Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Gracious Myanmar Travel Ltd
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation formally referred to as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it had not been till 1989 that the ruling military junta changed 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 more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Other names were also altered, which is why you will certainly 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 as well as Myanmar are still made use of 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 concern: does it even matter?
Best Times to See Myanmar
There are typically three seasons in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather condition is warm but not stifling, and also draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the minimal lodging options difficult to secure and also will imply attempting to book in advance or face paying for the a lot more costly choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature climbs in Myanmar as well as impending rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of vacationers which makes it easy to book accommodation but it is unbelievably warm.
An e-Visa is readily available to travellers from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa website. You’ll be required to submit a passport photo and pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply as well as 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 date of issue and permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local consular office may be less expensive– if you want to save some money, requesting a visa by means of your local Myanmar embassy might be more affordable. As an example, the expense is simply , 14 in the UK but $40 in the United States, so do your research and also do not neglect to factor in 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 3 Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration web site for the current at the time you take a trip.
Flights to Myanmar are the normal alternative for visitors as the first mode of entry, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. However, thinking about where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand and Laos to the eastern and India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous methods for land entrance, although not all of them are encouraged due to safety and security.
No matter, you need to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes exactly how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a list of choices, where you will certainly require to select one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the center 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 boundary to northern Thailand)
- Myawaddy (in the Kayin State of southeastern Myanmar on the border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the boundary 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 border of Southeastern India).
In truth, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stick to the one you originally stated ideally to prevent any type of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any of the International Airports as well as Land Boundary Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not require to be mentioned up-front. In addition, you may leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is less costly as well as has more links than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transport alternatives may be frustrating yet the long distance propositions are much more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and also flying is inexpensive so it may be your far better choice.
You can still book flights the traditional way by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days– check-in involves ticking people off a listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport and getting your bag off a trolley by the airplane and also flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It truly is an experience. And a lot of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are cost effective with competing firms as well as a range of deluxe levels.
The majority of buses travel overnight which is terrific for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, yet isn’t so fantastic for rest. Likewise, you’ll have a tendency to reach at odd times in the morning as well as won’t be able to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ nap. Think about if it will be less expensive to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the exact same evening to sleep straight away.
Buses are extremely cold, the deluxe buses will certainly provide you a blanket but, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hours for a food and toilet break– a little bit aggravating if you’re attempting to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, even though these are the buses which bring you to your location around 3 or 4am. What’s more, some still play their funky local music CD’s as well as tacky music videos till the very early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some heavy-duty extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a vehicle driver regarding he time of arrival. As a result of superstitions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a destination summons bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not get an answer.
You will primarily reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will usually charge a fee however know that the cost can vary dramatically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this truly does vary depending on destination, mode of traveling and company. Look for a company that does include pickup as taxis are exorbitant.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one convenient online reservation website and the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it does not necessarily imply the bus is full. Attempt booking somewhere else.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without charges.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you might think about taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise an option for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst tourists.
There are no international car-rental companies, however most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– as well as guesthouses and also hotels elsewhere– can arrange cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly apparent in the local transport.
With minimal public transport, taxis will be your major way of getting around particularly for getting to and from flight terminals and within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– rates are established on the spot (after a quick ‘how much can I get away with’ estimation) and also you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Frequently the taxi to and also 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.
Taxi cabs for the day might be your much better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan and also $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger element than time in determining the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hour trip about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each means, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar and also is a big contributing variable to the cost.
Everyone wants to take you to a craft shop, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut manufacturer during your sightseeing trips. Do not be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your own private transportation. Besides, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, some 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 opted for their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much less expensive yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far one of the dustiest areas, and almost all travelers create a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– otherwise you’ll be one of the several visitors walking around toting head to foot road rash and also plasters.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 kilometres ought to provide you an idea. The time suggested for reaching the bus station (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so do not count on air-conditioning as well as leather seats– that 1.5 hr trip in Yangon could all be done in 38 degree heat with absolutely nothing more than the heat of the engine fan to ‘cool’ you down.
