Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Best Tour Myanmar
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation officially known as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it wasn’t till 1989 that the ruling military junta altered the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Politically, the name Burma was seen as a relic of the nation’s former British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as much more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were additionally altered, which is why you will see Rangoon currently referred to as Yangon.
For tourism, Burma travel is Myanmar travel. Same same, as they say in Southeast Asia.
Both the names Burma and Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This post breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and the concern: does it even matter?
Best Times to Go To Myanmar
There are commonly three seasons in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather is warm but not stifling, and attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the restricted holiday accommodation options tricky to secure and will certainly indicate attempting to book in advance or face paying for the much more expensive options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level rises in Myanmar and also approaching rains are due. There is a limited number of visitors which makes it easy to book lodging but it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is offered to travellers from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa website. You’ll need to submit a passport photo as well as pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply as well as you should obtain authorization 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 permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy may be more affordable– if you wish to save some money, requesting a visa using your local Myanmar embassy may be more affordable. For instance, the expense is just , 14 in the UK but $40 in the USA, so do your research and also do not neglect to consider mailing costs.
It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and also at 3 Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration internet site for the most recent at the time you take a trip.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the usual choice for visitors as the initial mode of access, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, thinking about where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the eastern and India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous for land entry, although not all of them are encouraged due to safety and security.
No matter, you have to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes just how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will be given a list of options, from which you will certainly need to choose one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay and also Yangon)
Crossing at Land Boundary 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 border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the border of the Thai Peninsula and the cluster of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Region of northwestern Myanmar on the border to northeastern India).
- Rih Khaw Dar (a six-hour drive from the border village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stay with the one you originally mentioned when possible to prevent any kind of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any of the International Airports and also Land Boundary Checkpoints since your exit point does not require to be stated up-front. Additionally, you might leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is less expensive as well as has more connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation options may be irritating but the cross country propositions are a lot more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and also flying is cost effective so it might be your far better choice.
You can still reserve flights the old-school method by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in entails ticking individuals off a listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport and also getting your bag off a trolley by the plane and flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It truly is an experience. And a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing companies as well as a variety of luxury levels.
A lot of buses travel over night which is great for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, but isn’t so excellent for sleep. Also, you’ll tend to arrive at odd times in the morning and also will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hours waiting on a ‘top-up’ nap. Take into consideration if it will certainly be less expensive to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same evening to rest immediately.
Buses are very cold, the deluxe buses will provide you a blanket yet, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every few hours for a food and toilet break– a bit frustrating if you’re attempting to sleep through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, despite the fact that these are the buses which bring you to your location around 3 or 4am. What’s more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and tacky video until the very early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be turned off.
Never ask a driver about 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 reach a destination conjures up bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You won’t get a response.
You will mostly book buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will normally charge a cost however know that the fee can vary drastically.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this truly does vary depending on destination, mode of traveling and company. Try to find a firm that does include pick-up as taxis are exorbitant.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one useful on-line reservation website and the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not necessarily imply the bus is full. Try reservation elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without charges.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, but bus rides are bumpy– you could consider taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise an alternative for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental agencies, however most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– along with guesthouses and hotels somewhere else– can arrange cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will be your main way of getting around particularly for getting to and from airports and within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ estimation) and you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Typically the taxi to and from the airport/bus will be more than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi fares.
Taxi cabs for the day may be your far better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger variable than time in dictating the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hour journey around Yangon can cost USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar and is a significant contributing aspect to the cost.
Every person wants to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer throughout your sightseeing and tour journeys. Don’t be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your very own personal transport. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, a few of the side trips can be interesting as well as drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you went with their suggestions!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much less expensive yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far among the dustiest places, and almost all tourists create a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– otherwise you’ll be one of the several vacationers walking toting head to foot road rash and bandages.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km ought to give you an idea. The time advised for getting to the bus terminal (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 hour 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 unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hrs of the morning, your only choice to get to my hotel may be using horse and cart. There is still a haggling process to be had, yet considering that this is the primary form of vacationer transportation here it is only natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATMs in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to make use of dollars, they must be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also newer than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for imperfections, discolouration and also creases at the currency exchange kiosks. You may additionally 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 cheaper since the USD exchange rate is informal– somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, probably relying on just how rich you look.
