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What to do and see in Nay Pyi Taw
What to do and see in Nay Pyi Taw

A city that only recently came into being, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar's capital, is a monument to smart central planning and lavish architecture. The city is a true wonder – a place to explore Myanmar's natural delights, enjoy a taste of luxury, and appreciate the country's combination of tradition and modernity.

Visiting Nay Pyi Taw
Located around 200 miles north of Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw can be reached by road, rail or air, although most international visitors will usually arrive through the gates of the city's international airport. Flights are served by all of Myanmar's domestic carriers – visitors are able to fly daily from the country's most populous city, Yangon (also known as Rangoon), or take advantage of a weekly service to and from Bangkok, Thailand.

Visitors arriving by train face a nine-hour trip from Yangon, and by road the journey takes four hours, making air travel the quickest, most comfortable option offered – visas are available on arrival.

When exiting the airport, you will find taxis, motorbike taxis and tuk-tuks available. Prices are negotiable, so don't be afraid to do a little haggling, a skill you will become adept at during your stay given that taxis are the primary means for moving around the 7,054 km² city.

There are a number of accommodation options available in the city's hotel zone, but few come close to the comfort offered at Kempinski Hotel Nay Pyi Taw. Here visitors can enjoy traditional hospitality and cuisine, all of which is mixed with classic western luxury. Entering the hotel through its signature Royal Pavilion, visitors will instantly get a taste of the spaciousness and exclusivity that characterises the place, and can later enjoy the hotel's fitness, spa, swimming, and tennis facilities.

Monumental Nay Pyi Taw
One of the most obvious qualities of Nay Pyi Taw, and something that sets it apart from the majority of the world's capital cities, is its sheer size – the city's name translates as "abode of the king", and its construction and scale live up to the auspicious title.

Six times the size of New York City, Nay Pyi Taw was constructed in secret during the early 2000s by Myanmar's previous military rulers. A more strategic location than Yangon or Mandalay, the city now houses the entirety of Myanmar's government and military leadership. Set in the middle of a dense jungle, the city is quiet and serene, quite a far cry from bustling Yangon.

The place is filled with gigantic structures. The business of government is run from the sprawling, moated Hluttaw Complex – an enormous set of buildings accessible via two suspension bridges – while military matters are conducted tens of kilometres away in a specially-constructed zone.

The towering Uppatansanti Pagoda and colossal statues of Myanmar's ancient kings, Anawrahta, Bayintnaung and Alaungpaya, are joined by similarly gigantic public works, including huge roundabouts and eight lane streets bordered with beautiful and vibrant floral arrangements. Nay Pyi Taw can, at times, seem mind-bogglingly large, and it is easy to understand why.

Nay Pyi Taw's cuisine

Catering to fine tastes, the city's culinary line-up is vast, featuring classic Burmese, Thai, Chinese and western flavours. Excellent European and Asian food can be found at the restaurant of the Emerald Palace Hotel, where diners can enjoy meals cooked using local produce in a classy, inviting setting.

Upmarket Burmese dishes can be found in the YKKO restaurant, with all tastes and diets provided for, and in the Kempinski's Yangon Kitchen Restaurant, visitors can enjoy sumptuous dishes – both local and fusion – all of which are presented beautifully. Aficionados of Thai food will have their appetites thoroughly sated at either Tai Kitchen or the Bangkok Sky restaurant, where fine massaman curries, classic noodle dishes and meaty king prawns are served.

There are a number of sights and experiences in Nay Pyi Taw for visitors to enjoy, each mirroring the grand design and character of the city.

Uppatasanti Pagoda

The city's biggest attraction is the golden Uppatasanti Pagoda. This reproduction of Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda – a mere 30cm shorter than its ancient predecessor – is massive, featuring statues of the Buddha, tall stone reliefs that tell the story of the Buddhist faith, and incredibly intricate entrances. Ascending the hundreds of steps up to the glimmering Pagoda, visitors can truly appreciate the monumental majesty of the structure.

The Gem Museum

Marvel at fine jewellery and precious stones at the city's Gem Museum. Including the country's largest pearl, rubies, silverware and jade, half of the museum is devoted to local jewellery sellers – perfect for purchasing a keepsake or getting hold of traditional wares.

National Landmark Garden

Pretty and well-kept, the National Landmark Garden makes for an enjoyable day out with family or friends. Here visitors can take a guided tour of the destination by golf cart, taking in the sculptures and amusement rides while learning about the country's many ethnic groups, before taking a relaxing stroll through the gardens themselves.

Nay Pyi Taw Zoological Gardens

Recently opened, the Nay Pyi Taw Zoological Gardens feature hundreds of animals and is the largest and most modern zoo in the country – elephants, monkeys, kangaroos and white tigers can all be seen across the 612-acre complex. The attraction also features an outdoor safari park and a dazzling planetarium where visitors can learn about the cosmos and Myanmarese skies.

Nay Pyi Taw Water Fountain Park

Finally, visitors can take a trip to the Nay Pyi Taw Water Fountain Park, an aquatic wonderland that comes alive at night when musically-choreographed fountain displays are coupled with astonishing light projections. A favourite with locals, there is nothing better than sitting back with a drink in hand while the jets of water dance and flutter.

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