Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the top highlight in Yangon or even in whole Myanmar. The Golden pagoda has over 2600 years old history and also the biggest in Myanmar. The precious wonder of Myanmar is a 99 m gold stupa that dominates Yangon’s skyline. Shwedagon Pagoda is a huge complex and you need at least 2 hours to explore. Here are the top tips to look out when you are in Shwedagon Pagoda.
There are four entrances (south, west, north and east). Elevators are available at the some of the entrance of the pagoda. Do remember which entrance you are coming from if you have hired a whole day taxi with you.
The Bodhi Tree here is over 100 years old, it is super huge and many local visitors are sitting under the big Bodhi Tree. Bodhi Tree is where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment while meditating underneath. The original Bodhi Tree is Bihar, India.
The meaning of Shwedagon
Shwe means gold, dagon means the ancient name of Yangon. You see the whole temple is painted with gold-plated. Myanmar’s tradition of purchasing gold leaf dates to the 15th century when the Mon Queen Shin Sawbu gave her weight in gold to Shwedagon. The contributions have been continuing ever since.
Praying Corners according to weekdays
The people are, for the most part, deeply engaged in spiritual practice. You will see moments of prayers, meditation and “bathing of the Buddha” by day of the week. There are labels with the days of the week surround the stupa. There are Monday corner, Tuesday corner, Wednesday corner (split into am and pm) and so on for up to 7 days. Depending on which day you were born and you will be praying at that particular corner. I don’t know which day of the week I was born so I was not able to do the offering of “bathing of the Buddha”. Every praying corner has a planet and an animal sign associated with it in accordance with astrology.
Bathing the Buddha
Bathing the Buddha at the corner of the day you were born will bring in good karma, so you see pilgrims queue to bathe the Buddha. Just use the cup provided and pour the water down the head and body of the baby Buddha statue multiple times.
No Shoes Allowed
The temple is so huge to walk around but no shoes is allowed. The floor may get very hot during the day and some part of the floor may be a little wet if there is rainfall earlier. There are plastic mat for walking to prevent slippery but it is quite uncomfortable as it is quite painful to step on the mat. Please be prepared to walk on bare foot for few hours. 🙂
Each temple here has their own unique style
There are many temples surrounding the Shwedagon Pagoda. Each temple has their own unique design.
Some uses more gold and some adapt the Indian arts.
The pillar here uses jade.
Monk praying aloud in a small corner
Pavilions at the temple complex
Some of the roof was done by fine wood carving, hundred years ago.
Reclining Buddha in Shwedagon Pagoda
There is a Reclining Buddha in Shwedagon Pagoda but is quite small compare to Chaukhtatgyi Buddha.
Ringing the Bell
Ringing the bell three times with the wood stick after you have done the donation, such as flower or money to the Buddha. It let the Buddha and people around you to know you have done good deeds and also bring in good karma and luck to them.
Clothing should cover knees and elbows. Women usually wear long skirt/sarong. Men too wear sarong. Strictly no shorts and tank tops.
Check out the72-Carat Diamond at the top!
People say this is the most expensive temple Pagoda in the world. It has the 72 carat diamond at the tip of the stupa! You can’t see it with your naked eyes and you may need to use a binocular to see it.
This is how it looks like, a giant 72 carat diamond accompanying with thousands of smaller diamonds.
Historical Singu Min Bell
At one glance the bell look pretty old and the bottom of the bell look chipped off. This giant bell weighs 25 tones and the British attempted to take it from the pagoda during the Anglo-Burmese War but it was too heavy and sank in Yangon River. After several years, Burmese people successfully raised the bell from the riverbed and restored to it original position at the pagoda. At the top of the bell, there are several hand painted pictures showing the history of the bell. Remeber to look up at these pictures.
Best time to visit
For me the best time to visit is early morning as people are lesser and easier for photography. But in the evening it would be very interesting as you get to see changes of lights but fill with people. It is up to you.
Final thoughts :
There are too many things to see in Shwedagon Pagoda. I have hired a tour guide which cost Myanmar Kyat 5000 per person, about USD3.5 (SGD 5). There are many tour guides at the entrance and I am pretty sure they will come to you in no time. Burmese people speak good English as it was used to be colonised by the British.
Shwedagon Pagoda is the number one top attractions in Myanmar!
I am pretty sure this temple is one of the best one in Myanmar. Even my friend said the same thing when he has gone for Myanmar. But I am not much into temples and all, but I am pretty sure, I can suggest this anyone who is going for Myanmar.
This is one of the best I have ever seen so far, comparing Thailand, Cambodia and China. It is also the biggest and the oldest in the world.
Wow! Wat a magnificent arena…. I’ve never been to these part of the world but hope to be there someday.
Myanmar is formally known as Burma which have over 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. It has strong influence from the neighboring countries.
ON MY TRAVEL BUCKET LIST FOR SURE!!!! Definitely want and need to go here! 🙂
I wouls lovw to see this in person. The treasures throughout are fantastic!
There’s so much to see in the world. The pictures look absolutely gorgeous. I would love to go to Myanmar some day,
I agree with you that the world has so much to offer, you realize you are different and similar in some way.
Oh wow what an absolutely stunning looking place to go and explore. Buddhist Temples are always so beautiful! Full of colour.
