Visiting Shwedagon Pagoda
When you are travelling for an extended period of time it’s very common to become quite numb to Temples/Pagodas/Stupas. Throughout Asia no matter where you are there will be some form of temple tour on offer and I have found that I go to less and less as time goes on. However there are some exceptions. You’d be mad to go to Agra and not visit the Taj Mahal and I think the same can be said for visiting shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.
Getting to Shwedagon Pagoda from down town Yangon.
Shwedagon Pagoda is located about 4k to the north of Sule Pagoda in down town Yangon – where the cheaper guest houses are. You can get a taxi from there for about 1000 – 2000 Kyats but I’d suggest saving your money and just walking. If you’re staying in the down town area the roads are on a very easy to navigate grid system. All you need to do is head east until you reach Shwedagon Pagoda road and then follow that all the way north. This will take you to the south entrance. The North, East and South entrances all have lifts up to the Pagoda but I’d recommend walking as the entrance is pretty impressive.
Best time to visit Shwedagon Pagoda.
I’d personally recommend heading there a couple of hours before sun set. Have some time to just relax and enjoy the atmosphere. This will also allow you to avoid the midday Yangon heat. The pagoda is impressive during the day time but it’s a whole new kettle of fish once the sun goes down. Everything gets lit up and the contrast of the illuminated golden pagodas against the night sky is extremely impressive to witness.
How much does it cost?
The entrance fee is 8000 Kyats or $8 USD. This will get you a sticker that will allow you to come and go all day. Be sure not to lose it though as there are people walking around checking everyone has one.
What to wear.
Like most places of worship in Asia you’ll be expected to take off your shoes and socks before you enter. They expect you to have your knees and shoulders covered when you are walking around the Pagoda. They didn’t seem too strict about these rules and I did see a few tourists and locals with both knees and shoulders on display. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to abide by their requests.
The way they clean the floors is pretty funny. In total there are about 30 people with sticks who stand in long lines. They then place a long piece of cloth out in front of them and then one person acts like a coxswain and they all just push it around simultaneously
Few bits of advice when visiting Shwedagon Pagoda.
- Take a bottle of water with you. You will end up doing a lot of walking even if you do take a taxi there as its really pleasant to just wander around. There are also a few refill station located around the grounds that are safe to drink from.
- Take some food with you. There is very little on offer there to eat and what they have is a bit more expensive that you’d pay downtown.
- Try to cover up as much as you can. Not only because its respectful but you’ll also be in the sun for quite some time.
- Head there late afternoon to see it in both daylight and during the night.
- Try to remember some sort of landmark to identify which entrance you came in.
- For more information visit http://www.shwedagonpagoda.com/index.htm
These are the water dispensers that are safe for foreigners to use.
Just like the rest of Yangon ATMs are now everywhere including Pagodas!
Oh and they have free WiFi.