10 Best Things To Do in Yangon for FREE

Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a bustling cosmopolitan city in Myanmar (Burma). Used to be the former capital, it remains to be an economic hub and one of the main gateways of tourists to Myanmar. After decades of isolation, the country is now seeing an influx of tourists seeking exotic places in the Indochina trail. Like other Southeast Asian countries, it’s not expensive to go around Yangon. To help you further in your first time, here are the best free things to do in Yangon!

British, Indian, and Chinese influences can be seen alongside Burmese culture and architecture in Yangon. It is not uncommon to see men wearing sarong-like shirts (the longyi is their national clothing), and chewing and spitting the red betel nut. One will also often see women and children with faces covered in Thanaka (yellowish cream that serves as a sunscreen).

The gridlocked city can come as a shock to visitors. But you need not worry because the Burmese remain to be friendly and welcoming to foreign visitors.

10 best free things to do in Yangon:

  1. Walk around downtown Yangon

Walking around a city is certainly one good way to experience it. From taking the side streets to admiring the architecture, taking in the smells, and observing the locals. It surely is an experience that requires all your senses.

Doing your own walking tour of downtown Yangon is best done during the mornings to avoid as much as possible the humid heat. Free maps are available at the airport and in hostels to help you navigate the bustling city.

It is recommended that you start near Sule Pagoda, which is in the city center. Amidst the busy streets, be amazed at the colonial-era buildings, the markets, Chinatown and Little India. All these gives one a different experience compared to walking around in other Asian countries.

If you don’t want to do it DIY, you can sign up for the Free Yangon Walks. It’s on Wednesdays and Sundays at 4 PM. You will get to know about the history of Yangon while walking around guided by foreigners living in the city. You’ll get to know more about the city than what you’ll get to read from guidebooks.



2. Go window shopping at Bogyoke Aung San Market

Although getting more touristy, Bogyoke or Scott Market is still one good market to wander around. Be introduced to the myriad of things that Myanmar offers. from arts, food, clothing, antiques, jewelry, and handicrafts. Housed in a colonial-era building are around 2000 shops in its four wings. Do take note however that the market is closed on Mondays.

free things to do yangon bogyoke aung san market

3. Marvel at the reclining giant Buddha (Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha)

Even if you’ve seen the reclining Buddha in Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Yangon’s enormous reclining Buddha is not to be missed. Buddha’s glass eyes will surely mesmerize you. Along with the details on the statue’s feet. The colors really make the colossal statue stand out.

Be sure to find the platform where you can take pictures to fit the whole Buddha into the frame.



Hit two birds with one stone by going across the street to get to Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda. It houses the large seated white Buddha in the golden robe. Keep an eye out for the impressive woodwork.


4. Inya Lake

The largest lake in Yangon is a popular respite from the chaos in the city. Do your morning walk and exercises together with the sunrise. Or wait for the sunset along with the couples from the shoreline.

Inya Lake’s southern side is where you can find some of the most exclusive properties. Most notable are Aung San Suu Kyi’s house as well as the US Ambassador’s.


5. Learn and use a few Burmese phrases

Even coming from decades of isolation, the Burmese people are one of the kindest and friendliest in Southeast Asia. don’t be afraid of talking to locals to practice a few Burmese phrases like Mingalaba (Hello) and Ché Zu Ba or Je zu tin ba deh (Thank you). They do appreciate it, and may even teach you more useful phrases.

6. People watch in Mahabandoola garden

located in the vicinity of important buildings in Yangon like Sule Pagoda, High Court, and Yangon City Hall is a public park famous for its rose garden. at the center is the Independence Monument, a white obelisk to commemorate their independence from the British, surrounded by half-lion mythical creature statues.

Best to go here in the afternoon, for people watching and relaxation. the park is well-kept, with manicured lawn, children’s playground, and a fountain.

free things to do yangon mahabandoola garden

yangon city hall myanmar

7. Join a festival

Another awesome way to experience Yangon is by participating in one of its festivals. one of the most important festivals is Thingyan (Water Festival). It is celebrated around the Burmese New Year (13th of 17th April). it is believed that the water cleanses the sins and evils from the past year.

Like the Songkran Festival in Thailand, this festival involves a lot of water and merry-making. Be prepared to stay wet throughout the day, eat free food given by Burmese locals, and party it up after sunset.


8. Check out the art scene

Art lovers will be delighted to hear that Pansodan Art Gallery does not have an entrance fee. Founded by Aung Soe Min and Nance Cunningham, this art gallery houses contemporary and antique art, showcasing the local artists. If your Tuesday night is free, swing by for their weekly event.


9. Maha Wizaya Pagoda

Located in the vicinity of Shwedagon Pagoda along Shwedagon Road, is another interesting golden pagoda. Maha Wizaya is also called as “The Generals Pagoda” because the ornamental hti (spire) was donated by a previous head of state and military leader.

Few tourists go here because of its proximity to Shwedagon. Do not forget to look up when you’re inside the pagoda and admire the colorful murals in the dome.


