NAYPYITAW (391 kilometers from Yangon and 302 kilometers from Mandalay) is the administrative capital of Myanmar. Yangon (Rangoon) is the economic capital and former administrative capital. The environs of Naypyidaw (Nay Pyi Taw) comprise townships viz: Zeyar Thiri, Pohbba Thiri, Uttara Thiri, Zabu Thiri, Dekina Thiri, Pyinmana, Lewe and Tatkone Townships. Naypyidaw (Nay Pyi Taw) means "Abode of Kings.” It is located about 20 miles west of the existing town of Pyinmana in a region with one of the country's highest rates of malaria. A hydroelectric dam was built to supply electricity for the new capital while ethnic minorities viewed as threat were forced to relocate from the city’s hinterlands.

Joshua Hammer wrote in The New Yorker, Naypyidaw “was carved out of the jungle five hours north of Rangoon, along the nation’s only eight-lane expressway. It is a sprawling, low-density metropolis with wide, empty boulevards, grandiose state architecture, and golf courses where regime insiders cut deals in the tropical heat. One Western diplomat who visits there frequently told me, “You can’t imagine what a diversion of resources it represents, and it’s still growing.” Construction began discreetly in 2002. [Source: Joshua Hammer, The New Yorker, January 24, 2011]

Kenneth Denby wrote in The Times: “Even before you have arrive in Naypyidaw, it is obvious the world’s newest capital is a place like no other in Burma. It is not just the isolation, in a jungle 320km from the sea; it’s not just the active discouragement of foreigners, which is circumvented easily enough. It is the road leading into it. Ten lanes wide, cut flat and straight through hills and forests, it is the grandest and fastest stretch of road in a country where potholed tracks qualify as major highways. Occasionally, a cement lorry or a rickety open-backed minibus drives past. But otherwise, the traffic consists of sputtering motorbikes, horse-drawn carts and lines of women carrying baskets on their heads. The grandiose public buildings and shopping centers, like the broad roads, are meant as a model of the advanced Asian city, but many of them stand empty and unused. Unknown millions have been lavished on the new capital’s construction, in a country where most people live on less than a dollar a day. [Source: Kenneth Denby, The Times, October 16, 2007]

Getting to Naypyitaw: Naypyitaw Station is on the main Yangon-Mandalay rail line. It takes nine hours by train to get from Yangon to Naypyidaw. A highway connects Yangon to Naypyitaw. That takes only about four hours to drive. Naypyitaw Airport is about 30 minutes (16 kilometers) southeast of Naypyitaw. All domestic carriers — Air Pagan, Air Mandalay, Myanma Airways and Yangon Airways — operate daily flights from Naypyitaw to the commercial capital, Yangon, and the cultural capital Mandalay. There are flights via Naypyitaw to tourist destinations such as Pagan, Heho, Sittwe, Myitkyina, Kyaing Tong and others.

Capitals of Myanmar-Burma

During it history the capital of Burma-Myanmar has changed location around a dozen times, with stints in Pagan, Mandalay and Pegu. Kenneth Denby wrote in The Times, “ The port of Rangoon had been Burma’s capital since the British conquest of the country in 1885, and remains its greatest city – a seething stew of extreme poverty, lively commerce and rich culture. So it came as a surprise in 2005 when the junta announced the new capital and the relocation of all government functions. Over months, long convoys made the 10-hour journey to Naypyidaw, carrying entire government departments and their civil servants. [Source: Kenneth Denby, The Times, October 16, 2007]

The new capital of Naypyitaw is near Pyinmana, a trading town on a highway between Yangon and Mandalay. It is situated among remote mountains and dense forests. Yangon by contrast is located on a naviagable river near the sea. Naoji Shibata wrote in the Asahi Shimbun in 2005, “Pyinmana has a population of about 30,000 and is an agricultural production center for sugar cane and bamboo shoots. It's also prone to malaria, full of poisonous snakes and generally a miserable backwater. Its inaccessible location is intended to protect the junta of Senior General Than Shwe, but many believe the Government’s increased isolation is hastening its downfall. [Source: Naoji Shibata, Asahi Shimbun, December 28, 2005]