There are ATMs and they mostly work but ensure you have money prior to showing up at more remote areas like the beach. Occasionally they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any type of costs your bank could bill. As well as you possibly won’t be able to withdraw greater than $150 each time.
ATMs give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places around, but mainly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational airport terminal to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and need cash payment. If you have reserved your hotels in advance online this may save you taking additional cash money for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mainly just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, normally charging a tiny charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being developed. That includes guesthouses as well as dining establishments. Businesses are recouping their costs.
Holiday accommodation expenses
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a basic private room with en-suite from around $35 for a single bed. In traveler hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dingy, no-frills room.
For hotels, deluxe hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a good example where high-end comes with a cost of $250 per night) with various other excellent choices coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A modern hotel can cost USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package traveler’ destinations like Ngapali coastline can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a number of hostels there as well). On the plus side, you usually get a complimentary breakfast with your accommodation.
Street food is most budget friendly– around $1-$2 for a plate of something basic. Local restaurants cost around $2-$4 a meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will cost $7-$12.
Bottled water is cheap, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also economical at a couple of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner and making use of squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear and taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the much more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of items like souvenirs however if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest as well as leave.
Tipping is not usual method in Myanmar, and also it’s just foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak and fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is frequently excruciating throughout the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the tourist buses make it more difficult to get amazing photos as well as move around freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and also the far, crime levels are extremely low.
Still, you should take the normal precautions of using hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Women tourists should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is unclean as well as there isn’t always soap in bathrooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and also nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. Subsequently, lots of visitors use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperature levels can make you ill.
Fruit is easy to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. Nonetheless, as it’s commonly pre-cut, try to find a vendor that has actually kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
A lot of government advisories alert against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has resulted in the mass displacement of thousands of people. A few other parts of the nation stay shut to foreigners as a result of problem between the government and also various ethnic armies clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mainly in Kachin and Shan States, near the frontiers with China and Thailand, and also far from the major vacationer locations.
Precise information on problems as well as closed locations can be difficult to find. Check your government’s recommendations before travelling, and also ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good source of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and legs despite the heat, as well as you will certainly make everybody a lot more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as t-shirts are the attire of choice. These are strongly encouraged as well as typically enforced for getting in the temples and pagodas.
Everybody puts on skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Lots of tourists pick one up as they’re breezy in the warmth as well as tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for taking in the sights so pick up an inexpensive one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are crucial! Getting in pagodas means going barefoot as well as flip flops are the most effective footwear option. Dealing with laces in the blistering heat is an unwelcome interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend much 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 however in other places it’s less common.
The local people are incredibly genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travel can be frustrating, warm and also slow-moving yet remember: you selected to visit Myanmar and that it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. Nonetheless, bargain hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by locals that wish to chat. Travelers are no longer a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Typically individuals are charming as well as are happy to appear in photos as well as attempt and speak through limited typical words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a whole lot which is typically best dealt with by offering a smile and also a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and also if you’re spending for a guide, ensure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, tiny parcels that contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it delivers a hit that’s equivalent to 6 mugs of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spat out, a lot of times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as cab drivers typically roll down the window in sluggish traffic to spew after eating 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 short article by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese girls. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as likewise works as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes and restaurants as locals utilize the kissing noise as a call for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to determine the area of the kissing audio so don’t be alarmed!
Both essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it respectful, however it is well received. Be ready for a lot of locals 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 as well as is charged per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothing laundered as well as unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you actually require washing as well as clean your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by but tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is really common in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t deal with anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hours ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple adaptors for European and North American 2-pin plugs along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to overcome it or, better still, buy a local SIM. You can obtain one at a lot of flight terminals when you land or in among the shops in the road and also the shop personnel will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can find out more regarding your network selections here. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a ‘rapid’ link, do not expect to be downloading videos whenever. On-line accessibility has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and also coffee shops have it completely free– and also the internet is now spreading tomore remote locations. But tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power failures can make using the web an irritating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and also do not anticipate to Skype home extremely frequently, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You’ll be better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. Travel suitcases aren’t ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transportation as well as hefting it up many steep staircases isn’t far better.
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