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Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset in Myanmar

Thilawa (Rangoon), Myanmar

>Rangoon (also called Yangon) is a place that feels lost in time, but it won’t stay like this forever. Following the recent sweeping victories of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party, this Southeast Asian city is on the brink of momentous changes. Yet for visitors, the city’s hectic streets are filled with alluring vestiges of the country’s complex historic and aesthetic legacy. There are crumbling remnants of the raj from the period when Burma (also called Myanmar) was under British rule; gleaming golden temples and stupas revered by its devout, predominantly Buddhist population; Catholic and Anglican churches; and mosques. Sidewalks are crowded with hawkers, food stalls, saffron-robed Buddhist monks and Burmese dressed in their elegant lungi, going about their daily lives. Rangoon still feels mercifully free of Western commercialization—fast-food chains are almost nonexistent—but that will soon change as investment begins to pour in. Burma's former capital is also the jumping-off point from which to discover this country's other cultural and scenic highlights which include the awe-inspiring temples of Bagan.