Ask any travel junkie what’s on top of their bucket list for 2015 and you’ll probably get Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), a fascinating country bordered by Thailand and China on the East and India and Bangladesh on the West.
After years of isolation and political unrest, Myanmar remains relatively untouched by the Western world (there are still no McDonalds or Starbucks), making it the perfect time to visit before it gets too commercialised. The good news is — it’s now easier than ever to get there from Hong Kong thanks to Dragonair’s new daily service to Yangon, which started in September 2014.
For a truly historical experience, we recommend staying at the former Traders Hotel in the city centre, which opened in 1996 and has just recently been transformed into the Sule Shangri-la Hotel.
The Sule Shangri-la is located just a few blocks from the famous 2,000 year old Sule Pagoda, City Hall and five minutes from every bargain-hunter’s dream — Scott Market (now known as Bogyoke Market).
Getting there from Yangon International Airport takes about 45 minutes (depending on traffic) and we highly recommend arranging a pick up with the Wi-Fi enabled Shangri-la vans, just in case you have to spend some time on the road.
Rooms and suites
With a total of 484 rooms and suites, the Sule Shangri-la is designed in an elegant yet contemporary way that incorporates traditional Myanmar accents. All rooms are at least 34 square metres large, with suites starting at 66 square metres and the Presidential Suite going up to 189 square metres.
Those who stay in one of the hotel’s 122 Horizon Club Rooms get private check-ins at the club lounge, panoramic views of the city, pagoda or river from their rooms and complimentary Wi-Fi access. What’s more, Horizon Club guests get access to private meeting rooms, a good spread of international reading materials and complimentary snacks and refreshments in the exclusive club lounge.
You won’t go hungry at the Sule Shangri-la, with six different dining options in just one property. Cafe Sule on the ground floor serves international and local dishes in a decadent buffet spread — be sure to try the creamy house milk tea and local Myanmar salads, which were full of fresh herbs and flavours.
Summer Palace serves fine Chinese cuisine, while the Peacock Lounge in the hotel lobby is perfect for light snacks and drinks (we highly recommend the cheesecake from Gourmet Shop). Don’t miss trivia night at the Gallery Bar, which serves cocktails from a bygone era with Western cuisine, while the Pool Bar serves cocktails paired with Western and Asian snacks.
Those who can’t skip a workout will be happy to know that the Sule Shangri-la has a fully equipped gym, not to mention an outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. There’s even a beauty centre that offers manis, pedis and facials if you want to pamper yourself.
Also worth mentioning is the gift shop on the ground floor of the hotel, which stocks an impressive and attractive range of gemstones, jewellery and wooden carvings perfect to take home as souvenirs.
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For a classy, elegant and luxurious stay in the centre of Yangon, you can’t beat the Sule Shangri-la Hotel. From fantastic dining options to the beautiful decor and surroundings, this historical landmark is a top pick for business travelers and tasteful leisure travelers alike.
Average rates for a deluxe room at the Sule Shangri-la start at US$205 per night.
Sule Shangri-la Hotel, 223 Sule Pagoda Road, GPO Box 888, Yangon, Myanmar, +952 1 242 828, www.shangri-la.com/yangon/suleshangrila