When we were planning our trip to Myanmar with kids, I was told by several people not to bother visiting Yangon with kids. I am so pleased I didn’t listen to them! I loved exploring Yangon with kids. Sure, it doesn’t have any theme parks, or major family attractions, but it was a fascinating city to discover, and with a bit of forward planning, there is plenty to keep the kids interested and entertained.
As we only had one day in Yangon with kids, we booked a private day tour of Yangon through tour company THAHARA, where we had our own car and driver to enable us to fit in as much as possible.
Read on to discover our suggestions of things to do in Yangon with Kids.
Downtown Yangon has a surprising number of colonial buildings (the highest number of colonial building in Southeast Asia according to Wikipedia) – a nod to the days of the British Empire. While some of these buildings have been restored to house banks or hotels, the majority have deteriorated over the decades and remain derelict, with trees and shrubs growing out from between the crumbling brickwork.
The streets surrounding the colonial remnants give a fascinating glimpse into local Yangon life, with locals tucking into breakfast at the street-side stalls, and selling their wares on street corners.
In the heart of the Yangon Colonial District, you will find the Maha Bandula Gardens, home to the Independence Monument. It’s a nice place for a stroll to take in the surrounding buildings, and if you are in Yangon with kids, there is a small playground here where they can run off steam.
Exploring the Yangon Colonial District with kids was much more fun thanks to our Leap & Hop travel book, which included a Yangon Heritage Quiz Walk and a Scavenger Hunt of different religious buildings to look out for. I definitely recommend getting a copy if you are planning to visit Myanmar with Kids.
The Sule Pagoda is surprising as it is located right in the heart of downtown Yangon, its Stupa rising out from amongst shops and heavy traffic. Believed to be around 2,500 years old, the Sule Pagoda has been an important focal point in Yangon history and Burmese politics, serving as the rally point for pro-democracy demonstrations in both the 1988 Uprising and the Saffron Revolution.
The Sule Pagoda is much less visited than the more famous Shwedagon Pagoda, but we enjoyed circumnavigating the stupa, taking in the golden shrines and images of Buddha – and the kids loved hunting down all the different bronze bells to ring. Definitely worth exploring if you are in Yangon’s Colonial District.
Lunch at Rangoon Tea House
We were a little underwhelmed by the food in general in Myanmar – it certainly didn’t compete in our minds with its neighbouring cousins of Thailand and Vietnam. An exception to this was the Rangoon Tea House in Yangon. What a find this family friendly restaurant in Yangon was!
This bright and breezy restaurant has a modern yet authentic feel, and is apparently reminiscent of the grand teahouses found in Rangoon during the British colonial heyday. On the menu we found a wide selection of traditional Burmese dishes, plus salads, curries, grilled meats. I can highly recommend both the samosa salad, and the chicken biryani! They also boast a fun looking selection of locally inspired cocktails and a whole menu of different teas, although we chose to partake in Myanmar beer.
Find it at 77-79 Pansodan Road, 2nd Floor
Ice Cream at Sharky’s
Right next door to the Rangoon Tea House is another little treasure – Sharky’s. This restaurant and deli is a great one-stop shop for gourmands, boasting a wide range of homemade artisan cheeses and bread, snacks, sausages and dry-aged beef. If you are visiting Yangon with kids, then be sure to stop in here for some homemade ice-cream as a welcome break to sightseeing.
Find it at 81 Pansodan Road
Bogyoke Aung San Market
We decided to walk off our curry and ice cream with a visit to the Bogyoke Aung San Market. This huge covered bazaar houses more than 2,000 shops and stalls selling a wide variety of clothing, souvenirs, jewellery, artwork and handicrafts. It is definitely fun to spend an hour or so squeezing your way through the stalls and bargaining for souvenirs.
Bogyoke Aung San Museum
We’ve all heard of Aung San Suu Kyi these days, but this museum tells the story of her father, General Aung San. The founding father of modern Myanmar was responsible for bringing about Burma’s independence from British rule, although he was assassinated six months before actual independence.
The museum is located in the house where General Aung San and his family lived and includes a selection of photos and political speeches, in addition to displays of the family bedrooms and family rooms. If, like me, you know very little about Burmese history, this little museum is definitely worth popping into, although there isn’t much to keep the kids entertained here (although my kids seemed quite happy chasing each other up and down the stairs).
Sunset At Shwedagon Pagoda
Talk about saving the best til last! The Shwedagon Pagoda is unbelievable! This is Myanmar’s most sacred pagoda, as it is believed to enshrine eight hairs of Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former Buddhas.
There is plenty to be impressed about at the Shwedagon Pagoda – the golden stupa that forms the centerpiece of the pagoda is nearly a hundred metres tall and is entirely covered with gold plates. The umbrella crown at the top is covered with more than 5,000 diamonds and 2,000 rubies – and is finished off with a 76-carat diamond. No wonder it shimmers so much!
There is plenty of fun to be had with the kids at the Shwedagon Pagoda – see our article Sunset at the Shwedagon Pagoda for inspiration.
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Mum on the Move were guests of THAHARA for this tour – this in no way affected my review, and all opinions expressed are honest, and my own. You can visit the THAHARA website here.