Packed with pagodas and crammed with colonial relics, Yangon, also known as Rangoon, is one of the most enchanting cities in Asia.
Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over five million, continues to be the country's largest city and most important commercial centre. Downtown Yangon is known for its leafy avenues and fin-de-siècle architecture. The former British capital has the highest number of colonial period buildings in Southeast Asia. It is a multi-cultural city with Chinese, Indians, Malay and other nationalities.
The Shwedagon Pagoda, also known as the Golden Pagoda, is a 98-metre gilded stupa which lies to the west of Kandawgyi Lake, on Singuttara Hill, thus dominating the skyline of the city. It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese, with relics of the past four Buddhas enshrined within, most importantly, the eight hairs of the historical Buddha, the prince Siddhartha Gautama. According to legend, the Shwedagon Pagoda is 2,500 years old. Archaeologists believe the stupa was actually built sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries by the Mon, but this is a controversial issue because according to the records by Buddhist monks it was built before Lord Buddha died in 486 BC.
Originally built in 1907, the towering Chaukhtatkyi Reclining Buddha is 70 metres in length. Its beautiful glass eyes make it the most life-like buddha image in the country. Bogyoke Aung San Market (originally Scott Market) was built in 1926 by the British Municipal Commisioner Gavin Scott. It is a shopping paradise for foreigners and locals alike with a wide array of souvenirs and handicrafts including traditionally woven silk and cotton.