Myanmar’s latest capital is Nay Pyi Taw. It was mentioned as a stop in Lonely Planet’s one month itinerary and we read that it is often described as ghost city. This was enough to spark our curiosity and make our way to Myanmar’s new capital! In Nay Pyi Taw distances are huge and everywhere you are seems like the middle of nowhere.
We stayed at Nay Pyi Taw’s hotel zone, which is essentially a long highway-like street with large resort hotel scattered on it. Every hotel has such a large vast of land that rooms and reception are so far apart, we were taken by a golf cart to drive back and forth. Our hotel was the most affordable in Nay Pyi Taw’s hotel zone, and for the price / quality (especially after Kinpun) it seemed like a bargain. We had our room on the one side of the hotel complex, and about 100 meters down the hallway we had our private toilet and shower as two separate rooms. Probably a cheaper way to build the water / sewer installations…
We rented a motorbike from our hotel for 4000 Kyats an hour (in Hpa An it was 7000 Kyat for the entire day…). It was quite a challenge to make a plan of what to visit for the day because there are so little sites to visit.
Here is a list of the top things to do in Nay Pyi Taw:
- Uppatasanti Pagoda – a replication of Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, it is only 1 meter shorter. It is up, on a small hill where you can see the views of the entire city (mostly country side). We definitely prefered this Pagodsa over the Shwedagon because of the open space around it and the tranquility of the place. We spent around 2 hours exploring the place. It takes about 45 minutes with the motorbike from hotel zone to get there.
- Driving a motorbike down the roads of Nay Pyi Taw. Nay Pyi Taw is absolutely lifeless. It really feels like a ghost town, when you ride the motorbike down the 8 lanes highway road with 1 or 2 other vehicles nearby, it can really feel as if something is wrong. But that is the city, and one of the interesting and unique things to experience in Nay Pyi Taw.
- The Junction Center Nay Pyi Taw mall – it is quite a small mall, compared to the Junction City Mall in Yangon, but it has a few shops and some places to eat. It is at the end of the hotel zone road, so you might be staying nearby it.
Our conclusion of Nay Pyi Taw – Myanmar’s new Royal Capital – is that it really seems like an imposed city. All the infrastructure is there, everything is so very well maintained, but it just does not really feel like a city. There are gardeners and road workers constantly maintaining the plantation on the side of the road and re-painting the freshly painted side walk. There are 1 million people living in Nay Pyi Taw, but they are scattered all over the place, that there is no city feeling, but rather an extra large village feeling. It’s difficult to describe the surrealness of the place! We guess this is what happens when the government creates an artificial capital city from scratch. Maybe in 20-30 years Nay Pyi Taw will be a bustling and vibrant city, who knows… 😀
If you decide to visit Nay Pyi Taw, plan not longer than 1 day there, maybe even come in the morning and leave the same evening. It is difficult to fill up a whole day of activities there…