Before I arrived, I had never heard of Naypyidaw, also known as Myanmar’s ghost town. In fact, most people haven’t heard about this strange city. It’s not a hot spot tourist destination and not commonly sought out by travelers or backpackers.
Most travelers or backpackers, myself included, believe that Yangon is the capital of Myanmar. This was true up until 2006, which was when the government decided to move the capital city from Yangon to Naypyidaw.
Apparently the government wanted a capital city that would be more centrally located, in order to help control political uprisings. But they also liked the idea of having a completely pre-planned and pre-developed city.
They could pre-plan a city and build it in a way to avoid overcrowding and unnecessary traffic. It was the perfect idea and over 4 billion American dollars went into building this mega City. Naypyidaw took over 12 years to complete, and once it was finally finished, no one came.
Naypyidaw is known for its incredibly large size and its low population density, making it the ghost town of Myanmar.
Naypyidaw, The New Capital City
So why build a new capital city? It’s not the first time this has been done, it has actually been a popular thing to do in the past. The United States pre-planned Washington DC to move the capital from Philadelphia. Brazil also moved its capital from Sao Palo to Brasilia, and Australia pre-planned Canberra.
But why move the capital city with a population of over 12 million people? There is no stated reason why the capital city was actually moved, besides wanting a more central location.
There is a belief that climate might have played a role in moving the capital city, as Yangon is vulnerable to cyclones and constant down ours during rainy season. It’s also known that the government wanted to have more control over the regions of Shan, Kayan and Kayin, where political turmoil was high.
What You Will See In The Ghost Town of Naypyidaw?
Naypyidaw was a strange, strange city, if you can even call it a city. It felt more like a small village than a city. A small village that was super spread out, with large well-maintained roads and absolutely no traffic.
It was impossible to walk anywhere, unlike the rest of Myanmar, and I struggled to rent a motorbike. it was almost like they didn’t want tourists to have full access to the city.
I was only able to get a local to drive me around and show me the city, almost like a controlled tour.
What I found to be the strangest thing was the fact that the locals knew nothing about all these places that existed in their city that I had read about. So much of this mega city was untouched. There were so many roads that the locals knew nothing about. Giving it an eerie ambiance.
Why You Should Go To Naypyidaw
Naypyidaw is a strange and peculiar place. It is a ghost town, to say the least. You won’t find any tourists or any travelers. I saw a few people at my hotel having breakfast in the morning, but they were all there on business working with the Myanmar government.
I was staying in a very large hotel, one where you are driven to your room in a golf cart, and only saw a handful of other people. It’s hard to understand from a business perspective, how the hotels make any money at all.
However, I did hear a rumor that in order to have a hotel elsewhere in Myanmar, you must have one up and operating in Nyipaydaw. Even if it is losing money.
It was very strange to see a hotel that had more staff working than guests. It reminded me of my yachting days, but this time I was the guest.
The staff even seemed shocked and surprised that I was staying there because they are not used to having non-business guests staying at the hotel. But who doesn’t want to visit a ghost town and stay in a 5-star hotel for pennies?
The whole experience of visiting this bizarre city was worth the detour. I always enjoy getting off the beaten tourist tracks and see something a little different.
Where To Stay In Naypyidaw The Ghost Town
There are loads of cheap hotels you can stay at in Naypyidaw. They are massive and there is nobody staying in them. You can get them for half the price it would cost to stay in any other city in Myanmar. There really isn’t a main square or area in this city, so your location doesn’t matter much. Everything you will want to see you will have to drive to.
I highly recommend taking advantage of the cheap 5-star hotels, it helps add to the ghost town feeling when you are staying in a massive hotel and there is hardly anyone there. But if you are a traveler on a budget, there are a ton of cheap hotels you can book as well.
If you are looking for a unique and different experience on your trip to Myanmar, I highly recommend visiting Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s ghost town.
Be sure to use bookings when booking your stay to ensure you save!