The Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar is one of those places that’s truly hard to comprehend until you experience it for yourself. Also known as the Golden Pagoda, the sacred site is hands down one of the best things to do in Yangon. In this post we’ll break down everything you need to know for your visit including some fun facts we picked up along the way!
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Our Visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda
After a full day of exploring the city we jumped in a grab taxi and made our way to the entrance of the famous Pagoda in Yangon. Once arriving we removed our shoes and made our way up what seemed like hundreds of steps to the top. When you walk through the doors there is honestly no words to prepare you for what you’re about to see!
The massive Golden Pagoda towers over you in all it’s glory, and is surrounded by countless temples and sculptures. We spent the next two hours wandering through the beautiful architecture and admiring every detail. As day turned to night the Shwedagon Pagoda lit up the dark sky and illuminated everything around us. What a special moment this was!
Quick Tips to Know Before You Go
North & South Gate: There are two gates to be picked up and dropped off whether you’re arriving to the Golden Pagoda by taxi or bus. We recommend going to the Eastern gate as it’s easier for cars to reach. If you are not able to walk the stairs there is also lifts or escalators at all four entrances.
Morning Vs. Night: In the morning the Pagoda in Yangon is more quiet with less people. However, at night is when most travelers come as it lights up after sunset. Unless the weather is mild we would try to avoid visiting in the middle of the day. Not only will the sun be blaring above you at this point, but the white stone marble can become very hot under your bare feet!
Dress Code: Women should have their shoulder and knees covered at all times. Pants should be worn loose as well, otherwise you will have to put a sarong on before entering. Men should wear pants and a shirt with sleeves. If you don’t have pants you can rent a sarong for a small fee at the entrance of the Pagoda.
Shoes: As we mentioned before you must remove your shoes and socks to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda. Bring a small bag or backpack for your shoes so you don’t need to find them after you’re done exploring. Wet wipes are also a good idea so you can clean your feet after leaving.
Foreigner Entry Fee: You’ll be happy to know one of the best things to do in Yangon only cost 10,000 MMK ($6.78 USD). Make sure to have cash and stop at the small foreigners stand to pay and collect your sticker at the top of the stairs.
5 Facts About the Shwedagon Pagoda
1. The Shwedagon Pagoda stands at a staggering 326 feet (99 meters) tall. The original structure was much smaller, but has been rising higher and higher over the last several hundred years.
2. Most historians agree that it was built sometime in the 6th Century BC around the time of Gautama Buddha. That makes it over 2,500 years old!
3. As you might’ve guessed the name Golden Pagoda isn’t just because of the color. In fact, the national symbol of Myanmar is covered with around 22,000 solid gold bars. The top the stupa also sparkles with over 7,000 diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, including a single 76 carat diamond.
4. Even with the stunning appearance of the outside, the real historic and religious treasures are held within. The inside of the Pagoda is said to hold a strand of Buddha’s hair along with other historical relics. This makes it one of the most important pilgrimages in the Buddhist world.
5. Each corner of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar is devoted to a day of the week. Here you’ll see many worshipers giving thanks to the sculpture dedicated to the day they were born on. Washing the Buddha is considered lucky and good for karma!
Exploring the Surrounding Temples and Sculptures
As you’re walking around the giant Shwedagon Pagoda you’ll also be amazed by the hundreds of sculptures and temples that surround it. The architecture tells the story of the 2,500 years that have passed since the Pagoda was first created.
Most of the temples are open so you can walk in each of them see the intricate patterns and designs. The monks are also very friendly so don’t hesitate to spark up a conversation with them if they motion for you to take a seat.
Cleaning of the Shwedagon Pagoda
Around the halfway point of our visit we started to see a large group of mostly women in white t-shirts gather together. Before we knew it they began forming lines and circling the Golden Pagoda with brooms. We watched in awe as they swept and cleaned the entire floor around the Pagoda.
We would later find out that these lines of men and women are all volunteers which made it even more impressive. There’s many things we expected to see on our visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar, but this definitely was not one of them!
Lighting of the Candles
Just before sunset what seemed like thousands of candles were set out on the short walls around the Shwedagon Pagoda. There was honestly so many we didn’t think it would be possible to light them all! Yet, about 20 minutes later the candles were set ablaze one by one.
This was mostly the responsibility of the locals, but we also saw a tour group getting the chance to do the honor. It was quite the sight to behold as the endless candles surrounded the Golden Pagoda, but this special scene was about to get much, much brighter!
The Golden Pagoda After Dark
Once the sun sets on the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is when the real fun starts. After dark the lights come on and you can really see the gold and diamonds sparkle.
Although this is one of the most popular things to do in Yangon at night, the amount of people there didn’t subtract from the beauty for us at all! Still, getting there before sunset is ideal so you can see the immaculate Pagoda during both day and night.
Have any questions on the Golden Pagoda, or want to recommend more awesome things to do in Yangon? Please comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where To Stay In Yangon Myanmar
Ultra Luxury – The Strand – This historic hotel set in the center of the city also doubles as a national landmark. The Strand is 5 Star hotel with all the amenities including a 24-hour butler service! You can expect large rooms, upscale dining, and a beautiful outdoor pool.
Fun Vacation – Hotel G Yangon – Hotel G Yangon has modern rooms that are perfect for any traveler. Check out the views from the sun terrace, hit the gym, or plan your day in the huge hotel lounge. It’s also walking distance to many of the main attractions.
Travel Couple – Backpacker Bed & Breakfast – This accommodation features budget friendly private rooms near the city center. The main draw is the massive rooftop lounge area with gorgeous views of the capital city of Myanmar. They can also arrange Yangon travel, tours, and transportation to the Pagoda in Yangon.
Hostel Life – HOOD Hostel – This modern hostel offers bunks and family rooms for larger groups. It has a 24 hour front desk as well as a shared kitchen. Hood Hostel is a great place to meet other travels and the ideal location for exploring.
For more places to stay in Yangon Myanmar you can explore the latest prices here!
Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner. That’s how we flew from Norway to Poland for under $20 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50!
Transportation: 12Go is what we use to book ferries, trains, buses, and transfers while traveling through South East Asia!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around the world. From food tours to skip the line entry passes!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
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