Most visitors start their visit in Rangoon, or Yangon as it is known locally. It is a large bustling city, the commercial and financial heart of the city. Many of the old areas of Chinese and colonial buildings have been cleared as the city has developed but still boats the largest number of colonial buildings of any South East Asian country.
It is the main Buddhist monuments around which the city still revolves, primarily the dazzling Shwedagon pagoda. This huge stricture, covered in gold (nearly 27 tonnes of it!), precious stones and draped in prayer flags, is said to contain some of the hair of Buddha. It is approached by four staircases and is surrounded by other shrines and temples and always has monks and devotees in the compound. It is hard to visit at a bad time, the light on the stupa making it look incredible whenever you are there. Early visits usually means it is more peaceful.
Other places of interest include the vast reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi, measured at 215 ft. long. The Buddha is crowned by a head dress of Diamonds and rubies.
The central market - Bogyoke Aung San Market - is now housed in a multi-storey building and is a bustling introduction to life in the city and the range of fruits and other products eaten everyday by its inhabitants.
You can visit the Waterfront, an indication of the old trading might and prosperity of the city. Near here is the Strand Hotel and in colonial times the place to stay. Even if you are not staying here a visit to its restaurant and bar is recommended for a taste of the lifestyle enjoyed by the rich merchants and civil servants in days gone by.