Yangon International Airport initially served as an operating base for fighter aircraft during World War II before languishing into a rundown state of disrepair and decay. Only in 2003 did a modernisation project take place which resulted in a brand-new terminal in 2007 as well as a new extended runway to cater to the increasing number of airlines that transit at Yangon International Airport. Visitors and tourists can appreciate the country’s steady revival through the airport's architecture, variety of shops and dining places.
The best way of getting to the city centre is by flagging a taxi from the arrival hall of the airport. Taxis in Yangon do not use a meter, so make sure you have your bargaining skills ready before you board the taxi. The road taken may not be the most direct route the taxi driver could take, but keeping an open heart and taking in the sights may prove to be a better deal than worrying about it. Alternatively, daredevils may try to take a bus from the bus stop outside the airport but heavy luggage may be an obstacle, especially during the peak hours when buses are cramped and the roads jammed. Also, bus stops may not be well located so it might take a little more effort to figure out the routes.
What to do and see
Yangon is rich in history and contains a large number of colonial buildings. The buildings are unlikely to disappear in the near future as the city has imposed a 50-year moratorium on demolition of buildings older than 50 years. Enjoy the unfettered skyline of Yangon as the city is relatively free of skyscrapers!
Not seeing the various pagodas in Yangon would amount to not visiting the city at all. Shwedagon Pagoda is a short 26 minutes by car from Yangon International Airport. Take in the cool evening breeze and stroll along the surrounding paths while gazing at the Shwedagon Pagoda's golden stupa as it glistens in the setting sun.
Five minutes away from Shwedagon Pagoda is the 2,500-year-old Sule Pagoda. Renowned for housing a strand of Buddha’s hair, it was originally built in the South Indian architectural style but as the influence of Indian culture wore off in the country, the shape of the pagoda was modified according to Burmese influences.
Don’t miss visiting one of the most famous hotels in Yangon. The Strand, built in 1901, was only open to foreigners until 1945 when the first Burmese clients were hosted. Staying true to its original architectural character, The Strand refuses to build a swimming pool or tennis court to complement its grand interiors. It overlooks the Nanthida Harbour and Seikkantha Park. Water taxis are also available for hire at the harbour, allowing you to enjoy even more sights while in a sampan.
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