Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Burma Myanmar Travel Warnings
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country formally referred to as Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it wasn’t till 1989 that the ruling military junta changed the nation’s name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Politically, the name Burma was seen as a relic of the nation’s previous British colonial past, and Myanmar as much more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Other names were additionally changed, 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 as well as Myanmar are still utilized interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This post breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and also the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to See Myanmar
There are typically 3 periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime period
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather condition is warm yet not stifling, as well as attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the minimal holiday accommodation options difficult to secure and will imply trying to book in advance or deal with paying out for the a lot more costly choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature climbs in Myanmar and upcoming rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of tourists that makes it easy to book accommodation however it is incredibly hot.
An e-Visa is available to travellers from these 100 countries.
To obtain one, go to the main e-Visa internet site. You’ll need to upload a passport photo as well as pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and also you should obtain approval within 3 working days.
Print out your e-Visa letter, show it when you get here and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter stands for 90- days from the day of issue and enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local consular office may be cheaper– if you wish to save some cash, looking for a visa through your local Myanmar consular office might be less costly. For instance, the price is just , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and don’t fail to remember to consider mailing expenses.
It is only possible to get in Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; as well as at three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration web site for the latest at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the normal choice for travellers as the first mode of entrance, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. But, thinking about where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand and Laos to the eastern and India and Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land access, although not all of them are suggested due to safety and security.
No matter, you need to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes just how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a list of options, from which you will need to select one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay as well as Yangon)
Crossing at Land Border Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the border to northern Thailand)
- Myawaddy (in the Kayin State of southeastern Myanmar on the boundary to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the border of the Thai Peninsula and also 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 border village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the boundary of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to stay with the one you originally specified ideally to avoid any type of hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports and Land Boundary Checkpoints since your exit point does not need to be specified up-front. Furthermore, you might exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is cheaper and has more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transport choices may be aggravating but the long distance propositions are far more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and flying is budget-friendly so it might be your far better choice.
You can still reserve flights the old-school method by wandering 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, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport and also grabbing 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 also a lot of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are budget-friendly with competing businesses and a series of deluxe levels.
Many buses travel over night which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing, however isn’t so great for sleep. Additionally, you’ll have a tendency to reach at weird times in the early morning and won’t have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hours waiting on a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will certainly be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same evening to take a nap immediately.
Buses are extremely cold, the luxury buses will certainly give you a blanket however, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hrs for a food and also toilet break– a little bit irritating if you’re trying to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, although these are the buses which bring you to your destination around 3 or 4am. What’s more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and cheesy music videos until the very early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, buy some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be shut off.
Never ever ask a driver regarding reaches of the southern Mon State as well as Tenasserim region are normally off-limits to vacationers unless you have made an application for a government visa beforehand. In some locations you’ll require a guide to chaperone you. Check before you make plans.
Leaving the beaten path is difficult– even within the ‘open’ parts, Myanmar’s developing infrastructure implies that there are set routes you can travel and you’ll have a hard time to go differently. Attempting to do otherwise may be very pricey.
Work your sightseeing and tour around the heat– Myanmar is renowned for its daybreaks and also sunsets, which likewise matches perfectly with staying indoors (maybe for a nap or pool dip if you have one) throughout the mid-day heat.
Expect to go barefoot a lot in temples on seriously unclean floors. In temples where birds are nesting or monkeys and also dogs hangout, you can expect to step in a lot of animal faeces while you’re discovering Myanmar’s temples. Socks aren’t allowed either so you simply need to get used to it. Have wipes for your feet so you can wipe some after each visit.
Be a thoughtful temple visitor, a lot of Myanmar’s temples are places of worship, not simply sights for visitors. Respect ‘do not climb/do not enter’ signs and also keep your voice down– individuals will be praying.
Expect to pay an access charge for Bagan and Inle Lake– this cost is charged to all foreigners and there’s no getting around it. The fees are: Bagan– $20; Inle Lake– $10.
Accommodation in Myanmar
Hostels are slowly opening up, implying you can rest in more inexpensive accommodation than you could a few years earlier. Things are gradually improving for solo tourists, though prices are still a lot more of what you’ll pay somewhere else in Southeast Asia.
Guesthouses are rustic yet captivating. The accommodation provides a feeling for what a local house could be like, basic yet wonderfully decorated in teak wood) and also the breakfast was generally remarkable. Plus, it’s nice to put money into the hands of the citizens, not some big brand chain.
The majority of hostels, hotels as well as guesthouses give a towel however you may have to offer up a refundable $10 down payment on check-in. Hotels will likewise provide some form of toiletries. Some hostels as well as guesthouses do also, but it can’t be relied on.
Beware the curfew– some guesthouses might lock the door at night, leaving you unable to get to your bed. Check before you go out for the night.
Reserve accommodation and also transportation in advance throughout peak season. The tourist market in Myanmar seems to have actually experienced a boom which the infrastructure has fallen short to maintain pace with. A lot of resorts are little as well as boutique like so if there’s someplace specific you wish to stay it’s important to book beforehand. It is specifically important to book in advance during high season (November to March). In some rural areas, monasteries will take tourists in for a small fee if there are no areas readily available. Yet do not rely on the local monks being able to help you out.
