The streets around Sule Paya contain many of Yangon’s most interesting colonial-era buildings, including several abandoned by the government when it moved to Nay Pyi Taw. On the northeast of the roundabout is the imposing and still active City Hall, based on a British design but with ornamentation inspired by Bagan’s temples. Just east of this is the now-empty former Immigration Department, originally built as a department store that was once described as “the Harrods of the East”.
Nearby, bookstall-lined Pansodan Street is a treasure-trove of colonial buildings including the High Court, built from 1905–11 in a style typical of the British Empire in India. The building is still used for the same function, but the country’s highest court is now in Nay Pyi Taw. The southern end of Pansodan Street was once home to the most prestigious businesses in Yangon including several in the old Sofaer’s Building at no. 62, which was built by a Baghdadi Jew and housed legal and financial offices as well as shops selling imported luxury goods. It now contains the Lokanat Art Gallery. Look out also for the Internal Revenue Department, on the same street, which has Art Deco flourishes.
At the corner with Strand Road are the Port Authority and Yangon Division Court buildings. A left turn leads to the Strand Hotel, built in 1901 and – post-restoration – once again one of the city’s best hotels.