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YANGON

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Yangon

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Yangon

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Yangon

Myanmar’s commercial & international gateway with about five millions inhabitants, formerly named Rangoon in the British time, is a modern city of gardens and tropical lakes, with picturesque old brick-buildings in the center, dynamic and colorful local markets, and integrated life of ancient traditions and spiritual heritage.

Early history of Yangon was vague until King Alaungphaya’s foundation in the alluvial delta of Ayeyarwady River when he conquered lower Myanmar in 1755. Yangon, which means, End of Strife, chosen by King, as capital, became British colonial town for many years until 1948 when nation’s independence has been gained.

Yangon has green and lush atmosphere in everywhere due to its wide and open spaces shadowed by trees and less high buildings, and an impression of tranquil life which is highly affected by nation’s most dominant Buddhist customs.

 

Major Attractions

 

Shwedagon Pagoda

The most impressive sight is the golden dome of Shwedagon pagoda, believed that it had been originally built around 2,500 years ago, on the top of small hill, covered with about 60 tons of pure gold, the top of stupa is encrusted with thousands of diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, and nearly 100 meter of height, eight sacred hairs of the Buddha were enshrined, surrounded by hundreds of Buddhist temples, sacred stupas, and Buddhist faith-related sanctuaries, within the precinct, where Buddhists pay their respects by offerings flowers, pouring water over the different Buddha statues. Shwedagon pagoda was successively restored many times in the reigns of royal Myanmar kingdoms. The best time to visit Shwedagon pagoda is at sunset when the gilded stupa reflects fascinating luminosity in the fading rays of sun.

The perimeter of the base of the Pagoda is 1,420 fee and its height 326 feet above the platform. The base is surrounded by 64 small pagodas with four larger, one in the center of each side. There also are 4 sphinxes, one at each corner with 6 leogryphs, 3 on each side of them. Projecting beyond the base of the Pagoda, one on the center of each side are Tazaungs in which are images of the Buddha and where offerings are made.

There are also figures of elephants crouching and men kneeling, and pedestals for offerings all around the base. In front of the 72 shrines surrounding the base of the Pagoda, you will find in several places images of lions, serpents, ogres, yogis, spirits, or Wathundari. On the wall below the first terrace of the Pagoda at the West-Southern Ward and West-Northern Ward corners, you will see embossed figures. The former represents King Okkalapa who first built the Pagoda. The latter is a pair of figures; the one above represents Sakka who assisted in foundation of the Pagoda, and the one below, Me Lamu, consort of Sakka and mother of Okkalapa.

 

Sule Pagoda

Sule Pagoda is located in the center of Yangon, at the junction of Sule Pagoda Road and Mahabandoola Road, Kyauktada Township, Yangon, Myanmar.

This 48 meter (152 feet) high golden dome was used by the British as the nucleus of their grid pattern for the city when it was rebuilt in the 1880s.

The pagoda’s peculiarity is its octagonal- shaped pagoda, which retains its shape as it tapers to the spire.

The Sule Pagoda is an excellent landmark. It is said to be over 2,000 years old. The pagoda is said to enshrine a hair of the Buddha: its Mon name, Kyaik Athok translates as “the pagoda where a Sacred Hair Relic is enshrined”. The golden pagoda is unusual in that its octagonal shape continues right up to the bell and inverted bowl. It is surrounded by small shops and all the familiar non-religious services such as of astrologists, palmists, and so on.

In the downtown area Sule Pagoda is a monument which most foreign visitors pass by unnoticed. But it is the only central piece of the capital, like the Arc de Triumph in Paris

It is the Sule Pagoda. Legend says it that Sule Pagoda marks the site where King Ukkalapa held meetings to build Shwedagon. “Su-Wei” is a Myanmar word meaning “meeting”. In course of time ‘Su-Wei’ corrupted to ‘Su-Le’ Successive town planners, King Thayawaddy, Montgomery, Fraser and others, all decided to keep Sule Pagoda as the centre piece of Yangon because of its strategic location, religious significance and artistic beauty. It can be reached through four entrances of the four stairways facing four cardinal directions or by two overhead bridges.

 

Botahtaung Pagoda

The Botahtaung Pagoda is located on the Botahtaung Paya Road, which was named after the Pagoda. It is situated way downtown beside the Yangon River. The Pagoda overlooked the pleasant water front of the river.

The Botataung Pagoda was named after the thousand military leaders who escorted relics of the Buddha brought from India over two thousand years ago. The meaning of Bo is “leader” and tahtaung is “a thousand” . It was built almost in the same time as Sule Pagoda and Shwedagon Pagoda over, 2500 years ago. The name of the pagoda was originally Kyaik-de-att, which was a Mon name, or Sandaw Shin as it is enshrined with the sacred hair of the Lord Buddha.

The Botataung Pagoda is hollow inside and you can walk through it. It’s a sort of mirrored maze inside the pagoda with glass show-cases containing many of the ancient relics and artifacts which were sealed inside the earlier pagoda. Above this interesting interior, the golden pagoda spire rises to 40 metres (132 feet).

It rises on the circular base and especially its umbrella or country at the top of the spire in quite different from the conventional design.

 

Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda

Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda is located on Shwe Gon Taing Road, Tamwe Township, Yangon. Similar ones are Ngar Htat Gyi Buddha (5-Storey-High Buddha) and Koe Htat Gyi Buddha (9-Storey-High Buddha). Chauk Htat Gyi is the 6-Storey-High Buddha Image.

The Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda is famous for its huge image of Reclining Buddha, built in 1966 replacing the old image built in 1907 by Sir Hpo Thar. But it was suffered damage due to climate over the years. In 1957 it was demolished and rebuilt to this structure in 1966. It measures 65 meters and is housed in an iron structure with corrugated iron sheets roof of six layers.

Hence it is generally referred to as the six-tiered pagodas. The heavy cost of this construction was entirely donated by the people. The image is larger than the image of the Reclining Buddha at Shwe Thar Hlyaung Pagoda in Bago.

The monasteries in the vicinity of this pagoda accommodate over six hundred monks who study Buddhist Scriptures from the senior and qualified monks. The entire cost of maintenance is met from the people’s donations.

