Well over 500 years old, the historic town of Taungoo makes for a worthwhile stop for those with time enough to break the Yangon to northern Burma slog. It's not overloaded with attractions, but there's enough to entertain for a night's stay. With an "access on-again off-again" hill station to the east and pricey elephant camps also to the east, for those with more time (and money) a longer stay could be warranted.
The centre of town is encircled by a moat that is at its most scenic along the eastern side -- the moat isn't so well kept in other sections. Within its confines you'll find all Taungoo's main points of interest, but it is also just an all round interesting place to wander, with some attractive old shopfronts both around the market and to the north of Shwesandaw pagoda.
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. One newly renovated good budget option lies in the centre of town and the fancy Royal Kaytumadi by the lake, but most will find themselves staying outside the old city.
Food options are all over the place -- a solid selection of restaurant and beer stations run along the road into town between Mother's House and Taungoo proper and the restaurant at Mother's House itself is recommended for having an English menu, free WiFi and good food, but also for having some very friendly and obliging staff. Myanmar Beauty's restaurant does breakfast only -- and the breakfast is both massive and excellent.
In Taungoo proper, Yangon Food Villa is an oft-recommended air-con option we didn't try, but a block after it on the same side of the road, on the corner, is a good tea shop.
Taungoo is a compact town, with the old city encircled by the moat sitting just to the west of the main thoroughfare. Most of the foreigner-friendly hotels are set a kilometre or two to the south of town along this main road.
The main pagoda, Shwesandaw, is just to the south of centre of the old town, with the also interesting Myazigon Pagoda to the southeast of there. The other main attraction, the lake, is at the western extreme of town, while the market is to the eastern extreme -- all four are within walking distances of one another.
As you head up the thoroughfare road, you'll pass the post office and a large telecom tower to your right and then, a little more ahead, a statue to your left. The road immediately after the statue is the main road into town (Bo Hmu Po Kun Road) and you'll find Myanmar Beauty I and Yangon Food Villa along this road.
By Stuart McDonald.