Naypyitaw and the Myanmar Government

Brook Larmer wrote in National Geographic: “If you come to Nay Pyi Taw looking for clues about Myanmar's leadership, the first thing you'll find is an unsettling void: smooth ten-lane roads with manicured roundabouts but scarcely any vehicles, clusters of color-coded government housing complexes with no children in sight, a copy of Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda with not a single Buddhist monk chanting prayers. It all feels like an abandoned movie set until you drive toward the military zone, an off-limits area where Than Shwe keeps his home and secretive high command. There, beyond the rumbling army trucks and the vast parade ground, stand the symbols of the regime: massive statues of Myanmar's three most revered ancient kings. [Source: Brook Larmer, National Geographic, August 2011 **]

“Welcome to the Abode of Kings, Myanmar's capital as of 2005, a strange utopia built on fear and hubris. A former mailman who honed his skills in the army's psychological-warfare department, Than Shwe self-consciously assumed the mantle of Myanmar's ancient monarchs—to the point where supplicants reportedly must use a royal form of Burmese to address him and his wife. Myanmar's kings had a penchant for building new capitals as legacies of their rule, from the pagodas at Pagan to the royal palace in Mandalay. Now there's Nay Pyi Taw. **

“The new capital may feel soulless, but for rulers distrustful of their own people, it could be a masterpiece of defensive urban planning. Worried about an imminent attack in Yangon, Than Shwe poured several billion dollars into building the city on scrubland in central Myanmar, safe from killer storms, foreign invasion, and domestic protests. In design, Nay Pyi Taw is not really a city but a series of isolated zones dispersed over an area larger than Rhode Island. Government ministries, once clustered in crowded Yangon, are laid out at wide intervals, accessible only by heavily patrolled roads. The military zone is a bubble within a bubble, forbidden to all but top officers—and reportedly honeycombed with underground bunkers. **

Kenneth Denby wrote in The Times: “Even before you have arrive in Naypyidaw, it is obvious the world’s newest capital is a place like no other in Burma. It is not just the isolation, in a jungle 320km from the sea; it’s not just the active discouragement of foreigners, which is circumvented easily enough. It is the road leading into it. Ten lanes wide, cut flat and straight through hills and forests, it is the grandest and fastest stretch of road in a country where potholed tracks qualify as major highways. Occasionally, a cement lorry or a rickety open-backed minibus drives past. But otherwise, the traffic consists of sputtering motorbikes, horse-drawn carts and lines of women carrying baskets on their heads. The grandiose public buildings and shopping centers, like the broad roads, are meant as a model of the advanced Asian city, but many of them stand empty and unused. Unknown millions have been lavished on the new capital’s construction, in a country where most people live on less than a dollar a day. [Source: Kenneth Denby, The Times, October 16, 2007]

Constructing and Paying for Myanmar’s New Capital

Anuj Chopra wrote in U.S. News & World Report, “Hacked out of a malarial jungle and declared the new capital in 2005, this inland fortress was built, by some accounts, at the instigation of a fortuneteller and with the sweat of tens of thousands of forced laborers. The occasional muffled sound of explosions suggests the regime is carving out hardened defensive positions in the nearby mountains, perhaps against feared foreign attacks. "Nay Pyi Taw is the junta's war bunker," says a political analyst in Yangon. "They know people resent them. They are running away from their own people. [Source: Anuj Chopra, U.S. News &World Report, October 12, 2007 ++]

“Nay Pyi Taw, not expected to be fully completed until 2012, is being built by a few Burmese business conglomerates that have ties to the military junta. One of them, Asia World, is believed to be in charge of more than 70 percent of the construction project. The sprawling personal residences of Than Shwe and Vice Senior Gen. Maung Aye were built by Asia World—run by former drug lord Lo Hsing Han. ++

To pay its bills, the Myanmar government can draw on the revenues from growing off-shore gas reserves, which provide billions of dollars from gas sold to energy-hungry nations such as India, China, and Thailand. Myanmar also has other rich natural resources, like timber, that help pay for building this new capital. "It's a complete waste of money," says an analyst in Yangon."Only a sliver of Myanmar's budget goes to healthcare, education."

