Inner Circle

Finding Wellness in Yangon

Moe Thet War takes us to her favourite spots in Yangon for a healthy dose of peace and quiet.

Finding Wellness in Yangon
If you find yourself yearning to slow down, take a brief respite from the hustle and bustle at one of these sanctuaries of wellness strewn across the city.

Although Yangon is no longer the official capital of Myanmar, it remains the heart of the country in all but name. Formerly known as Rangoon, the city is a rare blend of old and new in the 21st century as it strives to maintain its authenticity while simultaneously catching up with the rest of the world.

Whether it’s your first, second, or fifth time visiting, give yourself a day to wander around. You can easily lose track of time among the gleaming jewellery stalls and colourful fabric shops of Bogyoke Market, or in the nooks and crannies of the downtown grid. That being said, if, on the other hand, you find yourself yearning to slow down, take a brief respite from the hustle and bustle at one of these sanctuaries of wellness strewn across the city. 

Kandawgyi Park

Yangon is home to several parks, but it is in the 110-acre Kandawgyi Park you can stroll around Kandawgyi Lake and take in the view of Karaweik, the giant floating “palace restaurant” on a wooden walkway near the southern bank. The rest of the park is also great grounds for exercise, whether you want to have a yoga session under a large tree or jog around the peaceful premises. Alternatively, sit down at one of the several restaurants within the park perimeter to enjoy the breeze and, if you’re visiting during the hot season, take shelter from the blazing Yangon sun.

Shwedagon Pagoda

In spite of being the city’s most famous landmark, Shwedagon Pagoda has a remarkably calm and serene atmosphere that lends itself as a great place to meditate or generally just relax any time during the day. However, if you really want to avoid the crowds, get there early in the morning — it opens at 4 am — and you’ll have the whole place to yourself, save for a few like-minded individuals.

Yangon Bakehouse (30 Inya Road)

Yangon Bakehouse’s newer and bigger location at the end of a quiet lane off Inya Road is one of the few cafés in town where you can actually hear yourself think. If it’s not raining, I like to take advantage of its huge green garden and opt to sit outside while I sip my cup of tea and enjoy one of their delicious sandwiches. 

The Bakehouse is also a social enterprise that trains women from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them earn their livelihoods, so every kyat you pay goes towards an amazing cause.

Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue (26th Street, Middle Block)

It might surprise visitors to know that among Yangon’s mosques, churches, and many pagodas, there actually exists a Jewish synagogue just downtown. The country’s only Jewish house of worship, the Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue is maintained by Yangon’s Jewish population of about 20. You might have a bit of trouble finding it — mainly because not even many locals are aware of its existence — but with its high ceilings and simple yet elegant white and blue colour scheme, the serene interiors of this hidden temple are a stark juxtaposition to the outside chaos of 26th Street.

Chaukhtatgyi Paya (Shwegondaing Road)

The Chaukhtatgyi (meaning “six steps”) Buddha Temple is a little out of the way, but that’s exactly what makes it so great for people wanting a break from the downtown chaos. The 66-metre long reclining Buddha statue inside is one of the largest Buddha statues in the country. There’s not necessarily as much to “see” here compared to larger religious sites such as Shwedagon, but if you want to meditate at a smaller, quieter temple outside of the city centre, Chaukhtatgyi is a good choice. Make sure you go to the elevated platform at the Buddha’s feet for some truly stunning photos. 

Health Club at Sule Shangri-La, Yangon (223 Sule Pagoda Road)

After a long day of exploring the city, step inside one of Shangri-La’s treatment suites and pamper yourself at one of the most luxurious spas in Yangon. Offering an extensive list of choices to help you unwind, spoil yourself at the spa with a relaxing Deep Tissue Massage or a therapeutic Bamboo Body Scrub. If you really want to indulge, opt for one of the carefully designed treatment combinations — my favourite is the Oasis Beauty package, which includes a pampering facial, foot scrub and the popular “Aroma Relax” massage.


 Book a two-night stay at Sule Shangri-La, Yangon from just 5,000 GC Award Points per night Back to Inspiration 

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