Prepare for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hours of the morning, your only choice to reach my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, but given that this is the primary form of tourist transportation here it is just natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to make use of dollars, they have to be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for flaws, discolouration as well as creases at the money exchange booths. You might additionally have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be less costly because the USD exchange rate is casual– somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, probably depending upon how rich you look.
There are ATMs as well as they mostly work yet make sure you have cash before showing up at more remote spots like the beach. Often they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine cost of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any costs your financial institution might charge. And you possibly will not have the ability to withdraw greater than $150 each time.
ATM machines 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 big cities orinternational airport terminal to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and also need cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels ahead of time online this might save you taking additional cash money for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted mostly only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, typically charging a tiny fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being built. That includes guesthouses and also dining establishments. Businesses are recouping their costs.
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 dull, no-frills room.
For hotels, high-end hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a fine example where high-end comes with a price of $250 per night) with various other great options can be found at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A modern hotel can cost USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ locations like Ngapali coastline can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a couple of hostels there too). On the plus side, you generally obtain a complimentary morning meal with your holiday 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 set you back $7-$12.
Bottled water is economical, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also affordable at a couple of dollars per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour prices
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and making use of squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing footwear and taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the more touristy locations.
It’s possible to negotiate on prices of products like mementos but if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and also walk away.
Tipping is not usual practice in Myanmar, and it’s just foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and out cold by 10pm! The heat is usually excruciating during the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the visitor buses make it harder to get fantastic images as well as move freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are extremely reduced.
Still, you need to take the usual preventative measures of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Female tourists should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is unclean and there isn’t always soap in washrooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely 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. Subsequently, lots of tourists use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you unwell.
Fruit is easy to find so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. Nevertheless, as it’s often pre-cut, search for a vendor that has kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
A lot of government advisories caution against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has resulted in the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the nation stay closed to foreigners as a result of conflict between the government and also different ethnic armies clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are primarily in Kachin and Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and far from the major traveler locations.
Precise info on problems and also closed areas can be difficult to find. Check your government’s guidance before travelling, as well as ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great source of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and legs despite the high temperatures, and also you will make everybody a lot more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tees are the clothing of choice. These are highly encouraged as well as usually enforced for going into the temples as well as pagodas.
Every person puts on skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Numerous vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat and tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing so get an affordable one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are vital! Going into pagodas indicates going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear choice. Struggling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwanted distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after seeing a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach however elsewhere it’s less usual.
The local people are extremely genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travelling can be aggravating, warm and slow however bear in mind: you chose to go to Myanmar and that it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. Nevertheless, bargain hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by locals who intend to chat. Travelers are no longer a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Usually the people are wonderful and more than happy to appear in photographs as well as attempt as well as chat with limited usual words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a great deal which is usually 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 as well as if you’re paying for a guide, make certain they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s possibly popular| because it delivers a hit that amounts to 6 cups of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product 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 and also taxi drivers commonly roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spew after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this brilliant short article by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese girls. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty product in Myanmar as well as additionally serves as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the coffee shops as well as restaurants as residents utilize the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s much easier for staff to determine the place of the kissing sound so do not be distressed!
The two crucial expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Not only is it polite, however it is well received. Be prepared for most locals to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is generally done by hand as well as is billed per item rather than 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 really require washing and also clean your smaller sized items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by however tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is really usual in developing countries where the plumbing system can not handle anything apart from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that strange half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hrs in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple adaptors for European and North American 2-pin connects along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to overcome it or, much better still, get a local SIM. You can get one at many flight terminals when you land or in among the stores in the street and the store staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can read more concerning your network selections below. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a ‘quick’ link, don’t anticipate to be downloading video clips whenever. Online accessibility has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and coffee shops have it free of cost– and also the net is currently spreading tofarther places. However tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power outages can make using the internet an aggravating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, as well as do not expect to Skype home extremely often, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. Travel suitcases aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in as well as out of myriad forms of transport and hefting it up several steep stairs isn’t better.
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