After spending three nights at Inle Lake we hopped onto a nightbus to the capital of Myanmar, Naypyidaw. Naypyi — what? The capital of Myanmar is usually not on the bucket list of the typical Myanmar visitor and more often called an empty ghost town with huge deserted high ways than glittering city. Finding up-to-date information about the city is quite though and we haven’t met any traveller in Myanmar, who has been to Naypyidaw yet. So obviously, enough reasons to give Naypyidaw a shot.
Naypyidaw was built secretly during the end of the 90ies and the beginning of 2000 and was presented to the public and made capital (it was Yangon before) in 2005. The official reason was to have a capital which is easily reachable from the whole country and escape the overcrowded city of Yangon. Other rumors state that the real reason was the fear of the military that revolution could take place easier in a city like Yangon in comparison to the new city and then Yangon can be easier attacked by foreign powers to its location close to the sea.
After a couple of hours on the bus we arrived at around 3.30 in the night somewhere in Naypyidaw. So what to do in the middle of the night in an unknown city without any idea where to go? We chose the only option we had: Walking around and trying to find a place where we maybe can comfortably sit down and maybe nap a little. Being incredible lucky, we found a small restaurant, where people were already preparing breakfast and let us sit outside and even gave us some hot tea.
After surviving the night, our first task was to buy bus tickets to our last stop in Myanmar — Mandalay. We didn’t plan to stay overnight in Naypyidaw, but instead hop onto a nightbus to Mandalay. But before we tried to find a bus office, we walked to the water park nearby, which wasn’t that great idea, because there was nothing to see in the early morning without the fountains, etc. working.
After we figured out, that the bus office is at Myoama Market, we hopped onto on of the mini busses operating in Naypyidaw and tried our luck to get there. Surprisingly, we were successful on our first try. After buying a ticket for the 8pm bus and storing our back bags in the bus office, we walked through the nearby market. For a ghost town, the market was quite busy and offered quite a big range of products.
After we explored the market, what shall we do next? It is not that there’s a big worth-seeing list or list of attractions in Naypyidaw. So we thought, ok let’s just try to discover the city and the surroundings. So we hopped on to another local bus and just drove around. So what’s there to see?
Not that much actually. There’s nothing like a city, but everything looks like suburbs, which are not really connected to each other. Roughly an hour later, we were back at Myoama Market, again facing the question: What shall we do next? We decided to see one of the famous empty highways. The only way to get there is more or less to hop onto a cab and let somebody drive you there. Those empty highways create indeed a bizarre scenery. 16 lanes, but literally no cars at all. We couldn’t resist and had to play football on the highway. The highway is passing the monstrous parliament buildings until it ends at huge roundabout.
Again, we were in a situation, where we had no idea where to go and what to do. Shall we go to the Pagoda? Nah, it’s just a copy of the one in Yangon and who likes to see the fake version, when you have seen the original. But what else can we do? Naypyidaw is such weird place. It’s not a ghost city, because it isn’t actually a city at all.
So what we did afterwards? We went to one of the biggest shopping centers in Naypyidaw called Junction Center. We more or less spend our afternoon there with eating food and enjoying some coffee, because there was just nothing else really to do in Naypyidaw.
Afterwards we walked around again in the water park, which was busier than in the morning and the fountains were actually working. In the middle of the park were people watching a strange music show, which was projected on a fountain. After spending there around an hour, we hopped on our bus to Mandalay with no conclusion about Naypyidaw.
Is Naypyidaw worth a visit and was interesting? Yes-and-No, it was kind of interesting experience to be in a such no-city city. The huge empty highways are impressive, but apart from that there’s is just nothing, literally nothing. We, during the day, actually wished that we would have planned to stay only a couple of hours and not a full day. I think, a couple of hours are easily enough to get an idea of the place.