Landing in Myanmar (Burma) for the first time or simply after a long flight may be a bit intimidating at first, so it is best to book a comfortable hotel ahead of time for the first night. If you are landing in Yangon as most people do, there are 2 popular options on where to stay. One option is in Downtown Yangon where most of the restaurant and nightlife is, or a hotel near the Shwedagon Temple, Yangon’s most famous attraction. Either way, you cannot go wrong as they are within a 20 minute taxi ride from one another – which should cost 3000 kyat (about $2) each way. For a hotel near Shwedagon, I would highly recommend the Merchant Art Hotel, situated just a short walking distance to the famous landmark.
Where to Stay Near the Shwedagon Pagoda
Merchant Art Hotel opened in 2016, which is obvious to the traveler’s eye by witnessing how energetic, new and modern the interior decor and furniture is upon entrance. The whole experience at the hotel embodies the rejuvenating feeling of hope for Myanmar’s future. In economic growth, in international relations and freedom of artistic creativity displayed at the hotel.
A room costs around $50 per night at a 4-star rating which is well worth the price. Rooms are brightly lit, comfortable, clean, with a small closet and shelf to hang your clothing.
Just 11.8 Kilometers from the Yangon International Airport (RGN), you should be able to arrive within 30 minutes by Taxi. The hotel can also arrange for airport pickup, minimizing the headache on arrival. In front of the hotel is a convenient ATM (or pull out money from the airport ATM).
The hotel staff all speak fluent English and are extremely friendly and helpful, making you feel right at home upon arrival until your departure. Storing your luggage there after checkout is safe and easy too.
Delicious Breakfast Buffet Included
As in most accommodations throughout Myanmar (hotels, guesthouses, hostels), breakfast is included with the room. There are a wide spread of hearty options from fried noodles, spicy comfort soup, rice, seasonal fruits, eggs, vegetables, juice, coffee and tea. They also offer you option to order off their menu which are as well included.
Eclectic Modern Art Museum
Merchant Art is the first and only boutique art hotel in all of Yangon which makes staying here extra special!
The restaurant located in the back lobby displays a quaint art gallery with an eclectic mix of pop-up paintings reflecting various religious figures and local culture. Each floor of the hotel also displays a variety of art. Our floor was filled with Audrey Hepburn paintings.
Experience Local Life Near the Shwedagon
Merchant Art Hotel is located in a safe, convenient neighborhood. While it is within a 10 minute walk to Shwedagon, we took a leisurely 30 minutes as we stopped along the way to chat with locals, bought some fruits and small snacks they were selling. They welcome tourists with full hospitality as it helps their economy. Most locals enjoy getting their photos taken as well!
The street vendors sell everything from meat skewers, fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, live animals (fish, birds), clothing, souvenir, home goods and more. The street food is delicious if you have a stronger stomach. We stopped for a shared Hot Pot with the locals after dark on our way back from Shwedagon. They sold a variety of intestines, gizzard, heart, liver skewers and other body parts I could not identify. Yum!
Traditional Local Burmese Restaurant Next Door
If you want to taste some authentic local Burmese Cuisine, I would recommend going to the restaurant just to the right of the hotel. A hot spot among locals throughout the day, virtually no tourists were spotted. Ask the waitresses what they recommend or peak at your neighbor’s dishes for ideas on what you want to taste. We ordered quite a variety of food (soup, meat, noodle soup, vegetables, seaweed salad) which were all DELICIOUS. The total bill came out to be about $2 a person with some leftovers.
Nightlife Near Shwedagon, Yangon
While there are way more nightlife options in Downtown Yangon, Merchant Art Hotel has a Rooftop Bar with full alcohol and restaurant menu. One could easily relax here after a day paying homage to the Shwedagon. Drink Vouchers are presented to guests upon check in for a freshly squeezed juice during sunset on the rooftop.
Nearby, I would recommend going to Atlas Bar Rooftop in San Chaung District for a posh, modern evening at Western prices (mainly for Expats). This hidden gem provides a 360 view of Yangon from the sunset landing of the Rice Paddies beyond the Irrawaddy River. And a panoramic view of the Shwedagon Pagoda. They offer a wide range of sophisticated cocktails, cigars, food menu and options to purchase alcohol by the bottle. Most evenings offer live jazz and contemporary music. Open daily from 5pm to Midnight.
Phone: +95 544426