Chinese companies won contracts to install communication infrastructure, and the Chinese government helped build the hydroelectric power plant to run the city.

Reasons Why Myanmar Created a New Capital

There has never been a satisfactory explanation as to why the capital was moved so far inland. The official explanation has been that it is centrally located, which will enable the government to improve its services. The government said that Myanmar needs a “command and control center” in a strategic location. Kyaw Hsan, the junta’s the information minister told the Washington Post that shifting the capital to the center of the country was designed to help develop Burma's outlying regions, where the government has been trying to ensure peace after years of insurgency by minority ethnic groups. "It's good for the future as regards management and administration of the country,"

Many believe the true reason is security. Some have speculated the junta feared a U.S. invasion. Others say Than Shwe, known to be superstitious, consulted an astrologer. Burmese leaders before him have relocated their seats of power several times. Some said it was built where it was so the junta could defend itself if attacked by the United States. Construction reportedly was stepped up after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. "After seeing how the U.S. attacked Iraq and Afghanistan from aircraft carriers at sea, the Myanmar government thought it would be safer to be further inland," one observer told the Asahi Shimbun.

Kenneth Denby wrote in The Times: The obvious question is: why? The most plausible explanation is that the generals are escaping from the increasingly clamorous people. Rangoon, after all, is a city of protest and opposition, of the democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains a threat to the junta even under house arrest. By removing the Civil Service, it can at last avoid a repeat of the 1988 uprising, when government workers took to the streets alongside students. [Source: Kenneth Denby, The Times, October 16, 2007]

Naoji Shibata wrote in the Asahi Shimbun: “Yet another rumor is spreading that says SPDC Chairman Than Shwe was simply following the advice of astrologers. According to informed sources, an ancient document found several years ago during the restoration of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon contained an ancient prediction. "If the capital is moved to the central part of the country, Myanmar will prosper," the prophecy said. Chairman Than is thought to have been pleased with the message. [Source: Naoji Shibata, Asahi Shimbun, December 28, 2005]

Alan Sipress wrote in the Washington Post: “Few in Rangoon can fathom the motives for the abrupt move. Most observers and even some government officials say they suspect it was solely the brainchild of Gen. Than Shwe, the secretive head of Burma's ruling military junta. Some foreign diplomats and Burmese exiles attribute the move more to the regal presumptions of Than Shwe, 74, who has ruled for 13 years and may be seeking to build a legacy like Burmese kings of old. They noted he had already established a new military district to include Pyinmana and dubbed it Naypyidaw, or Royal City. Diplomats and exiles said the new location could also prove more defensible, with a vast military complex being built nearby, nestled against the mountains and, some say, housed partly in underground tunnels. The new location could also insulate the government from potential unrest generated by students and others suffering mounting hardships in the rest of the country, especially Rangoon. [Source: Alan Sipress, Washington Post, December 28, 2005]

Ethnic Refugees Flee for Their Lives Because of Myanmar’s New Capital

Richard Lloyd Parry wrote in The Times: “Thousands of unarmed civilians have been driven from their homes by government soldiers who are securing the country's new administrative center, the town of Pyinmana, according to non-government organisations in eastern Burma. The U.N. has recorded a 15-fold surge in the number of refugees crossing into Thailand. According to refugees and Christian aid groups, thousands more are trapped in the jungle, their escape route blocked by government troops. [Source: Richard Lloyd Parry, The Times, March 26, 2006 ]

“Refugees and aid workers described how soldiers of the Burmese junta had forced civilians to work in their camps, burning villages and murdering their inhabitants. "Five of our neighbours were killed by the military," said Maw Leah, who had spent 10 days travelling to the border. "They set up military camps. They force us to work for them. If we don't, they make us pay them. We couldn't exist any more in our own homes." Nay Thablay, an activist and member of the Karen ethnic minority in Oo Dak Klo, said: "The problem is the ones that we cannot reach. Many of them are stuck in the jungle and no one can get to them."

