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Yangon: a Former British Capital in Southeast Asia

Formerly the capital of the British colony, Yangon remains the city with the largest number of colonial buildings from all South-East Asia. Wandering across this historical borrow of Yangon you’ll see many Eastern Europe influenced buildings, former Burmese governmental offices now abandoned and occupied by Burmese families. Here’s a rundown of some of the former colonial sites you can visit in Yangon.

 

Streets and Buildings…..

  • The Roads of the Former Colonials

Many of the colonial-era buildings can be found along these main roads: Strand Road, Maha Bandula Road and Anawratha Road. These three roads constitute the core center of Yangon, and gather the main part of the colonial buildings.

 

Colonial Building_Yangon City Hall

 

  • Buildings of the Past

Let’s start your trip in the late 19th early 20th with a visit to the former British colonial city center. Here stands Yangon City Hall, one of the most impressive buildings downtown facing Mahabandula Park and Sule Pagoda. Its construction started in 1926 and lasted until 1936.  This building has been renovated many times to keep its initial beauty. Walking around you’ll find on your way to the Custom House and the High court building, also known as parliament of justice, where the government settled its head offices in 1962 after World War II. Not far from the river stands the Inland Water transport building which manages passenger cruises and cargo ships.

One of the most famous buildings remaining is the Strand Hotel, the last colonial Hotel still in activity. This Victorian style Hotel was built in 1896 by two American brothers.  Don’t hesitate to go inside to have a drink or have a look at its architecture. One of the highlights of Yangon former government is the Minister’s building, home and administration seat of British Burma built in late 1800 and the tragic place where General Aung San and 6 of its cabinet ministers were assassinated in July 1947. This 215 years old building is now left abandoned.

Did this fascinating historical borrow arouse your curiosity and you would like to know more about it? We will be more than happy to arrange you a guide who will lead you across Yangon’s city center and relate with passion every building and streets history.

 

Mahabandula-Park---Colonial-Building-Walking-Tour

 

Creating Your Walking Tour….

  • Self-discovery or personalized tour

If you’d rather wander on your own, admire the buildings and take some nice picture, this is  a tour you can do by yourself. Before you go, armed yourself with a map, choose in advance all the places you would like to see and choose an itinerary you can follow easily. I would recommend you to start from Mahabandula Park facing the 2000 years old Sule Pagoda and Yangon’s City Hall and from here you’ll have easy access to many main streets such as Mahabandula Road and Bank Street. Don’t worry, you’ll easily recognize colonial buildings and their unique architecture and on the way you’ll see many food stalls and markets where you can stop to enjoy some local food or have tea.

The best moment of the day to visit Yangon’s city center is early morning before the streets become too busy and the sun too strong or in the late afternoon when the sun goes down and the temperature cools down.

 

Colonial Building

 

Downtown walk

As night falls, the temperature will go down, if you still have energy after this busy day, on the way back you can stop at Zina Man Aung Kyaut Taung Pagoda, also located on Lashio road, or if you’d rather wander around the city, have a look at traditional British colonial houses, have a drink somewhere enjoying the sunset before to have dinner it’s also a good option!

 

Colonial Building _Emanuel Baptist Church

Conclusion

Myanmar’s uniqueness comes from its historical past. Its wealth and diversity of architecture due to its colonial past give to Yangon this special atmosphere you can’t find in any other South-East Asian city. Unfortunately, many of these buildings are now left abandoned or are falling apart. The Burmese Government understood the importance of this heritage and try its best to preserve it.

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