 

Kabar Aye Pagoda

Kabar Aye Pagoda is located on Kabar Aye Road, Mayangone Township, Yangon, Myanmar. The name “Kaba Aye” in Myanmar means “World Peace” to which this pagoda is dedicated.

Different from the other pagodas, Kabar Aye Pagoda was only built during 1952. This pagoda is significant for the Sixth World Buddhist Synod which was held in its large precinct in 1954. Myanmar people are Theravada Buddhist and are very deeply devoted to the religion. For the Sixth Buddhist Council, which was held during 1954-56, the Kabar Aye Pagoda was built in dedication to the council. The pagoda was built in 1954. The Kabar Aye Pagoda compound is a large one intended to have peace and quiet environment for the monks (Sangas) and the devotees.

 

Koe Htat Gyi Pagoda

Koe Htat Gyi is located on Bargayar Road, Sanchaung Township, Yangon. The Koe Htat Kyi (or) the nine storey pagoda is another enormous Buddha Image in Yangon. It is a sitting Buddha Image. Koe Htat Kyi is also known as Atula Dipatti Maha Muni Thetkya Image. The image was built in August, 1905. It was built in the 14 acres compound of the Bargayar monastery. The image is a 72 feet sitting image. At the entrance of the hallway, there is a statue of a frog and a snake. A legend says that the frog ate the snake meaning victory and the image was built on this land.

The Koe-Htat-Kyi (or) the nine storey pagoda, is situated on the Bargayar Road, Sanchaung Township. The pagoda houses a 20-meter-high image of a seated Buddha. The iron structure with CGI sheet roof was built in 1905. The pavilion has a nine-tiered roof and hence it is generally referred to as the nine-tiered pagoda. In the past it was a wooded recluse for monks, quiet and peaceful. There are many monasteries, devotional halls and an ordination hall in the compound. You can walk around the image, and will see Buddha images at each corner. At the other side of the image, there a status describing the lives of Buddha.

Around the pagoda are many monasteries. There are also small shops selling beads, books, flowers, candles and other offertories.

 

Kyaikkalo and Kyaikkalei Pagodas

The Kyaikkalo and the Kyaikkalei are the two ancient Pagodas standing on the left side of the highway running from Yangon to Bago,. The pagodas are located in Mingaladon township, Yangon. Their names are with the Mon accent, where Kyaik means pagoda. The pagodas are only a short distance away from the highway and can be seen quite clearly. Among the two pagodas, Kyaikkalo is a much larger and more prominent pagoda, which overlooks the surrounding terrain. The two pagodas are landmarks to travelers going out and coming into Yangon.

The Kyaikkalo and the Kyaikkalei are both associated in legend. During the lifetime of Kakusandha, the first of the five Buddhas of the present age (Baddha Kaba) a certain yakkha (ogre) offered a challenge to Kakusandha Buddha. The latter wishing to subdue the arrogant yakkha, accepted the terms of the wager, which were that the two would play a game of hide and seek, with the loser submitting to the winner. The yakkha, using his supernatural powers, reduced himself to the size of an atom and hid himself in the deepest bowels of the Earth. But Kakusandha Buddha took him out from his place of hiding and placed him on his palm. Now it was the turn of Kakusandha Buddha. He made himself the size of a particle of an atom and walked along the space between the eyebrows of the yakkha, calling out to the yakkha to try and find him. The yakkha only heard the Buddha’s voice but could not find him. At last he gave up and submitted to the Buddha who preached the Dhamma for the yakkha to observe. The hillock on which the Buddha hid himself and disappeared from the yakkha came to be called in old Mon “Kyaik-day-kaler”, “the Hillock of the Buddha’s Disappearance”. The hillock on which the yakkha surrendered and submitted to the Buddha came to be known as “Kyaik-day-kalo” meaning the Hillock of submission to the Buddha.”

The Kyaikkalo Pagoda has been an object of veneration throughout Myanmar history. Successive Mon and Bamar kings repaired and renovated it. In the year 747 of the Myanmar Era (A.D. 1385) the Mon king Banyanwe (A.D. 1385 – 1423) better known as Yazadarit (Rajadhiraja) restored and embellished it.

The octagonal shape of the plinth indicates that the pagoda has the Mon architectural design and was originally built entirely of massive blocks of laterite stone. It is a pagoda with a solid stupa. Each side of the octagonal plinth measures 35 cubits in length and 5 cubits in height. The main pagoda stands on the uppermost terrace and it is surrounded by 25 minor stupas. The northern, western and southern sides have stairs leading up to the uppermost terrace. As there are deep precipices on the western and nothern sides, massive retaining walls fortify the precinct.

The pagodas’ festival is held for three days annually, during Tabodwe (January/February). Not only the town folk people, but also people from Yangon and Bago come to worship the pagodas and enjoy the festival. People around come to pay their homage and offer flower, food and fruit.

 

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda is located at the corner of Pyay Road and Mindhama Road and on Mindhama Hill, Mingalardon Township, Yangon.

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda or also known as Lawka Chanthar Arbayar Laba Muni Buddha Image. The Lawka Chanthar Arbayar Laba Muni Buddha Image craved from the one piece of white is marble rock was done in year 2000 CE, which is flawless and of hight quality measuring 37 feet long, 24 feet wide and 11 feet thick was found at Sakyin Hill, Madaya Township, Mandalay Division. This huge Image is now at Mindhamma Hill, Insein Township, Yangon Division.

In 2003, the huge marble alms bowl was carved out of a monolithic sagyin marble and brought to Yangon and placed on Minn Dhamma Hill.

Within the walking distance from Minn Dhamma Hill, there is an Elephant house where the three white elephants is kept. In many asian countries including Myanmar, white elephant is regarded as a supreme royal ornament.

 

Maelamu Pagoda

A wonder land of spire pagodas and sculptured figured located in North Okkalapa, a satellite town about 20 minutes drive from the city centre. Maelamu Pagoda is famous for the giant images depicting Buddha’s earlier lives. Maelamu Pagoda is located in suburban town, North Okkalapa, Yangon.It has a spacious ground where visitors love to stroll around. Known for it’s wonderland of spired pagodas and sculptured figures located in a sub-urban town, North Okkalapa. It is famous for the giant images depicting Buddha’s earlier lives.