“Central parts of the country around Pyinmana have been spared the worst of its depredations. But it is also closer to the rebellious Karen and Shan states, and a good base for their pacification. And it is this which seems to have caused the new refugee problem. According to Hanne Mathisen, of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees in northwest Thailand, the typical number of Burmese crossing into Mae Hong Son was 15 to 20 a month. Since December, however, 900 have made the journey. In December, Burmese troops appeared close to Sha See Bo, a village of 200 people. On January 6, one man was shot dead. Two days later, five more disappeared. Three weeks later, their bodies were found in shallow graves. "They had been tortured to death," Maw Leah said. "We don't know how things will be in Thailand. But it is impossible for us to stay in our village."

Civil Servants Move to Myanmar’s New Capital

Alan Sipress wrote in the Washington Post: “Military trucks rumble up in front of Rangoon's ministries several times a week and workers lug ancient desks, chairs and filing cabinets to the waiting vehicles. The convoys depart at daybreak on a 12-hour journey along roads badly rutted and pocked, then return for another load. Burma's military rulers are rapidly transferring the country's century-old capital from Rangoon to the desolate, rocky terrain of Pyinmana about 200 miles to the north, aiming to empty most offices by the end of next month. Distraught civil servants, among the thousands scheduled to relocate, have wept in front of foreign officials. Some government employees have asked to quit, including many at the Irrigation Ministry who tried to resign en masse, but have been told that is forbidden, according to their family members. "The government's crazy. Everybody hates this idea," said Soe, a deliveryman whose cousin, a military officer, has been transferred. "This Pyinmana, I wish I could blow the place up."[Source: Alan Sipress, Washington Post, December 28, 2005 ]

Senior Burmese ministers were given just two days' notice of the relocation from the port city of Rangoon to the heartland of the majority Burman ethnic group. Witnesses recounted seeing the initial convoy depart Rangoon at precisely 6:37 a.m., a time that many Burmese attribute to the counsel of government astrologers. As the trucks pulled away from the ministries, including several housed in red brick Victorian buildings dating to the colonial era, army officers led a ritual chant of "We're leaving! We're leaving!" Only the next day did the Foreign Ministry notify foreign diplomats that the capital had left town. "You can communicate with the Myanmar government by letter. If you have an urgent matter, you can send a letter by fax," said an Asian diplomat, repeating the instructions he had been given by the Foreign Ministry. "Can you believe that?"

On hearing the news about the move, one government worker told Reuters.“We couldn’t believe our ears. The room fell completely silent. Some of us were close to tears.” He and his colleagues were given a few hours to gather some food and belongings before being loaded onto Chinese-made trucks. “We left at 6:37am sharp. It was a very long convoy, as long as they eye could see.” He said the timing seems to have been chosen by astrologers. He said when they arrived at the mosquito infested capital, the buildings were half finished. “We had to sleep on the floor and others slept on tables.” According to the Washington Post In one ministry building, about 90 people slept on the floor. Higher-ranking officials camped out atop desks and tables. There were few signs of the schools, hospitals, shopping mall and luxury hotels the government has promised.

Naoji Shibata wrote in the Asahi Shimbun: “One Myanmar woman, an official in an economy-related ministry, had been earning a degree at the graduate school of a university in Yangon part-time. She was ordered to transfer to the new capital just before her final exams were to be held this month. She packed a bag with necessities and headed to Pyinmana, saying goodbye to her exams and the chance to graduate. A man in his 50s, an official in the Home Affairs Ministry, was also ordered to Pyinmana recently, along with his section chief. When they arrived, they found there were no apartments built yet, so they are sleeping at their offices. They eat meals prepared by co-workers. [Source: Naoji Shibata, Asahi Shimbun, December 28, 2005]

Living in the Half Finished New Capital of Myanmar

Alan Sipress wrote in the Washington Post: “ The information minister, Brig. Gen. Kyaw Hsan, said that the shift to Pyinmana would not interfere with government operations. "The movement to Pyinmana will be made step by step to ensure no difficulties for service personnel and to ensure continued function of the departments," he said. But civil servants have told their families that few buildings are ready in the new capital. Government housing remains unfinished, with electricity and water supplies running short."You know there's no psychiatric hospital in Pyinmana," a government official quipped. "They'll need one because everyone is going to go crazy." The move has divided extended families, and parents are to be separated even from their children, at least until schools are built in Pyinmana. For civil servants, who often moonlight or sell their government gasoline allowances on the black market to supplement monthly pay of $20 or less, it also means they may lose their main sources of income. There is no ready market in Pyinmana. [Source: Alan Sipress, Washington Post, December 28, 2005 ]

