Visiting Naypyitaw

Visiting Naypyitaw

Naypyitaw (sometimes spelled Naypyidaw) is the new capital of Myanmar (Burma). Its history is very short, as construction was started in 2002 and it became the official capital of Myanmar on 6th November 2005. The previous capital was Yangon (Rangoon). The new capital’s official name was announced on 27th March 2006.

Naypyitaw

Naypyitaw Lower Government Complex

The city is set to be completed some time in 2012. In 2009, the population was 925,000, making it Myanmar’s third largest city, after Yangon and Mandalay. Naypyitaw is also one of the world’s 10 fastest-growing cities. If the reforms continue in Myanmar it is also set to receive more and more visitors than it does currently.

The name is generally rendered in English as “royal capital”, “abode of kings”. or “seat of the king” or but the name literally means “royal city of the sun”.

Why was the capital moved from Yangon to Naypyitaw?
Firstly Naypyitaw is in a more central and strategical location than Yangon. It is a transportation hub located next to the Kayah, Shan and Kayin states and some felt that a stronger military and governmental presence in the area might increase stability in these regions. Officially the capital was moved from Yangon because it had become too congested with very little room for expansion of government departments.

There was also speculation that the Myanmar government was concerned about possible foreign attack, as Yangon is on the coast and therefore could be vulnerable to amphibious invasion. There is also a popular belief among the Burmese that the military chief of the country was warned about a foreign attack by an astrologer.

It has also been said that the vast new capital city which covers an area of 7,054.37 km2 is

“the ultimate insurance against regime change, a masterpiece of urban planning designed to defeat any putative “colour revolution” – not by tanks and water cannons, but by geometry and cartography”.

Be that as it may, Naypyitaw is now the capital city of Myanmar and will become more and more important as a place to do business in Myanmar and in south-east Asia as a whole, as the country develops commercially and economically.

Naypyidaw is organized into a number of zones.
Residential zones
which are carefully organized, and where apartments are assigned in accordance with rank and marital status. The roofs of apartment buildings are colour-coded according to the jobs carried out by their residents; blue roofs for Ministry of Health employees, green roofs for Ministry of Agriculture employees. Important government officials live in mansions, of which there are about 50.

Military zones
High-ranking military officers and certain key officials live 11 km from ordinary government employees in a complex which is rumoured to consist of tunnels and bunkers. The city also has a military base, which is inaccessible to citizens or others without specific written permission. The roads in the military zone have 8 lanes to allow small aircraft to land.

Ministry zone
The city’s Ministry zone houses the headquarters of Myanmar’s government ministries. All ministry buildings are identical. There is a parliamentary complex with 31 buildings and a presidential palace with 100-rooms. The zone is also home to he city hall building, Stalinist in architecture, but with a Burmese roof.

Hotel zone
The Hotel zone has a number of villa hotels on the outskirts of the city. There are at the moment 12 hotels in or near Naypyidaw. Eight within the Naypyidaw Hotel Zone, two in Laeway (Lewe) on the Yangon-Mandalay Road.

Shopping
Myoma Market is currently the commercial centre of Naypyidaw.

Other shopping areas are Thapye Chaung Market and Junction Centre Naypyidaw. Completed in August 2009, Junction Centre is the Naypyitaw’s first privately operated shopping centre. There are also a number of local markets and a restaurant area.

Recreation
The National Herbal Park
Naypyitaw Gems Museum
Ngalaik Lake Gardens – a small water park along the Ngalaik Dam, near Kyweshin Village on Ngalaik Lake (approximately 7 miles from Naypyitaw). Facilities include water slides, natural resorts, lodging and a beach. The gardens are open to the public during Thingyan holidays.
Naypyitaw Water Fountain Garden
The 200-acre National Herbal Park has exhibits of plants with medicinal applications from all of the main regions of Myanmar.
The Naypyitaw Zoological Gardens house some 420 animals with a climate-controlled penguin house. It is the largest zoo in Myanmar.
The Naypyitaw Safari Park opened on 12 February 2011.
Naypyitaw also has a gem museum and 2 golf courses (NayPyiTaw City Golf Course and Yaypyar Golf Course).

Uppatasanti or Peace Pagoda
The pagoda is just 30 cm shorter than the Shwedagon Pagoda. Uppatasanti translates roughly as “Protection against Calamity”. It is the name of a sutra written by a monk in the 16th century and is to be recited in time of crisis, especially foreign invasion.

International zone
The government has set aside 2 hectares of land each for foreign embassies and headquarters of United Nations missions.

Culture and Entertainment
The Myanmar Motion Picture Academy Awards are held each year in Naypyitaw. There is a movie theatre in the Junction Centre Mall in Naypyitaw, two others in nearby Pyinmana, and one in Tatkon Township.

25 Jun 2012