Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Inle Lake Tour
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation officially called Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it wasn’t up until 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 country’s former British colonial past, and Myanmar as more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were also altered, which is why you will certainly 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 used interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This short article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and also the question: does it even matter?
Best Times to Visit Myanmar
There are commonly 3 seasons in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather condition is warm however not stifling, and attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the limited accommodation choices difficult to secure as well as will indicate attempting to book ahead or face paying out for the more costly choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level climbs in Myanmar and upcoming rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of vacationers that makes it very easy to book holiday accommodation but it is extremely hot.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 countries.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa web site. You’ll be required to submit a passport photo as well as pay a charge 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 get here and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter is valid for 90- days from the day of issue and also permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be more affordable– if you wish to save some cash, applying for a visa via your local Myanmar embassy might be less expensive. For example, the price is simply , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and also don’t neglect to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and 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 typical option for travellers as the initial mode of access, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. But, taking into consideration where Myanmar lies– bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the east and also India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land entrance, although not all of them are recommended because of safety and security.
Regardless, you have to specify a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes just how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a listing of options, from which you will certainly 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 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 most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the border of the Thai Peninsula and the cluster of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Area 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).
Actually, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” however it is best to stick to the one you initially specified ideally to prevent any kind of hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any one of the International Airports and Land Border Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not require to be mentioned up front. Furthermore, you may exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is less costly and has a lot more links than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transport options might be irritating yet the long distance propositions are a lot more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and flying is budget-friendly so it might be your better choice.
You can still reserve flights the old-school means by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in involves ticking individuals off a list of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport terminal as well as grabbing your bag off a trolley by the aircraft and also flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign and calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It actually is an experience. And also a lot of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are budget friendly with competing firms and also a series of high-end levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so great for rest. Likewise, you’ll have a tendency to reach at strange times in the early morning and also will not have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hrs waiting for a ‘top-up’ nap. Consider if it will be less expensive to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the exact same evening to take a nap immediately.
Buses are really cold, the high-end buses will offer you a covering however, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hrs for a food as well as toilet break– a bit irritating 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 destination around 3 or 4am. What’s even more, some still play their funky local music CD’s and also cheesy music videos until the very early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some heavy-duty extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be shut off.
Never ask a driver about he time of arrival. Because of superstitious notions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will arrive at a destination summons bad spirits as well as is taken seriously. The result? You will not get a response.
You will mostly book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will typically bill a fee yet be aware that the charge can vary substantially.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this truly does vary depending on destination, mode of travel and also company. Try to find a business that does include pick-up as taxis are extortionate.
Reserving buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one handy on-line booking website and also the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it doesn’t always imply the bus is full. Attempt booking elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without costs.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, however bus rides are rough– you might think about taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are likewise an option for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst tourists.
There are no international car-rental agencies, however most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– as well as 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 apparent in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will certainly be your main way of navigating especially for getting to and also from airport terminals and within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are set on the spot (after a quick ‘how much can I get away with’ estimation) and you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Commonly the taxi to and also from the airport/bus will certainly be more than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi prices.
Cabs for the day might be your much better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and $28 for a couple of hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger element than time in dictating the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hr journey about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each method, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar and is a massive contributing factor to the cost.
Everyone wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing trips. Don’t be afraid 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 flip side, several of the side trips can be interesting and drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you chose their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much less expensive but beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far among the dustiest areas, as well as nearly all travelers establish a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can’t manage it– or else you’ll be just one of the several visitors walking around toting head to foot road rash and also bandages.
The big cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km ought to provide you an idea. The time recommended for getting to the bus station (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hrs.
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.
Plan for the unexpected. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hours of the morning, your only choice to get to my hotel may be using horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, but given that this is the primary form of traveler transport here it is only all-natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to utilize dollars, they need to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as more recent than 2006. Each specific note is reviewed for defects, discolouration as well as creases at the currency exchange kiosks. You might also have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States bucks so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is most likely to be less costly due to the fact that the USD exchange rate is casual– somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is generally applied on the spot, probably depending upon how rich you look.
