Watching the moonrise while the last sun rays still shine on the gold that covers the Shwedagon Pagoda, creating a memorable moment full of a magic atmosphere.
For most of the visitor, Shwedagon Pagoda is just one more pagoda and not the biggest one, but according to the tradition is the oldest in the country, with more than 2500 years, and is particularly important as shelter the relic of some Buddha’s hairs.
What we can see now was improved and upgrades during centuries by several Burmese kings, resulting in an impressive structure that includes also temples and shrines, decorated with intricate and complex floral ornaments, typical of Burmese art. Parallel to this traditional style some modern decorations were added, with many Buddha images, decorated with neon lights that blink behind the statues, giving a cheesy and tasteless appearance to such a sacred place.
The gold rules at Shwedagon Pagoda!!! Is everywhere covering and decorating, ceilings, columns, images, ornaments, statues, altars, walls… makes us feel surrounded by an imaginary world made from this precious metal.
But more interesting than all is to observe the quotidian life of the pagoda, a mix of pilgrimage and amusement place, where kids play while parents pray. Groups of visitors pose for a souvenir photo in front of the pagoda, while others coming from distant parts of the country, which ethnic group is easy to identify by the clothes and face features, pray in one of the many temples around the pagoda.
How to go to Shwedagon Pagoda by bus:
The Shwedagon Pagoda is located 5 km north from Yangon Downtown.
To visit the Shwedagon Pagoda you can take the local bus (city bus) at Sule Pagoda bus stand (Sule Pagoda Road opposite of Sule Shangri-La Hotel). Is hard to know the number of the bus, and hard to identify them if you are not yet used to Burmese number, but just ask the people that are waiting at the bus stand and they will point you the bus when it shows up.
The ticket is 200 Kyats, in an air- conditioned bus. The trip takes around 30 minutes.
Depending on the bus you take, maybe you need to walk about 10 minutes to reach one of the entrances.
Shwedagon Pagoda ticket:
As usual in Myanmar, there’s a special fee for foreigners (Myanmar citizens don’t pay anything) of 8.000 kyats.
There are four main entrances, orientated for each cardinal point, and a couple of small entrances more, but all with ticket counters, that make it impossible for a foreigner to get in without a ticket. But if you walk around, trusting in maps application, you can find a discreet entrance to get inside the Shwedagon Pagoda without passing by a ticket counter. Although when you buy your ticket is given you a sticker, that must be kept visible during all visit… so if you manage to sneak inside the temple without a ticket, you must be careful as the guards will look for you entrance sticker.
Best time to visit Shwedagon Pagoda:
The most popular hour is around sunset when the last light rays give a special tone to the gold that covers the pagoda… and you can even stay a bit longer to see the electric lights turn on and have a new perspective of the place.
But the sunset is also the time that the pagoda is visited by local people, praying and lighting candles, and when most of the tourists arrive, many with guides or in groups, make it a bit noisy and crowded.
Try to arrive around 5 p.m. and you’ll have time to visit the place, walk around, take rest in a shade and find a quiet spot to sit and enjoy the scenery. You can easily spend 2 hours visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda.