Many Burmese residents, especially those from the hot central part of the country, adore this town called “Pyin Oo Lwin” so much so that it is well known as a place for “summer retreat” because of its cool and pleasant climate. At an altitude of 1,070 meters (3510 ft), this hill town lies about 69 km east of Mandalay city and is a holder of the “ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City (ESC) Award” in 2011. The ESC award aims to promote environmental sustainability in the ASEAN region by recognizing its deemed cities for their efforts towards eco-friendliness.
The town itself is arguably one of the most environmentally friendly towns in Myanmar—considering the fact that it is also known as Pan Myo Taw, in English, meaning “City of Flowers.” This name derives from the most iconic place called National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens. This 177-hectare land holds over several species of indigenous trees as well as foreign species; it also houses some endangered animal species and exotic birds. The Gardens displays special areas for bamboos, orchids and roses, and also has three interesting museums: the Fossils Museum, the Petrified Wood Museum and the Butterfly Museum. My personal favourite part of the gardens is the “swamp walkway” where you would feel like you literally get lost in the middle of the deep jungle. From time to time, there is live music show in the vast grass plains around the big lake where people would join together and dance along with the artists.
What’s more, every year around mid-December, the Gardens attracts huge crowds of local tourists from different corners of the country with its famous “December Flower Festival.” Blooms imported from neighbouring countries like China and Thailand are vividly decorated around the Gardens in different shapes, concepts, and colors. The number of visitors each year scales up as well as the displays, with more than 173,000 flowering plants exhibited last year. The figure always tends to go up, and this year we are expecting the 12th anniversary with a bigger and grander event. Hence, I recommend you to save the dates and witness the reasons why Pyin Oo Lwin is one of the eco-friendly cities in ASEAN with your own eyes this December.
Lastly, do not forget to try strawberry yoghurt to keep your Pyin Oo Lwin memory everlasting sweet!
By Thein Min Swe, ASEAN Correspondent from Myanmar