Shwedagon Pagoda © Wikipedia Commons
Shwedagon pagoda is Myanmar's most famous sight, an iconic image of the country that stands as a highlight for any visitor to the region. The stupa is covered in genuine gold plates weighing an estimated 52 metric tons and topped with a 76 carat diamond; the structure glitters with jewels of many kinds. The temple was built between the 6th and 10th-centuries although the site atop Singuttara Hill has been considered holy for over 2,500 years. Also known as the Golden Temple, Shwedagon is the most sacred site for Burmese Buddhists, and is a daily focus for worship and contemplation. Relics of the Buddha are said to be housed in the stupa and there are many historical artefacts and great treasures. There are stairways at the north, south, east and west and you can ascend using any of these, or the elevator if you want to skip the climb. The southern entrance is the most used because it rises out of the city; and the eastern stairway, although damaged by the British long ago, is popular because it leads down to the street bazaars - if you want to follow up your sightseeing with some shopping, it is ideal to exit via the eastern stairway. Shwedagon is a place of worship, prayer and meditation, and it is important to act with respect and keep noise levels down. Dress conservatively, with long pants and sleeves, and remove your shoes when entering the complex. Be discreet when using your camera. Sunset and sunrise are the most powerful times to visit the stupa.
Address: Singuttara Hill
Opening times: 4am to 9pm daily (but tickets are only sold to foreigners from 6am onwards).
Admission: US$5; additional US$3 fee for using a video camera