Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Myanmar Brewery Tour
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation officially known as Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it wasn’t 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 viewed as a relic of the country’s previous British colonial past, and Myanmar as a lot more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Other names were also changed, 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 and also Myanmar are still utilized interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This post breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and also the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are usually 3 seasons in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather condition is warm however not stifling, as well as attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the restricted lodging choices tricky to secure and also will indicate attempting to book ahead or deal with paying out for the a lot more costly options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level increases in Myanmar and upcoming rains are due. There is a limited number of tourists that makes it very easy to book accommodation yet it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is offered 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 as well as pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply and you should obtain 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 enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local consular office may be less expensive– if you wish to save some cash, making an application for a visa by means of your local Myanmar consular office might be cheaper. As an example, the expense is simply , 14 in the UK but $40 in the United States, so do your research and do not neglect to consider mailing expenses.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and also at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration website for the current at the time you take a trip.
Flights to Myanmar are the usual alternative for tourists as the very first mode of entry, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. However, thinking about where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the east and also India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous avenues for land entry, although not all of them are advised because of safety.
Regardless, you need to specify a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes exactly how you will be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a list of options, from which you will certainly require to choose among 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 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 southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula and also the collection 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).
Actually, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to stick to the one you initially specified when possible to prevent any kind of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports and also Land Border Checkpoints because your exit point does not require to be stated up front. In addition, you might leave at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is less expensive and has much more connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transport options might be irritating however the long distance propositions are a lot more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and flying is budget-friendly so it may be your much better choice.
You can still book flights the old-school means by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a 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 terminal and getting your bag off a trolley by the airplane and also flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It truly is an experience. And also a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are affordable with competing firms and a series of deluxe levels.
Many buses travel overnight which is great for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, yet isn’t so terrific for sleep. Additionally, you’ll often tend to reach at strange times in the early morning as well as will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting on a ‘top-up’ nap. Consider if it will be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same night to take a nap straight away.
Buses are extremely chilly, the high-end buses will certainly provide you a covering however, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hours for a food as well as toilet break– a little bit frustrating if you’re attempting 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 even more, some still play their funky local music CD’s and also cheesy music videos up until the very early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some durable 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 reach a location summons bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not obtain a response.
You will mainly book buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will typically charge a fee yet understand that the fee can vary substantially.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this really does vary depending upon destination, mode of traveling and company. Try to find a firm that does include pick-up as taxis are outrageously priced.
Reserving buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one useful on-line booking portal and also the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it doesn’t always mean the bus is full. Attempt reservation somewhere else.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without fees.
Buses are almost always faster than the trains, but bus rides are bumpy– you could take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are additionally an option for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– along with guesthouses and also hotels somewhere else– can arrange cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your major means of getting around particularly for getting to and from airports as well as within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a fast ‘just how much can I get away with’ computation) 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 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 fares.
Taxis for the day may be your far better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and also $28 for a couple of hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger aspect than time in determining the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hour journey about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each way, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar and is a substantial contributing element to the cost.
Everybody wants to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut producer during your sightseeing journeys. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your own private transport. Besides, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, some of the side trips can be fascinating and drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your travel plan and you may be happy you chose their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electrical motorcycles) outside the cities is much more affordable but beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest places, and almost all vacationers create a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can’t manage it– otherwise you’ll be among the numerous tourists walking toting head to foot road rash and bandages.
The big cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 kilometres should give you an idea. The time recommended for reaching the bus terminal (22km away from the centre) is 2.5 hrs.
Car quality is hit and miss so don’t count on air-conditioning and 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 unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hours of the early morning, your only option to get to my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, however considering that this is the primary form of vacationer transportation here it is just natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and ATMs in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars as well as the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to utilize dollars, they must be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as more recent than 2006. Each specific note is reviewed for problems, discolouration as well as folds at the money exchange booths. You could additionally have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be cheaper due to the fact that the USD exchange rate is informal– someplace in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is generally applied on the spot, probably relying on how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mostly work but make certain you have money before showing up at more remote spots like the beach. Occasionally they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine fee of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any type of fees your bank may charge. As well as you possibly will not be able to withdraw greater than $150 at a time.