Maelamu meaning the Maid of the Mangrove descended from a legend. A long time ago, a hermit came upon a mangrove tree bearing an abnormally large bud. He took the bud and later the bud produced a little girl. The child was brought up by the hermit who named her Maelamu after the Mangrove tree. She grew up into a beautiful girl and Sakkra or Indra who monarch the celestial divinities, fell in love with her. He asked the permission of the hermit to marry his daughter. The hermit agreed for their nuptial. Afterwards a child was produced who became the King of Okkalapa. He was the person who had enshrined Buddha’s hair relics and built the Shwedagon Pagoda. A pagoda was also built and was named as Maelamu Pagoda in South Okkalapa. The site near the creek of Nga Moe Yeik, was found in the 1950’s and the Pagoda was built. Near the entrance the figure of Mai Lamu can be seen. There is a huge figure of reptile into whose belly you can walk in. There is also a figure of crocodile with wide-open jaws. The Maelamu Pagoda had a legendary association with another tragic story. The legendary crocodile played an important role in a tragic romance between a prince of Yangon and a princess of Dalla, on the other side of the Yangon river. In the legend, the crocodile carried the prince in his jaws and swam across the Yangon river to meet the princess of Dalla. Therefore, the figure of the crocodile shows an important image for this pagoda.

 

Maha Wizaya Pagoda

The Maha Wizaya Pagoda was built on the Dhammarakkhita (Guardian of the Law) Hill which faces the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, in 1980 to commemorate the first successful convening of all sects of the Buddhist monastic order, under one supervisory body. It was built from funds donated by the people across the whole country. An image of the Buddha which was a royal gift from the King and Queen of Nepal is enshrined within the pagoda.

All manner of traditional decorative art executed by modern artists and artisans grace this shrine and testify to the preservation of a national culture developed through the ages.

The Maha Wizaya Pagoda is always crowded with local worshippers on the Myanmar New Year day.

 

Ngar Htat Gyi Pagoda

Ngar Htat Gyi Pagoda is located on Shwe Gon Taing Road, Tamwe Township, just across the Chauk Htat Kyi Pagoda. Ngar Htat Kyi (or) the five tiered Buddha Image, is a sitting Buddha image, located across the Chauk Hta Kyi Buddha Image.

A huge image of seated Buddha is housed in a pavilion of iron structure with a five-tiered CGI roof. Hence Ngar-Htat-Kyi Pagoda means the pagoda with five-layered roof. The abbot’s monastery in close proximity of the pagoda is of fine Chinese design.

This Buddha image is different from other images in the style of using Magite (armours) around the image.

 

National Museum

The National Museum of Myanmar is located at No. 66/74, Pyay Road, Dagon Township, Yangon, Myanmar. The National Museum of Myanmar was founded in 1952 with its premises at what was once the Jubilee Hall. In 1970 the museum was moved to a more spacious building on Pansodan Street. But these premises were not originally constructed to house a museum. The present National Museum is located on Pyay Road in a splendid five-storey building constructed for the purpose in spacious and specially landscaped grounds. Priceless ancient artifacts, works of art and historic memorabilia are on display in 14 halls on four storeys. Three halls on the ground floor hold exhibits on the evolution the Myanmar script and alphabet, the Lion Throne Room and Yatanabon Period pieces.

Ground Floor One can study the origins of the Myanmar alphabet, Myanmar script and literature as well as those of the other national races of Myanmar. There is also an interesting stone funerary urn of the period AD1 – AD 9 with Pyu writings on it in this hall.

In the throne room you will see miniature models of the eight kinds of thrones of ancient Myanmar kings and the magnificent Royal Lion Throne of our last monarch King Thibaw in all its original majesty. This great throne is made of smooth-grained “Yamanay” timber adorned with lions at its base. The whole throne is heavily gilded. This throne is always placed in the “Hluttaw” Hall, (the Hall of the Council of Ministers). The king uses this throne when deliberating with his ministers on state affairs or delivering judgments on important issues.

In the 19th century Yadanabon Period Exhibit hall one can see clothing fashions, furniture and other household articles of the time. There is also a palanquin used by king Thibaw’s Chief monk. It has a gilded roof with three spires.

 

Bogyoke Aung San Market

Bogyoke Aung San Market is situated in the heart of Yangon, on Bogyoke Aung San Road. The name of this road was also named after the market. The Bogyoke Aung San Market is the most popular market and a great tourist destination in Yangon. It is one of the precious colonial buildings you can find in Yangon.

The market was first built and inaugurated on the present premises in 1926. It was named Scott Market after Mr. C. Scott, the then Municipal Commissioner. Nowadays, it is called Bogyoke Aung San Market in honour of our national leader General Aung San who was assassinated in 1947.

There are 1,641 shops selling luxury items, handicrafts, foodstuffs, clothing, jewelry, fashion and consumer goods. The market is a square type based and therefore divided into the East wing, West wing, North wing and South wing. The shopping items are not categorized in the respective wings. Looking around and finding the most suitable item would be fun. There are also traditional, Myanmar and Chinese food stalls in the market.

Event Bogyoke Aung San Market is also well-known for the pre-Thingyan festival also called the Zay Thingyan meaning the Market’s water festival. It is usually held on the 11th or 12th of April. Youngsters from all over the city come to the market dressed for the festival. The shops donates traditional food such as Monte Lone Yay Paw, Thargu, and Shwe Yin Aye.

 

Bogyoke Aung San Museum

Bogyoke Aung San Museum is located on No 15, Bogyoke Museum Lane, Bahan Township, Yangon. The Bogyoke Aung San Museum was established in 1962, 15 years after the assassination of Bogyoke. Bogyoke in Myanmar is a term used for General. The museum was the home of the General before he was assassinated.

Bogyoke Aung San lived in peace and harmony with his family. His wife was Daw Khin Kyi and he had three children.

The building is a 2 storey-building where Bogyoke Aung San stayed until he was assassinated, displayed as he was alive for memorial, furniture, dresses, books, the car used by Bogyoke Aung San, and his family photos.

 

Gems Museum

Images of sandstone and cast bronze, original clay votive tablets and many evidence of Bagan Period culture, and also the items of Pinya, Innwa, Taungoo and Nyaung Yan Period can be viewed in the Myanmar Historic Period Showroom.

