Situated about 10 kilometers southeast of Mandalay and 500 kilometers north of Yangon, Taunggyi, meaning 'huge mountain' in Burmese, is the fifth largest city of Myanmar and the capital center of Shan State, Eastern Myanmar. It is the home for over 205,000 residents, including people of Bamar, Intha, Pa-Oh, and Shan.
At the centre of the city, numerous buildings covered in the green color of verdant forests can be seen. All over Taunggyi is covered with cherries, pines and eucalyptus trees. Being a hill city, Taunggyi’s weather is said to be one of the most comfortable throughout Myanmar.
Taunggyi can best be seen from balloons flying up high. The most well known places of interest in Taunggyi are Shan State Cultural Museum and Myoma Market. Other remarkable attractions of the city are a variety of churches and Buddhist related buildings, such as Guan Yin Buddhist Monastery, and the limestone caves system of Padah-Lin containing paintings from prehistoric time periods.
Being the busiest and most crowded part of Taunggyi, Myonma is the gathering place of different ethnic groups who reside in this city. Every five days, people from neighbor areas of Taunggyi often came there to exchange their distinctive regional products, creating a kind of activities very popular among Shan State communities called ‘Five Day Markets’. Specially, come to Myonma Market, you can buy foods (like Burmese sweet tea and Shan noodles), CDs and VCDs which are in full supplies at low prices. Also, you can find Pa-Oh women wearing interesting headscarves sell fresh products from the Shan hills.
On the other hand, at the Cultural Museum, take your time to observe stuffs from Shan State’s different national races, such as traditional clothes, musical instruments, household appliances, farming tools, sculptures, and paintings. Plus, objects used by Shan Sawbwas (Shan Lords) like paintings, swords, fans, divans and chairs are displayed. Situated at Eintawshay Road and Bogyoke Aung San Road, the museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, between 10:00 AM and 3:30 PM, with an entrance fee of two US dollars.
Last but not least, you can visit Taunggyi in late October when the annual Balloon Festival is celebrated in one week. Giant hot air balloons of various colors and different animal shapes are sent up to the sky, floating around the city. On taking off, the balloons can suddenly burst into fire, a relatively common incident. At night, the festival gets more exciting as several balloons in tradition shapes carrying sweets and fireworks are launched. Still, one thing to remember is that during the event, hotel prices for foreigner are higher, with an increase of about 50%.