In 2006, the government moved the capital of Myanmar from Yangon to Naypyitaw. The government began constructing the city secretly in 2002 and finished construction in 2012. There are two theories for why the capital was moved because the government did not provide a clear explanation. The first is that Yangon is located near the Andaman Sea through the Yangon River, and thus, is in a position that’s difficult to defend. The second potential reason for the move is that Naypyitaw is more centrally located making it easier for the government to control the country and hamper ethnic insurgencies.
The vast size and low population of the city make it a noteworthy capital. Most of the people living in the city work for the government. The city is strategically planned with government buildings and housing grouped by ministry. I only spent 4 hours in the city because I just wanted to get a feel for the vast emptiness of it. One of the most notable sites is the 20 lane highway that is devoid of vehicles. Everything in the city is man-made even the lakes and rivers.
20 Lane Highway
Driving down this highway is a little surreal, especially coming from the traffic packed Yangon. There’s so much space, while you zoom by on a motorbike. The highway is so empty that I even saw some cattle slowly meandering across it.
This is the large pagoda in the city built 2006-2009 to be 30 meters than the tallest pagoda in Myanmar, the Shwedagon Pagoda. Like many places in Naypyitaw, the pagoda was expansive and empty.
This is a large market with stores selling electronics, medicines, clothes, etc. in the large mall-like building. During the day, you can see women tailoring clothing at many of the shops. Outside of the building in the evening, vendors set up stands selling mostly fresh produce.
A massive, empty park with water pools for children to play and a lot of beautiful vegetation. There’s water fountains throughout the park, a larger man-made waterfall, and a short suspension bridge.