Many moved without their families, who stayed behind to be close to relatives and for schools. “I miss Rangoon,” one man, an employee of the Planning and Economic Development Ministry, told The Times. “I miss my life there, my parents and friends.” [Source: Kenneth Denby, The Times, October 16, 2007]

Naoji Shibata wrote in the Asahi Shimbun, “Pyinmana is a seven- to 10-hour drive from Yangon. Government officials are taking buses and trains or using Myanmar military trucks for the move. All officials are leaving their families in Yangon, which has a population of about 4.5 million. The officials are allowed telephone calls home only twice a week. There is no mobile phone service in the new capital. In addition to the high incidence of malaria, the poisonous snakes mean everyone must wear more costly shoes, instead of the sandals that are common in Yangon, some officials said. In addition, they must support their families back in Yangon, so their expenditures are double. Some officials fear refusing to be sent to Pyinmana could land them in prison. Others wonder if they will be denied a pension. On the other hand, some rumors say that any official who relocates to Pyinmana will eventually earn five times as much as he or she does in Yangon as salaries.[Source: Naoji Shibata, Asahi Shimbun, December 28, 2005 ///]

“Foreigners are barred from the region around Pyinmana, The Foreign Ministry called a meeting for foreign diplomats. It told them it would have land set aside for foreign embassies to be constructed in Pyinmana by the end of 2007. As the plans are vague, however, no embassies are likely to make the move quickly. Foreign corporations with bases in the country are also worried. One company official said: "It takes a long time to be granted visa extensions already. If they shift the capital to Pyinmana, it will take even longer. If we don't receive our visa extension in time, we could end up overstaying our visas illegally." The sudden relocation has made foreign firms uneasy and prompted at least one company to abandon its investment. "Our endurance has reached its limit. We cannot stay in business with such an unpredictable country," the CEO of a Southeast Asian company that had invested much time and money into Myanmar recently told a foreign diplomat. ///

Myanmar’s New Capital in 2007

Hannah Beech wrote in Time magazine: “”There aren't any," says the hotelier with an embarrassed laugh when I ask about the best tourist attractions in Burma's new capital. That's no surprise, really. Naypyidaw was built from scratch just three years ago on orders from the ruling junta. The vast swath of former scrubland didn't even exist when the latest Lonely Planet Burma travel guide was written, and there's not much tourist charm in a dusty bunker town whose sole purpose is the wish fulfillment of paranoid generals. [Source: Hannah Beech, Time, May 22, 2008\]

“Naypyidaw is very big and very empty. The authorities claim that Naypyidaw is home to nearly 1 million residents. But on a recent visit, I saw only a few dozen people apart from the gangs of manual laborers painting crosswalks and sweeping spotless boulevards. On the 20-minute drive from the airport to the hotel zone — where all six of Naypyidaw's hotels are located — I passed just three other vehicles. One was a horse-drawn buggy. Tens of thousands of civil servants have been forced to abandon Rangoon for Naypyidaw, but the new capital has only two markets catering to their needs. There's no sign of movie theaters or karaoke dens, and no cell-phone coverage — for "security reasons," the locals claim. \\

“Three years after the first wave of government employees moved here, Naypyidaw remains under construction. Workers toil in the searing heat, mostly without modern equipment like cranes and bulldozers. So far, their efforts have produced, among other things, a massive zoo, five police stations and three golf courses. (Burma's generals are notoriously fond of the sport.) Government housing is provided in bright-hued blocks reminiscent of a down-market Florida retirement community, color-coded by residents' occupation: blue buildings are for the Ministry of Health, green for the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. \\

