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The Shwedagon Pagoda

This will be at the top of everyone’s list in Yangon. The pagoda can be seen from quite a long way away, since it is set on the top of a hill. The pagoda remains one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world, but is very much part of contemporary life in Yangon. It is open from dawn, and Buddhists will go to the pagoda from early morning to late evening. It is very high and has a crown of gold. On the crown you can find 5,448 diamonds, 2,317 rubies and the top of the crown boasts a 76 carat diamond. In total there are nearly 80,000 precious stones and 3,154 gold bells here. This is a living, practicing site, so the visitor should know some of the basic rules of visiting a Buddhist temple in Myanmar: You will be asked to take off your shoes and socks. Most visitors visit wearing sandals or ‘flip flops’. You should be prepared to walk barefooted for the visit. Dress with respect: no shorts (although this is less of a problem in Myanmar than Thailand), and always wear a top. Walk around the Pagoda in a clockwise direction, which is starting from the left side and going round to the right. This applies to all Buddhist sites. If you want to sit down, make sure your feet are not pointing towards any images or figures of The Buddha, and especially, keep the bottom of your feet tucked inside, towards yourself. Have a look at the way the local people sit, and copy them. Most sit cross legged. Try not to pat children on the head. Try to make your picture taking the least intrusive as possible. The Buddhist people who come here are worshipping, and may not want to be the centre of a photo.
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