Nay Pyi Taw
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 6 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.
Sights 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, then 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 the Uppatasanti Pagoda, a soaring, gilded pagoda built as a replica of the country’s most sacred shrine–the Shwedagon Pagoda. The water fountain, which “dances” to music, is also a must-see visit that is modern by Burmese 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 its exterior and the massive 12-lane road that leads up to it. Aside from the modern buildings, the other tell-tale sign that you are in the capital is the 24-hour electricity and fast internet–two luxuries hard to find in the rest of Myanmar!
in 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 sights. 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 sights including an impressive zoo and the Defense Services Museum.
Towards the end of the day, follow the locals and head to the aforementioned water fountain to watch the sunset. Then, head to one of Nay Pyi Taw’s bars for an aperitif. 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 the happy hour. We also love Café Flight for its novelty factor–this 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 singing 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!
Ei Phyo Pai (Ms.)
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- Gazing in awe at Myanmar’s massive parliament complex
- Joining locals to watch the sunset at Nay Pyi Taw’s “dancing” water fountain
- 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 lives
- From October to May
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