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Yangon is the commercial capital of Burma, and has been since British colonial times. This will be your most likely entry into Burma, your first glimpse of women wearing the ubiquitous “thanaka,” a make-up/sunscreen/moisturizer made of ground bark of tropical trees. See it worn in decorative patterns on the faces of most Burmese women. And if you follow the saffron-clad monks far enough they will lead you to Shwe Dagon Pagoda, the most important religious site in the south. Here find the grave of Supayalat, last queen of Burma. She lies alongside former UN Secretary General U Thant, as well as the mother of today's political heroine, Aung ...

Yangon is the commercial capital of Burma, and has been since British colonial times. This will be your most likely entry into Burma, your first glimpse of women wearing the ubiquitous “thanaka,” a make-up/sunscreen/moisturizer made of ground bark of tropical trees. See it worn in decorative patterns on the faces of most Burmese women. And if you follow the saffron-clad monks far enough they will lead you to Shwe Dagon Pagoda, the most important religious site in the south. Here find the grave of Supayalat, last queen of Burma. She lies alongside former UN Secretary General U Thant, as well as the mother of today's political heroine, Aung San Suu Kyi. And somewhere in this sprawling city reside the grandchildren of Thibaw, last king, last occupant of the Lion Throne of Burma. British history is much in evidence, too. Colonial era buildings and even automobiles are abundant. Decades old British jeeps and clunky sedans are kept going by brilliant mechanics who can make spare parts of tin cans, bedsprings and baling wire. The grandest British legacy is the Strand hotel. If Burma itself is a time warp, the Strand is a time warp within a time warp. Walk in and feel as though you've stepped into a movie of colonial days.

Richard Sterling
About the Expert

Richard Sterling is the author of Lonely Planet's World Food: Greece, Eyewitness Travel Guide Vietnam, and many other books.

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Richard Sterling for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Southern Burma, north of the Gulf of Martaban
  • Language: Burmese
  • Currency: Kyat
  • Research: Yangon | Yangon
  • Weather: Rainfall
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