The new capital of Myanmar
I found it difficult to find information about what to see and what to do in Naypyidaw which is the new born capital of Myanmar. So after my visit in June 2015 I decided to make a guide based on my personal experience and all the tips, ideas and information we got on our way in Naypyidaw.
Naypyidaw is the new capital of Myanmar or Burma. On Sunday the 6th of November 2005, the Myanmar military government or SPDC (StatePeace and Development Council) ofﬁcially relocated the national capital from Yangon to Pyinmana. On the 27th of March 2006, Pyinmana District was publicly named “Naypyidaw” (also spelled Nay Pyi Tawor Naypyitaw).
I visited Naypyidaw in June 2015. I had not heard much about this capital. Actually, I did not know anything about it. Just until a friend of mine send a couple of pictures of a new city there was “born” in the middle of no where – just a few weeks before my trip to Myanmar. The pictures showed big empty highways with only few cars!
It almost looked like a ghost town. The hotel we stayed at was completely empty. We were the only guests on this huge hotel. We didn’t say a single tourist, only 4 local business men at breakfast!
How to get there:
Typically, you enter Myanmar by the city of Yangon, the former capital of Burma. From Yangon you can reach Naypyidaw by bus on the four-lane, 323.2 km (200.8 mi) Yangon-Naypyidaw highway. The trip takes about 4 hours and there will be a stop on the way. The bus tickets are cheap. But be aware when you arrive in Naypyidaw that it’s very expensive to get around in the city and the distance are long. Read more about this below.
There is an airport “Naypyidaw Airport” which officially was opened on the 19th of December 2011, but I’m not sure if it is open for tourists.
How to get around:
The city of Naypyidaw is built from scratch and the government are thinking BIG. With a population of only 924,608 people, according to official figures, the city feels empty and there are huge distances between the different areas. Walk is not an option for you, and you will probably be surprised how big Naypyidaw really is.
There are no official transport systems like city-bus or meter taxis. To get to your hotel from the bus station you need to talk with the locals or let your hotel help you. Be aware! Taxi drivers will come to the bus station and demand $20 to go anywhere …even if 5 minutes. We paid 10.000 Kyat (about 10 dollars) to get from the main bus station, Myoma Bus Station, to our hotel in the south of Naypyidaw.
Please remember to agree on the price before entering the vehicle, even read it down. Start with 5 dollars and negotiate the price from there. You can get it cheaper then we got it. Be aware that you cannot compare the price level in cities like Yangon and Naypyidaw. There are not many alternatives for you, and the locals know that.
When you arrive to the hotel, you will know that there are huge distances between the attractions. So you need a car!. The distance from Myoma Bus Station to the hotels area is around 10 km.
What I did was to hire a private taxi driver from the hotel, I guess most or all hotels can offer this service. That costs us 60 dollars for a full day (10 hours), in a clean, modern car with air condition. I will recommend that you ask for that. 60 dollars is expensive and is a lot of money in Myanmar, but you need it, and you will drive many kilometers on that day. I think we drove over 125 km just around in the city in one day. (Back and forth from our hotel a few times, shopping for lunch and see all the attractions).
Take a look on the map below an see where the attractions are located in Naypyidaw.
There are for sure cheaper options, but I couldn’t find any other or better options, other then ask on the street. However, I was not in the mood for that, that day.
The driver we got, had good English skills and was friendly too. He had good driving skills and you feel save. I will recommend that to others.
Where to stay:
Most of the hotels are located near the street called “Yaza Thingaha Road” in the south part of Naypyidaw. The hotels are more expensive in Naypyidaw compared to the rest of Myanmar, but you can find hotel rates down to 50 dollars. But except to pay more if you cannot plan in advance. As far as I know there are no guest houses in Naypyidaw and you are not allow to stay in many of the nearby cities for the government, only visit them.
The hotels are mainly located and built in two areas called hotel zone (1) and hotel zone (2), and they are both located several miles from Naypyidaw’s different attractions. Thus, it’s too far to walk.
