Founded in 1915 and carved out by Turkish prisoners captured by the British during WWI, this lovingly maintained 435-acre botanical garden features more than 480 species of flower, shrub and tree. The most appealing aspect is the way flowers and overhanging branches frame views of Kandawgyi Lake’s wooden bridges and small gilded pagoda. Admission includes the swimming pool, the aviary, the orchid garden and butterfly museum, and the bizarre Nan Myint Tower.
Looking like a space rocket designed for a medieval Chinese emperor, the 12-storey tower offers panoramic views, which are better appreciated from the external staircase than through the grease-smeared windows of the observation deck.
Unfortunately, you can’t use a bicycle to get around the grounds, so bring walking shoes and allow around two hours to do the place justice. Using the southern entrance slightly reduces the walking you have to do. By 6pm both gates will probably be locked, so watch the time, as there are no closure warnings.
It gets very busy at weekends (Sunday in particular) and at times the orchids seem to be outnumbered by canoodling couples behind every tree. It does add some local colour!
The garden’s two entrances are both on the eastern side of Kandawgyi Lake, around a mile south of smaller Kandawlay Lake.