Although some see it as little more than stopping-off point for those traveling between Yangon and Mandalay, Taungoo has a number of activities to keep visitors entertained for at least a few days.
Taungoo is a district level city in the Bago Division of Myanmar. Taungoo is 220 km from Yangon. The city is famous in Burmese history for the Taungoo Dynasty which ruled the country for over 200 years between the 16th and 18th centuries. Taungoo was the capital of Burma in 1510–1539 and 1551–1552.
Taungoo was founded in 1279 in the waning days of Pagan as part of frontier expansion southwards. After the fall of Pagan Empire in 1287, Taungoo came under the rule of Myinsaing Kingdom and later Pinya Kingdom. In 1358, Taungoo successfully revolted and became independent until 1367 when it became a nominal part of the Ava Kingdom. Its rulers retained a large degree of autonomy, playing larger Ava and Hanthawaddy kingdoms against each other. In 1470, Ava put down another rebellion and made Sithu Kyawhtin, the general who defeated the rebellion, governor. Sithu Kyawhtin's grandson Mingyi Nyo became governor of Toungoo in 1485. Under Mingyi Nyo's leadership, the principality grew powerful. In October 1510, Mingyi Nyo formally broke away from Ava and founded the Taungoo Kingdom. WWII bombing wrecked most of Mingyinyo’s Katumadi Palace (only sections of the old walls and moat can still be seen). In celebration of the town’s 500th anniversary in 2010 a couple of impressive new gates were built, as well as a massive statue of the king, unmissable on the old Yangon–Mandalay road, east of the palace walls.
Nowadays, busy highway town Taungoo is a popular overnight stop for both tourists and truckers.
The centre of town is encircled by a moat that is at its most scenic along the eastern side. Within its confines you'll find all Taungoo's main attractions. It is also just an all round interesting place to wander, with attractive old shop-front houses around the market or to the north of Shwesandaw Pagoda.
Taungoo’s centre is dominated by its bustling market. The Karen hills to the east are famed for their vegetables and coffee. The area is also known for its numerous areca (betel) palms. In Myanmar, when someone receives unexpected good fortune, they are compared to a “betel lover winning a trip to Taungoo.”
While all of the sights of Taungoo proper are within the moat, most of the hotels that accept foreigners are outside, a long walk or 10-minute bicycle ride south along the Taungoo to Yangon road. A great guesthouse on the town’s outskirts makes it easy to stay an extra day, and can also be used as a base for visiting elephant camps in the hills to the west.
To the western edge of town lies the Royal Lake, a picturesque spot where couples canoodle under umbrellas and stroll through the picturesque grounds. On the western edge is the Royal Kaytumadi hotel, from where one can relax with a beer and excellent food, while enjoying views of Shwesandaw Pagoda, Taungoo’s most famous religious site.