In 2011, traffic in Yangon was fluid and old cars dominated the street-scape. Taking a taxi was entering a vehicle which you hardly believed would get you to your destination. Strict import regulation prevented people from buying cars. By the end of 2013 this changed dramatically. The cars were much less old and heavy traffic jams began to make it difficult to get from one place to another. Improvements in the road infrastructure have been made but the traffic is still very dense.
A curiosity that you will quickly discover is that most cars are imports from Korea and Japan with the steering wheel on the right hand side but driving is not on the left but also on the right.
People use smart phones and tablets everywhere in Yangon and other cities. Mobile connections are less good in the country side but improving. Norwegian Telenor has aquired one of the mobile licences, which has helped to get people on the Internet in large numbers. Internet speed is still a challenge, even with Wifi in hotels. One of the best wifi - internet connection - sponsored by Red Link - is available on the Shwe Dagon Pagoda. One thing is evident: Myanmar people are as crazy about the Internet and mobiles and apps as people in Europe or America or elsewhere.
Shopping in Yangon will not be complete if you don’t spend at least half a day in Bogyoke Market or Bogyoke Aung San Market (named after the national hero General Aung San), which is also still called ‘Scott's Market’, its former name given by the British colonial government.
There you have a huge choice of jade crafts of varied qualities at different prices, as well as jewellery made of Burmese famous rubies, sapphires and emeralds or semi-precious stones which would suit different tastes of the shoppers depending on their budget.
It is a good place to buy a gift to take home as there are shops selling all kinds of handicrafts from lacquer ware and tapestry to wooden crafts and textile products.
You just have to remember to make a clever bargain to be sure you get a good price. Going down to half of the price can normally be appropriate to start with in your bargaining.
Before 2011 you only had to pay in cash. In the meantime most dealers accept credit cards. So keep your temptation under control.
Another facet of Yangon is the heritage of colonial architecture which can be traced in many Victorian style buildings around the downtown area: Yangon City Hall, the High Court building, the Secretariat or Ministers Office, Central Railway Station, General Post-Office, Strand Hotel, Bogyoke Aung San Museum, Bo-gyoke Aung San Market (formerly Scott's Market) etc. which were built in the 19th century when the British colonial government was ruling the country.
Yangon is always associated with its legendary Shwe Dagon Pagoda as its landmark, which is the most ancient temple in Myanmar (or arguably in the world) and the highest in the region (99 meters). Shwe Dagon is also well-known for having encased the relics of Buddha which makes it the most sacred and the most worshipped pagoda of the country. The stupa is abundantly covered with genuine gold plates while the crown at the top is richly adorned with thousands of precious stones!
TAKING A TRIP
If you have a bit more time to spare in Yangon, make a short visit to Thanlyin, just half an hour’s drive from Yangon. The two-kilometre long Thanlyin bridge (crossing the Bago river) will take you to the ancient capital of Mon kings from 14th to 16th century. Thanlyin offers you interesting sights due to its diverse history: the place of Portuguese occupation in the early 17th century, the prominent port of the Taungoo Kingdom till the mid-18th century, and the oil refinery centre during the British colonial era. It also hosts Thilawa Port, the largest port of the country.
You probably get more or less everything in Yangon what you get in a supermarket at home.
City Mart, is a very good supermarket chain in Yangon. You can take a taxi to a nearby City Mart outlet (it would cost you less than 5 dollars): There are about 20 branches of City Mart supermarket altogether in Yangon and you can reach one of them easily in the main townships of Yangon such as Kamayut, Sanchaung, Bahan, Lanmadaw, Mingalar Taung Nyunt etc. The one in Bahan Township, Golden Valley Branch, is highly recommended by the locals for good quality fresh fruits and other food products.
Parkson Branch is also convenient to stop by due to its location next to Bogyoke Aung San Market.