“One attraction of life in Naypyidaw is its 24-hour electricity supply in a country plagued by power shortages. But that's not enough to entice civil servants to bring their relatives here. Asked why her family stayed in the old capital, a 12-year-old girl visiting her father answers in impressive English, "Rangoon is better; here is bad," earning her a slap on the head from her anxious mother. Despite the considerable landscaping effort at Naypyidaw's Natural Herbal Park and Water Fountain Garden, no people loll in these public green spaces. I see none of the country's omnipresent Buddhist monks in the new capital, even at the local pagoda. \\

“The city's only potential tourist attraction is a replica of Rangoon's famous Shwedagon pagoda. It's still under construction. At the building site, child laborers—some appearing no older than six—lug piles of rocks on woven stretchers. Burma's junta has long been considered one of the world's worst human-rights abusers. But the generals don't have to see these tiny laborers build a golden temple for their Abode of Kings. That's because the top brass is bunkered in another, faraway part of the city...A Naypyidaw map vividly sums up the willful seclusion of Burma's leaders: the space where the generals' lavish homes should be is completely blank.

There are 40 buildings for each ministry–each which can accommodate 500 people. Anuj Chopra wrote in U.S. News & World Report, “The Stalinist feel of the new capital is heightened by the behemoth statues of bygone Burmese kings and the monumental scale of the buildings, which include government offices, diplomatic quarters with blue and yellow metal roofs, a parliamentary building, and a large military complex with luxurious mansions, an area out of bounds for anyone not in uniform. [Source: Anuj Chopra, U.S. News & World Report, October 12, 2007]

Facilities and Layout of Myanmar’s New Capital

Kenneth Denby wrote in The Times: “In structure, Naypyidaw is hardly a city at all, but rather a series of zones carefully dispersed to isolate the different parts of the city from one another. The hotel zone is where foreigners stay, in places with names such as the Royal Kumudra, the Golden Myanmar and the Aureum Palace. For $77 a night, I enjoyed foreign cable TV and airconditioning in a self-contained bungalow. I saw not a single other guest. The civilian heart is a town of white, blue and pink four-storey flats. A shopping complex contains scores of premises, all unfinished or unoccupied. [Source: Kenneth Denby, The Times, October 16, 2007 ^]

“But not all of Naypyidaw is a building site. The city hall has high white walls and curving tiled roofs, like the palace of Ming the Merciless. North of here are the identical ministry buildings. The one I entered had manual typewriters instead of computers and the silvery-blue glass at the front was already showing cracks. The first sign of life comes at the city’s market and bus station, the only place in Naypyidaw where messy human reality impinges on Than Shwe’s sterile folly. The telephone directory is 12 pages long, compared with 470 for Rangoon, but according to the Government almost a million people live here. ^

“Members of Burma’s Muslim minority are excluded, and there are almost none of the monks who turned against the Government last month. But the most surprising thing is the absence – except for a few unobtrusive policemen – of the armed forces. The generals live in yet another zone, where soldiers parade before titanic statues of Burma’s ancient kings. ^

Brook Larmer wrote in National Geographic: “In a city built by construction workers earning less than a dollar a day, the generals have splurged on some extravagances: an Olympic-size soccer stadium, a zoo equipped with an air-conditioned penguin house, a safari park, even a 480-acre "landmark garden" with miniature reproductions of Myanmar's most famous sites, including wooden houses inhabited, on occasion, by ethnic minorities in native garb—a sort of human zoo. [Source: Brook Larmer, National Geographic, August 2011 ==]

“The generals' obsession with one legacy of British colonialism—golf—has spawned five new courses. The farmers whose village was bulldozed to build the City Golf Course now weed fairways on their ancestral land—and smile deferentially when officials play through. Beyond its elitist appeal, the golf course provides a refuge where business deals are quietly negotiated, with bribes purportedly masked as losing bets. A 26-year-old female caddy wearing bright red lipstick has learned the rules of discretion. "I'm only supposed to smile," she says. ==

“The capital does have one concession to democracy: a parliament complex consisting of 28 gargantuan pagoda-topped buildings rising above two faux suspension bridges. When parliament opened in February—the first session in 22 years—the 659 new MPs were herded into this self-contained world and kept in isolation for weeks. No media or spectators were allowed; the MPs themselves were forbidden to use mobile phones or email. "It was sad and funny," a Burmese businessman in Yangon says. "Here were all these MPs launching a new democracy, and yet they were huddled there like prisoners."

