Shwedagon Pagoda Trip Primes You for the Rest of Myanmar to Come
Instead of just paying a fee to take the lift up to the Shwedagon Pagoda, walking around and explaining the main part of the pagoda like most companies do, Khiri Travel Myanmar shows their clients what’s behind Shwedagon. “We give them a chance to interact with the locals in their daily life, living and working around the pagoda,” explains Khiri Travel Myanmar, Director of Operations, JP Klovstad.
So what is behind the golden façade of the Shwedagon Pagoda?
During an interactive half-day tour, Khiri Travel Myanmar takes clients through the backdoor and shows them the full history of the pagoda. Experience the daily life of the different people living in the immediate surroundings of the pagoda: shopkeepers early in the morning on their way to the busy markets, office workers having breakfast in typical teahouses, and devotees donating food to the monks. We give clients a deeper insight in the Buddhist religion and elaborate more on how the spiritual belief is mixed with the belief in nats.
The nats are spirits worshipped in conjunction with Buddhism. Much like sainthood, nats can be designated for a variety of reasons. Nat worship is less common in urban areas compared to rural regions, and is practised among both ethnic minorities and the mainstream Bamar society.
Our walk starts from the bottom of the hill and passes workshops making Buddha images, souvenirs for tourists, or anything that can be donated to the temple. We continue via markets and monasteries. The guide selects a local eatery to feast on Mohinga, the national dish of Myanmar which is frequently eaten for breakfast. It’s a rich fish-based broth with rice noodles, turmeric, ginger, onion, chilli, banana stem, and many more ingredients. It is one of the great dishes of Asia.
On the way up the steps of the pagoda we buy our own offerings of flowers, candles, coloured flags and streamers. These are to be offered in honour of the great stupa enshrining the relics of Buddha. This act is known as the act of dana, or giving; an important aspect of Buddhist teaching. All donations are voluntary, from the smallest coin put into donation boxes to the priceless jewellery hung on the top of the pagoda.
No fees are ever requested for use of the lifts or for the safeguarding visitors’ footwear. Visitors are free to make whatever donation they choose.
The tour includes a traditional Burmese breakfast, offerings to monks and the pagoda, a visit to a fortune-teller and a Burmese lunch
We believe this tour to be useful or even essential if you want to understand Myanmar during the rest of your journey through the country.
For more information and bookings, please contact [email protected].