Naypyidaw is unique and a little bizarre. It's a large and fully laid out city but with insufficient inhabitants and buildings for its size, so you can experience the unprecedented Asian scenario of never getting stuck in traffic. Whether this weird situation will remain when Burma's economy begins to boom is another matter since the lack of gridlock is certainly not down to superb road planning and cutting edge traffic control. What helps are the eight-lane boulevards and Parisian-sized roundabouts.
Naypyidaw was a rather secretive construction project by the ruling military junta in the early 2000s and, in November 2005, was suddenly proclaimed Myanmar's new capital. Government workers were given two months notice that they would have to move from Yangon with the re-location of all government offices and ministries. Most embassies and international organisations, like the UN, have not relocated since an education and health infrastructure is not yet in place.
A newly built toll motorway connects Yangon to NPT. It's 320 km (200 mi) long with a service complex containing a fuel station and a large, expensive (by local standards) restaurant just past the halfway point if you're coming from Yangon.
There are several trains daily from Yangon and they take around nine hours. The station is considerably further from the city centre and from the hotels than the bus station, and the bus journey from Yangon is considerably faster (5 hr).
- 1 Naypyitaw Central railway station.
To handle increased traffic to the capital, the existing airport at Ela was upgraded to handle larger planes. It lies 16 km (10 mi) southeast of Kyatpyae.
- 2 Naypyidaw International Airport (NYT IATA). Is now listed as a destination for all domestic airlines: Myanma(r) National Airways, Yangon Airways, Air Mandalay, FMI Air, KBZ Air and Asian Wing Airways. Internal flights are relatively cheap by international standards, typically NYT to RGN IATA would cost around US$120. The usual planes are ATR turbo props although FMIAir operate a CRJ jet aircraft. Myanmar National Airways have new ATR aircraft. FMIAir have a lounge at NYT and RGN (Yangon) with free food. Planes depart from the new RGN domestic terminal.
Bangkok Airways flies directly from Bangkok each day in the evening enabling connections to/from the larger international cities. The plane from Bangkok is a ATR turbo prop, not usually a jet, so it can get rather full and bags can get delayed. Bangkok Airways has code shares with other airlines, like Emirates. However, Bangkok Airways does not always honour Emirates frequent flyer benefits (such as extra luggage allowances).
In reality, mainly foreign visitors (usually international development workers) on expense accounts or rich locals fly to Naypyidaw while locals travel by bus (5 hr).
The airport is modern, clean and efficient. It's also mostly empty of people with most of the gates not in use.
From Yangon buses travel the wide new toll highway for about five hours, including mandatory rest stop, to the capital, which unusually just springs out of nowhere at a nondescript intersection. The bus should eventually arrive at the Myoma Bus Station in the north of the city.
- From Yangon - 6300 kyat, 5 hr (Feb 2017)
- From Bago - 8,000 kyat, 8 hr
By motorbike taxi
This is a common form of transport in Naypyidaw, but it can be risky.
Similar to those in Bangkok although called a "thaw lar gyi" in Myanmar.
Taxi drivers hang around the shopping centres and bus station and you need to negotiate with them. For foreigners the asking costs can be high at US$5 for even relatively short journeys. Distances between locations are large so finding a taxi needs some effort (best to ask the hotel to help).
An example fare from Feb 2017: 7000 kyat for a 20-minute journey from the Golden Lake Hotel to the Myoma Bus Station. Arranged in advance at the hotel.
- 1 Defence Services Museum, Zeyathiri Township. An enormous half open-air, half housed complex celebrating the country's military. For a country with so many pressing needs you may find this multi-million dollar vanity project hard to stomach, but it's free, and anyone interested in military hardware and history will easily be occupied for some hours. It's a very long walk to see everything. If possible, hire a scooter from your hotel, register at the office 300 m beyond the entrance gates (bring passport) and then park at each of the three main buildings. Otherwise, brace for a walk of several kilometres, at least most of which are under covered walkways. It's wheelchair-friendly, for paralympians. Looking from the main road, the area on the left is Navy, straight ahead is Army and History, to the right is Air Force. There are few signposts in English. The Air Force has planes outside including a moth-eaten Spitifire. The Navy has scale models of ships outside. The three main buildings serve to eulogize the top brass and national heroes. The buildings behind/beside contain the detail, including military kit, 3D dioramas of varying quality, and engaging battle paintings. Most commentary is in Burmese but the key material is also in English. Free.
