Shop: Pomelo - This bright and cheerful shop sells a variety of cool products and souvenirs, like jewelry, picture frames, ornaments, bags, and blankets. But best of all, the proceeds directly benefit the local artisans that made the products, many of whom are struggling with poverty and illness. It's open late and makes a great stop before dinner at Monsoon next door.
Elegant Gems - The gem market was closed when we were there, so my hotel recommended this spot and I'm happy I went here. I really wanted a peridot (my August birthstone) ring and found the perfect one here. You'll get a 15% discount if you bring cash. Close to Acacia Tea Salon.
The Strand Hotel shops - These shops were really lovely and offered some of the best shopping in town selling artwork (River Gallery), housewares, jewelry, figurines, and more. Even if you're not staying, stop in to browse.
Explore: Fortune Teller - My friend, National Geographic photographer Catherine Karnow, sent me the business card of a fortune teller in Yangon (written entirely in Burmese) before I left. A comedy of errors ensued, after calling the number on the card and finding out she had changed addresses. Depending on who we talked to, the new one either didn't exist or was "impossible" to find in a "maze" of streets. But with the help of the Strand Hotel staff, one amazing driver, and some locals on the street, we were able to find her, on a quiet residential street (most of Yangon's fortune tellers are clustered around the Shwedagon Pagoda but she wasn't). She speaks no English so our driver Mr. T also served as translator the best he could. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt, I cried because she just KNEW so many things. She is a true fortune teller in the most magical sense. But....she will only be at this address for another "year or so" so if I return, it will be another adventure to find her.
If you go: see business card below and have someone call for you. She would not give me a new address because she might move. If you hire Mr. T. as your driver, he will probably remember!
Reclining Buddha (Chauk Htat Gyi)
Stay: The Strand Hotel
Guide: "Mr. T." - Hla Htay - We hired Mr. T. outside the Strand Hotel on a whim and he was absolutely amazing. I needed to see a lot in one day and for 8 hours, he drove around hitting everything on my list. Very reasonable and speaks good English.
Eat: Rangoon Tea House
Acacia Tea Salon - Yangon's British history means that afternoon tea is still popular. I loved this patisserie, which also serves lunch. The second floor has a small balcony with one table and if it's not too hot, this is the place to be.
Spa: La Source