The most sacred and impressive destination for travellers, pilgrims, and residents, Shwedagon Pagoda stands witness to the history and importance of Buddhism in Myanmar (Burma). Almost 110 meters in height, covered with hundreds of gold plates – and the top of stupa coated with diamonds, the structure of the pagoda is truly amazing. The current structure is accepted by historians to originate from the 10th century AD.
The pagoda is located on Singuttara Hill which is west of the Royal Kandawgyi Lake. The pagoda contains important Buddhist relics including hairs of Gautama Buddha himself. There are a lot of legends about this pagoda as well as academic history, and visitors can learn more detail within the pagoda compound and photo gallery on the platform.
There are four entrances with staircases in unique styles. A pair of fantastical lions guard each entrance. Visitors will encounter a lot of vendors selling gold leafs, traditional toys, musical instruments, lucky charms, and many other items at the South and East entrances. The Western entrance is is the only one with an escalator stair and is more quiet. The North entrance gives a shorter way to reach the hill and has a visitor center for foreign tourists. Apart from the West entrance, all three entrances have the option to take an elevator.
In the pagoda compound, there are eight corners representing days from Sunday to Monday, plus Yar Hu which divides Wednesday into two parts. If a person born on a Tuesday visits the pagoda, he or she will donate flowers or water and pray at the corresponding Tuesday corner.
A few unique and astonishing Buddha images can be found on the pagoda complex: Dhama Seidi, Sun & Moon Buddha, Lawka Parla Mal Taw are the most popular places. There are donation boxes located in every corner of the places for different purposes, for example for renovation, for flowers, electricity, water, etc…
Every travel itinerary of course puts Shwedagon at the top of the list. Travelers frequently request to visit a second time before they leave the country. But the Shwedagon Pagodia is not only popular with foreign tourists, but also is highly important to local worshipers as well. Most Buddhist people spend a peaceful time with family sitting on the platform while admiring the magnificent pagoda. and Burmese usually walk clockwise around the stupa on the platform. A strict dress retriction is not imposed but basically ladies are not allowed to wear shorts, and all visitors must take off their shoes before the first step of the stairway to the hill.
Normal opening hours are from 4 in the morning till 10pm. But there are two days where the pagoda keeps its doors open 24 hours. One is full moon day of Ta Baung and another one is full moon day of Wah Khaung. If you can get up early, take the chance to witness how Burmese people donate an early breakfast to Buddha with the backdrop of the golden pagoda at sunrise.
The entrance fee for the Shwedagon Pagoda is USD 5 for foreign visitors and free of charge for local visitors.
If you are planning to take public transportation, by bus the maximum cost would be 200 kyats to reach there. Here are the bus lines to take: No. 3 (Yellow), No. 54 and No. 204.
More convenient and private, by Taxi, it might cost 1500 kyats to 4000 kyats for one way depending on the distance. Most hotels and travel agents can arrange a limousine service for around 25000 kyats for two way trips.
The Shwedagon has become one of the best recognized and most loved wonders of the world because of its architecture, sculpture and arts dating back hundreds of years. It reflects an ancient time as well as the enduring peace of Buddhism.