Visiting The Shwedagon Pagoda
The Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most sacred Buddhist Pagodas in Myanmar and without a doubt, one of the most famous in the world. The Shwedagon is just as impressive up close as it is from a distance and is a must go for anyone visiting Yangon. It’s been said that the Shwedagon is over 2000 years old and people from all over Myanmar come to visit. Despite this, it still wasn’t busy and there were only a few tourists there including us, which made it even more special. The whole atmosphere there from the beautiful Pagodas and temples, the lovely people, the smell of the incense and the overall peacefulness made it one of the most amazing places to explore.
HOW TO GET THERE
Public transport is very cheap in Myanmar, so you if you want to save money, you can get the bus. Just be sure to ask where you are staying for details on the closest bus to catch. We decided to make things easy for ourselves and take advantage of the affordable prices and get a taxi there. We picked it up outside of our hotel and it dropped us right outside the Shwedagon Pagoda. There are taxis everywhere in Yangon so there is always the possibility of picking one up. Plus if there’s a few of you, it’s even better value for money.
WHAT TO WEAR
As you may have already heard, there is a dress code here, but it’s pretty simple. You just have to make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. Nathan was wearing shorts, so they provided him with a longyi at the ticket booth. If you spend any amount of time in Myanmar you will see how popular the longyi’s are for men and women. The only tricky thing is being able to tie them up. Men and women tie them up differently but there is definitely a knack to it, as Nathan soon found out when he was trying to juggle the camera and stop the longyi from falling around his ankles again. Luckily the people in Myanmar are really lovely and so friendly, so a few offered to help show him how to tie it back up.
SHOES FOR THE SHWEDAGON PAGODA
If you’re going to Myanmar, my first piece of advice is to get some shoes that you can easily take off and on throughout the day as you will be doing this a lot. But more specifically, for the Shwedagon Pagoda, I would advise you to take a bag with you to carry your shoes around. You see a lot of the locals doing this too and it’s a great tip as there are so many exits to the Pagoda, which means you can easily leave a different way to how you entered, as shoes have to be taken off before the main entrance of the Pagoda.
TOP TIP: Just to warn you, as you’re walking up towards the Pagoda there are lots of children giving out bags for you to put your shoes in. Just beware though as they tuck them into your pockets and get you to buy them once you have hold of them. This will probably only set you back under $1 but try and stay away from it because as long as they are selling plastic bags, it means the longer they will not be attending school.
WHEN TO VISIT
When it comes to the time of day to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda we probably made a mistake. We did not have much time in Yangon, which meant that we had to work everything around our schedule so that we could fit everything else in. Foolishly, this ended up with us visiting during midday and as you can imagine the weather was almost unbearable. Nevertheless, seeing the Shwedagon Pagoda gleaming in the sunshine is something I will remember forever, so without a doubt I can say anytime you go it will be enjoyable. However, if I had my time again I would probably go in the evening when the weather has cooled down. I have also seen some incredible photos of the Pagoda lit up in the dark from other travellers, so that is definitely something I would stick around for. Plus if that means you can fit in a sunset as well, then that is just a bonus!
WHAT’S NEAR THE SHWEDAGON PAGODA?
The Shwedagon Pagoda and the area around it is so full of different temples and pagodas to explore so chances are you’ll be there for a while, but if you have some extra time afterwards there are places around the Shwedagon you can check out before you leave.
As I mentioned before there are many different exits around the Shwedagon Pagoda, so as long as you have your shoes with you, you can exit through a different one. The streets leading to and from the Pagoda are definitely worth a look around too with shops full of hundreds of souvenirs just waiting to be haggled for!
If you leave out of the West Gate exit just across the road is Peoples Park which is definitely worth exploring! It was very quiet and peaceful with pockets of people taking shelter from the sun in the shade. We had a lovely stroll seeing all of the unique features this park had to offer.
We hope these tips will help you have the most enjoyable day possible at the Shwedagon Pagoda!
Take Care, Rebecca.
If you’ve got any questions, want to add anything, or just want to say hi, use the comment box below.
Want more? Check out our video we made at the Shwedagon Pagoda –
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