Yangon is divided into four districts, each named after one of the four cardinal directions. Each district is further subdivided into several townships. Many townships are undeveloped and lack basic municipal services like running water, electricity, and garbage pickup. Notable exceptions are the townships of Botataung, Kyauktada, Dagon, and Bahan. All of the latter, with the exception of Botataung, are in Yangon’s Western District. Though some smaller businesses are run out of buildings in residential areas, most offices are located in Downtown Yangon, also known as Yangon Central Business District, which includes the Botataung and Kyauktada townships.
Botataung Township is in Yangon’s Eastern District. It encompasses the Southeast portion of downtown, which is more commercial than areas to the West. Many expats have found themselves attracted to the Botataung Township because of its close proximity to the downtown area, low traffic, and the nearby expat-favorite 50th Street Bar. Landmarks in the neighborhood include the eponymous Botataung Pagoda, reportedly housing one of Buddha’s hairs; the Ministers’ Building, a beautifully crumbled colonial office and the site of General Aung San’s assassination; and St. Mary’s Cathedral, Myanmar’s largest church. The waterfront of the Yangon River here would be lovely, if it weren’t for the obstructive container ship port.
Moving west, we encounter Kyauktada Township, the center of downtown Yangon. Kyauktada is home to a number of historic and government structures, including the Sule Pagoda (famous for its role in the revolution), City Hall, and the High Court. Many of the finest hotels in Yangon, as well as various foreign embassies, are also located in Kyauktada. Vendors of eclectic wares (textiles, cellphones and deep-fried pancakes, to name a few) crowd the sidewalks and often spill out onto the dusty streets. The area constitutes Yangon’s biggest tourist trap, so prepare accordingly.
Just to the north of Kyauktada is the Dagon Township. Dagon is a bit quieter than its southern neighbor, and less built-up. The four towns in Dagon—North, South, East, and Seikkan—are becoming increasingly popular as expats and Myanmar professionals seek to escape the hectic downtown area. As more people move into Dagon, city officials have promised further improvements to roads and other infrastructure. Though trees in this neighborhood grow in other places than just sidewalk planters, traffic is a nightmare during rush hour and the street merchants will try to sell you your own hand (for a special discount, of course). However, these minor impediments are endearing to Yangonites and best considered part of the local flavor.. On the bright side, because most of the new apartment complexes include parking and the roads are wider, traffic is not nearly as bad as it is downtown. Attractions in Dagon include the Shwedagon Pagoda, the National Museum, and Parliament. As this area becomes more popular, though, expect prices to rise steeply along with demand, especially in the newly constructed buildings.
Bahan Township is an affluent area in the north central part of Yangon. Situated away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, Bahan is home to two of Yangon’s most exclusive neighborhoods: Golden Valley and Inya Myaing. Here, rows of whitewashed, stucco monstrosities typify the bizarre aesthetic of Myanmar’s elite. Apparently, in Myanmar, one’s self worth is directly correlated to the number of Greek columns outside one’s front door. This area is popular among expats, especially those with families who have the resources to enjoy the luxury of larger bungalows. It is located very near to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s historic home and many embassies. Compared to other parts of the city, taxis are much more difficult to find in these suburbs. Unsurprisingly, most of Yangon’s upscale shops, bars, and clubs are located in or near Bahan. Things to see ,besides ostentatious displays of wealth, include the Bogyoke Aung San Museum, and the beautiful Inya Lake.