The magnificent-looking Shwedagon Pagoda which is also known as the Golden Pagoda is painted in gold color. The gold seen on the stupa is made of genuine gold plates that came from the donations of Myanmar people from all over the country and from monarchs in its history.
Such elegant buildings. Thanks for explaining the rituals as i never knew about these.
Those buildings look gorgeous and full of so much history. I’d love to have the chance to explore her someday.
How beautiful! I would love to go here one day. I always want to learn more about other cultures.
Oh wow. This looks stunning! I bet it looks even more beautiful in person!
Yeah I agree. Amazing pictures thanks for sharing.
Wow… Thank you for this visual odessy. I would love to actually visit someday. Perhaps, soon! So much history and so much to learn about. Thanks for sharing a part of it.
True, anything over 2000 years old is magnificient to me. I can’t believe we are still able to see this wonder.
Wow..It looks really beautiful. I have never seen this type of temples before.
This stupa is a bell shape usually can be seen in Bangkok, Thailand, Combodia and some part of China – Tibet.
Another historical place in Asia. Already added to our bucket list. We love to visit spiritual places. We are curious to see 72-Carat Diamond at the top! Thanks for the review
There is a museum in the Shwedagon Pagoda complex where you can see all the pictures of the diamonds and gems stones used at the top f the stupa. You can’t see them with naked eyes as it is too far from the ground.
I would like to explore Myanmar with my family. I wonder though if it is affordable to go there, like compared to Hong Kong?
Myanmar is so affordable to go as compared to Hong Kong. Eating and traveling with “Grab” taxi or taxi is so cheap. I would say is 1/3 to 1/4 of Hong Kong price. Eg, eating in a decent restaurant is quite reasonable, about USD 3-5 dollar for a dish. If you choose to eat on the street, I think is less than a dollar (USD). I have a weak stomach so I usually eat at the restaurant. We have 3 adults and our meals usually cost USD 15-25 dollars which include 3-4 dishes, vegetables, 2 type of meats, rice and drinks & dessert.
This looks like it would be such an amazing trip. There are so many beautiful sights to see!
“Bathing the Buddha” is one of the must see in Shwedagon Pagoda. You see pilgrims washing the little Buddha head by pouring the waters multiple times.
I loved it! Looks very interesting, I hope I visit soon 🙂
I started my six month trip across America and I’m already planning my next trip. Mynmar has now made the top of my travel list thanks to you. Great article and photos!
If you are planning trip to Asia, you may want to include Myanmar as it is quite cheap and easy to explore.
Wow, the structure looks amazing! I am in Asia and would love to visit this place!
Since you are in Asia, this is one of the places you may want to consider visiting. You get to see the temples and pagoda and also budget friendly. Still quite different from Thailand.
Wow! I’d love to travel here. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and post. You’re very knowledgeable!
I would absolutely love to go here ! You’ve taken amazing quality pictures at such great angles !
Thank you for your comment. It is pretty hard to shoot the picture with the huge stupa and furthermore people are everywhere. Come early in the morning before crowds started to fill in this temple complex. However, evening before sunset would be interesting to see as the colors changes and light up but just too crowded. I still opt for morning.
Myanmar is one of the most visited places in Asia. It’s a fun- and culture-filled place. your shots are really good as well. This is such a very nice share 🙂
Thank you for commenting. Myanmar is also one of the cheapest place to travel. Things are fairly cheap compared to other part of Asia. W hire the whole day taxi for 10 hours only rougly cost USD 35.00 using “Klook” to book. Sit up to 4 pax.
I agree with you. I would love to explore the nearby cities as well and taste their local cuisines.
That place is really something unbelievable! It looks stunning!
There are great pictures! Looks like you had a great time. I would love to visit here one day.
I did have a great time enjoying the beautiful architecture of the Stupas and temples complex in Shewedagon Pagoda. The only challenge I am facing is walking on barefoot, not even with socks for 2 hours. If you choose to walk on the mat provided which can be quite painful and if you choose to walk on the ground, it can be quite hot and slippery when there is water. I lost my balance few times and almost fell down but luckily didn’t.
The gold stupa is just magnificent. The post is so beautiful that I felt, I was there. The pics are amazing as well. Just loved it.
I love visiting temples and this just looks so great! Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is definitely on my list now.
After reading your story, I am completely sold! Myanmar is in my bucket list now 😀
The pagoda is absolutely beautiful – I am just amazed that the diamond at the top is still there and hasn’t been stolen! I would love to visit someday 🙂
I actually thought of that too. Lol, I guess to be able to reach high up there is one challenge and the second challenge could be it can be too heavy. 🙂 Or may be Burmese wont steal as they are religious people and wont want bad thing happen to them so they wont steal the diamonds or things from the temple complex.
I would love to visit this pagoda. Your pictures make me feel like I am there in real life :), they tell your adventure so vividly
Myanmar is about Pagodas and there are so many pagodas everywhere. However Shwedagon Pagoda is the biggest and also the most expensive in the whole country. This is one of the “star” pagoda that you cannot miss while touring in Myanmar.
I wanna visit this place someday… a lot of my friends told me its a good country to visit… Thank you for this guide! 🙂