Shwedagon Pagoda – Pictures of Burma’s Most Sacred Site

Shwedagon Pagoda Pictures

Shwedagon Pagoda Pictures

It was one of the first things pointed out as we cruised along the bumpy road in to Yangon after landing.

The driver of the taxi had motioned, saying “look over there, the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most important temple in Yangon.”

Shwe Dagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

From our distant position on the road all I could see was the tip of the pagoda, though it was a rather large tip.

It produced a radiation of dominance, an unspoken cry for respect and awe.

The unmistakably golden top discharged the shimmer of a star.

Shwedagon Pagoda Pictures

Entrance of the Shwedagon Pagoda

The next day, I returned to see the Shwedagon Pagoda up close and take some pictures of the temple.

At the entrance gate I took off my shoes, paid my $5 entrance fee and continued up the escalator to reach the terrace floor of the temple. It almost seemed like a community hang out, there were kids and even families moving around, taking naps and spending time together.

The initial view was blinding as the rays of the sun bounced off the gold.

The monstrous bell shaped stupa rises to a height of 99 meters and is covered in thousands of plates of authentic gold. At the top of the stupa is a little umbrella like decoration that includes 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies, sapphires and other precious gems. Finally at the very tippy top is said to be a giant 76 carat diamond.

There’s a telescope mounted on one of the sides of the temple and if you can get a chance it’s well worth it to catch a glimpse of the glamorous tip of the stupa.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

Pulling out my sunglasses to avoid scorching my eye-balls on the reflection, I walked a few circumferences around the pagoda. The whole complex was an entire city of marble and gold.

Pictures of Shwedagon Pagoda

Pictures of the Golden Wall

I took a liking to this particular wall that was huge in size and embedded with intricate golden detailed relief carvings.

Shwedagon Pagoda Pictures, Yangon, Burma

Shwedagon Pagoda Pictures, Yangon, Burma

A Brief History of the Shwedagon Pagoda

The Shwedagon Pagoda was first built around 2500 years ago, though the exact date is unknown.

As it is told, there were two brothers who were able to meet Guatama Buddha and were given 8 strands of his hair to take back to Burma. After locating the hill which had already been blessed with a number of of other relics, the brothers decided it would make a perfect place to build what is today the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Since the temple was built, it has gone through a series of earthquakes and natural disasters, but has survived and been repaired to its current state. For around 500 years now the temple has been the holiest site of pilgrimage for Buddhists in Burma.

Ceremony at the Shwedagon Pagoda

Ceremony at the Shwedagon Pagoda

While continuing to circumference the pagoda, a group of Burmese entered from the back entrance, all formally dressed. After paying respect, they walked around the pagoda in a single file line carrying offerings on their heads and some holding elaborate umbrellas.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

The tremulous golden twinkle as the backdrop for the men and women in their traditional dress and their disciplined formation was an incredible site.

Golden Shwedagon Pagoda Pictures

Golden Shwedagon Pagoda Pictures

When I first arrived in Yangon, I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical – I thought I could see it all from the road and not have to dish out the $5 entrance fee. I know it’s not a lot of money, but my brain is trained to think in terms of cuisine, and $5 will buy quite a significant amount of Burmese food!

I’m very glad I decided to pay the fee and enter the temple, it really was an amazing monument and seeing the ceremony was also a great observation.

Along with visiting the vibrant Thiri Mingalar Market, the Shwedagon Pagoda was one of the most memorable sights I had while visiting Yangon, Myanmar (Burma).

If you are visiting Yangon, be sure to take a look the important Yangon travel information before you get there.

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  1. Michael Figueiredo says

    WOW! This is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing…. I’ll definitely have to add Golden Shwedagon Pagoda to my list of places I want to visit. :)

  2. Don says

    Yes, Shwedagon Pagoda is amazing. It was one of the most memorable sights for me too while visiting Yangon. It’s even more spectacular at night.

  3. says

    to my tasting, shedagon paya is definitely not the most impressive paya in burma, though, of course, it’s quite huge…
    i personally enjoyed much more smaller shwesigon payas both in moniwa and bagan.

    • says

      Hey Vickie,
      Smaller temples in Burma and in Yangon are also very nice. I’ve only spent time in Yangon, but I would love to visit Bagan at some point as well.

    • says

      Hey Grace,
      Yes, the faucet is used to fill little cups of water and then pour them over the statues of Buddha (at least that’s what I saw many people doing). Not sure of all the specifics…

  4. says

    Oh WOW!!! I am so dead keen to get to Burma. I’m just worried I won’t be able to get a visa. I am just dying to see all these wonderful places and eat the food.

  5. says

    Mark, these are awesome photos! Burma has always alluded me, I’ve had to cancel two trips there due to sudden changes in Visa policy. I’ll get there someday! These photos inspire me to do it sooner rather than later.

    • says

      Thanks Samuel,
      Burma really is a spectacular country with amazing things to see and people to meet. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to visit soon, I know you will enjoy it.

  6. says

    Mark, one day You should visit Bagan in Burma. I am going to visit Bagan on 26th Dec. I am excited for my upcoming trip. There is another beautiful place, you should visit too, Inle Lake.

  7. says

    The ceremony you saw on Shwedagon Pagoda was when a boy become novice and the man after 18 years old become monk. Of course, it might not be for life time monks. But as a Burmese Buddhist, it is important ceremony for their sons. As daughters would not get a chance to do these kind of ceremony.

    The faucet is for the offering of water to Buddha, there are total of 5 types of offerings. Water is one of them. By offering water, we pray for a few things such as peaceful life, Wealth and health as water is symbol of cleanliness, coldness and wealth. Well, there might be more meaning. But this is my understanding.

    BTW, since you are traveling for foods, I would recommend you to go to Shan state, i.e Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake, Taung Gyi. As there are very nice foods originated from these state.
    The food are normally mixture of Chinese & Thai style.
    Such as, Shan Noodle (you might have tried it in Yangon, but over there taste better),
    Tofu Nway (warm Tofu with noodle and minced meat),
    ngar hta min chin (Sour Rice mixed with Fish), a lot more etc….
    You can get it on street as well as on restaurant. I would prefer Street Food if my stomach allowed.

    I really wish to see your food review on those foods. I enjoyed your video on Youtube and I commented there as well. I liked that you reply almost all of comments.

    Come again and try those foods from other state in Burma. Some I even haven’t tried.

    • says

      Hi Mabaydar, thanks so much for the great and insightful comment. It’s so cool to hear about what that ceremony was from a local that knows much more about it than I do! I also appreciate the advice about food in Burma, I really do love to eat, and those dishes all sound delicious. Next time I return to Burma, I will definitely try to visit Shan state.

      I try to reply back to all comments, because I really appreciate when people take the time to leave me a comment. Thanks for your support and all your great tips!

      What part of Burma are you from?

      • says

        I am from Yangon. My parents love traveling and we went around Myanmar whenever our family got chance.

        My dad is like you, Willing to try local food wherever he go. I am picky eater when I was young. But Now I come to like most of the food I didn’t eat last time. Like “Shan Noodle & Tofu Nway”. Tofu Fritter becomes my favorite now.
        I wonder how do u control you weight when going around eating all good stuffs. :)

        I definitely think you will love Shan State and the food there.
        I don’t know You have seen on Youtube of “Luke Nguyen” who goes around and cooking in my country. I enjoyed his video as well.


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