Part of the beauty of Myanmar is that its many historical sites are preserved. The Shwedagon Pagoda is a must see on any travel agenda. Now I was traveling on a budget and therefore wanted to arrive at the Pagoda the same way all the locals do. The problem was that I learned the first day of arrival was that I stuck out like a sore thumb. Everywhere that I went people would call out greetings or stare or try to talk to you, etc. I consulted the managers at the inn that I was staying at and was told where to go and what bus to take. I wanted the bus number three but I have to tell you that their 3's are not 3's and they look much like 6's but with a little line going to opposite direction. (I know that doesn't make much sense. :) So anyway, I was adopted by two monks that escorted me to the Shwedagon Pagoda. They got me on the right bus, showed me the right fare, and pounded on the roof of the bus at the right time (the signal for the bus to stop) .
*Small hint* If you don't want to pay for the foreigner fee, that get to the Pagoda early in the morning and make sure to leave before the guides start at 8am.
The foreigners fee is $5 and they might want charge you for a camera, so keep it in your bag while paying for your ticket. :) It is custom to take off your shoes and socks before walking up the steps and while visiting the pagoda. The scenery is beuatiful and the pagoda is huge. Layered with gold along with beautiful tiles and breathtaking statues. Follow the crowds of worshipers and make sure to notice which direction they are walking in.
The story is the pagoda was built on Singuttara Hill on top of another pagoda. The are is believed to be sacred because it holds the relics of three past Buddhas. Besides feeling the history behind this enormious structure one is amazed by the jewels and mass gold that covers the pagoda. The lower stupa is plated with 8,688 solid gold bars, an upper part with another 13,153. The tip of the stupa, far too high for the human eye to discern in any detail, is set with 5448 diamonds, 2317 rubies, saphires, and other gems, 1065 golden bells, and at the very top, a single 76-carat daimond.
Now, everyone that you talk to in Yangon will ask you if you have seen the Shwedagon Pagoda and I will tell you that you can't leave the city without circling the sacred site. If you get lost, ask around and you will be able to find someone that can point you in the direction of the pagoda.