onward to Bagan, Mandalay or Beyond
Prices and Hotels
Prices depend on your choice of hotel and when you want to travel.
We offer several different hotels in Yangon, ranging from three to five stars. If you have a specific hotel in mind, please let us know. All of the hotels we use are carefully chosen for location, amenities, quality of service, security and value. We only use hotels that are gay-owned, gay-managed or gay-friendly. We inspect most hotels at least once a year.
To see prices and compare hotels please click on the "$" button on the left. If you have questions or suggestions about the hotels we use, please email us.
Includes: private airport transportation, accommodation (with tax, service, and daily breakfast), sightseeing with private car, driver and guide, admission to National Museum, Shwedegon Pagodas and Batatung Pagodas. Not included: airfare, other local transportation, other admissions, beverages, other meals, gratuities, features not specifically mentioned in the itinerary, or items of a purely personal nature. Compulsory dinners at some hotels on December 24 and 31 are not included.