There are ATM machines as well as they mainly function however ensure you have cash before showing up at more remote spots like the coastline. Often they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any kind of charges your bank might charge. And also you most likely won’t be able to take out more than $150 at once.
ATMs give kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places about, but primarily the transactions are to change immaculate 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 require cash payment. If you have reserved your hotels beforehand online this might save you taking added cash for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, normally charging a little fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being built. That includes guesthouses and also dining establishments. Businesses are recovering their costs.
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a basic personal 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 drab, 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 luxury comes with a price of $250 per night) with various other great choices being available 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 traveler’ locations like Ngapali coastline can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a couple of hostels there as well). On the plus side, you normally get 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 meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will certainly set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is affordable, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise affordable at a number of dollars per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner and also utilizing squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear as well as taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the much more touristy locations.
It’s possible to negotiate on costs of things like souvenirs however if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest and also walk away.
Tipping is not typical technique in Myanmar, and also it’s just foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise as well as fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is frequently intolerable throughout the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the tourist buses make it more difficult to get impressive photos and walk around freely.
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 exceptionally reduced.
Still, you should take the usual safety measures of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your belongings. Female visitors should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is filthy 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.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth as well as nose when biking around. Additionally take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. As a result, several tourists use the a/c in their room however sleeping in low temperature levels can make you sick.
Fruit is easy to find so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. Nonetheless, as it’s often pre-cut, look for a vendor that has actually kept the flies away and also if it’s sluiced with water, ensure 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 as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has brought about the mass displacement of countless people. Some other parts of the country stay shut to foreigners because of conflict between the government and also various ethnic armies clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are primarily in Kachin and also Shan States, close to the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and far from the major tourist destinations.
Exact details on problems as well as closed areas can be hard to find. Check your government’s recommendations before travelling, and also ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great source of news from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
The majority of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders as well as legs in spite of the high temperatures, and you will certainly make everybody a lot more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tee shirts are the clothing of choice. These are strongly encouraged and frequently enforced for entering the temples and pagodas.
Everyone puts on skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Lots of travelers pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat and also tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are practical for taking in the sights so grab a cheap one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are vital! Entering pagodas indicates going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear choice. Battling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwanted distraction. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will certainly find people in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach yet elsewhere it’s less usual.
The local people are extremely genteel as well as not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travel can be frustrating, hot as well as slow however keep in mind: you picked to check out Myanmar which it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. However, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by citizens that intend to talk. Tourists are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Typically individuals are wonderful as well as are happy to appear in photos and also try and also talk through minimal common words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a great deal which is usually best managed by offering a smile and also a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention as well as if you’re paying for a guide, ensure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, tiny parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it provides a hit that’s equivalent to 6 cups of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the spin-off is bright-red saliva which is spat out, many times onto the ground.
Great deals of citizens have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as taxi drivers often roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spit 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 brilliant 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 likewise functions as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the coffee shops as well as dining establishments as locals use the kissing sound as an ask for service. Apparently it’s easier for staff to recognize the location of the kissing audio so don’t be surprised!
Both essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it respectful, yet it is well received. Be prepared for many 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 and also is charged per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothing washed and unless you want to hand over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you really require washing and clean your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are very easy to find by but tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can not flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is extremely usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t deal with anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual 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 plugs as well as British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to overcome it or, far better still, purchase a local SIM. You can obtain one at the majority of airports when you land or in one of the stores in the road as well as the shop personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can find out more about your network choices here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘quick’ connection, do not anticipate to be downloading videos at any time. Online access has improved, with wi-fi becoming the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and coffee shops have it free of cost– and the internet is now spreading tofarther areas. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power interruptions can make using the internet an aggravating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, as well as don’t anticipate to Skype home very frequently, 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 perfect on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transport and also hefting it up many steep staircases isn’t far better.
Thanks for reading this guide to Top Traveling Tips for Myanmar – Myanmar Inle Lake Tour