In a country full of religious shrines, Shwedagon Pagoda is considered the most sacred. Its golden steeple rises high above Yangon’s skyline and relics of previous Buddhas, including a water filter, staff, hairs and a piece of robe, are all kept safe within its structure’s walls. Historians say the pagoda was built between the 6th and 10th centuries and since then numerous dignitaries, religious figures and political powerhouses, including Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, have passed through its halls.
Visitors must remove their shoes before going into any of the four main entrances. Travelers will likely pass by religious pilgrims as they ascend the stairs, making an offering of candles, flowers, flags and fruit—an act known as dana—meant to pay homage to Buddha. Visitors should be sure to check out the pagoda’s stupa, which is encrusted with more than 4,500 diamonds, including one that is 72 carats.
The pagoda is open daily from 4 a.m. until 10 p.m. The entrance fee is US$5. It is located west of the Royal Lake on Singuttara Hill.