Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Tour Intrepid
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation formally known as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it wasn’t up 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 much more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were likewise altered, 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 made use of interchangeably, on the ground and on the world stage. This post breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say as well as the concern: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are typically 3 periods in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather condition is warm but not stifling, and also attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the minimal lodging choices challenging to secure and will certainly indicate attempting to book ahead or deal with paying for the much more pricey alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar and impending rains are due. There is a minimal number of tourists which makes it easy to book lodging yet it is extremely warm.
An e-Visa is available to tourists from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa web site. You’ll be required to upload a passport photo as well as pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply as well as 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 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 money, looking for a visa through your local Myanmar consular office might be more affordable. For example, the price is just , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the United States, so do your research and don’t forget to consider mailing costs.
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 web site for the latest at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the usual choice for tourists as the initial mode of entry, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. However, thinking about where Myanmar is located– surrounded by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern as well as India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous avenues for land access, although not all of them are encouraged due to safety.
No matter, you must specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be given a listing of options, from which you will certainly need to choose 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 as well as Yangon)
Crossing at Land Border 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 border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region 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 border village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to stay with the one you initially specified preferably to avoid any type of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any one of the International Airports and also Land Boundary Checkpoints since your exit point does not require to be mentioned up front. In addition, you may leave at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is more affordable and has extra connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transportation choices may be discouraging yet the long distance propositions are much more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow as well as flying is inexpensive so it might be your better choice.
You can still reserve flights the old-school way by wandering 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 airport terminal and also getting your bag off a cart by the aircraft and also flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. And also a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are economical with competing companies and a series of deluxe levels.
Many buses travel overnight which is terrific for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so excellent for sleep. Additionally, you’ll tend to reach at strange times in the early morning and also will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hrs awaiting a ‘top-up’ snooze. Think about if it will certainly be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the exact same night to take a nap immediately.
Buses are extremely chilly, the deluxe buses will give you a blanket yet, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hrs for a food as well as toilet break– a bit irritating if you’re attempting to sleep through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, despite the fact that these are the buses which bring you to your destination around 3 or 4am. What’s more, some still play their funky local music CD’s as well as tacky video up until the very early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be turned off.
Never ask a driver regarding he time of arrival. Because of superstitious notions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will arrive at a destination conjures up bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not get a response.
You will primarily reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will typically charge a fee yet understand that the fee can differ substantially.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this truly does differ depending on destination, mode of traveling as well as company. Search for a business that does include pick-up as taxis are expensive.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one handy online booking website and also the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not always indicate the bus is full. Try booking somewhere else.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without costs.
Buses are almost always faster than the trains, yet bus rides are rough– you might think about taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise a choice for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, however many travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– along with guesthouses as well as hotels in other places– can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly evident in the local transport.
With minimal public transport, taxis will certainly be your major means of getting around particularly for getting to as well as from airports and also within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a quick ‘just how much can I get away with’ calculation) as well as you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices 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 prices.
Cabs for the day might be your better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan and $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 trip about Yangon can cost USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each method, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar as well as is a significant contributing element to the cost.
Every person wishes to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer throughout your sightseeing trips. Do not hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own private transport. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, a few 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 recommendations!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much cheaper but beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far among the dustiest areas, as well as almost all tourists establish 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– or else you’ll be one of the many vacationers walking around 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 recommended for reaching the bus station (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so do not count on air-conditioning and also leather seats– that 1.5 hour journey 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 unexpected. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hrs of the early morning, your only alternative to reach my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, however given that this is the major form of vacationer transportation here it is only natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also 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 and also more recent than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for imperfections, discolouration as well as folds at the money exchange stands. You may also have problems changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is most likely to be cheaper because the USD exchange rate is informal– somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, probably depending upon exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and they mainly work yet ensure you have money prior to turning up at more remote spots like the beach. Sometimes they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any type of costs your bank may charge. And also you possibly will not have the ability to withdraw greater than $150 each time.
ATMs dispense kyat only. There are lots of exchange places around, but mainly the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational airport to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines as well as require cash payment. If you have booked your hotels ahead of time online this might save you taking extra cash money for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted mostly just in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, generally billing a tiny cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being built. That includes guesthouses as well as restaurants. Companies are recovering their expenses.
Holiday accommodation expenses
A dorm bed will set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a standard personal 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 an example where luxury comes at a price of $250 per night) with various other great choices coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can cost USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ destinations 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 obtain a complimentary breakfast 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 featuring something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise cheap at a couple of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner as well as utilizing squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing shoes and also taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of products like souvenirs but if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest as well as leave.
Tipping is not typical practice in Myanmar, as well as it’s just 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 frequently unbearable during the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the visitor buses make it harder to get fantastic pictures and also walk around freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and also the far, crime levels are exceptionally reduced.
Still, you ought to take the common safety measures of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Women visitors should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is dirty and there isn’t always soap in shower rooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and nose when cycling around. Also take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as warm. As a result, many visitors 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 immune system with nutrients this way. However, as it’s often pre-cut, try to find a vendor that has kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
The majority of government advisories warn against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually resulted in the mass displacement of countless individuals. Some other parts of the country continue to be closed to foreigners due to conflict between the government and also various ethnic militaries gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are primarily in Kachin and Shan States, close to the frontiers with China and Thailand, and also far from the major visitor destinations.
Exact details on problems and also closed locations can be challenging to come by. Check your government’s recommendations prior to travelling, and also ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent source of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders as well as legs in spite of the heat, and also you will make everybody a lot more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as tee shirts are the clothing of choice. These are highly encouraged and also commonly enforced for going into the temples as well as pagodas.
Everybody uses 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 warm as well as tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing and tour so grab one a the marketplace if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are essential! Getting in pagodas indicates going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear option. Dealing with laces in the scorching heat is an unwanted interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after seeing a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend much 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 as well as at the beach however in other places it’s less common.
The local people are remarkably genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be frustrating, hot and also sluggish yet remember: you selected to check out Myanmar which it’s not like 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 who wish to chat. Vacationers are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Typically the people are beautiful and more than happy to appear in pictures as well as try and also converse via limited usual words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a lot which is typically best managed by providing a smile and a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention as well as if you’re paying for a guide, make sure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| because it supplies a hit that’s equivalent to 6 cups of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spat out, most times onto the ground.
Lots of citizens have the tell tale red stained teeth and also taxi drivers usually roll down the window in slow traffic to spew after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by kids in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this great 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 also acts as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and restaurants as citizens utilize the kissing sound as an ask for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to determine the area of the kissing sound so do not be distressed!
The two most important expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it courteous, yet it is well received. Be prepared for a lot of residents to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is normally done by hand and also is charged per item as opposed to kilo so try to show up with your garments laundered and unless you want to turn over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you actually require washing as well as clean your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by however tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is extremely common in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t deal with anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that odd 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 several 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, much better still, buy a local SIM. You can obtain one at many airport terminals when you land or in one of the shops in the street as well as the shop personnel will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more concerning your network choices right here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘rapid’ connection, do not anticipate to be downloading videos whenever. On-line access has improved, with wi-fi becoming the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and coffee shops have it for free– and the internet is currently spreading tomore remote areas. But tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power outages can make using the net a frustrating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and do not anticipate to Skype home very frequently, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a knapsack than a luggage. Suitcases aren’t excellent on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transportation as well as hefting it up several steep stairs isn’t better.
Thanks for reading this guide to Top Traveling Tips for Myanmar – Myanmar Tour Intrepid