Depart your hotel at 08.00 with your Exotissimo guide for a morning tour of Yangon. Start with a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the country’s holiest sites. Instead of taking the lift, like most tourists, we’ll spend time exploring the eastern base of the temple first. Turn down a hidden laneway to discover a busy market tucked amid a labyrinth of small alleys. Fresh produce, rice, noodles and a variety of dry goods are on sale in this atmospheric little market. Then venture back through the ‘monks market’, a row of shops selling various religious items. Here you will find monks robes, alms bowls, offerings, incense and other unique Buddhist objects. As your browse the stalls your guide will explain the use and rituals of Myanmar’s Buddhist people.
In the morning hours the pagoda and its surroundings are busy with local pilgrims, monks and nuns coming to pay their respects to the Buddha and say their prayers. Make your way up the stairs to the gilded Shwedagon and spend time walking around the platform and learning about Burmese beliefs such as the astrological system and its role in the daily life of the locals. The faint tinkling of bells, sounds of chants and early morning light create a serene atmosphere.
Having worked up an appetite it’s time to head to a local tea shop, an open-air tea shop busy from morning till night with local office workers, businessmen and families who come to enjoy a meal and a chat with their friends. Sample a cup of sweet tea or local coffee along with some lunch. The famous mohinga noodles are one of the most popular dishes but more than a dozen other meals are available including mee shay noodles, nan gyi, chappati-style bread with dips, cakes and savory pastries.
This afternoon we’ll continue with a spiritual-focused walking tour. Although Myanmar is predominately Buddhist, there are several forms of religion practiced in the country most of which were introduced by immigrant populations. Exploring the diverse religions in downtown Yangon provides insight into the rich tapestry of cultures in Myanmar and unveils a side of the city rarely explored by tourists.
We start at Kheng Hock Keong Temple, Chinatown’s largest temple, and continue walking our way through western downtown. Along the way we will visit mosques, churches, Hindu temples and even a synagogue before finishing at Sule Paya. Your guide will explain the rich diversity of the religions in Yangon and teach you about offerings and blessings in each place of worship. Beyond the major regions, you’ll also discover local Burmese traditions such as ancestor worship, Nat worship, astrology and even the lottery!
While walking through this lively section of town we’ll also stumble upon local markets selling everything from fresh produce to temple offerings to traditional medicine.
Transfer back to your hotel in the late afternoon. Overnight in Yangon.