The visitors can study the articles such as made of pure solid gold and decorated with gems which were displayed in front of the throne to the left and right in customary order when the Kings of Myanmar gave audience to receive homage, in the Royal Regalia Showroom.

Myanmar Traditional Folk Art Showroom and Myanmar Performing Arts Showroom were in the second floor. Myanmar Art Gallery No.1 and No.2 were on the third floor where the copies of the drawings upon the walls of the 11,000-year-old Pyadalin cave, copies of the wall paintings from the thousand- year-old vault-based temples and stupas of the Bagan Period, reproductions of paintings of successive periods are exhibited.

Original works in oil and water colour of Myanmar great Artists can be viewed also. Buddha Images Showroom and Culture of National Races Showroom were on the 4th floor— 176 ancient Buddha Images of Pyu, Pinya, Innwa, Toungoo, Nyaung Yang and Konbaung in Hall ‘A’, and Totem emblems and symbols of the clan-or lineage of the national races who live in cordial unity in the Union of Myanmar, musical instruments, art and craft articles, and weaponry are displayed.

 

Kandawgyi Garden or Kandawgyi Nature Park

Kandawgyi Garden or Kandawgyi Nature Park is located on Natmauk Road and Kandawgyi Kanpat Road.

The Kandawgyi lake placidly reflect the sky changing colour with the time of the day, and the golden spire the Shwe Dagon Pagoda over the tops of the green woods lining its banks. At dawn, the lake is silver, shrouded in pearly grey mists tinged with the pink of the first sunbeams. At sunset, the water looks like liquid-gold, with depths of red fire. To combine the natural beauty of the lake and the sublime beauty of Myanmar traditional architecture, the Government of the Union of Myanmar built a royal barge in the form of Karaweik (mythical bird) in 1972. In ancient times, the barges were used in royal parades, to transport Buddhist Scriptures or covey some regal missive to a distant outpost.

The importance of waterways is something the Myanmar has understood for 1,000 years or more, and, today, convenience is turned into culture during the annual procession of the royal barges (first stage during the time of the Myanmar kings) and the boat races among the teams from the river towns. The pomp and ceremony of the royal barge procession and the rowdy excitement of the village boat races are now merged in the annual regatta held in November on the wide expanse of the Royal Lake of Yangon. Each team has been training for days, eyeing other teams critically but looking in awe at the famed leg rowers of the Inle Lake, whose skill and strength few would dare to underestimate. They row standing up with one leg around a single oar. On the day of the races, the lake is heavily crowded and ethnic minorities in colorful costumes are there to root for their favorite team after performing folk dances. The races are on, and the sky rings with excited voices, as the red and gold flash brilliant in the clear sunlight.

 

Karaweik Hall

Karaweik Hall is located in the Kandawgyi Royal Lake, on the Kandawgyi Kan Pat Road. It is situated in the Kandawgyi Nature Park.

Karaweik Hall is a landmark of Yangon, locating in Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake. This modern architecture of a mythical creature Karaweik, has 3 floors and ceremonies are held in it. This whole building was gilded with gold about 20 years ago.

The Karaweik Hall, including the ancient traditional Karaweik renovated in tasteful style, its beauty enhanced by the Kandawgyi which adds grandeur of Yangon, the Garden City, with added attractions such as showrooms of ten traditional arts, shops, amusement section for children and ample parking space.

On the Kandawgyi Beltway, it is conveniently located for diplomatic functions and business meets. The cozy Lawkanat and Shwewa Rooms will serve private and limated groups while the large Ottara and Dekhina Halls are designed for gala occasions. Karaweik Palace will cater for weddings and other receptions, social and business events for all occasions guaranteeing efficiency and satisfaction.

 

National Races Village

National Races Village is located near Thanlyin Bridge, Thaketa Township, Yangon. National races village was constructed by Ministry of Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs is situated in Tharketa Township, on the left of Yangon-Thanlyin Bridge.

If you visit the village, you will not only enjoy fresh breeze blowing across Bago River but also get the sense of Union Spirit from the village of our national brethern, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. You can see buildings with significant symbols denoting various national races residing in the country.

 

People’s Park and People’s Square

People’s Park is located near the Western stairways of Shwedagon Pagoda. This park occupies over 130 acres between Shwedagon Pagoda and the Parliament building. There is a small museum exhibiting life-size models of nationalities in their colourful dress and flora and fauna. The Restaurant serves Myanmar and European Food. The park is usually crowded during the weekends when families come for relaxation.

People’s Square occupied over 130 acres of land between Shwedagon Pagoda and Pyithu Hluttaw. Many National Events such as Independence Day, Union Day, National Day are held in this place. There is a beautiful fountain with white elephants. Many plants, trees and flowers can be found in this square.

 

War Memorial Cemetery

The Allies had established the Allied War Memorial Cemeteries all over the world. There were 3 Allied War Memorial Cemeteries in Myanmar, Htauk Kyant, Thanbyuzayat and Yangon.

The Htauk Kyant War Memorial Cemetery, beautifully kept ground, had 27,000 stone-graves of Commonwealth and Allied Forces Fallen Soldiers in the Myanmar Campaign were honourably kept. It is located in Mingaladon Township, Yangon Division about 32 km from Yangon, on the road to Bago.

The relatives of the Allied Forces Fallen Soldiers throughout the world used to visit the said War Memorial Cemeteries in Myanmar to pay homage to their respective Allied Forces Fatten Soldiers’ Graves. The peoples of Myanmar never destroyed the graves of the Japanese Imperial Fallen Soldiers with hatred throughout the Country. Myanmars kept very well not only the graves of Japanese Imperial Fallen Soldiers but also all the Fallen Soldiers from all over the World from heartfelt humanitarian ground. Some relatives from Japan used to visit to pay homage yearly at their respective Japanese Imperial Fallen Soldiers’ graves throughout the Myanmar.

Htauk Kyant war cemetery is the largest of the three war cemeteries in Myanmar. It was built in 1951 for the reception of graves from four battlefield cemeteries at Akyab, Mandalay, Meiktila and Sahmaw which were difficult to access and could not be maintained. The last was an original ‘Chindit’ cemetery containing many of those who died in the battle for Myitkyina. The graves have been grouped together at Htauk Kyant to preserve the individuality of these battlefield cemeteries Burials were also transferred from civil and cantonment cemeteries, and from a number of isolated jungle and roadside sites. Because of prolonged post-war unrest, considerable delay occurred before the Army Graves Service were able to complete their work, and in the meantime many such graves had disappeared. However, when the task was resumed, several hundred more graves were retrieved from scattered positions throughout the country and brought together here. The cemetery now contains 6,374 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 867 of them unidentified.

 

In the 1950s, the graves of 52 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War were brought into the cemetery from the following cemeteries where permanent maintenance was not possible: Henzada (1); Meiktila Cantonment (8); Thayetmyo New (5); Thamakan (4); Mandalay Military (12) and Maymyo Cantonment (22).

Taukkyan War Cemetery also contains: The Yangon Memorial, which bears the names of almost 27,000 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaigns in Burma and who have no known grave.

This cemetery commemorating more than 1,000 Second World War casualties whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith. The Htauk Kyant memorial which commemorates 45 servicemen of both wars who died and were buried elsewhere in Burma but whose graves could not be maintained.

 

Yangon Zoological Garden

Yangon Zoo is located near Kandawgyi Garden, the Zoo is noted for its collection of wild animals, flora and fauna which have been collected over the years since it was opened in 1906.

 

History of Yangon Zoo

Yangon Zoological Gardens was established in 1901 with the public donation of 240,000 Kyats. The construction started at the present site after clearing 61 acres of virgin soil, but the first collection of wild animals initiated since 1882 in connection with the Phayre’s Museum which was then situated at the present site of the Yangon General Hospital. The collected animals were moved gradually to their new enclosures.

The newly established zoological gardens, by the side of the Royal Lakes, was named Victoria Memorial Park which was formally opened on January 1906.

A Natural History Museum which was also a part of the zoo, was opened on the 1st of May, 1966. Furthermore, an amusement park was opened on the 7th of October, 1997. The Zoological Garden Amusement Park is also a well-known spot for children and teenagers.

 

Today’s Yangon Zoological Garden

The Zoo today is one of the centre attraction in the city of Yangon for both local and international tourists. Covering an area of 58.16 acres, in downtown Yangon and lying close to the Great Shwe Dagon Pagoda, the zoo with it’s collection of nearly 200 species of animals and big shady trees, draws nearly 1.5 million visitors annually. The animals comprise of over 60 species of mammals, 70 species of birds and 20 species of reptiles.

 

Events

On weekend and Public holidays, snake dance and elephant circus are performed for visitors. It is open daily from 08:00 to 18:00 hours.

The 100th Anniversary of Yangon Zoological Garden was held in 2006 January and the festival was held for a month.

 

AROUND YANGON

 

Bago

Bago is only 80 kilometer and about 1 hour drive from Yangon. Bago is one of the richest archaeological sites in Myanmar. Pyay lies 161 kilometers north of Yangon. The ancient ruins of the Pyu capital, Srikeshtra, lies in this city. Come and relax at the beautiful beaches of Chaung Thar and Ngwe Saung. Pathein well-known for the colorful Parasol.

Bago was formerly known as Pegu. It is just 80 km (50 miles) north of Yangon. It is just about an hour drive from Yangon. Bago is accessible easily from Yangon, Mandalay, Pyay and other cities.

Apparently Mons were the first to settle at this site. Two Mon brothers Thamala and Wimala from Thaton, first founded the city about 825 A.D. In 13th century A.D. The site, which was then on the Gulf of Martaban, had already been earmarked as the location of a great city by Gautama, the historic Buddha. Bago was made the capital of the Mon Kingdom and it came to be known as Hansavati (Hanthawaddy). It was also the seaport of ancient Mon kings. Then it became the Second Myanmar Empire founded by King Bayinnaung.

 

Interesting Places

 

Shwe-tha-lyaung Reclining Buddha

Built by the Mon in 994 this big Buddha was restored several times but was overgrown by the jungle after the total destruction of Bago by the Burmans in 1757. The 55 meter long and 16 meter high reclining Buddha is well known in Bago. It was rediscovered in 1880 and restored again several times to bring it to this condition. This huge reclining Buddha with a sign on the platform in front of the image giving the measurements of each body part. It is reputed to be one of the most lifelike of all reclining Buddhas. The Myanmar people say that the image represents Buddha in a ‘relaxing’ mode.

 

Measurements of the reclining Buddha Image

Height at the shoulder is 52.5 feet (16m). Extent of the face is 22.5feet (6.9m). Lengthwise dimension of the throat is 7.5 feet (2.3m). Length of the upper torso is 47.5 feet (14.5m). Length of the ear is 15 feet (4.6m). Length of the eyebrows is 7.5 feet (2.3m). Width of the mouth is 7.5 feet (2.3m). Width of each eye is 3.5feet (1.1m). Bridge of the nose is 7.5 feet (2.3m). Length of the sole of the foot is 25.5 feet (7.8m). Dimension of the palm lengthwise is 22 feet (6.7m). Height of the big toe is 6 feet (1.8m).

 

Shwemawdaw Pagoda

The Shwemawdaw or ‘Great Golden God Pagoda’ of Bago has been growing for more than 1000 years. The Shwemawdaw Pagoda whose spire can be seen behind this impressive entrance portal, was originally built by the Mon to a height to 23 meters in the 8th century and was rebuilt higher several times until it finally reached its present 114 meter stature in 1954. The pagoda was originally built by 2 merchants, Taphussa and Bhalita, to house some hair relics of the Buddha. Originally built to a height of 23 meters, it has over the centuries become the tallest of the Burmese pagodas. As with other pagodas, this growth in size occurred during numerous reconstruction periods, usually following great earthquakes. The most recent quake, in 1930, nearly leveled the ancient structure and it was not until 1952 that it again dominated the Bago skyline. Legends say that enshrined beneath the towering pagoda are the hairs and teeth of the Buddha. Because of these relics, Shwemawdaw is visited by throngs of Buddhist pilgrims during all hours of the day and night.

