Shwedagon Pagoda or Paya as it is known locally is a 100-metre high bell-shape structure that sits atop an octagonal base. Its complex structure is plated in gold, and the upper dome is studded with more than 5,000 diamonds and precious gems. At the tip of the stupa, a single 76-carat diamond graces this magnificent structure.
From the large open terrace that surrounds the Pagoda, you can see the whole of Yangon. The terrace is a treasure trove of hundreds of colourful shrines, pavilions, small stupas, Buddha images, and other objects of devotion. Pilgrims walk clockwise, as is tradition, around the main Pagoda, before stopping in one of the pavilions to prayer, meditate or simply contemplate.
There are four entrances leading up to the shrine, which are used by the locals. Foreign visitors are required to enter from the north gate. Along with the entrance fee there is also a camera charge. From here you take off your shoes and take the lift up to the terrace. Some people might present themselves to you as tour guides and they are usually certified by the Shwedagon Board of Trustees (ask to see their license) and speak good English.
Shwedagon is dazzling by day but becomes truly magical by night when the whole place is lit up. Expect no fewer people as streams of devotees still arrive at this hour to worship. The shrine is especially full on Buddhist religious days, which take place almost every month. The terrace tends to get very hot underfoot so avoid visiting during the hottest time of the days. Always dress modestly when visit religious sites in Asia; trousers or knee-length shorts or skirts with elbow-length sleeves are acceptable norm.
Good to know
- Opening Hours: Daily, from 04:00 to 22:00. Last admission is at 21:45
- Location: Shwedagon is located north of central Yangon, between the People’s Park and Kandawgyi Lake.
- How to get there: There are public transport options that will get you there. Consult the hotel concierge for help with bus routes or taxi.