ATM machines give kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places around, but mostly the transactions are to change immaculate 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 and also require cash payment. If you have reserved your hotels in advance online this may save you taking additional cash money for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted primarily only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, generally charging a small cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being built. That includes guesthouses and also dining establishments. Companies are recouping their costs.
Holiday accommodation costs
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 visitor hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dingy, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury 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 great alternatives can be found at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A modern hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ destinations like Ngapali beach can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a couple of hostels there too). On the bonus side, you normally obtain a totally free 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 dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or including something like pizza) will certainly cost $7-$12.
Mineral water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also affordable at a couple of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner and also utilizing squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing footwear and also taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on costs of things like souvenirs however if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest as well as leave.
Tipping is not typical practice in Myanmar, and also it’s just foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak and fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is usually intolerable during the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it harder to get amazing pictures and also walk around easily.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State as well as the far, crime levels are incredibly low.
Still, you ought to take the normal preventative measures of using hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Female tourists should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is gross and also there isn’t always soap in bathrooms 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 very dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth as well as nose when cycling around. Additionally take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. As a result, several travellers use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperatures can make you sick.
Fruit is very easy to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. However, as it’s often pre-cut, look for a vendor that has kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
The majority of government advisories caution against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually brought about the mass displacement of thousands of people. A few other parts of the country continue to be shut to foreigners as a result of dispute between the government and various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin as well as Shan States, close to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, as well as far from the major vacationer destinations.
Precise details on conflicts and closed areas can be hard to find. Check your government’s guidance prior to taking a trip, as well as ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent source of news from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders and also legs regardless of the high temperatures, and you will make everybody more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as tees are the outfit of choice. These are strongly encouraged and frequently enforced for getting in the temples and also pagodas.
Every person wears skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Numerous visitors pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm as well as tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are convenient for taking in the sights so pick up a cheap one a the marketplace if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are essential! Going into pagodas indicates going barefoot and flip flops are the very best footwear choice. Struggling with laces in the blistering heat is an undesirable interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend much better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and at the beach yet somewhere else it’s less typical.
The local individuals are remarkably genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be irritating, warm and also slow however keep in mind: you chose to visit Myanmar which it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. Nonetheless, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by locals that wish to chat. Vacationers are no longer a novelty in most of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Usually the people are wonderful and also more than happy to appear in photos and also try and converse through minimal typical words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a lot which is usually best managed by providing a smile as well as a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, listen hard and if you’re spending for a guide, make sure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, tiny parcels which contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it supplies a hit that’s equivalent to six cups of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spat out, the majority of times onto the ground.
Lots of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth and cab drivers usually roll down the window in slow traffic to spew after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t 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 women. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar and likewise functions as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and dining establishments as residents use the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to determine the location of the kissing audio so do not be alarmed!
Both essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it courteous, yet it is well received. Be prepared for the majority of locals to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is normally done by hand as well as is billed per item rather than kilo so try to show up with your clothing laundered as well as unless you intend to turn over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you really require washing and also clean your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by yet tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is really typical in developing countries where the plumbing system can not deal with anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that odd 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 numerous 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, acquire a local SIM. You can get one at a lot 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 minutes. You can find out more about your network choices right here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘rapid’ link, don’t anticipate to be downloading videos whenever. On-line accessibility has actually improved, with wi-fi becoming the standard– most hotels, guesthouses as well as cafes have it free of charge– and the net is now spreading tofarther locations. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power failures can use the net an irritating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, as well as do not 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 knapsack than a luggage. Travel suitcases aren’t suitable on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Getting in and also out of myriad forms of transportation and hefting it up numerous steep staircases isn’t better.
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