Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Asia Tour Advisor Myanmar
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country formally called Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it wasn’t up until 1989 that the ruling military junta altered the nation’s name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Politically, the name Burma was seen as a relic of the country’s previous British colonial past, and Myanmar as much more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were also altered, which is why you will see Rangoon now referred to as Yangon.
For tourism, Burma travel is Myanmar travel. Same same, as they say in Southeast Asia.
Both the names Burma and also Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This short article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say as well as the question: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Visit Myanmar
There are usually three seasons in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime period
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather condition is warm however not stifling, and also brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the limited accommodation options difficult to secure as well as will certainly imply trying to book in advance or deal with paying for the a lot more expensive choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature climbs in Myanmar and impending rains are due. There is a limited number of visitors that makes it easy to book holiday accommodation but it is incredibly warm.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa site. You’ll be required to upload a passport photo and pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply and also you should get approval within 3 working days.
Print out your e-Visa letter, show it when you arrive and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter is valid for 90- days from the day of issue and also allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be more affordable– if you wish to save some cash, making an application for a visa via your local Myanmar consular office might be cheaper. For example, the cost is simply , 14 in the UK however $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and don’t neglect to factor in mailing expenses.
It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and also at 3 Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration internet site for the latest at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the common alternative for tourists as the first mode of entry, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, taking into consideration where Myanmar lies– bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the eastern as well as India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous for land access, although not every one of them are encouraged due to safety.
Regardless, you must define a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes exactly how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will be provided a listing of alternatives, where you will certainly need to select one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Going Across at Land Border Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the border to north Thailand)
- Myawaddy (in the Kayin State of southeastern Myanmar on the boundary to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the border of the Thai Peninsula as well as the cluster of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Region of northwestern Myanmar on the boundary to northeastern India).
- Rih Khaw Dar (a six-hour drive from the boundary village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the boundary of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” however it is best to stay with the one you initially mentioned preferably to avoid any type of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports as well as Land Border Checkpoints since your exit point does not need to be stated up-front. In addition, you might leave at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is more affordable as well as has more connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transportation choices may be irritating yet the long distance propositions are far more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and flying is inexpensive so it might be your far better choice.
You can still book flights the traditional way by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days– check-in involves ticking people off a list of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and also getting your bag off a trolley by the airplane as well as flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. And a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing firms as well as a series of deluxe levels.
The majority of buses travel overnight which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, but isn’t so excellent for rest. Likewise, you’ll tend to reach at strange times in the early morning and will not have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hours waiting on a ‘top-up’ snooze. Think about if it will certainly be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the exact same evening to take a nap straight away.
Buses are very chilly, the high-end buses will provide you a blanket yet, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hours for a food as well as toilet break– a bit frustrating if you’re attempting to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, despite the fact that these are the buses which bring you to your destination around 3 or 4am. What’s even more, some still play their funky local music CD’s as well as tacky music videos until the early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be switched off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver regarding he time of arrival. As a result of superstitious notions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a destination invokes bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You won’t get an answer.
You will generally book buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will usually charge a fee yet know that the fee can vary dramatically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this actually does differ depending on destination, mode of traveling and also company. Search for a company that does include pickup as taxis are exorbitant.
Reserving buses online is harder– There isn’t one useful online booking website and the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it doesn’t necessarily imply the bus is full. Attempt reservation elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are often faster than the trains, yet bus rides are bumpy– you might take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among tourists.
There are no international car-rental companies, yet the majority of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– as well as guesthouses and hotels somewhere else– can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly apparent in the local transport.
With minimal public transport, taxis will be your major way of getting around especially for getting to and from airports and also within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are set on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ estimation) and you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Usually the taxi to and from the airport/bus will certainly be more than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi prices.
Cabs for the day might be your far better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of taking in the sights in Bagan and $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger factor than time in determining the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hour trip around Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each method, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar as well as is a substantial contributing aspect to the price.
Everyone wants to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut producer during your sightseeing journeys. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own private transport. Besides, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, a few of the side trips can be interesting and drivers may take you to some cool places that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you opted for their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much more affordable however beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest areas, and nearly all vacationers develop a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can not manage it– otherwise you’ll be among the many vacationers walking toting head to foot road rash and bandages.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km should give you an idea. The time recommended for getting to the bus station (22km away from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so do not count on air-conditioning and leather seats– that 1.5 hr trip in Yangon could all be done in 38 degree heat with nothing more than the heat of the engine fan to ‘cool’ you down.