10. Taukkyan War Cemetery

An understated and historical place in the northern part is the Taukkyan War Cemetery. It is a serene and well-kept cemetery maintained by Commonwealth War Graves Commission. it was built to house the grave of the soldiers who died in Burma during the two World Wars. As well as the other servicemen with no known graves or whose graves cannot be maintained.


*Featured image: Karaweik by Mg Cthu from Unsplash

Yangon, Myanmar: Quick Travel Guide

How to get to Yangon:

By Air: I took a flight from Bangkok to Yangon International Airport (RGN) but there are also direct flights from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, China, Chiang Mai, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Korea, Cambodia, and Japan.

Powered by 12Go Asia system

By Land: You can cross the border by bus from Thailand and India.

From Thailand, here are the open borders:

  • Mae Sot – Myawaddy
  • Mae Sai – Tachilek
  • Ranong – Kawthoung
  • Phunaron – Htee Kee

Best time to visit:

November to February are the best months to visit because the average temperatures are cooler.

Thingyan Festival is celebrated during April and is considered as the Myanmar celebration of New Year while Shwedagon Pagoda Festival is celebrated during the full moon in March.

Currency: Burmese Kyat (MMK)

Although Burmese Kyat (pronounced as ch-yat) is used throughout the country, there are still establishments that accept US Dollars. And not just any US Dollars, it has to be crisp, pristine, and new, although I hear this practice is not that widespread anymore.

There are plenty of ATMs in Yangon and debit/credit cards are accepted as payment in major establishments. Be sure to check the fees/exchange rate or the connection before you use it. Cash is still king.

Where to exchange money in Yangon?

There are money changers available in the airport and I highly suggest that you only exchange a small amount and then wait to get to the city to exchange the rest. Check out the money changers in Bogyoke Market and around Sule Pagoda and compare rates.

Make sure to convert back your kyat as you cannot use/exchange it out of the country.

Plug Type: C, D, F, G (230V, 50Hz AC)

Is it safe to travel to Yangon? Should you visit Yangon?

From my experience visiting the city, I felt safer than when I was in Manila. Only you can answer if it is ethical to visit amidst all the news that we see in the media involving Myanmar and the Rohingya. I don’t condone all that atrocity that is being done, but of course, we must remember that there are always three sides to every story and there might be things that the media don’t show that we can only see if we go and see it for ourselves.

Also, if everyone will choose to boycott traveling to Myanmar, how about the locals who now rely on the tourism?

Have you been to Yangon? How was your experience?

Click this link for more of Myanmar!


Darlene is currently on the road again and traveling full-time after being an expat/overseas Filipino worker in Qatar. She's rediscovering what it means to travel solo and in her 30s while working on her blogs.


  • Myanmar is one of the countries of Asia that’s overlooked by most of the travelers for some reasons. I feel it’s a diverse country full of surprises, and the capital Yangon just seems to prove that. I’m planning to visit this year, and will look up all these! Good to know about the free walking tours – I would definitely love to do one.


    The first picture really got my attention.. You have an eye for photography.. The place has a lot of things to offer for free. 🙂 Who doesn’t love free things in this world? 🙂

  • I am a Myanmar lover, one of the countries that I like most in the world, spent a few days in Yangon and did everything you say in your post 😀 or better, almost everything, unfortunately, didn’t happen any festival when I was there. I loved the Pansodan Art Gallery and of course Inya Lake!

  • Yangon reminds me a lot of Cambodia, down to their alphabet. But overall I like the vibe and the feel of the city, I’m sure I’m gonna love it. Not sure when will I be able to go there but most probably I would include it if ever I go to Thailand. I can’t wait to check their art scene in particular.

  • This list is definitely helpful for first timers like me. The question is, when am I going to be here and complete all the checklist based on your guide? LOL, I’ll keep this bookmarked then.

  • This is unbelievable! I would love to visit this someday and experience the energy over there! thanks for sharing this piece! Cheers!

  • Haven’t been to Yangon sis but thinking of it as my next destination, mejo pricey the accomodations right? How is the internet here btw? Ah, and things here are free. Madami ba pogi? hahaha joke lang.. I love your photos tho.. Galing mo talaga!

  • Mikee Pascual

    The best things in life are really free! Bookmarking this piece for my future trip to Myanmar!

  • The best things in life are always free (and this is one of them!) Weeeee! I-tour mo naman po ako dito sa Myanmar ‘pag sakaling mapadpad ako dito, ate Da! I’m planning to have an Indochina trip next year and Myanmar is on the list! Weeeee! I love the Maha Wizaya and the Reclining Buddha. There’s so much to explore for free here for sure! 🙂

  • I’ve always wanted to visit this place, and you just gave me the perfect things to do there. For free! The photos are beautiful!

  • Great blog, the three things I would do is check out those humongous buddhas, go people watching in the park, I can people watch all the time without getting tired and go to the lake!

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