Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, is by far the most exciting place in the country to be right now, as former political exiles, Asian investors and foreign adventurers flock in. As Myanmar’s commercial and artistic hub, it’s Yangon that most reflects the changes that have occurred since the country reopened to the world. There’s a rash of new restaurants, bars and shops.
But in many ways Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, has hardly changed at all. The city remains focused on Shwedagon Paya, an awe-inspiring golden Buddhist monument around which everything else revolves. Close to it are the parks and lakes that provide Yangonites with an escape from the surrounding chaos. Then there’s downtown, its pavements one vast open-air market, which is home to some of the most impressive colonial architecture in all Southeast Asia.