Nay Pyi Taw
If you are the type of traveler who likes to discover the more quirky, more obscure side of a country then add Nay Pyi Taw to your Myanmar holiday itinerary. The city was purpose built in the early 2000s to serve as the capital, which it officially became on 11 November 2005 at 11.00AM. A few glimmering pagodas and imposing government buildings make for interesting photos but the utter bizarreness of the city is the real attraction. Here are some tips from the team at Myanmar Diaries for making the most of your visit to the capital city!
The road to the Capital
Nay Pyi Taw is located in the middle of the country, along the country’s main highway. From Yangon it is a six hour drive to Nay Pyi Taw and then a further 3.5 hours to reach Mandalay. The drive is surprisingly scenic, passing through miles of rice paddy fields with the distant Yoma mountain range looming in the background. There are also daily flights from Yangon, a popular option for business travelers and government VIPs.
Sites that are shiny and new
While most places in Myanmar showcase the country’s rich heritage and history, Nay Pyi Taw offers a look at the country’s future. If you want crumbling, atmospheric ruins you are not going to find them here. Indeed there are few, if any, buildings here built prior to the year 2000. But they are still impressive, especially Uppantasanti Pagoda a soaring gilded pagoda built as a replica of the country’s most sacred shrine, Shwedagon. The water fountain park, which ‘dances’ to music, is also a must-see site that is modern by Myanmar standards.
Of course Nay Pyi Taw, as the capital, is also home to many government buildings. The most impressive, and imposing, is the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. This collection of 31-buildings is the home of Myanmar’s parliament. A guided tour can be arranged with advance permission but even if you cannot go inside you will still be impressed by the outer views and the massive 12-lane road that leads up to it. Aside from the modern buildings the other telltale sign that you are in the capital is the 24-hour electricity and fast internet, two luxuries not found in the rest of Myanmar!
On the outskirts
As the population of Nay Pyi Taw has grown over the years, so has the city’s surroundings. If you have extra time to spare, we suggest to travel south of the capital to the National Landmark Gardens. This 400-acre park is laid out in the shape of Myanmar and features miniature versions of the country’s main sites. Grab a bike or horse cart and tour the ‘country’ in just a few hours! Or opt for a trip to Yezin, a small town that is home to a large number of sites including an impressive zoo and the Defense Services Museum.
Toward the end of the day, follow the locals and head to the aforementioned water fountain park for sunset. Then head to one of Nay Pyi Taw’s bars for a pre-dinner drink. Our favorite is the Diplomatic Bar at the Kempinski Hotel. While sipping your cocktail you may likely spot actual diplomats and government officials gathering for after work drinks. We also love Café Flight for its novelty factor: the bar-restaurant is housed inside an old airplane! After dinner the capital goes quiet but you can still head to a karaoke bar for some crooning or catch a movie at the modern cinema at Junction shopping mall.
Back to the real Myanmar
The next day hit the road, traveling north to Bagan or Mandalay or heading south to Yangon. Once you leave the capital, return to the highway where you will pass rice paddies, small farms and the occasional village. The modernity and ‘newness’ of the capital will seem miles away but the memories of this bizarre tour will last forever in your Myanmar Diaries!
- Gazing in awe at Myanmar’s massive parliament complex
- Joining locals to watch the sunset at Nay Pyi Taw’s water fountain park
- Cycling around a miniature version of Myanmar at the National Landmark Gardens
- Catching glimpses of politicians and other government officials as they go about their daily life
BEST SEASON TO VISIT :
- From October to May
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Destination: Kalaw to Inle Lake
Join the locals for a scenic journey to Inle Lake. Climb aboard a slow-moving train for a journey through the highlands, soaking up vibrant views through the expansive windows. Interact with fellow passengers and buy snacks off friendly vendors as the train carriages rattle their way through the Shan State.
Destination: Inle Lake (Sagar)
After the long, but scenic, boat trip to Sagar it is time to stretch your legs and have some lunch.
Go ashore on the western banks of Sagar lake, where the Tha Kaung Pagoda complex is located.
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