- 2 Gems Museum.
- King Statues. Three enormous sculptures depicting the three most important kings in Burmese history: Anawrahta, Bayinnaung and Alaungpaya U Aung Zeya.
- 3 National Herbal Park. Exhibits of plants having medicinal applications from all of the major regions of Burma. There are thousands of plants at the park, representing hundreds of different species. Free.
- Naypyidaw Safari Park.
- 4 Naypyidaw Zoological Gardens. Opened in 2008 with some 420 animals and a climate-controlled penguin house. It is the largest zoo in Burma as most of the animals were relocated from the zoo in Rangoon at the same time as the government officials were making the same journey. When a well-known comedian consequently announced that "all our animals are going to Naypiydaw", he was predictably imprisoned.
- 5 Uppatasanti Pagoda (Peace Pagoda). A prominent landmark in Naypyidaw. The pagoda, which houses a Buddha tooth relic from China, is nearly a replica of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and stands 100 m high. It also has a Maha Hsutaungpyae Buddha image in the Maha Pasadabhumi Gandhakuti Chamber, four jade Buddha images in the pagoda's hollow cave; a 33-m-high flagpole; Bo tree garden with Maha Bo Tree and the images of the 28 Buddhas, Marlini Mangala Lake with the chamber of Shin Uppagutta, and a pagoda museum. Opposite the eastern (main) entrance there are two cage houses with gilded roofs where they keep around eight white and three normal Indian elephants in pitiful conditions.
- City Park (Behind the city hall). Park with a playground and water fountain complex, which hosts a musical light show every night.
- Golf. Naypyidaw has two golf courses, Nay Pyi Taw City Golf Course and Yaypyar Golf Course.
- Ngalaik Lake Gardens (~10 km from Naypyidaw). A small water park along Ngalaik Dam, near Kyweshin Village on Ngalaik Lake. Has water slides, resorts, lodgings and a beach.
Naypyitaw Myoma Market is the commercial centre of Naypyidaw. Other shopping areas include Thapye Chaung Market and Junction Centre Naypyidaw. In the "hotel zone" are two medium-sized shopping malls: Junction and Capital, each of which have reasonable supermarkets and restaurants. Junction also has a cinema. There's another shopping mall complex further north with a much larger supermarket and an exchange bureau. You can change money (only US dollars, not euros) at the travel agent in the Junction Centre but they sometimes run out of cash. Phone charge scratchcards are available in the Junction Centre. Foreign credit or debit cards are sometimes accepted in shops, however there are plenty of ATMs.
- 1 Katsu, 164 Thiriyadanar Shopping Complex, ☎ . The only Japanese restaurant in Naypyidaw. Reliable food and much cleaner than the average restaurant in town.
Myanmar beer is very drinkable and there are several different types. Locally produced whisky is very cheap, 5,000 kyat a litre, even for the best local brands. Wine is also available including local red and white wine. International wines are available, usually around 8,500-15,000 kyat. The Junction and Capital supermarkets have sections selling wine, beer and whisky.
The hotel zone has a handful of villa-style hotels that dot the hills on the outskirts of the city. There are 12 hotels in or near Naypyidaw. Eight of these are within the Naypyidaw Hotel Zone. There are also some very large hotels in Naypyidaw. The distances are quite far between anywhere you want to go and the hotels.
- 1 Vegas Hotel - Nay Pyi Taw, DC001 - National Guest House Road - Dekkhina Thiri Township (Hotel zone), ☎ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 3-star hotel, 5 floors (with elevator), modern (open in December 2017), 84 rooms. Free Wi-Fi. (Non-smoking) rooms feature large comfy beds, AC, TV, desk, lots of power sockets, fridge, safety box, private bathrooms. Buffet breakfast 06:30-10:00, with rice/noodles/soup, tea/coffee/milk, fruits/fruit juice, cereals, yogurt. On site restaurant, room service possible. 24-hour front desk. ATM. Parking. Bicycles can be rented for US$1 an hour. Friendly staff that speaks English and has good information about what to see in Naypyidaw. Seminar room. Swimming pool & fitness center planned for 2019. Free shuttle to nearby areas. Payment possible by credit card and cash. Starting from US$25.