 

Kyaik Pun Buddha Images

Kyaik Pun Pagoda is in the form of four gigantic Buddha images all in sitting posture facing the four cardinal points of the compass. They are seated back to back against a massive brick pillar. This unusual and impressive pagoda is only a few hundred feet off the Yangon-Bago road. It was built by King Dhamma Zedi in 1476 A.D. They are kept in a fair state of preservation. Kyaik Pun pagoda is situated amidst the lush rugged countryside strewn with a large number of ancient ruins many of which are under repair. According to a legend four mon sisters were connected with the construction of the images. It was said that if one of them marry, one of the Buddha would collapse.

 

Mahazedi

There are many other famous pagodas in Bago, like the Mahazedi (the Great Stupa) built by King Bayinnaung in 1560 A.D., and Hinthakone Pagoda, which you should see.

It is known that the pagoda enshrines a tooth-relic brought from Sri Lanka. Tradition has it that Hinthakone is the hill where the two sacred mythical ducks called Hintha (Hamsa) alighted, when only the very top of the hill was above the ocean.

The name Hantha-wadi or Hamsavati by which Bago and her kingdom were known, originated from this name.

 

Pyay

Pyay was formerly known as Prome. Pyay is an important commercial center for trade between the Ayeyarwady Delta, Central and Upper Myanmar and the Rakhine (Arakan) State. Pyay is only 161 km north of Yangon travelling along a well-maintained highway by car. You can see green paddy fields along the side of the highway. Several trains run daily from Yangon on the first railway line built in Myanmar in 1877. In the last few years the railway branch lines have been extended north towards Bagan. It is a city halfway between Yangon and Bagan. Visitors can stop over in Pyay and travel on to Bagan and Mandalay. Pyay is situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady River on a lovely location.

Pyay was anglicized as Prome after the Second Anglo-Myanmar war and in ancient times was known as Thaye-khittra (Srikshetra). Srikshetra, the ancient Pyu capital about five miles to the east, is interesting place to visit because of their historical importance and archaeological sites.

 

Interesting Places

Interesting Places in Pyay are Shwesandaw Pagoda, Sehtetgyi Pagoda (the gigantic sitting Buddha image), Baw Baw Gyi Pagoda, Be Be Gyi Pagoda and Payama Pagoda. Other interesting places around pyay are Ahkauktaung, Shwe Myatman Paya, Shwe Nat Taung Pagoda and Shwe Bonthar Muni.

 

Srikshetra Ancient Days

An ancient ‘Pyu’ Capital lies 8 km south-east of Pyay ( Prome), is located about 285 km north-west of Yangon. Archaeological discoveries indicate that the city attained its height of prosperity between the 5th and 9th centuries. In Tha-ye-khit-taya, one will find palace site the prototype of Bagan vaulted temple such as Lemyethna and East Zegu, the cylinder-shaped Bawbawgyi Pagoda, Payagyi and Payama stupas each with a high conical dome and the Archaeological Museum.

 

Shwesandaw Pagoda  

The Shwesandaw Pagoda is well known in Pyay. Shwesandaw meaning the Golden Hair Relics. The Pagoda is situated on the eastern bank of Ayeyarwaddy river and Myanmar’s most venerated structure stands here. The former name of the pagoda was known to be Mya Thi Htin. It has a height of 127 feet high and standing on the plinth making a total measurement of 290 feet from the base. There are 64 surrounding smaller pagodas around the main one. There is a chamber in the southern sector of the platform housing a duplicate of the Buddha’s tooth relic of Kandy. Having been placed beside the original tooth-relic of Kandy for a time it is believed to have absorbed the aura of the original and become just as potent. The tooth-relic from the Shwesandaw Pagoda is customarily taken out from its chamber in the month of Dazaungmone (November-December) every year and ceremoniously taken on a tour of the city once every three years so that worshippers might pay homage to it and revere it with their own eyes.

 

Sehtatgyi Paya

Looking east from the stupa you’ll see an enormous seated Bhudda figure rising up from the treeline. From the Shwesandaw terrace you look across to the image eye-to-eye. Sehtatgyi meaning ‘Big Ten-storey’ for its height.

Museum

About a kilometer and a half from the highway turnoff by the old palace side, stands a small museum and a map of the area. Inside the museum is a colletion of artifacts collected from Srikshetra exacavations.

 

Bawbawgyi Paya and Bebe Paya

South of the museum, outside the city walls, are cylindrical Bawbawgyi Paya and cube-shaped Bebe Paya. Standing over 45 meters high, the brick and plaster of Bawbawgyi Paya is the oldest stupa in the area. Other cube-shaped pagodas in the area include one thought to have been used by a hermit, featuring eight Buddha reliefs along the lower half of the interior wall and a vaulted ceiling of brick. Accessible by car. Only about 6 hours drive from Yangon. There are also express buses carrying passengers everyday.

 

Around Pyay

 

Shwedaung

This small town is about 14km south of Pyay. There are two famous pagodas in this town. The Shwemyethman Paya and the Shwenattaung Paya.

Shwemyethman Paya meaning ‘Paya with the Golden Spectacles’ a refrence to a large white face sitting Buddha image inside the main shrine. The Buddha image wears a golden rimmed spectacles. Spectacles were added during the Konbaung era. There is a saying that this image can cure illnesses especially for eyes.

Shwenattaung Paya means ‘Golden Spirit Mountain’. This pagoda dates back to the Sriksetra era. Legend takes it back all the way to 283 BC, from which it was reconstructed by a long range of Burman kings with the aid of local nats (spirits) A large pagoda festival is held here each year on the full moon of Tabaung (February/March).

 

Akauktaung Mountain

Akauktaung Mountain stands on the bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River to the north of Pyay in Bago Division. It takes 15 minutes by boat ride to reach the Akauktaung. Different sizes and styles of Buddha images are carved into the wall of the bank and the visitor can climb and visit the Akauktaung pagoda, which lies at the top of the bank.

 

Paung Te

From Yangon, on the way to Pyay, you will come across Paung Te. The sacred tooth relic of Buddha is enshrined in the Paung Te Swedaw Seddi.

