Sule Pagoda or Sule Paya centrally locates itself in the middle of the traffic in Yangon. It’s in a roundabout surrounded by all kinds of local transport. Standing and looking from outside, I wonder how in the world would devout Buddhists be able to attain peace amidst traffic noises? Would Buddha hear their prayers – whatever they’re asking for?
There’s only one way to find out. So I went inside.
This is the first Buddhist Temple in Myanmar that I’ve been to. It’s only 7 minutes walk from where I stayed. So, it’s practical to start my self-guided sightseeing tour here.
Amazingly though, the traffic noise I expected to be loud was not really that loud. Or maybe, I have a hearing problem that I didn’t really hear that much noise. 🙂 I was there at 5:10 in the afternoon which is peak hours for traffic.
Sule Pagoda is an octagonal Pagoda with a 46-meter stupa which believed to be older than the one in Shwedagon.
It was also here that a spirit (nat) revealed that the present-day site of the Shwedagon Pagoda should be on a hill. Interestingly, worshipping nats/spirits have been part of the culture – even before Buddhism arrived in Burma/Myanmar.
Aside from its historical value, the pagoda also contains a hair relic of the Buddha himself.
In contemporary Myanmar history, Sule Pagoda is part of the country’s political revolutions. People gathered here during the Saffron Revolution in 2007 and the uprisings in 1988.
Since you are already here at Sule, why not explore the old quarter of the city?
Across the street, you will find the City Hall painted in white. The structure is the first one in the country that combines British and local architectural designs.
In front of the City Hall, you’ll find the Independence Monument where the locals hang out in late afternoon ’till evening.
If you circle the pagoda, you will pass by this mosque – the only one I saw in Myanmar.
Walk a little bit further, and you’ll see a bridge. Cross it and admire Sule pagoda from here, especially after sunset.
Go around the neighborhood and you will find cultural heritage buildings that are left to decay. Or maybe, there’s just no budget to renovate them.
Hungry for strolling around the area? Walk to Chinatown and find your kind of food.
And if you have a habit of waking up early, you’ll find these kid monks doing their morning rituals/routines.
Yangon is still pretty cheap for a backpacker. 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. The 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, TripAdvisor, HostelWorld, and Expedia.