Shwedagon Paya, also known as the Golden Pagoda (Great Dragon Pagoda) can be found in the northern part of central Yangon, west of 114-acre Royal Lake in Singuttara Hill just between Kandawgyi and People’s Park. Dominating the city’s skyline, the gilded pagoda as well as the stupa stands at 99 meters (325ft) and people believe that the Shwedagon Paya exudes harmony to individuals on the enlightenment path in the city and throughout the country.
Considered to be the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, it houses relics of the four enshrined Buddhas—Konagamana’s water filter, Kassapa’s piece of robe, Kakusandha’s staff and Gautama’s eight strands of hair. An exact replica of the pagoda, called the Uppatasanti Pagoda is located in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s new capital.
Highlights of your tour
Your visit to Myanmar will never be complete without including a tour to the 2,600-year old pagoda that is world-renowned for its gold plating and its stupa encrusted with diamonds. In addition, Shwedagon Paya has become a repository of Burmese heritage especially in sculpture, arts and architecture. Archaeologists and some historians claim that the pagoda was erected by the people of Mon in the 6th and 10th centuries CE. At present, this religious tourist spot is managed by the Board of Trustees of Shwedagon Pagoda.
Be charmed by the tinkling chimes that resemble incantation mumbles and the magnificent glow of candles accompanied with the soft reverberation of the gong. Also, expect to be embraced by the warm thick air infused with the scents of incense and jasmine while going around the pagoda. Shwedagon Paya usually opens daily at 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. except for the Waxing Day of Tabaung (Myanmar Lunar Month Tabaung’s day before full moon day, around March) and Waxing Day of Wakhaung (Maynmar Lunar Month Wakhaung’s day before full moon day, around June and start of the Buddhist Lent), when the pagoda is open for 24 hours.
Important details to know
Admission fee is pegged at $5 and this includes a lift ride to the stupa. If you want to bring a camera with you, an additional $5 will be charged upon entrance but this is not regularly enforced.
It would be very helpful to know the climate in Yangon before heading to Shwedagon Paya. In the metropolitan area, temperatures range from 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. During the monsoon season, the temperatures range from 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
A dress code for visitors is also being carried out as a sign of respect when visiting the religious destination. You will be required to dress modestly and properly—knee-length shorts or skirts, pants, shirts with elbow-length sleeves and other ensemble on the conservative side. Also, you must take off your footwear before entering the premises.
The eastern and southern entrances have elevators and the western entrance is equipped with an escalator. For differently-abled visitors, the main platform and its concessions are accessible by wheelchair. The Information Center also offers a limited number of wheelchairs for those who need them. Burmese people walk around the stupa in a clockwise manner (let ya yit).
Shwedagon Paya has already smitten millions of visitors from around the world with its unique mysterious charms and marvelous, one-of-a-kind architecture. If you and your family are planning to embark on an Asian tour soon, don’t forget to include this site in your itinerary. It’s guaranteed that you can never resist the magical allure of the pagoda.