Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Myanmar Nature Tour
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation formally called Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it wasn’t until 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, as well as Myanmar as much more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the nation. Other names were likewise 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 and Myanmar are still made use of interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This post breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say as well as the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Visit Myanmar
There are generally 3 seasons in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer season
May to October: Damp, rainy season
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather is warm however not stifling, and draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the limited holiday accommodation alternatives difficult to secure and also will certainly indicate trying to book ahead or face paying out for the much more costly choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level climbs in Myanmar as well as approaching rains are due. There is a minimal number of visitors which makes it very easy to book holiday accommodation yet it is extremely warm.
An e-Visa is readily available to tourists from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa website. You’ll need to submit a passport photo as well as pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and also you should obtain authorization 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 as well as allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local embassy may be more affordable– if you want to save some cash, obtaining a visa via your local Myanmar embassy might be more affordable. For instance, the cost is simply , 14 in the UK however $40 in the United States, so do your research and also do not fail to remember to consider mailing expenses.
It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and also at 3 Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration site for the most recent at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the typical choice for travellers as the first mode of entry, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. But, thinking about where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the east and also India and Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple for land access, although not all of them are suggested because of safety.
Regardless, you must define a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes exactly how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will be given a listing of options, from which you will certainly require to select one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated 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 north 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 the cluster of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Region of northwestern Myanmar on the border to northeastern India).
- Rih Khaw Dar (a six-hour drive from the boundary town 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” but it is best to stay with the one you originally stated if possible to avoid any kind of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports as well as Land Border Checkpoints because your exit point does not require to be specified up-front. Additionally, you may leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is cheaper and also has extra links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transport options might be discouraging but the cross country propositions are much more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and also flying is cost effective so it may be your much better option.
You can still book flights the traditional method by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days– check-in involves ticking individuals off a listing of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and grabbing your bag off a trolley by the airplane and also flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It truly is an experience. And a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are affordable with competing businesses and a range of deluxe levels.
The majority of buses travel overnight which is great for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so wonderful for rest. Additionally, you’ll often tend to arrive at odd times in the early morning and also won’t have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hrs waiting for a ‘top-up’ nap. Consider if it will certainly be cheaper 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 provide you a blanket however, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hrs for a food and toilet break– a bit aggravating 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 location around 3 or 4am. What’s more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and tacky video up until the very early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, buy some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be turned off.
Never ever ask a driver about he time of arrival. As a result of superstitions based upon 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 result? You won’t get a response.
You will generally book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally charge a fee however know that the fee can vary substantially.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this truly does vary depending upon destination, mode of traveling and also company. Look for a business that does include pick-up as taxis are outrageously priced.
Reserving buses online is harder– There isn’t one useful online booking portal and the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it doesn’t necessarily imply the bus is full. Try booking somewhere else.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, however bus rides are rough– you could consider taking tablets for nausea. Boats are also an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among tourists.
There are no international car-rental agencies, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– in addition to guesthouses and also hotels elsewhere– can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly evident in the local transport.
With minimal public transport, taxis will certainly be your main method of getting around particularly for getting to as well as from airport terminals and within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ estimation) and you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often the taxi to and also from the airport/bus will certainly be greater than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi fares.
Taxi cabs for the day might be your better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger factor than time in dictating the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hour trip around Yangon can cost 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 as well as is a massive contributing aspect to the cost.
Everybody intends to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing journeys. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own personal transportation. Besides, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, several of the side journeys can be interesting and drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your travel plan and you may be happy you went with their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much less expensive however beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest locations, and also almost all tourists establish a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can not manage it– otherwise you’ll be just one of the lots of visitors walking 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 hours to cover 15 kilometres should provide you an idea. The time advised for getting to the bus terminal (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so do not count on air-conditioning and leather seats– that 1.5 hour 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.
