Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar and the capital of Yangon Region, is a charming city with old colonial buildings, tree-lined streets, bustling markets, restful parks and tranquil lakes.
The magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda – the spiritual heart of the nation –graces the top of Singuttara Hill and dominates the city skyline. Other attractions in Yangon include Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly known as Scott Market), which is busy with shops carrying an enormous variety of products, including outlets selling the rubies, sapphires and jade for which Myanmar is famous.
At night time, bustling Chinatown comes alive with stalls selling delicious street food and consumer products.
For those who seek refuge in the tranquility of Buddhism, Yangon has many retreats famous for teaching vipassana meditation. Glimpses into the country's rich history and culture are available at the many museums in the city.
Yangon has retained the charm and beauty of its colonial heritage as it continues to provide the infrastructure of an emerging international city.
Twante, a small town in the Ayeyarwady Delta famous for its ceramic ware, is an interesting day trip from Yangon. Twante can be reached by a delightful two-hour journey by ferry along the Yangon River and the Twante Canal or taking a ferry across the Yangon River and travelling to the town by public bus.
Trips to Twante offer an interesting contrast between the bustle of Yangon and soothing calm of the countryside.
Thanlyin, an important port and trading centre of Myanmar from the 14th to the 18th centuries, lies across the Bago River from Yangon. It was briefly controlled by a Portuguese adventurer, Filipe de Brito, at the beginning of the 17th century.
An interesting attraction on a hilltop in Thanlyn is the ruins of a Roman Catholic church built by an Italian missionary in the 18th century. The Kyeik-khauk Pagoda in Thanlyin and the Yele Pagoda (on a small island in the Bago) at Kyauktan are worth visiting. Thanlyin was connected to Yangon by road in 1993 when the Thanlyn Bridge was completed.
This ancient capital of the Mon people is about 80 kilometres north of Yangon and was known as Pegu by European traders in the 16th century. It is a two-hour drive from Yangon on a road offering views of paddy fields and farmers at work.
Bago is renowned for its 55-metre-long reclining Buddha image, the beautiful golden Shwemawdaw Pagoda, the old ordination hall built by king Dhammazedi, and an interesting market. Kanbawza Thadi, the famous palace of King Bayinnaung (1551-1581 CE) is being excavated and some buildings are being rebuilt.