The Shwedagon Pagoda (officially named Shwedagon Zedi Daw) is considered to be a national icon in Myanmar and a beloved treasure. The 326-foot structure dominates Yangon’s skyline and entry into this impressive pagoda costs just $8.
Here’s a complete guide with information for visitors, including opening hours, tickets, history, and facts about Shwedagon Pagoda in the Burmese capital Yangon.
Ticket Info & Opening Hours
Tickets to enter the Shwedagon pagoda can not be pre-purchased or booked online. Visitors simply arrive and buy tickets for $8 from the entrance gate. Note that tickets are cash only and you’ll find a number of ATMs dotted around the grounds of the pagoda.
Once you’ve gained entrance to the pagoda grounds there is no time limit on how long you explore the area for, so long as you leave before closing!
The Shwedagon Pagoda is open daily between 4am and 10pm (last admission at 9:45pm). Furthermore, on the following days it remains open for 24 hours:
- Waxing Day of Tabaung – the day before full moon day of the Myanmar Lunar month Tabaung (around March).
- Waxing Day of Wakhaung – the day before full moon day of the Myanmar Lunar month Wakhaung (around June which is the beginning of the Buddhist Lent).
History & more information
The impressive Shwedagon Pagoda, also known as the Golden Pagoda, is Yangon’s most famous landmark and one of the most visited sites in Myanmar. According to ancient myth, the pagoda dates back over 2,500 years which makes it one of the oldest pagodas in the country.
Legend has it that the location for the pagoda was chosen by a spirit called Sularata who witnessed previous Buddhas visiting the spot on Singuttara hill and demanded that it should be built on this very spot.
Since it’s construction the pagoda has been renovated and remodeled a number of times with additional stupas and shrines accumulating over the years.
To enter the pagoda, visitors can make use of four separate entrances, all of which are guarded by mythical lion creatures and are intricately decorated with Burmese style depictions of the Jataka tales (stories of Buddha).
In the center of the pagoda complex sits a large raised platform surrounded by stupas and in each corner, you’ll find a shrine to Buddha. Once you’ve finished exploring the interior of the pagoda, return to one of these shrines and watch devotees parade around the stupa making their offerings to Buddha.
Points of Interest
The Gold Plated Stupa
The pagoda’s main feature, and the temple’s most impressive structure, is the gold plated stupa that’s surrounded by 64 smaller stupas. The 99-meter high stupa is adorned with gold plating!
Shwedagon Pagoda Exhibit
The exhibit depicts the Shwedagon Pagoda’s biography and pays tribute to those who built it. You’ll find the exhibit on the main platform.
At all four entrances to the Singuttara Hill, you’ll notice two giant mythical lion-like creatures guarding the entrance. This area is also bustling with local vendors selling all manner of items including refreshments and souvenirs – if you’re not interested, a polite ‘no thank you’ and keep walking should work.
There are a grand total of 1,485 bells inside the pagoda, each ranging in size and weight.
The Bodhi Tree
The pagoda area is home to a 150-year-old Bodhi tree which is said to be a descendant from a seedling of the original Bodhi tree under which Gautam Buddha gained enlightenment.
How to get to Shwedagon Pagoda
The Shwedagon Pagoda enjoys an elevated position atop Singuttara Hill and overlooks the city of Myanmar. Getting here is relatively easy as you can spot the pagoda on the skyline from miles away.
Myanmar’s capital city is packed with exciting things to do and historical monuments to visit, there’s also a number of green parks and beautiful lakes that can easily be accessed from the city center and make for a great way to spend your day in Yangon. Check out some of our favorite nearby attractions below:
- Kyay Thone Pagoda
- Gyar Tawya Street
- Kandwagyi Lake
- Inya Lake
- Maha Wizaya Pagoda
- People’s Square Park
- U Thant House
- Sule Pagoda
- Bogyoke Aung San Market
Best time to visit
If you’re capable of rising before the sun and heading to the pagoda to watch the sunrise then we strongly recommend it. If you’re a little bit lazy, try visiting in the late afternoon to enjoy the pagoda by daylight, sunset, and nightfall.
If you’re visiting in summer, make sure you bring lots of water and dress in light-colored clothes. Alternatively, if you’re here in monsoon season, bring a light rain mac.
Facts about Shwedagon Pagoda
- Myanmar’s Shwedagon Pagoda spreads across a dazzling 114-acre complex in the heart of Yangon.
- The Pagoda stores significant holy relics of four previous Buddhas. The relics contain a few strands of hair of Gautama Buddha, water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and the staff of Kakusandha.
- Several kings and queens of Burma had a role to play in raising the height of the stupa. The pagoda survived many earthquakes but the biggest damage was caused by an earthquake in 1768 that brought down the top of the pagoda. King Hsinbyushin later raised it to its current height of 99 m (325 ft).
- The Shwedagon has endured severe natural disasters, military occupation, and has been the site of historic public speeches and protests.
- The Shwedagon’s southern entrance is considered the main way to get in, and arriving this way almost avoids the vendors selling souvenirs to western tourists.
- Legend has it that the Shwedagon Pagoda was built more than 2600 years back and is the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world.
- The pagoda is plated with 8688 sheets of gold, more than 7000 diamonds, and numerous precious gems including rubies, sapphires, topaz, and emerald.
- As the darkness descends, many devotees light up thousands of lamps and candles all around the pagoda’s base.
- The hill on which the stupa stands is 190ft above sea level, with the entire complex covering 114 acres. As is common with temples in Myanmar, the main terrace is approached by four zaungdan (covered walkways), each of which is flanked at its entrance by a pair of 30ft-tall chinthe(half-lion/half-dragon deities).
- According to some, the pagoda is 2,600 years old, making Shwedagon the oldest pagoda in the world.
FAQ’s (Things to know before you go)
Is there a dress code to enter the Shwedagon Pagoda?
Yes, visitors must cover up to enter the pagoda. Short trousers and skirts which show knees are banned from Shwedagon Pagoda. All visitors who want to visit the temple must dress appropriately.
The respective signs are installed at all the four entrances to the pagoda. For those who do not have proper attire, there are longyi and full-length dresses for rent.
Do I have to remove my shoes to enter the Shwedagon pagoda?
Yes, please be aware that shoes must be taken off before entering. It’s handy to have a small bag with you to carry them around, otherwise, you can leave your footwear at the entrance.
Are there any toilets in or near the pagoda?
There are no toilets in the pagoda or in the main temple area. However, head back down the staircase and you’ll find public toilets roughly halfway down. You must take your footwear off here too.
Is the Shwedagon pagoda wheelchair accessible?
The pagoda’s main platform, the information centers, and the concessions are all wheelchair accessible. If you are arriving in a wheelchair, please enter through the Southern Stairway where you’ll find two elevators.
If you need to rent a wheelchair, a number are available (on a first come first served basis) at the information center.
Do you have more questions before visiting Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon? Leave a comment below!