Vibrant and dynamic, sweaty and steamy, grasping at the future but trapped in the past, Yangon is at the cutting edge of Burmese culture and a fascinating introduction to Myanmar. Despite being stripped of its capital-city status in 2005 (when the generals were spooked by an astrologer and decamped north to Nay Pyi Taw), Yangon remains the country's biggest city and economic hub. Now that the government’s attention is elsewhere, however, infrastructure is starting to creak. Nonetheless, Yangon is a hive of underground intellectual debate and the gateway for most international visitors. The gleaming gold Shwedagon Paya is the centrepiece, visible from all over town. Closer to the waterfront, downtown Yangon's historic streets conceal some of the best British colonial-era architecture in the region.
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