Food and Drink in Myanmar
Order local dishes: it is always the very best option. There are noodles at night bus stops, fermented tea leaf salads in local restaurants as well as an amazing array of curries and also salads
Use chopsticks: Numerous items of cutlery are cleaned with a not so fantastic looking water supply and dishcloth. Prepackaged chopsticks are a suitable option.
Tell the staff if you don’t eat something. If you like a little spice in your meals state how much spice you like as the cooks have a tendency to go easy on travelers!
The fish is tasty and a terrific, fresh choice in a lot of dining establishments.
There is quite a great deal of sugar in the food and also beverages. If you aren’t a fan of sugar there’s an option to skip the sugar (tea, coffee, newly blended juices), see to it you request for ‘no sugar’.
Salads feature heavily on food selections however do not anticipate a fresh crunch– most salads are marinated and seasoned in oil, salt and lime juice as well as do not typically feature salad leaves.
Hygiene standards are reduced in Myanmar as well as you could get ill once.
Street food isn’t as prolific as various other areas in Southeast Asia but you can locate it as well as it’s good. Street food will tend to be about 1,000-1,700 kyat a meal (under $2).
You can not consume the water however most hotels, hostels as well as guesthouses supply cost-free water either in bottles in your space or by means of a big water dispenser at reception. Or else, mineral water is very low-cost.
Alcohol is widely offered with beer, rum and bourbon being prominent choices.
Beer stations are very easy to find as well as fun areas to get a drink with the locals if you do not intend to being in a restaurant.
Be aware that there isn’t a late night culture in Myanmar– most restaurants close by 9 p.m. and bars do the same around 10– 11 p.m. This is a nation where meditation at daybreak is a lot more prominent than late night drinking.
Huge chains can not be discovered and brand names remain in short supply. Myanmar isn’t a country of fast-food chains as well as beyond drink brand names like Coke and Schwepps Tonic, you’re going to be getting local brand names as well as consuming from local restaurants.
Stores are little, family owned affairs– you won’t find a 7-Eleven. There are a couple of equivalent ‘Grab ‘n’ Go’ shops populated about, yet mostly you’re going to purchase snacks and beverages from tiny, local businesses. They can look a little bit intimidating, like you’re intruding by walking in. Do not worry, just step in, they want your business.
There are individuals smoking indoors- this can be a shock if you come from a nation where smoking cigarettes in public areas has actually long been prohibited.
Health and Safety in Myanmar
Myanmar is an exceptionally safe area– most of the population is Buddhist and also with an idea in karma, crime levels are incredibly low.
Still, you need to take the normal safety measures of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Women travellers should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is unclean as well as there isn’t always soap in restrooms so use your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and also nose when cycling around. Likewise take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. Consequently, numerous travellers use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperatures can make you ill.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your body immune system with nutrients that way. Nevertheless, as it’s often pre-cut, search for a seller that has kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, ensure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
The majority of government advisories advise against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually led to the mass displacement of countless individuals. Some other parts of the country continue to be shut to foreigners as a result of conflict between the government and also different ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and far from the significant tourist destinations.
Exact info on problems and also closed locations can be difficult to come by. Check your government’s guidance before taking a trip, and inquire about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent resource of news from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and legs despite the high temperatures, and you will make everyone a lot more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as tee shirts are the clothing of choice. These are highly encouraged and usually enforced for getting in the temples and pagodas.
Everyone uses skirts– men and women 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 and also tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so get an inexpensive one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are essential! Entering pagodas means going barefoot and flip flops are the most effective footwear choice. Struggling with laces in the blistering heat is an unwanted interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after visiting a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and at the beach but elsewhere it’s much less usual.
The local people are remarkably genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travel can be frustrating, hot and slow however keep in mind: you picked to go to Myanmar and that it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. Nonetheless, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by locals that intend to chat. Vacationers are no more a novelty in most of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Generally the people are beautiful and also are happy to appear in photographs and also try and talk with minimal common words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a whole lot which is typically best managed by providing a smile as well as a mingalabar (hello there in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, listen hard and also if you’re paying 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 eating betel quids, small parcels which contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| due to the fact that it provides a hit that’s equivalent to 6 mugs of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spat out, most times onto the ground.
Lots of citizens have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as taxi drivers commonly roll down the window in slow traffic to spit after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the kids. Why not? Read this fantastic short article by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese ladies. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty product in Myanmar as well as also functions as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes as well as dining establishments as residents use the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to determine the area of the kissing audio so don’t be upset!
Both most important expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Not only is it respectful, yet it is well received. Be prepared for most residents to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand as well as is billed per item instead of kilo so try to show up with your clothes washed and unless you want to turn over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you truly need washing and also wash your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are very easy to find by yet tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can’t flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is extremely common in developing countries where the plumbing system can not handle anything apart from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird half-hour difference| to its time area so it’s 6 and a half hrs in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have numerous adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin plugs in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to get over it or, far better still, acquire a local SIM. You can obtain one at the majority of airport terminals when you land or in among the shops in the road and the shop personnel will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more regarding your network choices here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘quick’ link, don’t anticipate to be downloading video clips at any time. On-line accessibility has actually improved, with wi-fi the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and cafes have it totally free– as well as the web is now spreading tomore remote areas. But tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power blackouts can use the net a frustrating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and also don’t expect to Skype home very frequently, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. Suitcases aren’t perfect on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transport and hefting it up several high staircases isn’t better.
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