Plan for the unforeseen. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hrs of the morning, your only alternative to get to my hotel may be using horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, however considering that this is the primary form of vacationer transportation here it is just all-natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars as well as the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they must be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for problems, discolouration and folds at the currency exchange kiosks. You might also have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in United States dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be less expensive due to the fact that the USD currency exchange rate is casual– someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, possibly depending on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATMs as well as they mainly function but see to it you have money prior to showing up at more remote areas like the coastline. In some cases they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any kind of fees your financial institution might bill. And also you probably won’t have the ability to take out greater than $150 each time.
ATMs dispense kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places about, yet mostly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational flight terminal to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines as well as need cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels beforehand online this may save you taking additional cash for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, usually charging a little fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and dining establishments. Companies are recovering their costs.
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a basic personal room with en-suite from around $35 for a single bed. In visitor hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dull, no-frills room.
For hotels, deluxe resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where luxury comes with a price of $250 per night) with various other very good alternatives being available at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A modern hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ locations like Ngapali coastline can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a couple of hostels there also). On the plus side, you normally obtain a complimentary morning meal with your lodging.
Street food is most inexpensive– around $1-$2 for a plate of something basic. Local restaurants cost around $2-$4 a dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will certainly set you back $7-$12.
Bottled water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally inexpensive at a number of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and utilizing squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing shoes and taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of products like souvenirs yet if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not typical method in Myanmar, and it’s just foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise as well as fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is frequently intolerable throughout the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the traveler buses make it harder to get amazing images and also move freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are incredibly reduced.
Still, you ought to take the common precautions of using hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Women tourists should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is filthy as well as there isn’t always soap in shower rooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and nose when cycling around. Additionally take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. Consequently, many travellers use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you unwell.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your body immune system with nutrients that way. However, as it’s typically pre-cut, search for a seller that has kept the flies away and also if it’s sluiced with water, ensure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
A lot of government advisories caution against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has caused the mass displacement of countless individuals. Some other parts of the nation stay shut to foreigners due to problem between the government and different ethnic militaries gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mostly in Kachin as well as Shan States, near to the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and also far from the significant visitor locations.
Precise info on problems and closed locations can be difficult to come by. Check your government’s guidance before taking a trip, as well as inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great source of information from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and legs regardless of the high temperatures, as well as you will make everybody much more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as tee shirts are the outfit of choice. These are strongly encouraged as well as typically enforced for going into the temples as well as pagodas.
Everyone puts on skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Lots of vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm as well as tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing and tour so pick up a cheap one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are important! Getting in pagodas means going barefoot and flip flops are the best footwear option. Struggling with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an undesirable interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after visiting a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend far better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach yet in other places it’s much less typical.
The local individuals are exceptionally genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be irritating, warm as well as slow-moving however remember: you chose to check out Myanmar which it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. However, bargain hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by locals that want to talk. Vacationers are no longer a novelty in most of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Usually individuals are beautiful as well as are happy to appear in photos as well as attempt and also talk through limited typical words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a great deal which is usually best managed by providing a smile and a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, pay attention and also if you’re spending for a guide, ensure they have good clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, tiny parcels that contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s possibly popular| since it delivers a hit that’s equivalent to 6 mugs of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the spin-off is bright-red saliva which is spat out, most times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as cab drivers frequently roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spit after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the children. Why not? Read this fantastic write-up by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese ladies. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar and additionally serves as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes as well as dining establishments as citizens utilize the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to recognize the location of the kissing sound so don’t be surprised!
The two crucial expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it polite, however it is well received. Be prepared for the majority of citizens to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is generally done by hand and also is charged per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothing laundered and unless you wish to turn over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you truly require washing and clean your smaller sized items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by but tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can not handle anything other than bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that odd half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hours in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have several adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin connects along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to get over it or, much better still, purchase a local SIM. You can obtain one at most airport terminals when you land or in among the shops in the road and also the store staff will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more about your network selections here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘rapid’ link, do not expect to be downloading video clips whenever. On-line access has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and cafes have it completely free– and the internet is currently spreading tofarther places. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and power outages can use the internet an aggravating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and don’t expect to Skype home very frequently, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be better with a knapsack than a travel suitcase. Suitcases aren’t excellent on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering and also out of myriad forms of transportation as well as hefting it up several high staircases isn’t much better.
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