Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is pure bliss in the morning. Its serenity and the murmuring whispers of prayers are calming to the soul. At least that’s how I felt because I arrived there at 4:15 in the morning – earlier than most Buddhist worshippers. And way too earlier than most tourists, too. I highly recommend that you go early in the morning, for an obvious reason: it’s not crowded.
Your visit to Myanmar’s capital city won’t be entirely complete without getting a glimpse of this golden pagoda.
Shwedagon is the most iconic landmark of the country that used to called Burma under British rule.
This is also the country’s holiest pagoda which contains Buddha’s hair strand and other religious relics. Unfortunately, these relics are nowhere to see. They certainly aren’t for public viewing.
The locals call it Dagon or the Golden Pagoda for brevity.
This 2,500-year-old pagoda is the most sacred of all Buddhist temples and pagodas in Myanmar.
Or maybe, the most sacred in Asia.
I’ve never seen a pagoda as grandiose and magnificent as this.
Looking up and down the pagodas and stupas, I was speechless, admiring the enormous religious structure.
And yes, there’s gold in there!
In fact, the pagoda is bathed in hundreds of gold plates.
Look closely at the topmost of the 99-meter stupa and you’ll notice its flickering embers.
That’s because there are 4,531 diamonds encrusted around it. The largest diamond weighs around 72 carats! Goodness, 72 carats!
It also contains topaz, sapphires, rubies another gemstones.
There’s no wonder then, why Shwedagon is the “Crown of Myanmar.”
Inside, you will find a bustle of activities from Buddhist devotees.
They’re meditating, offering money and flowers, and washing statues.
A monk I talked to asked me if I remember the day I was born, but I couldn’t give him an exact answer. Apparently, there’s a small temple where you can go based on the day you were born. You can do your worship and give your offering there. (See pic below)
When the sun finally shone behind the stupas, the Golden Pagoda was incredibly magnificent!
I held my breath as I joined the devotees admiring the calming beauty in front of us and our surroundings. It took me 45 minutes, sitting with them before I decided to go around once again – and left.
Where to Stay in Yangon
Yangon is still pretty cheap for a backpacker so I treated myself by staying in a cheap hotel with basic necessities. I stayed at Yangon Urban Hotel which is smacked right at the center of the old downtown. The room was spacious and they clean it daily. Staff members are nice and they will try to help and answer your questions. There are many restaurants and grocery shops nearby. Breakfast was nice, too. From here, Sule Pagoda is just 7 minutes walk and 28 minutes to Botataung Pagoda/Paya. They also offer an airport pick-up with a reasonable fee. You can book it via Booking, , HostelWorld, and Expedia.