It’s more than 100 years since Kipling sailed up the Rangoon River to the Burmese capital, but the glistening golden stupa of the Shwedagon continues to dominate the city’s skyline. The massive pagoda, said to be around 2,500 years old, is not only a remarkable architectural achievement; it is also the perfect symbol of a country in which Buddhism pervades every aspect of life.
The Shwedagon may be the undisputed show stealer, but this city holds plenty of less celebrated attractions. Spend a couple of days here and you’ll have time to wander the tree-lined avenues and narrow backstreets of the colonial district downtown, with its court house, city hall and famous Strand Hotel, and to take in a few more pagodas, including the majestic Botataung Paya near the riverside. Re-fuel in a traditional Burmese teahouse before sampling the priceless treasures on show at the National Museum, or mingle with the crowds milling around Bogyoke Aung San market.