Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Modi Myanmar Tour
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country officially called Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it wasn’t till 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 numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Other names were additionally changed, 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 write-up breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say as well as the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to See Myanmar
There are usually 3 seasons in which you can go to 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 however not stifling, as well as attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the restricted accommodation options difficult to secure and will mean attempting to book ahead 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 as well as upcoming rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of tourists that makes it easy to book holiday accommodation however it is incredibly warm.
An e-Visa is available to tourists from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa web site. You’ll be required to upload a passport photo and also pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and you should get 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 is valid for 90- days from the day of issue and also allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local consular office might be less expensive– if you wish to save some money, applying for a visa through your local Myanmar consular office might be less costly. For instance, the expense is just , 14 in the UK but $40 in the USA, so do your research and don’t neglect to consider mailing expenses.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports; as well as at three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration site for the latest at the time you take a trip.
Flights to Myanmar are the normal choice for travellers as the very first mode of entrance, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. However, thinking about where Myanmar lies– bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the eastern and also India and Bangladesh to its west– there are several for land entrance, although not every one of them are encouraged because of safety.
No matter, you need to define a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes just how you will certainly be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be given a list of choices, where you will need 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 (located in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Crossing at Land Boundary Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the boundary 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 boundary of the Thai Peninsula as well as the collection of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Area 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 boundary of Southeastern India).
In truth, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stick to the one you originally stated if possible to prevent any kind of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any one of the International Airports and Land Border Checkpoints since your exit point does not require to be specified up-front. Furthermore, you may exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is less costly and has much more connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transport options might be aggravating however the long distance propositions are much more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and also flying is budget friendly so it may be your far better option.
You can still book flights the traditional method by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in includes ticking individuals off a list of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport and also getting your bag off a cart by the aircraft as well as flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It actually is an experience. And a lot of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are cost effective with competing businesses and also a range of deluxe levels.
Most buses travel over night which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing, yet isn’t so great for sleep. Also, you’ll tend to arrive at strange times in the morning as well as won’t have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hrs waiting on a ‘top-up’ nap. Take into consideration if it will certainly be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same evening to sleep immediately.
Buses are very cold, the luxury buses will certainly offer you a covering but, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hours for a food and toilet break– a bit discouraging if you’re trying 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 and tacky music videos till the very early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be turned off.
Never ask a vehicle driver regarding he time of arrival. Due to 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 location invokes bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not get a response.
You will generally reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will normally charge a fee yet understand that the charge can differ significantly.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this really does differ depending upon destination, mode of traveling and company. Search for a business that does include pick-up as taxis are outrageously priced.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one handy on-line booking site and the ones that do exist have a limited 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 often faster than the trains, yet bus rides are rough– you may take into consideration taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are likewise an alternative for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among travellers.
There are no international car-rental firms, however most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– in addition to guesthouses as well as hotels elsewhere– can organize cars and drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will certainly be your major way of navigating particularly for getting to as well as from airports as well as within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a fast ‘just how much can I get away with’ estimation) as well as you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Typically the taxi to and also from the airport/bus will certainly be greater 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 may be your far better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan and $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger aspect than time in determining the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hr journey about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar and is a significant contributing aspect to the cost.
Every person wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer during your sightseeing journeys. Do not hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own private transportation. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, some of the side journeys can be fascinating as well as drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your travel plan and you may be happy you opted for their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much more inexpensive yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest locations, and also almost all vacationers create a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– otherwise you’ll be one of the lots of tourists walking around toting head to foot road rash as well as 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 kilometres should give you an idea. The time advised for getting to 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 and also leather seats– that 1.5 hour journey 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 choice to get to my hotel may be through horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, however because this is the primary form of traveler transportation here it is just natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they must be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also newer than 2006. Each specific note is reviewed for defects, discolouration and folds at the currency exchange stands. You might also have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US bucks so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be less costly because the USD currency exchange rate is casual– somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, probably relying on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATMs and they mostly work but ensure you have money prior to showing up at more remote places like the coastline. Occasionally they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any costs your financial institution may bill. As well as you possibly will not have the ability to withdraw greater than $150 at a time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places around, however primarily the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational airport to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and also call for cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels ahead of time online this may save you taking additional cash money for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mainly only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, normally charging a tiny cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more costly than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being built. That includes guesthouses and dining establishments. Businesses are recouping their costs.
Holiday accommodation expenses
A dorm bed will 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 vacationer 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 good example where deluxe comes with a cost 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 set you back 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 couple of hostels there also). On the bonus side, you normally get 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 including something like pizza) will certainly cost $7-$12.
Bottled water is cheap, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also cheap at a couple of dollars per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner and also using squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing footwear and taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the much more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of items like souvenirs yet if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not typical practice in Myanmar, and it’s just foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak and also out cold by 10pm! The heat is typically unbearable during the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the tourist buses make it harder to get impressive images as well as move freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State and the far, criminal activity levels are incredibly low.
Still, you need to take the typical precautions of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Women visitors should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is dirty and there isn’t always soap in shower rooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will 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 nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. Subsequently, many tourists use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperatures can make you unwell.
Fruit is easy to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients in this way. Nevertheless, as it’s usually pre-cut, search for a seller that has actually kept the flies away and also if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
A lot of government advisories advise against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has caused the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. A few other parts of the country stay shut to foreigners as a result of problem in between the government and different ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are primarily in Kachin and Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, as well as far from the major traveler locations.
Precise info on disputes and also closed areas can be challenging to come by. Check your government’s advice before taking a trip, and also inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great resource of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders and legs in spite of the high temperatures, as well as you will certainly make everybody more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tees are the outfit of choice. These are strongly encouraged and commonly enforced for entering the temples and pagodas.
Everyone wears skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Many tourists pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm and tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing so get a cheap one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are vital! Getting in pagodas implies going barefoot and flip flops are the best footwear choice. Battling with laces in the blistering heat is an unwelcome interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after visiting a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend much better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach yet somewhere else it’s less common.
The local people are extremely genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travelling can be frustrating, warm as well as slow yet bear in mind: you selected to check out Myanmar and that it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. However, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by locals that want to talk. Tourists are no longer a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Normally individuals are lovely as well as more than happy to appear in photos and also attempt and also converse with minimal common words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a whole lot which is normally best dealt with by providing a smile as well as a mingalabar (hey there 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 sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, small parcels which contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s possibly popular| since it provides a hit that’s equivalent to 6 cups of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spat out, many times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as taxi drivers typically roll down the window in sluggish traffic to spit after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this fantastic post by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese women. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty product in Myanmar as well as likewise serves as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and also restaurants as residents utilize the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s easier for staff to identify the place of the kissing sound so do not be surprised!
Both crucial expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it courteous, however it is well received. Be prepared for a lot of locals to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand and is billed per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothes washed and unless you intend to turn over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you really require washing and clean your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by but tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can’t flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is very usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can not cope with anything other than bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hrs ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have numerous adaptors for European and North American 2-pin connects as well as British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to get over it or, far better still, buy a local SIM. You can get one at many airports when you land or in among the stores in the road as well as the store staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more about your network options right here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘rapid’ link, do not anticipate to be downloading videos whenever. On-line accessibility has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and cafes have it absolutely free– as well as the internet is now spreading tomore remote locations. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power blackouts can use the web a frustrating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, as well as don’t expect to Skype home extremely often, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a luggage. aren’t excellent on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Getting in and also out of myriad forms of transportation and hefting it up lots of high stairs isn’t better.
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