Downtown Yangon

Sule Pagoda
Sule Pagoda, in the middle of modern day Yangon.

The place to start any tour of Yangon is near the waterfront, at the Sule Pagoda. The temple had long been the heart of the city, so the British used it as the exact center when establishing the Victorian grid plan of streets in the mid-nineteenth century. The pagoda was probably built around 230 BC, but today sits in the middle of a traffic circle.

City Hall
The elegant Yangon City Hall, originally built by the British.

On one corner facing the Sule Pagoda is Yangon's City Hall. The building was built by the British, but has decidedly Burmese touches.

On the waterfront a short walk from the Sule Pagoda is the Strand Hotel. Built in 1901, the Strand was part of a string of hotels founded by the Sarkes brothers to serve the upper classes of the colonial powers. Their other properties include the Eastern and Oriental in Penang, Malaysia and Raffles in Singapore. The Strand was remodeled and updated a few years ago, and is now the most elegant place to stay in Yangon, as long as you don't expect all the facilities of a modern hotel, such as a pool.