Rangoon Swoon

Rangoon, Asia

Swooning in Rangoon? Why not? Asia’s friendliest and most exotic city is opening up like a giant white lotus, and has plenty to offer by way of romantic getaways, including some fantastic hotels and world class fine dining.

Romantic Rangoon Hotels

Classic British colonial begins with The Strand, situated near the Yangon River and a stone’s throw from the British Embassy. The hotel was built in 1901 by the Sarkies brothers, the same gentlemen who founded the world famous Raffles in Singapore.

The Governor’s Residence,in the lush main embassy area, with its Kipling Bar, expansive garden swimming pool, sprawling tropical veranda, excellent food and well appointed teak floored suites, leaves you feeling like you’ve just stepped out of Kipling’s “Mandalay”.

The newly renovated Kandawgyi Palace Hotel on Royal Lake, with gorgeous Shwedagon Pagoda views, is classic Burma at its exotic best.The Royal Bungalows, with vaulted hip-ceilings, oversize divans, private swimming pools and outdoor showers, are definitely the most romantic suites in the city.The service is as impeccable it is charming, and it start with the doormen.

On the modern side of classic, the Traders Hotel in the heart of Rangoon stands just across from the 2,000 shops of Scott Market, and is the best location in the city. It’s within walking distance of the Yangon River and The Strand, Sule Pagoda, Sakura Tower, the Yangon Railway Station (straight out the 1880’s) and so much more. It’s the perfect place to begin a walking tour of British Colonial Rangoon.Trader’s Sunday Champagne Brunch is not to be missed. The marvelous feast includes omelet’s made with fresh, hand caught Myanmar lobster flown in from the teeming, crystalline waters of the Myeik Archipelago.

Rangoon Restaurants

Beyond brunch, fine dining in Rangoon is surprisingly fine, albeit with only a handful of choices. Each restaurant comes with an authentic old world elegance that is rare anywhere these days, and feels especially romantic in a setting like this.

The best dining experience in Myanmar, and perhaps the best Indochine cuisine in all of Southeast Asia, is found at Le Planteur. A chauffeur will pick you upat your hotel in a 1953 Austin Somerset or 1954 Morris Oxford,gratis,and see you safely to the front door the converted colonial mansion.The restaurant is Michelin star chef Felix Eppisser’s and wife Lucia’s pride and joy. It’s a fine dining experience that’s after your heart, as well as your palate.

For fine Italian dishes, complete with ambiance to swoon by, the easy first choice is L’ Opera. The best Burmese cuisine in town (at very reasonable prices to boot!) is found in The House of Memories, which also serves outstanding Thai food. The converted former offices (on display upstairs) of General Aung San (the slain father of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi) is popular with locals, expats and travelers alike.

So yes — between colonial classic, modern, and/or exotic Burmese boutique luxury hotels and romantic fine dining — your own “Rangoon Swoon” can be yours for the asking.

by Bennett Stevens

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