Yangon (Rangoon) is Burma’s largest city and was founded in the 11th century by the Mon people and was a small community built around the amazing Shwedagon Pagoda. It was conquered by King Aluangpaya in 1755 who was reunifying Burma from his base in Ava, near present day Mandalay. It didn’t take long for the East India Company to look towards their eastern neighbour, and after an initial war from 1824-26 when they took Arakan in western Burma, they fought another in 1852 and took the city of Yangon for good. They constructed a new city on a grid layout to the south of the Schwedagon Pagoda along the Yangon River. In 1885, they fought a third decisive war, and took all of Upper Burma including Mandalay and now the renamed Rangoon became the capital of British Burma. Known as the ‘garden city of the East’, Rangoon thrived as a trading hub, exporting huge quantities of teak and rice. The centre of Yangon retains much of its colonial architecture, although much of it is decaying at an alarming rate. Although there is another international airport in Mandalay, Yangon usually acts as the starting point and end of a tour to Bhutan. The Shwedagon and Sule Pagodas are outstanding, and a walking tour through Old Rangoon is hugely interesting.