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The exotic and curious nation of Myanmar has been steadily emerging as a destination to be discovered. While its cities like Yangon and Mandalay have been major stops for foreigners, most people have overlooked or been uninformed about Naypyitaw, the planned capital. It has been hailed a a “ghost town” or a “bizarre city.” It is none of these, it is fascinating, huge and already with museums, temples, attractions and a population that is filling its massive confines.
These two attractions cost $10 and $20 respectively for a ticket to access. They are located around 45 minutes from the hotel zone of the city. The hours of operation are for each: Garden 8.30am-8pm Tue-Sun, Safari park 8.30am-4.30pm. While the zoos are not state of the art there is quite a bit of space for the animals and it is an improvement on the conditions in which they were kept in Yangon.
Myanmar is the world’s leading producer of Rubies and so it should come as no surprise that there is a dedicated museum to the mineral resources the country holds. Other displays are pearls, silverware, jade and various geological attractions. The hall is massive. It is open 9.30am-4.30pm Tue-Sun and costs $5 entry. There are jewelry sellers on site too.
This is probably the most iconic site in all of Naypyidaw and where you should start your tour. We arrived quite easily in taxi and there is a convenient parking lot with vendors set up where our driver was more than happy to take a snooze while we walked around. There are panoramic photo opportunities of the pagoda itself, with worshippers, gold, jade, statues and relics. Everything is simply massive. The surrounding countryside can be seen far from this high up and the protected white elephants are beautiful to watch as well. You must leave shoes at the base of the pagoda where there is a small hut and you pay a minimal fee to have a man watch all the shoes.
This is a pre-existing town in the area that has become part of the Naypyitaw capital district. It is the most densely inhabited part of the municipality. It is really worthwhile to go there and see how daily life goes on in the capital. Here you will see schools, vendors, temples. Two especially worth visiting are the Law Ka Yan Nain Pagoda and the Law Ka Mar Ya Zein Pagoda. You will see monks in training, fortune tellers and people at prayer.
The capital is widely spaced out and arranged according to districts. Thus there is a hotel district, ministries, government district, public works etc. Between these districts marketplaces have opened up which include transportation, restaurants and some major grocery stores. The biggest junction where we arrived and departed via bus was Myoma Market. It is a good place from which to catch a taxi and move around the city. There is ample groceries and restaurants too. Thapye Chaung Market and Junction Centre Naypyidaw are two other focal points for the necessities of life.