Yangon is Myanmar's largest city and its economic and cultural centre. The British occupied it in 1852, when it became the centre of the Burmese Raj and the resulting influx of traders, diplomats and wealth transformed it into a thriving regional hub. The legacy of this time is evident in the decaying though stately colonial buildings found along the Rangoon River and toward the centre of town. The city has myriad tourist attractions, most notably the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, which is the country's most beloved landmark and justifies a visit to Yangon all by itself. There are also markets to explore, and Yangon is a glorious city to trawl for jewels.
Yangon is hot and humid, especially at midday, when most of the population takes refuge indoors or in the shade of a temple or banyan tree. It is a noisy and chaotic place too, with congested traffic, orange-robed monks, neon signs and golden temple spires clashing in a visual landscape of uniquely Asian contradictions.