 

Thanlyin and Kyauktan

Thanlyin is situated at the confluence of the Yangon and Bago Rivers; to be exact, on the southern bank of the Bago River. To the south of Thanlyin is a ridge named Utaringa Kon in history but locally known as Shin Mwe Nun Kon. It is on this ridge that Kyaik Khauk Pagoda stands.

The colonial town of Syriam was built by the British for it’s port and petroleum refinery plant. It is also a sub-urban town right a few miles away from Yangon, across 1.5 mile-long bridge

 

Interesting Places

 

Kyaik Kauk Pagoda

The Kyaik Kauk Pagoda is built on a hillock on the road to Kyauk Tan. It is an imposing golden stupa similar to the Shwe Dagon pagoda.

Thanlyin formerly known as Syriam is just across the river, spanned by one of the longest bridges in Myanmar. A half-an-hour’s drive by car or train.

 

History of Kyaik Kauk

Pagoda Its legend dates its building far back to the time of Emperor Asoka the great king of India. Two hundred and thirty six years after the demise of the Lord Buddha, Emperor Asoka who embraced Buddhism after he heard and understood the Buddha’s dhamma, held the Third Buddhist Council. Maha Thera Ashim Moggalana Putta Tisa presided over the Council. At his advice, the Council with the royal patronage and support of Asoka sent out religious missions to nine places and nine countries to spread the Dhamma, Buddha’s Teachings. The mission sent to Suvannabhumi [Thaton] was headed by Maha Theras Sona and Uttara who successfully carried out their missionary works there. One of their pupils and assistants Ashin Somaga was sent on a mission to Pauk-khara-wady or Dagon. He resided at this place and visited Let-kha-ya and Siha islands and propagated the Buddha’s teachings there. A hermit named Khaw Laka who lived on Utaringa Kon, after hearing the Dhamma became a bhikkhu. Later Ashin Somaga and Bhikkhu Kaw Laka went to Pataliputra in India and requested Emperor Asoka to give them some sacred relics of the Buddha for worship. They received 24 strands of the Buddha’s hair. They returned to Siha Island and when they reached the Pada jetty, they left two sacred hairs to be enshrined in a pagoda built there. Later these hairs were re-enshrined in a pagoda now know as Kyaik DeiYa.

The remaing hair relies were enshrined each in one pagoda at each of 16 Villages such as

(1) Ta Hmaw Village

(2) Ka Lun Pun Village

(3) Ka Hnein Village

(4) Ka Hnaw Village

(5) Mon Naw Village

(6) Tha Laing Village

(7) Hmaw Wun Village

(8) Kan Ti Village

(9) Kha Pi Village

(10) Tha Naw Kaik Village

(11) Ah Lwei Eake Village

(12) Pa Wun Gai Village

(13) Pa Yin Village

(14) Wi Thone Village

(15) Pa Ro Village

(16) Than Hlyin Village [Saga Village]

and the remaing six hairs were enshrined in a pagoda built on Utaringa Kon [now called Hlaing Pok Kon].

The pagoda on Utaringa Kon was built by King Cula Thirimasoka of Thaton in the Buddhist Era 241. It was a big structure built of laterite stone. Because this place was where Ashin Bhikkhu Kaw Laka resided, the Pagoda came to be known as Kaw Laka Pagoda. This name in course of time corrupted to Khauk Pagoda or Kyaik Khauk in Mon.

 

Ye Le Paya

Ye Le Paya at Kyauk Tan means the pagoda in mid-stream built on a laterite reef. It was built by King Zeyasana, the seventh king of the Pada Dynasty in the third century BC. The first pagoda was only 11 feet high. The pagoda complex comprises several buildings including a monastery. Pilgrims and visitors are ferried across to the pagoda. One can feed shoals of long river catfish, which surface to snatch tit-bits of food thrown at them. When food is thrown, they reach out to snap at it, revealing their size, which can reach up to one meter in length.

 

Pathein

In the lower Myanmar delta area which we call the Ayeyarwady Division there is a coastal town by the name of Pathein. In the colonial days the British called it Bassein. It lies on the Gnawun river bank and is 75 miles away from the sea. The distance between Pathein (Bassein) and Yangon is 191 miles (by rail). The precise location of it is 16.45 N and 94.48 E. Regarding this Bassein of the bygone era Hobson-Jobson noted.

Centuries ago Pathein was known as Cosmin. Ralph Fitch, the first recorded British traveller who visited Myanmar between 1586 and 1588 called it Cosmin. Some authorities argued that this word Cosmin was a corruption of two Mon words kaw and thamein. The word kaw signifies an island and thamein a prince.

Pieced together it becomes prince island and the Myanmar call it minthakyun. To quote Hobson-Jobson again Cosmin is given by many travellers in the 16th and 17th centuries to a port on the western side of the Ayeyarwaddy delta which must have been near Bassein if not identical with it.

In the mid-sixteenth century Bassein, like Dagon (later Yangon) was an insignificant port. These two ports could not measure up to Thanlyin (Cirion or Syriam), Dalla, Mottama (Martaban) and Bago (Pegu) which were noteworthy ports in those days. At that time Bassein was just a minor port and hardly conducted any important overseas trade transactions.

The origin of the Indian town of Bassein has much to do with the growth of Portuguese imperialism. The starting point was 1498, the year Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to the east. From then on Portuguese ships began to enter the Pacific Ocean through the Straits of Malacca. Within a short time Portugal became an imperial power. This was the beginning of the encounter between Europe and Asia.

Pathein Today Pathein is the capital of the deltaic region. This port of call is reached by road, or by double deckers through the complex Ayeyarwady river deltaic region. The landscapes are all full of rice producers with crops such as sesames, groundnuts, jute, maize, pulses, tobacco, chilies, etc. Parasol production is synonymous with Pathein.

Pathein is still an important port of call for ferryboats carrying passengers or cargo plying between Yangon and the northern and eastern parts of the Myanmar. So it has a rather busy harbor area, which is fronted by a crescent of shop houses and go-downs. Rice from the delta region continues to be exported through the port of Pathein.

Some 300,000 people live in Pathein, which was established in 1852 as a garrison town by the British. Although the majority are ethnic Bamars (formerly Burmans) and mainly Buddhist, there is a significant number of Kayin (formerly Karen) who are either Catholics or members of the Karen Baptist Church. These are mainly lowland farming Karen who were encouraged by the British to move form Karen state in eastern Myanmar to help settle the delta region, which was in need of rice farmers.

