Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Tour Company Reviews
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country formally known as Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it had not been 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 seen as a relic of the country’s previous British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Other names were also 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 on the world stage. This short article breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and also the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are generally three seasons in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather is warm but not stifling, as well as draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the minimal accommodation alternatives difficult to secure as well as will certainly imply attempting to book in advance or face paying for the a lot more expensive options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level rises in Myanmar and upcoming rains are due. There is a limited number of vacationers which makes it easy to book accommodation however it is incredibly hot.
An e-Visa is available to travellers from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa internet site. You’ll be required to submit a passport photo and also pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply as well as 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 date of issue as well as allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local consular office may be more affordable– if you intend to save some money, getting a visa by means of your local Myanmar embassy may be less costly. For example, the cost is just , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research as well as do not neglect to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to enter 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) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration internet site for the current at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the common choice for travellers as the very first mode of access, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, thinking about where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the east and also India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land entrance, although not all of them are advised due to safety and security.
No matter, you need to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be given a listing of options, where you will certainly require to pick 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 also Yangon)
Going Across at Land Boundary Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the boundary 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 Region on the border of the Thai Peninsula as well as 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 border village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the boundary of Southeastern India).
Actually, 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 handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any one of the International Airports as well as Land Border Checkpoints because your exit point does not need to be mentioned up-front. In addition, 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 extra connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation options might be irritating however the long distance propositions are a lot more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and also flying is budget-friendly so it might be your much 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 people off a listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and grabbing your bag off a cart by the airplane 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. As well as a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are budget friendly with competing businesses and a series of luxury levels.
Many buses travel over night which is excellent for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, however isn’t so excellent for sleep. Additionally, you’ll have a tendency to arrive at odd times in the early morning as well as won’t be able to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ snooze. Think about if it will be cheaper to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same night to sleep immediately.
Buses are extremely cold, the deluxe buses will provide you a blanket but, wear 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 also toilet break– a bit aggravating 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 song CD’s as well as tacky music videos up until the early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be turned off.
Never 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 reach a location conjures up bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not get an answer.
You will mostly reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally bill a cost but understand that the fee can differ significantly.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this truly does differ depending on destination, mode of travel and company. Try to find a business that does include pick-up as taxis are extortionate.
Reserving buses online is harder– There isn’t one useful online booking website as well as the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it doesn’t always imply the bus is full. Try reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without fees.
Buses are almost always faster than the trains, however bus rides are bumpy– you might take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst tourists.
There are no international car-rental companies, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– along with guesthouses as well as hotels elsewhere– can arrange cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly evident in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will certainly be your main method 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 quick ‘how much can I get away with’ computation) and you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Typically the taxi to as well as from the airport/bus will be more than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi prices.
Taxis for the day might be your much better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of taking in the sights in Bagan and $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger aspect than time in dictating the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hr trip about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each means, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar and also is a massive contributing factor to the cost.
Everybody intends to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing trips. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own private transportation. Nevertheless, 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 locations that aren’t on your travel plan and you may be happy you went with their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much more affordable however beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest areas, and almost all travelers create a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can’t handle it– or else you’ll be just one of the lots of vacationers walking toting head to foot road rash and plasters.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km ought to provide you an idea. The time suggested for getting to the bus terminal (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hrs.
Car quality is hit and miss so don’t count on air-conditioning and also leather seats– that 1.5 hr trip in Yangon could all be done in 38 degree heat with nothing more than the heat of the engine fan to ‘cool’ you down.
Prepare for the unexpected. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hours of the early morning, your only option to reach my hotel may be using horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, however given that this is the main form of visitor transportation here it is just natural that they are waiting on 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 immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as more recent than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for imperfections, discolouration and also creases at the currency exchange stands. You might also 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 likely to be cheaper due to the fact that the USD currency exchange rate is casual– somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, possibly depending on just how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mostly function however make certain you have money prior to showing up at more remote spots like the beach. Often 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 fees your bank could bill. And also you most likely won’t have the ability to withdraw greater than $150 each time.
ATM machines give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places around, yet primarily 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 as well as need cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels beforehand online this might save you taking additional money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted primarily only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, normally billing a small cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being built. That includes guesthouses as well as dining establishments. Businesses are recouping their costs.
Holiday accommodation prices
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 drab, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury resorts 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 can be found at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A modern hotel can cost 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 hotel (though there are a couple of hostels there too). On the plus side, you usually obtain a free breakfast with your holiday accommodation.
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 including something like pizza) will certainly cost $7-$12.
Mineral water is economical, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally inexpensive at a number of dollars per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour costs
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the privilege of being a foreigner and using squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing shoes and taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the much more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of items like mementos but if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and also walk away.
Tipping is not typical method in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak as well as fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is often unbearable during the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the traveler buses make it more difficult to get outstanding photos and move around easily.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are remarkably reduced.
Still, you need to take the normal precautions of using hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Female visitors should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is dirty and also there isn’t always soap in washrooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Keep an eye 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 a/c– Myanmar can be as hot. Subsequently, many tourists use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels can make you ill.
Fruit is easy to find so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. However, as it’s typically pre-cut, try to find a vendor that has kept the flies away and also if it’s sluiced with water, ensure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
Most government advisories alert 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 actually caused the mass displacement of countless people. A few other parts of the country continue to be closed to foreigners as a result of problem in between the government and various ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are primarily in Kachin and Shan States, near to the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and far from the significant traveler locations.
Precise information on disputes and closed locations can be tough to come by. Check your government’s recommendations before taking a trip, and ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent resource of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and legs in spite of the high temperatures, and also you will make everyone a lot 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 also frequently enforced for going into the temples and also pagodas.
Every person uses skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Several travelers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm as well as tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are practical for taking in the sights so get an affordable one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are crucial! Getting in pagodas implies going barefoot and flip flops are the most effective footwear selection. Struggling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwelcome interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and at the beach however elsewhere it’s much less typical.
The local people are exceptionally genteel as well as not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travel can be frustrating, hot and also slow-moving yet keep in mind: you chose to check out Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. However, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by citizens that intend to chat. Vacationers are no longer a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Usually individuals are charming and are happy to appear in photos and also attempt as well as speak with limited common words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a whole lot which is typically best dealt with by providing a smile and 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 certain they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, little parcels that contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| since it supplies a hit that amounts to six cups of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, most times onto the ground.
Great deals of citizens have the tell tale red discolored teeth and also taxi 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 as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the children. Why not? Read this great short article by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese ladies. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as also functions as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes as well as restaurants as residents make use of the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s much easier for staff to identify the place of the kissing sound so don’t be distressed!
The two most important expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it polite, but it is well received. Be prepared for a lot of citizens to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand as well as is billed per item rather than kilo so try to turn up with your clothing washed as well as unless you intend to hand over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you really require washing as well as clean your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are 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 very usual in developing countries where the plumbing system can’t manage anything other than bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual half-hour difference| to its time area 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 also North American 2-pin plugs along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to overcome it or, better still, buy a local SIM. You can obtain one at many airports when you land or in among the shops in the road and the shop personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can find out more concerning your network selections below. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘fast’ connection, don’t expect to be downloading videos at any time. On-line accessibility has actually improved, with wi-fi becoming the standard– most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it free of cost– and the net is now spreading tofarther places. But tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power blackouts can make using the internet a frustrating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, as well as don’t expect to Skype home very often, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. Travel suitcases aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transportation as well as hefting it up lots of high staircases isn’t far better.
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