The Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the few temples I really wanted to see while I traveled through Southeast Asia. If I can only see one thing while I was in Yangon, Myanmar, it would be the Shwedagon Pagoda.
After arriving in Yangon, Myanmar, Karen and myself checked ourselves in the hostel we were staying at. We stayed at Agga Guest house which comes with free breakfast. I am not trying to blame the hostel but the dorm room and the bed kind of felt damp. It’s probably because Yangon is really humid despite our dorm room having aircon. The bed sheets definitely soaked in some of that humidity making our bed feel kind of damp.
Hanging out in the hostel
The very next morning, Karen and myself spoke with some American backpackers and Burmese people working in the hostel and asked them for advice on how to best see the Shwedagon Pagoda. We learned that taking the local buses would be the easiest way to do it. All we had to do is head over to the market area. From there, we can easily hop on one of the buses to take us to the Shwedagon Pagoda.
Karen and myself decided to join the Americans as they started heading towards the market.
Walking the streets and markets of Yangon with our American friends
Our American companions were rowdy and flamboyant. They were loud and amusing and I can tell the local Burmese people thought they were hilarious. Karen and myself were glad we started our trip with them because they got us to do things we probably wouldn’t have done on our own. They even convinced us to eat grasshoppers.
Taste like potato chips!
After exploring for a bit, we noticed our American friends were lingering a bit too long. They really love shopping for random trinkets and Karen and myself were getting antsy to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda.
We decided to split off from there and make our way to the Shwedagon Pagoda.
At first, we tried finding a bus to take us there but it was really confusing. People in Yangon can’t speak English making asking for directions very difficult. So, we decided to forget about the bus and just walk to the pagoda.
From the market, it probably took us 20 minutes of walking to reach our destination. When we finally got there, we were asked to take off our shoes and pay a donation to keep them stored at the entrance of the pagoda.
Shwedagon Pagoda entrance
As we made our way through the halls, we reached a security checkpoint.
After going through security, we reached the ticketing kiosk where we purchased our tickets into the actual Shwedagon Pagoda grounds.
Exploring the Shwedagon Pagoda was a surreal experience. The temple grounds was quiet and it had a sacred feel to it. Every once in awhile you will hear the sound of a religious gong being hit enhancing the temple experience. This place is definitely one of the most sacred grounds for the buddhist religion.
Golden Pagodas are all over the place. Even if you don’t believe in Buddhism, it is easy to appreciate the beauty of this holy place. I really felt like I was in a whole new world and definitely enjoyed my time exploring the Shwedagon Pagoda.
At some point while you are exploring the Shwedagon Pagoda, you will notice people are pouring water on buddhist statues. Do ask a monk or individuals working in the temple ground for help. They will point out which buddhist statue you should pour water on based on your birthday. Apparently, pouring water on the statues will give you good luck with love, family and finance.
Before entering the pagoda area, keep in mind that there is no washrooms inside the temple grounds. You must walk quite far barefooted outside the gardens to reach the washroom.
Visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda was definitely a memorable experience. Don’t miss it when you visit Yangon, Myanmar!
Important information to remember:
- Cost of shoe storage donation: 100 Kyats or $0.10
- Cost of ticket to Shwedagon Pagoda: 8000 Kyats or $8
- Taxi from airport to hotel area: 9000 Kyats or $9
- 2 gigs data plan and simcard: 7,500 Kyats or $7.50
- The internet in Myanmar is awful but their data plan is surprisingly fast. You can simply tether if you need to use your laptop. Make sure to buy more than 2 gigs of data, it will save your life.
- Cost of eating a grasshopper: 200 Kyats or $0.20
- Fee to use the washroom: 200 Kyats or $0.20
- Use google maps on your mobile phone to navigate around Yangon – That’s how I reached the Shwedagon Pagoda
- Myanmar is a pretty safe country – theft is uncommon