Getting to Naypyidaw

As a new capital, Naypyidaw has been made readily accessible to both foreign and domestic visitors. Although it is located approximately midway from the country’s two main cities, Yangon and Mandalay, and right on the country’s biggest and most modern highway, the city itself has very little traffic.

Aerial view of the Naypyidaw International AirportNight time "traffic jam" in Naypyidaw City

By Air

Nay Pyi Taw International Airport, formerly known as Ela Airport and serving the town of Pyinmana has been expanded, and is now able to service 3.5 million passengers a year. It is located 16 kilometers southeast of the city. The airport is still under construction, although it is entirely functional and services regular flights to every bigger city in Myanmar, such as Mandalay, Yangon, Bagan, etc. It also has arrivals from Bangkok in Thailand and Kunming in China, and plans to accept flights from some other neighboring countries after reconstruction. As for domestic airlines, the Nay Pyi Daw Airport has regular arrivals from Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, Myanmar Airways, FMI Air and Yangon Airways. Taxi from the airport to the city costs around $30.

By Train

Naypyidaw Railway Station was opened in 2009, and, like pretty much everything else in this city, is yet to be completed. Naypyidaw Railway Station is the only stop in and around this huge city for passenger trains. Some local railway routes are also available, but they are seldom used by local residents. There are 10 daily arrivals to Naypyidaw Railway Station from Yangon, and it takes around nine hours to get from Yangon to Naypyidaw by train. The train ticket from Yangon costs around $6. There is no public transportation system leading to and from the Railway Station, and this is the main reason why locals avoid this mode of transport; after all, Naypyidaw is an enormous city, and public transport is a necessity.

By Bus

Naypyidaw Central Bus Station is called Myomazay Bus Station. Beside this, the city also has two more bus station- Bawka Thiri bus station and Thapyagone bus station. There is a regular line arriving from Yangon, which takes around 4 hours, and two lines arriving from Mandalay, which takes some 3 hours.

Getting around Naypyidaw

One would expect for a city as huge as Naypyidaw (and there aren’t many) to be swarming with buses, motorbikes, rickshaws, tuk tuks, bicycles, even horse carriages, like in other cities and towns of Myanmar. Well, Naypyidaw is the exact opposite of that. Cars are an extremely rare sight, even though the Mandalay- Yangon Highway widens within Naypyidaw into a 20-lane expressway. And visitors shouldn’t be surprised by the absence of the most popular transportation mean in the country-motorbikes. They were banned from driving through some streets in the city in 2009, due to the high number of motorbike-related accidents in that year.
The city has no public transportation system. There are no buses available for residents, only shuttle buses driving government and military officials to and from their work places. There are some local rail routes, but they are rarely used due to the fact that once passengers get off the train, there is no way for them to get to their final destinations, except on foot and by taxis, which are far too expensive for their income. Some local railway stops are also in function, but there is no way of knowing their schedules of departures and arrivals, unless one uses them regularly; there are no information on either Burmese or foreign languages. If we disregard walking, or in this case hiking would be a better term considering the sheer volume of the city, there are only two ways of getting around Naypyidaw: by motorbike taxi (tuk tuk) and by car taxi.

By Taxi

There is only one taxi operator in Myanmar’s newest capital, and it is military-owned. Pretty much like everything else in this city. To get a ride, tourists must call and order one from their hotels, which all have the taxi company’s phone number. Prices are much, much higher than in other Myanmar’s cities, costing at least K5000 per journey, which is around $5. Since this is a huge city, and driving through is basically a must, the fares usually go much higher, up to $20.

By Motorbike taxis

The main means of transportation in the city, due to the absence of buses and shortage of taxis. Also, very convenient for getting around a city which is around 5 the size of Berlin. To get from hotels to some remote areas can literally take hours, even by motorbike. The fares are very negotiable, and usually the driver asks initially a lot more than the final price. We’ll take that the lowest asking fare is around K25000, or around $25; again, it can get much, much lower than that.

By Tuk tuk

Tuk tuks, or Thaw Lar Gyis, as known in Myanmar, are a common sight in every bigger and even smaller South Asian city. In Naypyidaw, like many other things in the city, there are some limitations as to where tuk tuks can go. Of course, not including the restricted military zones of the city, tuk tuks, as well as regular motorbikes, are forbidden from entering many of the city’s streets. In fact, they are only allowed to pass along the highways passing through Naypyidaw. This is not a big problem, since most of the sights worth visiting in Naypyidaw are located along the major highways.
It would perhaps be interesting to note that a Russian company had started building a metro line, which was meant to be 50 kilometers long, and go under the city. This would have also been the country’s first underground transportation system, but the project was abandoned due to the lack of finances and, basically, serious lack of potential passengers. Since the brief history of this city has shown that such ambitious and, at first sight, unreasonable projects, can actually become a reality, let’s just wait and see. Any addition to the city’s existing scarce transportation system is welcome.

This sums up the transportation options to and around Naypyidaw. Due to its gigantic size and very few transportation options available, one might say that getting a ride in Myanmar’s capital is a necessary evil. Information stated above are meant to make less difficult and staying here more pleasant and enjoyable.