Matching realistic growth with grand ambition

  • Internationally managed hotels surviving from supply glut
  • International school opens new campus in preparation for embassy relocation
  • Retail malls flourishing
  • Poorly managed hotels struggle with significant vacancies


There are signs of new growth in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar’s administrative capital. The city, which is located approximately halfway between the city’s two most populous cities – Yangon and Mandalay – has been the seat of Myanmar’s government since 2006 and is one of a growing number of the world’s planned, administrative cities.

The list includes Washington (United States), Canberra (Australia), Brasilia (Brazil) Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) and Abuja (Nigeria). But it will not be the last: Indonesia recently announced that it will relocate the government from notoriously traffic-choked and waterlogged Jakarta to East Kalimantan, a province on the island of Borneo.

A small number of diplomatic missions have already signalled their intent to establish a greater presence in Nay Pyi Taw by announcing the opening of liaison offices in the capital, a move that will eventually lead to a shift their embassies to the capital.

Faster to move have been companies, especially those that work in the business-to-government sphere, a growing number of which have already set up a physical presence in Nay Pyi Taw. Multilateral organisations such as the United Nations, that work closely with the government, have already set up a base in Nay Pyi Taw and will likely grow further in future.

Nay Pyi Taw already has a broad range of accommodation options available and the opening of a new international school makes the city appear better equipped than ever before to become a family destination for expatriates.

However, one sticking point that seems no closer to resolution is the availability of international healthcare facilities: as yet none of the international providers have announced plans to open even a clinic in Nay Pyi Taw. The need to develop the capital as a viable international city is still challenging on a financial level.

Nay Pyi Taw Townships Map
Nay Pyi Taw Townships
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Nay Pyi Taw has been designated a Union Territory directing administered by the president. The small town of Pyinmana existed before the relocation but most of the capital’s near one million inhabitants arrived after 2005. The city is divided into a number of townships that generally do not have a significant bearing on the zonal nature of the planned city.

Capital Population density Brasilia Abuja Nursultan

Many countries all over the world have located their capitals to secondary cities instead of the main commercial city. Often such new capitals are designed from scratch with an emphasis on low density living. Even compared to other such capitals Nay Pyi Taw has a far lower population density due to its significant land size, which is evident to anyone driving around the city. This creates a feeling of isolation and lack of vibrancy throughout the city that will take some time to alleviate.

Government Employees Nay PyiTaw

As the administrative capital of the country Nay Pyi Taw contains a significant proportion of government employees. Zabu Thiri Township hosts the largest proportion of government employees in relation to overall population because accommodation was designated specifically for government employees there, including colour-coded roofs based on job designation. Zabu Thiri is also the location of many government functions such as various ministries.

Zaya Thiri Township records the second-highest proportion of government staff to general population, courtesy of the large numbers of military personnel posted there.

Nay Pyi Taw Zoning

Naypyidaw naypyitaw capital myanmar Burma
Nay Pyi Taw Zones

The existing township structure only goes some way to explaining the overall structure of the city. The initial planning of Nay Pyi Taw was based on distinctive geographical zoning for particular functions: hotels, government ministries, military uses and diplomatic missions.

Infrastructure and Facilities

As a planned city, Nay Pyi Taw is becoming well equipped in terms of its infrastructure and facilities, with one key omission: international-grade healthcare facilities. There is a range of government-run and private healthcare facilities in Nay Pyi Taw to handle nearly any emergency, but medevac insurance would be mandatory for any international staff based in the city.

Otherwise the city has multiple leisure options that include parks, retail malls, cinemas, sporting facilities, bike trails and plenty of swimming pools, located in many of the hotels. Given the sparse traffic, it is also easy to explore the surrounding areas.

Road transport

Nay Pyi Taw is a city linked only by road – there is no dedicated metro line. Many of the expatriates who call Nay Pyi Taw home have arranged their own transport – either by buying or renting a motorcycle or car. Arranging personal transport within Nay Pyi Taw is listed as important by long-term residents to ensure they have the freedom to buy groceries, visit restaurants, attend after work events, travel during weekends and make social appointments.

There is also a public bus network within Nay Pyi Taw with routes geared to service the needs of the civil servants. There are regular day and night buses between Nay Pyi Taw and both Yangon and Mandalay. It takes about five or six hours to get from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw, with buses stopping at either of the city’s two main bus stations: Thapyegone and Myoma Zay, which are in close proximity.

Air transport

Nay Pyi Taw International Airport is a large airport located about 10 miles (16km) to the southeast of the city. The airport is capable of handling up to 3.5 million travellers a year.

The airport has daily flights from Yangon and Mandalay domestically, as well as direct flights to Bangkok, Shenzhen and Kunming on China Eastern Airlines. The limited number of international destinations served is also an impediment for expats wishing to locate in the capital.

Rail transport

It is entirely possible to ride the train from Yangon Central Station to Nay Pyi Taw but it can take up to nine hours. Passengers can elect to alight at either Pyinmana or at the huge and underutilised Nay Pyi Taw station.


Nay Pyi Taw has three international schools at present ranging from modest student numbers up to mid-size facilities that house hundreds of school students – enough to create mini traffic jams during pickup and drop off times.

Sports and events

Nay Pyi Taw hosted the 2013 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and contains an impressive array of sporting venues.

The city also has an enormous conference hall: Myanmar International Convention Centre 2, that is capable of hosting thousands of visitors.

Hotel Sector

Apart from government buildings, the main focus of real estate in Nay Pyi Taw is the provision of hotel rooms. In general the government mandated a wide range of developers and other businesses to construct and manage hotels shortly after the announcement of the new capital in 2006, likely in exchange for trading and mining concessions in other parts of the country. The purpose was to host events planned for the capital culminating in the SEA Games in 2013 and the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014.

Hotel Nay Pyi Taw naypyidaw

The surge in hotel rooms took place during the first half of the 2010s with the initial focus on the southern hotel zone where the lion’s share are rooms are still located. The construction boom came to a halt in 2014 upon completion of most of the planned hotels.

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