48 hotels and 442 inns were constructed to house the athletes spectators of the Southeast Asian Games in 2013, which was hosted in Naypyidaw.
Except the hotels to be big and mostly empty. There are still not many tourists in this part of Myanmar.
“Top 10 Hotels in Naypyidaw, Myanmar have an average of 0.5 reviews on Hotels.com; London have 2062!
What to do in Naypyidaw
A new city is born!
Maybe the main reason to see and spent time in Naypyidaw is to see a major city being born and built from scratch. Just drive around an see a city there are under 10 year old is fascinating. Look at the size of the roads (infrastructure), see the different zones of the city, hotel zone, residential zone, government zone and so on. Just look around and imagine what it will become in 10 years!.
For me the highway was the main attraction in Naypyidaw. Walking around in the middle of a 20-lanes highway with almost no cars at all (yes that true). That was really strange and fascinating at the same time. Because of the low population the highways are almost empty and you can drive slowly and enjoy the view.
Next to the 20 lane highway is the parliament building of Naypyidaw. The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Assembly of the Union) complex. The buildings are not publicly accessible, but journalists have been allowed to attend sessions.
Water Fountain Garden
It’s a 165-acre (0.67 km2) park with a lot of flowers, trees and plant including a big outdoor pool with waterfalls. The park was built in 2008. When we visited this place it was a warm summer day in Naypyidaw and it was full of locals who tried to cool down in the pool.
It’s a good place to stretch your legs and take a look at the locals, but do not expect anything special. If you have seen gardens in US or Europe this will be below average, but remember there is not much to the in Naypyidaw so give it a try!
From the hotel area there is 6.5 km to the garden.
The former administrative center was located in Pyinmana 15 km from Naypyidaw. Pyinmana feels more like a ‘real’ city, with a population of around 100.000 people. By car you can be there in 10 min. There is not much to do here only drive or walk around to see the locals, streets and buildings.
There are some guest houses and hotels in PyinMaNa, but you are not allowed to stay there for the government.
If you just arrived from Yangon and saw the pagoda in Yangon, this is not as spectacular, so do not plan to be here for a full day. But it’s still a symbol and a landmark of the capital. The pagoda is 30 cm shorter than the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon to show respect!.
Villa / Residence zone
The residential areas are carefully organized. The city currently has 1,200 four-story apartment blocks.
The roofs of the apartment buildings are color-coded by the jobs of their residents; Ministry of Health employees live in buildings with blue roofs and Ministry of Agriculture employees live in those with green roofs.
National Herbal Park
It’s a 200-acre (0.81 km2) park opened on the 4th of January 2008. Over 20,000 herbals and medicinal plants are grown in this park.
A few sites are writing about this attraction. We went there but leaved again after 10 min. It’s hard to get around in the park and there is not much to see. Overall, I will not recommend to visit this site.
Where is Naypyidaw
I made a map where to find all the listed attractions and things to do in Naypyidaw.
How is the safety in Naypyidaw?
Myanmar is one of the world’s most corrupt nations. In 2012, it was ranked as number 171 out of 176 countries in total as the most corrupt country in the world. As far as crime is concerned, Myanmar is a relatively safe country to visit. Remember the country is gay un-friendly!.
My personal experience was that Myanmar and Naypyidaw in general was safe to visit.
Your guide or the locals do not always know the names in English. So if you can print the local name or even have a picture of the location or attraction that will help you. Sometimes it’s not even good enough to point on a map. Be aware that some locals will try to rip you of. This only happen for us in Naypyidaw, so be extra careful when you example takea private ‘taxi’. Make sure you agreed on the price and write it down!
Is it worth a visit?
For me it was worth a visit, we only spent one full day in Naypyidaw. There is not much to see and do. Overall, it is more to be there and see a new major city. It’s not many places on our planet you can see that!.
It’s way more expensive to live and stay there compared to all other places in Myanmar. But for me it was worth it.
Have a nice trip!
Do you have any other recommendations regarding what to see and what to do in Naypyidaw please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.
Click here to see more pictures of Burma.