Another top destination in Yangon is Karaweik Palace. The palace is designed and built by Myanmar architect U Ngwe Hlaing in 1972 as a replica of Pyigyimon Royal Barge. In 1988 the building was converted into a classy restaurant cum cultural show event.
Karaweik Palace is build on the eastern shore of an artificial lake – Kandawgyi Lake located in the center of Yangon, facing the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda. The Kandawgyi Lake literally mean “great royal lake” is one of the two major lakes in Yangon. The water is coming from Inya Lake, another popular recreational area for people who lives in Yangon. The artificial Kandawgyi Lake was built during the British colonial time as a reservoir, supplying water to the city.
Gold & Red Color
The whole building of Karaweik Palace is glided with gold and resemble a royal boat. The front of the boat looks like a mythological bird from Myanmar folklore and legends. The rear of the boat is the bird’s tail. Two striking colors found are cold and red used in this magnificent building.
Karaweik Palace is now a classy restaurant and serve international buffet and cultural show while you dine.
Welcome by different ethnic tribe at the entrance walkway
The grand entrance is approached by a long walkway over the water. There are several little stalls set up and served by the ethnic minority from Myanmar. Guests are welcome to see how these snacks are made and try them out.
There are over 100 different ethnic groups in Myanmar, almost one times more than China. But majority of the group are Bamar people who make up 2/3 of the whole population. Shan is another ethinic groups in Myanmar, which are from Tai ethnic groups. Their food taste similar to Thai which I quite prefer. Original Shan people are believed to have migrated from Yunnan China. There are also Shan cuisine served in the international buffet spread in Karaweik Palace restaurant.
Some of the snacks found here are assorted fries such as pancake with peanuts, steamed rice cake & glutinous rice. Most of them are sweet snacks which topping with shredded coconut. Since it is still serving hot so it is very delicious to have few small bites.
If you are lucky, you may see the Long Neck tribe here at the grand entrance serving the Myanmar snacks at the stalls.
The Palace have a more stunning sight during the evening with the illumination reflected by the Kandawgyi Lake. If you have a good camera, you can capture the palace reflection from the lake.
Yellow cosmetic – Thanaka
Upon entry to the Karaweik Hall, there is a Myanmar lady who will help visitors to put on the Thanaka on their faces, a yellowish white cosmetic paste made from the ground bark. It is one of the signature of the culture of Myanmar. I saw almost all women with painted yellow faces when I touched down at Yangon International Airport. Thanaka seems to apply to the face of women, girls and young children. Not many found in men. Thanaka has been used by Burmese for over 2000 years, they love the fragrant scent which is similar sandalwood. It also provides protection from sunburn and believe to help improve skin from ance and gives a smoother skin.
Myanmar traditional music instruments
Myanmar music instruments are found at the entrance of the hall. The xylophone looking instrument is called “pattala” in Burmese, consisting of 24 bamboo slats suspended over a boat-shaped. It is played with two padded mallets.
The stage and dining hall at the Karaweik Palace.
International buffet spread from Japanese sushi, western roasted meat to local Myanmar & Shan cuisine. A huge variety of choice to choose from.
Myanmar Local Cuisine.
Ready to start to attack the food.
Mohinga – Myanmar National Dish
This is a must try in Myanmar, since I could not try street food as I have a weak stomach so I was so glad to find Mohinga here. It is a rice noodle soup with fish soup, usually eated for breakfast. The soup base has chickpea flour, garlic, onions, lemongrass, banana stem (eek), fish paste etc. It is served with rice vermicelli/beehoon, topped with squeeze lime, crisp fried onions, coriander, spring onions and other fried stuff. The verdict, I don’t like it as I don’t appreciate the chickpea used for soup base, very sticky and tasted weird for me. I don’t dislike all sticky base soup, I do like Lor mee. 🙂 Since it is Myanmar national dish, a must try.
The stage in Karaweik Palace aren’t big. There is an emcee who speak English throughout the whole show introducing the arts, dance and culture to the hungry audience.
The cultural show performance was not at the best cultural show I have seen so far. I usually go for cultural show performance when I travel and this one at Karaweik Palace can be quite disappointing. I suspect the dancers are not being trained properly so it looks like high school performance. Having said that the food was great, as it has a wide range to choose from. You can taste most of the local Myanmar food here at a very clean atmosphere.
A guy carrying a basket full or sticky rice wrap with banana leaf to the guests.
High school performance. 🙂
At one point, a huge elephant with bling bling costume make an entrance from the door at the dining hall, walk to the guests dining table and walk up the stage and did the funny shaking mood. As if the elephant has been injected with “ice drug”.
Colorful bling bling elephant with the shaking move as if possessed by a Demon. 🙂
Myanmar traditional puppet dance
The unusual thing about the Myanmar puppet dance is one of the dancer in the picture is not a puppet but a real human who copied from the puppets dance move.
How to go Karaweik Palace
If you are catching a taxi to Karaweik palace, you need to pay a little entrance fees for the car to bring you in to the Lake & Palace, which cost about 300 kyat (USD$0.30). The international buffet plus cultural show cost USD$30.00. Is it worth to go? Well, it depends. If you like luxury buffet spread and clean environment to dine and some taste of Myanmar culture, go for it. Another option is you can just visit the Karaweik Palace for free and exclude the fine dining and culture show , photography from the outside. Plenty of photo opportunity.
Final thoughts :
I am still happy to have dine at the Karaweik Palace as the food not are only including international buffet but also a whole range of Burmese traditional food. I have a weak stomach so I can’t taste local street food which is quite ashamed but good thing I can try them here. The cultural show was not the best as the dancers quality aren’t great but it still depict Myanmar traditional art, musics and dances from different tribes across the country.