Taunggyi is the capital of Shan State in Eastern Myanmar.
Wherever you are in Myanmar, you can buy an express ticket to Taunggyi easily at car tickets sale centers, usually in markets. There are many kinds of expresses: for examples, JJ, Elite, Taung Paw Thar, Shwe Taung Yoe and Shan Ma Lay. Ticket prices vary according to the distance between where you are and Taunggyi, but it is not more than 20,000 kyats. The express doesn't pick you up, but some express companies arrange for a small van or car to take you the express gate. When you get to the express gate, all you need to do is to show your passport to a person in charge there. Then you can get on the express and enjoy the ride to Taunggyi.
Taunggyi is a relatively small town and there is a conspicuous lack of taxis and rental bike services. The easiest way to get around is to walk.
Taunggyi is best known for the annual Fire Balloon festival held for one week near the beginning of Nov each year. For most of every day, hot air paper balloons several metres in length in the shape of various animals are launched and sent floating over the town (if they don't spontaneously combust on take-off, a relatively common occurrence). In the evening the carnival really gets going with the launching of more traditionally shaped balloons carrying cargoes of sweets and fireworks. Definitely one of Myanmar's must-see events, but be warned that hotel prices increase by about 50% during the festival. It's popular with locals, but hardly any foreigners attend.
The market in Taunggyi is worth seeing. Shan noodles and Burmese sweet tea can be purchased at low cost, and CDs and VCDs are cheap and abundant. Another attraction of the market is the abundance of Pa-O (distinguished by interesting headscarves) women selling fresh produce and inexpensive tea from the Shan hills.
One unique thing you can buy in Taunggyi is surplus military gear from the Tatmadaw. Coats, tank tops, bedsheets, bags, canteens, etc. You can find vendors all along the central marketplace. General idea of prices: Tank top 1,000 kyat, large messenger bag 4,500, a single bedsheet is around 3,000.
There are mainly two kinds of people in Taunggyi. They are Shan and Pa Oe' ethnic groups. When you are in Taunggyi, you can see differently between Shan and Pa Oe' people, because many Pa Oe' wear their traditional black costumes and they put cloths around their heads because it is not only traditional but also to keep their heads warm since it is cold in Taunggyi. Pa Oe' foods are not popular among tourists and foreigners. But they quite like Shan noodles. If you are in Taunggyi or somewhere in Myanmar where Shan noodles are available, make sure to taste them, because they are fantastic!
Besides, you may also like Ngar Hta Minn Nel (yellowish fish rice), Wet Tha Chin ( reddish pork rice), Kyat Tha Chin (reddish chicken rice) and Htoe Huu Nwe (noodles with yellowish paste made from a type of bean powder).
You should try the taste of green tea there. It is available free at almost every tea shop, restaurant and monastery (you can drink as much as you wish if you like and you can ask for more if it runs out).
There are many hotels, especially in downtown Taunggyi. Prices for staying at hotels are not usually expensive. But during Tha Zaung Dyne festival (also called Fire Balloon festival), prices are sky-high. Many people all over the country come to Taunggyi to enjoy the festival. So if you cannot find a place to stay at all, you can stay at a monastery by asking the abbot for permission. No-one will ask for you to pay for a stay at a monastery, but you can donate money if you wish. Nearly all monasteries in Myanmar offer not only a place to stay but also food and drink if you ask for them.
- Golden Fish Hotel, Just North of the main market, ☎ 081- 202020, , 081- 212-1385 e-mail: phyu.goldenfish@Gmail.com. Check-out: 11 AM. Clean hotel, centrally located a very short walk from the central market. $65 during balloon Festival, $40 normally.
- You might want to think about heading to Loikaw by taking the road south from Hopong, which is 20 km east of Taunggyi. South of Loikaw and west of the Salween River in the mountains between 1,000 and 1,500 m is where the Kayan people live, including the famous Padaung women with their golden brass neck coils that seem to stretch their neck (but actually cause a lower shoulder). It is also possible to go to Inle Lake first and then head south.