If you had only enough time in Yangon for one site, then you’d make it the Shwedagon Pagoda.
The centre of this large complex is a big, golden stupa. Around the stupa are many more small shrines, such as particular shrines for each day of the week, together with other smaller halls and shrines. There are hundreds of statues and it is a good place to stroll around and watch visitors, worshipers and tourists. As with other Buddhist temples in Myanmar you must dress modestly and take off both your shoes and socks.
The best time to go is probably for sunset as the colours really are beautiful and candles are lit. It’s also much cooler than the heat of the day so you will come out with the skin still on the soles of your feet. However, we went at dawn too, and that was a much more peaceful time to go as it was far less crowded. It is a working temple, so expect to see locals land pilgrims worshipping. We spent some time just sitting, contemplating and taking a moment to breathe.
The electric lights (some of them flashing) seem to be a little garish from a western perspective – I am used to much more reserved places of worship, however, they are certainly eye catching. We also spent a lot of time playing with the new camera that Andrew gave me for Christmas trying out different settings to see the effects we could get.
There are two ways to access the pagoda. You can take a lift up, or walk up the stairs. The stairs have shops selling prayer beads and the like on each side. You must take off your shoes before you get in the lift or before starting the climb up the stairs.