 

Around Pathein

 

Mawtinson Pagoda

It is the most famous pagoda in Pathein. If you follow the Pathein River till it empties into the Adman Sea you’ll reach Cape Mawtin (Mawtinson), site of a well-known festival during the lunar month of Tabodwe (February, March). On the seaside of the Cape is a sandy beach and the revered Pagoda Maw Tin Son. It is very surprising to note that the pagoda is water-logged all the year round except in the days of the annual festival. The seawater is out well beyond the pagoda during the festival and lots of stalls dealing with all sorts of local products, seafood, ornaments, made of seashells, and lodging houses, built of bamboo for the revellers mushroom on the beach. Once the festival is over, the water is up and covered the beach. It seems that the pagoda is located on the sea.

From Pathein, there are roads to the popular beaches of Myanmar, Chaung Thar Beach and Ngwe Saung Beach. From Pathein, it will take only about 3 hours drive through the mountains and to the beautiful beaches.

 

Chaung Thar Beach

Chaung Thar Beach is located 40 km to the west of Pathein (Bassein) in Ayeyarwaddy Division. It is about 5 hrs drive from Yangon to Chaung Thar Beach. It is an attractive wide beach with a muddy delta look. Not only coconut palms but also casuarinas trees can be found at the back of the beach. Two small islands can be seen offshore. The crab dishes of Chaung Thar Beach are also delicious and well-known. Fresh coconut juice will make relax here.

There are bungalow type hotels along the beach with modern facilities. Myanmar, owing to its natural environmental diversity is rich in many sites that feature untouched coastal areas, calm and peaceful ocean waters and wide stretches of unpolluted sandy beaches.One beach resort that has gained fame and popularity since the latter half of 1990 is the Chaung Thar (pleasant Stream) Beach Resort. Located some 154 miles from the Capital City of Yangon and only 34 miles from Pathein, Chaung Thar is the nearest ocean resort available to foreign tourists, being easily reached from Yangon in half a day by road.

There are 13 top class hotels in Chaung Thar to cater to their every need. Some of the well-known ones are Max Hotel, Lai Lai Hotel, Ambo Hotel and Khine Chaung Thar. Those who find the atmosphere of cities stifling, the pressures of work stressful and the responsibilities of modern life becoming burdensome, may shed their manifold worries for a while by visiting and enjoying a restful holiday interlude at Chaung Thar.

While listening to the whispering of the wind in the trees and among the palm fronds and to the regular sleep inducing beat of the oceanbreakers as you relax in your rattan chair amidst the balmy breezes you will find yourself visibly relaxing and your cares and tensions slipping away.

Those who wish to engage in play activities on the beach may wish to take a dip in the ocean and ride the ocean waves or take a traditional bullock cart ride along the extensive stretches of the sandy beach.

Others may prefer to stroll along the seashore and visit nearby villages to sample the local cuisine, and buy trinkets and ornaments fashioned from sea shells, cowries, mother of pearl, huge rock-shrimp and crabs, fossilized marine flora and unusual coral formations etc. to take back as souvenirs or presents upon their departure.

On the return journey to the hotel you will be entranced by the magnificent flaming sky that serves as a fitting backdrop to the setting of the blood-red orb as it slowly dips into the blue waters of the Indian ocean.

 

Chaung Thar’s nearby Islands

 

The’ Phyu Island

Also known as the white sand island. About 15 minutes walk to the ferry boat stand from your hotels. 25 mintues engine-boat ride for 1,000 Kyats/person. Life vests are provided to the passengers and tickets are required to buy at the ferry stand. There is a temple on the island. The island is white because of the dumping of the dead seashells to the shore. There are lots of rocky white stones.

 

Pho Kalar Island

There is a temple, a monastery and many coconut trees. You can drink fresh coconut juice for 100 Kyats/coconut.

2 minutes engine-boat ride for 200 Kyats/person. No need to buy tickets. The water is quite shallow. There is a small village on the island selling coconuts and dried fishes. The water is clearer on that side of the island. You can find many red and green crabs running around.

 

Kyaut Maung Nhama

You can take a walk (takes about 3 hours) or ride a bicycle (takes about 2 hours) or ride a motor cycle (takes about 1 hour). The road is bumpy. But the rocky shores are beautiful. There is one temple on top of a big stone.

 

Ngwe Saung Beach

The newly developed beach. You can rent an engine-boat or a car to get to Ngwe Saung from Chaung Thar.

 

Ngwe Saung Beach

Ngwe Saung Beach Resort, opened in the year 2,000, is one of the loveliest and most pleasant beach resorts in Myanmar. Located in the Ayeyarwady Division, some 48 kilometres from the town of Pathein, Ngwe Saung, with a beach frontage on the Bay of Bengal with its clear blue waters, its white crested waves, sandy beaches and unspoiled and pollution-free natural surroundings, is indeed one of the best places to select for a holiday interlude of rest and relaxation.

From Zee-Maw: Village in the north to Majee-Maw: Village in the south, Ngwe Saung’s silvery beach stretches in an unbroken line for some 15 kilometres.Included among Ngwe Saung’s natural attractions are its blue waters, its extensive beaches, its silvery sands, its scenic and occasionally rocky shoreline, all set against a backdrop of tropical rain forests and the towering Rakhine mountain range.

The shoreline is dotted with bungalow-type eco-friendly hotels staffed by well trained personnel who are trained to take care of your needs. These bungalows provide quality service to foreign tourists and domestic visitors and provide a quiet haven of peace and relaxation. For those wishing to engage in fun and games on the beach, or in the ocean, life-buoys and speedboats are provided, as well as facilities for speedboat trips, bicycling along the shore and horseback riding.

The need for occasional rest and recuperation from the cares and worries of the world of work is an absolute necessity of the human beings. The periodic recharging of one’s batteries and a replenishment of one’s reserves of energy and vitality are universal needs. What better setting is there for this than a seaside resort in the convivial company of family, friends and companions?

Ngwe Saung extends its warmest welcome to all visitors who wish to relax amidst the waving palms and balmy breezes of a truly memorable ocean resort.

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