Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Responsible Tourism Awards
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation formally known as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it wasn’t until 1989 that the ruling military junta altered 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 former British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as a lot more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Other names were likewise 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 utilized 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 question: does it even matter?
Best Times to Visit Myanmar
There are usually 3 periods in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the climate is warm but not stifling, and brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the minimal lodging choices challenging to secure and also will certainly imply trying to book ahead or deal with paying out for the much more pricey choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level climbs in Myanmar and impending rains are due. There is a minimal number of travelers which makes it easy to book lodging yet it is incredibly warm.
An e-Visa is offered to tourists from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa web site. You’ll need to upload a passport photo as well as pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and you should get authorization within 3 working days.
Print out your e-Visa letter, show it when you arrive and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter stands 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 more affordable– if you intend to save some money, making an application for a visa via your local Myanmar consular office may be less costly. For instance, the price is simply , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the United States, so do your research as well as don’t forget to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and also at three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration web site for the most recent at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the usual alternative for visitors as the first mode of entrance, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. But, thinking about where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern as well as India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous for land access, although not every one of them are advised because of safety and security.
No matter, you must specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes exactly how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will be provided a listing of options, from which you will certainly require to pick one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated 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 border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula and also the cluster 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 boundary village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
In truth, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” however it is best to stick to the one you initially specified when possible 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 also Land Boundary Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not need to be specified up front. Additionally, you might exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is less costly and has more connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation choices may be frustrating however the cross country propositions are much more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and also flying is inexpensive so it may be your much better option.
You can still reserve flights the traditional means by wandering right 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 flight terminal and also grabbing your bag off a trolley by the aircraft and 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 a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing firms as well as a variety of deluxe levels.
The majority of buses travel overnight which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so excellent for sleep. Additionally, you’ll have a tendency to reach at weird times in the early morning as well as won’t have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ snooze. Think about if it will certainly be less expensive to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same night to take a nap immediately.
Buses are very 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 expect to stop every couple of hrs for a food and toilet break– a little bit irritating 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 even more, some still play their funky local music CD’s and also cheesy video until the early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be shut off.
Never ever ask a driver about he time of arrival. Due to superstitions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a location conjures up bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You won’t get a response.
You will primarily reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will typically charge a cost yet know that the fee can vary drastically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this actually does differ depending upon destination, mode of traveling and also company. Look for a company that does include pick-up as taxis are outrageously priced.
Reserving buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one useful online reservation portal and the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not necessarily mean the bus is full. Try booking elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without charges.
Buses are often faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you might consider taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are additionally a choice for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst visitors.
There are no international car-rental firms, yet most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– in addition to guesthouses as well as hotels in other places– can arrange cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly apparent in the local transport.
With minimal public transportation, taxis will certainly be your major means of getting around particularly for getting to and from flight terminals and also within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are established 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 unusual to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often the taxi to and 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.
Taxi cabs for the day may be your far better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and also $28 for a couple of hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger element 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 means, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar as well as is a substantial contributing element to the cost.
Everyone wishes to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut producer during your sightseeing and tour trips. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own private transport. Nevertheless, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, several of the side journeys can be fascinating as well as 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 (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much more affordable but beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far among the dustiest locations, and also nearly all visitors establish a dust cough. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can’t handle it– or else you’ll be among the many tourists walking toting head to foot road rash and bandages.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 kilometres ought to 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.
Get ready for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hrs of the morning, your only option to reach my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, yet given that this is the primary form of traveler 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 and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to make use of dollars, they have to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for defects, discolouration as well as folds at the money exchange booths. You could also have difficulty 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.
Utilizing kyat is most likely to be less costly due to the fact that the USD exchange rate is casual– somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is generally applied on the spot, most likely depending upon how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and they mainly work yet make sure you have money before showing up at more remote spots like the beach. Often they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM cost of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any type of charges your financial institution might bill. And also you possibly will not be able to withdraw more than $150 at once.
ATMs give kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places around, yet primarily the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational flight terminal to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and also require cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels in advance online this might save you taking additional cash money for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted primarily only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, normally charging a little cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and also restaurants. Businesses are recovering their 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 vacationer hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a run down, no-frills room.
For hotels, deluxe resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where luxury comes with a rate of $250 per night) with other very good choices can be found at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ locations like Ngapali beach can cost 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 cost-free breakfast with your holiday accommodation.
Street food is most economical– around $1-$2 for a plate of something basic. Local restaurants cost around $2-$4 a dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Bottled water is affordable, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally cheap at a number of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour costs
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner and making use of squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing shoes and taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the much more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of things like souvenirs however if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest as well as walk away.
Tipping is not usual technique in Myanmar, as well as it’s only foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is often intolerable during the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it more difficult to get outstanding photos as well as walk around freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State and also the far, crime levels are incredibly low.
Still, you ought to take the common precautions of making use of hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Women travellers should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is dirty as well as there isn’t always soap in shower rooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely 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 warm. Subsequently, lots of travellers use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you ill.
Fruit is simple to find so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. However, as it’s usually pre-cut, search for a seller that has actually kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
The majority of government advisories advise against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has resulted in the mass displacement of countless individuals. Some other parts of the nation stay shut to foreigners because of dispute between the government and also various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, as well as far from the major traveler locations.
Accurate information on problems and also closed locations can be tough to find. Check your government’s guidance before travelling, and also inquire about the situation when 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 legs despite the heat, and you will certainly make everybody much more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and t-shirts are the attire of choice. These are highly encouraged as well as typically enforced for getting in the temples and pagodas.
Everyone wears skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Lots of travelers pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat and also tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so pick up an inexpensive one a the marketplace if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are necessary! Getting in pagodas indicates going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear selection. Battling with laces in the blistering heat is an unwanted distraction. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after checking out 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 and strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach however elsewhere it’s less usual.
The local individuals are exceptionally genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be irritating, warm as well as sluggish however keep in mind: you selected to see Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. Nevertheless, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by residents that wish to chat. Visitors are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are beautiful and are happy to appear in photographs and try as well as chat via minimal common words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a lot which is typically best managed by providing a smile as well as a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, 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, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it provides a hit that’s equivalent to 6 mugs of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spat out, most times onto the ground.
Lots of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth and also cab drivers frequently roll down the window in sluggish 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 kids. Why not? Read this brilliant post 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 item in Myanmar and also functions as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the coffee shops as well as dining establishments as locals use the kissing sound as an ask for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to identify the place of the kissing sound so do not be distressed!
Both most important 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 residents to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand as well as is billed per item instead of kilo so try to show up with your garments washed as well as unless you intend to hand over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you actually require washing as well as wash your smaller items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by yet 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 not deal 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 in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have several adaptors for European and North American 2-pin connects as well as 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 obtain one at many airport terminals when you land or in among the stores in the street and also the shop personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more regarding your network selections below. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘fast’ connection, do not anticipate to be downloading videos at any time. On-line access has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and coffee shops have it absolutely free– and also the web is currently spreading tomore remote places. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and power failures can make using the web a frustrating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, as well as do not anticipate 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. aren’t perfect on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering and out of myriad forms of transport as well as hefting it up many high staircases isn’t far better.
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