Traveling to Myanmar’s New Capital

Describing a trip to Naypyidaw in 2008, John Heilprin of Associated Press wrote: “The journey began with a one-hour flight aboard a chartered government plane from Yangon. The 250-mile drive north to the generals' capital can take a half-day along a potholed two-lane road. From the airport, it was a 40-minute drive on a Los Angeles-style eight-lane highway—the widest and smoothest road in the country — to Than Shwe's opulent meeting room. Virtually no cars or people were seen, aside from workers hand-sweeping the roadside. [Source: John Heilprin, Associated Press, May 30, 2008]

Entering the city required passage through a fenced checkpoint along the highway. The capital has 24-hour electricity, a rarity in Myanmar, but forget cell phone service or international flights. Along the road in the hotel district are new golf courses and resorts with signs like "The Thingaha–uber cool." Few people were spotted anywhere. Inside one resort, well-groomed waiters served cool green melon drinks. At another stop, the group was offered a buffet of seafood, noodles and other local fare on elegant wooden tables. The five-star luxury hotels featured circular driveways, gleaming fountains, shady foyers and sunny pools.

The capital, segregated into military and civilian districts, is surrounded by hills believed to hold a hive of bunkers. A shopping mall, a high school built like a fortress and a stadium described by one local official as "a training ground for parading" are inside the military area. A sightseeing tour of half-built government buildings led through a massive construction site of unfinished Soviet-style facades. Workers lined up to wave at the passing U.N. diplomats and foreign press. There was also little sign of life near some of the city's 1,200 new four-story apartment complexes... Once at Than Shwe's pillared compound, armed guards greeted the group, leading them through a two-story entrance hall that opened onto a 15-foot rock sculpture topped with a serene alpine mural.

Places in Naypyitaw

The City Hall is one of the prominent landmarks of Naypyitaw. It is where the Naypyitaw Development Committee established its headquarters. State occasions are held here, with the Myanmar National Anthem played by State Orchestra. The Myanmar International Convention center (MICC) covers 312, 000 square feet and is located on 16 acres of land within Zabuthiri Township, Naypyitaw. It was built by the People’s Republic of China and completed in March 2010. The MICC plenary hall that can accommodate 1900 people. The MICC building has listening rooms, holding rooms, meeting rooms, a VIP summit room, a news briefing room, a singing room and the 720-person Banquet Hall.

Ministries in Naypyitaw( Building Number and Name of Ministry): 1) Ministry of National Planning & Economic Development; 2) Ministry of Communication, Post & Telegraph; 3) Ministry of Economic & Trade; 4) Ministry of Health; 5) Ministry of Transport; 6) Ministry of Energy; 7) Ministry of Information; 8) Myanmar Police Force; 9) Ministry of Foreign Affairs; 10) Ministry of Home Affairs; 11) Ministry of Construction; 12) Ministry of Statistic; 13) Ministry of Education; 14) Ministry of Progress of Border Areas & National Races; 15) Ministry of Agriculture & Irrigation; 16) Ministry of Co-Operative; 18) Ministers Office; 19) Ministry of Mining; 20) Ministry of Defence; 21) Ministry of Science & Technology; 22) Ministry of Labour; 23) Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief & Resettlement, Immigration & Population; 24) Supreme Court; 25) Judges Office; 26) Ministry of Finance & Revenue; 27) Ministry of Electrical Power (2); 28) Ministry of Forestry; 29) Ministry of Railway Transport; 30) Ministry of Industry No (2); 31) Ministry of Religious Affairs, Sport; 32) Ministry of National Planning & Economic Development; 33) Ministry of Hotels & Tourism; 34) Ministry of Finance & Revenue; 35) Ministry of Culture; 36) Ministry of Livestock & Fisheries; 37) Ministry of Industry No (1); 38) Ministry of Electrical Power (1).