Get ready for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hrs of the early morning, your only option to reach my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, but given that this is the main form of visitor transportation here it is just all-natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money as well as 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 make use of dollars, they must be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as more recent than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for flaws, discolouration and also folds at the money exchange booths. You might additionally have problems changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be less expensive due to the fact that the USD exchange rate is informal– somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, most likely relying on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and they mainly work however 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 charge of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any type of costs your financial institution might charge. And you possibly won’t have the ability to take out greater than $150 each time.
ATM machines give kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places about, yet mostly the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational airport terminal to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines as well as need cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels in advance online this may save you taking extra cash for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted primarily just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, normally charging a small cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and also dining establishments. Businesses are recovering their costs.
A dorm bed will set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a standard 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, deluxe hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a good example where luxury comes at a cost of $250 per night) with other great choices can be found at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package traveler’ destinations like Ngapali beach can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a number of hostels there as well). On the plus side, you normally obtain a cost-free 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 meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is cheap, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise cheap at a couple of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour expenses
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner as well as utilizing squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing shoes and also taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of products like mementos however if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and also leave.
Tipping is not usual method in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners that tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is often unbearable during the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the traveler buses make it more difficult to get remarkable photos and move freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous area of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State as well as the far, criminal activity levels are extremely low.
Still, you ought to take the usual precautions of making use of hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Women travellers should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is filthy and there isn’t always soap in washrooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Watch out for the dust- Myanmar can be really dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and nose when biking around. Additionally take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. As a result, numerous travellers use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you ill.
Fruit is very easy to find so top up your body immune system with nutrients in this way. Nonetheless, as it’s often pre-cut, try to find a seller that has kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
Many government advisories advise against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has led to the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the country stay closed to foreigners as a result of conflict between the government and different ethnic militaries gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mainly in Kachin as well as Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and also far from the significant tourist destinations.
Precise information on disputes and also closed locations can be tough to find. Check your government’s guidance prior to taking a trip, as well as inquire about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent source of information from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and also legs regardless of the high temperatures, as well as you will certainly make everybody much more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tee shirts are the outfit of choice. These are highly encouraged and usually enforced for entering the temples and also 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. Numerous travelers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm and tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing and tour so get a cheap one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are necessary! Getting in pagodas means going barefoot as well as flip flops are the very best footwear choice. Battling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwanted interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find people in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach yet elsewhere it’s less usual.
The local individuals are exceptionally genteel as well as not used to confrontation so pack your good manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be aggravating, hot and also slow however keep in mind: you chose to visit Myanmar and that it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. Nonetheless, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by citizens that want to talk. Vacationers are no longer a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Usually the people are charming and more than happy to appear in photographs as well as attempt and talk through limited common words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a lot which is generally best dealt with by providing a smile as well as a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, listen hard and also if you’re spending for a guide, ensure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, tiny parcels which contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it supplies a hit that amounts 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, a lot of times onto the ground.
Great deals of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as taxi drivers commonly roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spew after eating 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 brilliant 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 and likewise functions as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the coffee shops and also dining establishments as residents use the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to recognize the place of the kissing sound so do not be alarmed!
The two essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Not only is it courteous, but it is well received. Be ready for the majority of citizens to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is generally done by hand as well as is billed per item instead of kilo so try to turn up with your clothes washed as well as unless you intend to hand over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you truly need washing and also clean 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 not flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is extremely usual in developing countries where the plumbing system can not handle anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird half-hour difference| to its time area so it’s 6 and a half hours ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple 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, better still, buy a local SIM. You can get one at most airport terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the road as well as the shop staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can find out more regarding your network selections below. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a ‘quick’ connection, do not expect to be downloading video clips at any time. Online accessibility has actually improved, with wi-fi the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and cafes have it free of charge– and also the web is now spreading tofarther locations. But tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power failures can make using the web an aggravating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, as well as do not expect to Skype home extremely often, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a knapsack than a suitcase. aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Getting in as well as out of myriad forms of transport and hefting it up many high stairs isn’t better.
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