I had the greatest pleasure of spending two days in Yangon with Belmond Governor’s Residence. Located in a quietly leafy residential area of Yangon’s traditional Embassy quarter, and within walking distance of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, it’s the perfect base to explore the city.
Despite being so central, Belmond Governor’s Residence felt secluded and private. There is a calmness that relaxes you and helps you truly switch off. Apart from the beautiful swimming pool, my favourite part about this place is having to walk through lush greenery to get from one part of the property to another, as it allows me the opportunity to reconnect with nature. Even the sound of Belmond Governor’s Residence is magical: lively birds chirping away, rustling leaves, and the soothing running water in ponds scattered all around the property. There is no where better to call home in Yangon than Belmond Governor’s Residence.
The clue to the history of Belmond Governor’s Residence lies in its name. This is where the governor of Kaya State used to live. The mansion was built in the 1920s with teak, a popular type of wood in Myanmar which is highly durable.
At Belmond, you can expect uniformly excellent service. The staff are so friendly and attentive, and the food is simply amazing. I especially enjoyed the traditional Burmese breakfast and the fresh tropical fruit selection. To add to the Burmese experience, I also dined to live "saung" (Burmese traditional harp) music each morning.
When in Yangon, you simply cannot miss the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. While we were there, the stupa was being renovated, but we could faintly see the real gold plates that covers the stupa. We visited during sunset, and the golden light makes the place shine even more brightly. When the night falls, the candles were lit and it was magical.
We also took the local circular train to the central train station, just to catch a glimpse of real life in Yangon. Although a ride on the full route is possible, we only took a few stops, as the train moves extremely slowly - the full route would have taken us 3 hours. Here we found vendors walking from cabin to cabin selling things like food, vegetables, seasonal fruit and cigarettes.
On the second day, we took a private tour to Bago, a neighbouring city an hour drive away from Yangon. We saw the Kanbawzathadi Palace, a ornate golden palace, reconstructed to the original built in the 16th century. Its details are so intricate and reminiscent of the prosperous times during the rule of King Bayinnaung.
In Myanmar, there are more than 500,000 permanent monks today. It’s a Buddhist-majority country, so almsgiving is a very common practice. To participate in or witness this ceremony which takes place daily, you can just visit a monastery. We did just that and watched the monks have their final meal of the day at 10.30am in their communal dining hall.
Along the roads of Bago we spotted lots of fruit stalls. We stopped by one of them and had a taste of some of the melons. They were in season and absolutely delicious.
Just before we headed back to Yangon, we popped into one of the pottery workshops in Bago to learn about how they make clay pots from river mud. It was very interesting to watch, as the process is very labour intensive.
Thank you to Belmond Governor’s Residence for having us. We were kindly gifted accommodation, food and the tour during our time in Yangon and Bago. All words, images and opinions are my own.
5 Taw Win Rd