Uppatasanti Pagoda is 325 feet high and lends a certain dignity to Naypyitaw. The pagoda was consecrated in March 2009. In the pagoda precinct are impressive religious edifices such as Maha Hsutaungpyae Buddha Image in Maha Pasadabhumi Gandhakuti Chamber; four jade Buddha images in the cave of the pagoda; statues depicting the birth. enlightenment. the first discourse. and attaining Nirvana of the Lord Buddha; the 108 feet high flagstaff; Bo Tree Garden with Maha Bo Tree and the images of the 28 Buddhas; the garden of 108 Sacred Bo Trees; Marlini Mingala Lake with the chamber of Shin Uppagutta in it; Withongaraa Ordination Hall; Cetiyapala Chamber; Sangha Yama hostels; Sasana Maha Beikmandaw Building; museum; Pitakat Building and religious Archive. Ceremonies to confer religious titles on eminent monks and ceremonies to offer alms to members of the Sangha

Gem Museum (in Zabuthri Township, Naypyitaw) boats a large area upstairs decorated with large wall glasses and beautiful and wonderful decorations in modern designs. In the museum and precious jewels such aruby and sapphire. Quality jade lots and the largest pearl in Myanmar are on display. Normally it opens from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm except Monday and government holidays.

Water Fountain Garden features a steel structure arch-way. Also included in the garden are a main pond with three fountains inside and 11 small ponds with 13 different fountains inside. A 30 feet (9.1 meters) high clock tower, nine recreation centres, two small gardens, two stone gardens and ten feet wide buggy road and footpaths.

National Landmarks Garden (Thaik Chaung Road near Yezin Dam in Zayathiri Township) covers over 400 acres and honors Myanmar’s national races and their customs. The booths at the Garden reflect the cultural heritage of the national people and foster the Union Sprit. It features replicas of the famous pagodas, stupas, caves, river crossing bridges, mountains, lakes, water falls, beaches, and islands in Myanmar.

Zoological Garden (Naypyitaw Yezin) is situated on 1062 acres of land in Naypyitaw Yezin and opened in March 2008. A total of 39 species of mammals, 30 species of birds and 12 species of reptiles are displayed at 27 booths. Among them are the rare and endangered wildlife, penguins and white tigers. In March 2008, Associated Press, reported: “Myanmar's military junta opened a new zoo in the country's remote administrative capital, saying it hopes the facility will become a tourist attraction. The Zoological Garden in Naypyitaw features some 400 animals – including elephants, monkeys, birds, rhinos and tigers – transported from Myanmar's two other zoos in the cities of Yangon and Mandalay. It also features white lions, which were a gift from neighboring China. [Source: Associated Press, March 26, 2008]

“The zoo could be a recreational place not only for locals but also for foreign tourists,” said Lt. Gen. Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, the junta's Secretary One, or fifth-ranking official, at the opening ceremony. Among the zoo's attractions are penguins, which are housed in an ice den built at a cost of more than $200,000. Most animals, however, are kept outside where temperatures can rise to 104 degrees. Critics have expressed concern that the 612-acre zoo lacks the infrastructure and lush vegetation that most of its animals need to survive.”

Isolation of Myanmar’s Generals in Their New Capital

On why Naypyidaw was created, David Steinberg of Georgetown University told Reuters: “It’s a retreat. A feeling that they can go it alone no matter what. They don’t need the outside world.” Anuj Chopra of U.S. News & World Report wrote: “This is their Xanadu, where they work in commanding, Stalinist-style buildings, live in luxury homes, drive along wide, paved streets, and enjoy 24-hours-a-day electricity—a standard of living far from electricity shortages, rutted roads, and other routine hardships faced by Myanmar's citizens. [Source: Anuj Chopra, U.S. News & World Report, October 12, 2007]

The move to Naypyidaw will be the undoing of the generals,” one foreign diplomat in Rangoon told The Times. “Their isolation from the population makes them less intimidating … and it’s a death blow to their intelligence gathering.”So perhaps this is the irony of the retreat to the jungle: far from being a demonstration of strength, it is a symptom of fear. [Source: Kenneth Denby, The Times, October 16, 2007]

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, The Irrawaddy, Myanmar Travel Information Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy,,, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

Last updated August 2020

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