Recently we found ourselves in the bustling Burmese city of Yangon, which is home to more than 7 million people.
With 48 hours to spare, here’s a lowdown of some of the things we got up to:
ROOM WITH A VIEW
We checked into enormous Sule Shangri-La, which is one of the oldest hotels in Yangon.
Located in the centre of the bustling metropolis, it is a stone’s throw from the gleaming Sule Pagoda and the colourful Bogyoke Aung San market.
We found ourselves on the 21st floor in a spacious room with views over the jam-packed city.
A tip is to get a room at the Sule Shangri-La above the 20th floor, as these come with lounge access.
Every evening, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, guests are served up a pretty tasty buffet of hot and cold dishes. Premium spirits are also free for you to pour.
On top of that, the business-like lounge area has big windows, which are perfect for gazing out at the horizon come sunset.
OUT AND ABOUT
Along with being located next to one of Yangon’s most prized pagodas and main market, the Sule Shangri-La is also next to the central railway station.
There is a circular train route which you can hop on.
The three hour-plus journey – which costs less than 50p for a return ticket – takes you around the city with an array of colourful characters joining you for the ride.
We saw people selling everything while we railed along, from chicken eggs to avocados and deep-fried biscuits.
After a day on the train we headed back to the Sule Shangri-La for a refreshing dip in the pool before retreating to our room for a rinse.
The fairly confined bathroom was stocked with sweet smelling jasmine-infused L’Occitane products and all of the bits you could need, from a shoe shine to a dental kit. There were also fluffy robes to lounge around in.
We didn’t leave our room on the last day in Yangon. The air-conditioning was just too much of a comfort. The 35 degree Celsius heat and wet weather was fairly oppressive at times, as were the hundreds of cars.
The Sule Shangri-La definitely has somewhat of a business feel but it’s a great place to use as a base.
Plus, it has one of the best lounge happy hours I’ve seen in a while.
SOME PEACE AND QUIET
If you’re looking for a slice of calm, head to the leafy Governor’s Residence, which is owned by the same people behind the Orient Express.
The low-lying, teak-clad hotel is nestled within a lush garden, with two resident peacocks strutting their stuff.
The mouth-watering buffet breakfast will keep you entertained for hours, with buckets of sparkling wine included.
Another must-try is the evening buffet at the Burmese Curry Table restaurant, with dozens of local dishes on offer.
Think banana blossom salads, mild duck curry and wok-cooked chunks of fresh meat and seafood.
Wash it all down with cocktails from the Kipling Bar, named after beloved poet and author Rudyard Kipling, and work it off the next morning with a complementary yoga session.
The hotel is also within close proximity to the gold encrusted Shwedagon Pagoda and we caught the ancient landmark for sunrise, one of the best times to visit with cooler weather and less crowds.
If you’re looking to experience Yangon by night, hit The Strand hotel for some sophisticated libations.
We indulged in some top notch martinis and absinthe-infused cocktails while playing a game of pool in the low-lit wooden paneled bar.
For a more low-key vibe, head over to the Vista bar for a spot of rooftop revelry. The views of the Shwedagon Pagoda by night are a real draw.
U.S. dollars are accepted in many shops and restaurants but pull out local currency for more remote spots and for accessing the pagodas in Yangon. Currently 1,788 Myanmar Kyat is roughly equal to £1.