Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Tour Vital
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country formally known as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it had not been 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 viewed as a relic of the country’s previous British colonial past, and Myanmar as a lot more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the nation. 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 as well as Myanmar are still made use of interchangeably, on the ground and on the world stage. This short article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and also the question: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are normally 3 periods in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the climate is warm however not stifling, and also attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the minimal lodging choices challenging to secure and also will certainly mean attempting to book ahead or face paying out for the more costly choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature rises in Myanmar and approaching rains are due. There is a limited number of visitors which makes it easy to book lodging however it is incredibly warm.
An e-Visa is available to tourists from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa web site. You’ll need to upload a passport photo and pay a cost 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 date of issue and allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local embassy might be less expensive– if you want to save some cash, requesting a visa using your local Myanmar consular office might be more affordable. For example, the cost is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the United States, so do your research as well as do not forget to consider mailing costs.
It is only possible to get in Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; as well as at 3 Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration web site for the current at the time you take a trip.
Flights to Myanmar are the usual alternative for visitors as the initial mode of access, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. However, thinking about where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and Laos to the eastern and India and Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous methods for land access, although not every one of them are recommended due to security.
Regardless, you have to define a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes exactly how you will be getting to Myanmar. You will be provided a listing of alternatives, where you will need to pick among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (located in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Crossing at Land Boundary 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 border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula as well as the collection 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 border town of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the boundary of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” however it is best to adhere to the one you originally specified if possible to prevent any kind of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any of the International Airports as well as Land Boundary Checkpoints since your exit point does not require to be specified up-front. Additionally, you may exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is less expensive and has a lot more connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transportation choices might be discouraging yet the cross country propositions are a lot more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow as well as flying is inexpensive so it might be your much better option.
You can still book flights the traditional means 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 airport as well as getting your bag off a trolley by the airplane and also flight announcements are made by an individual 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 a range of deluxe levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is excellent for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, but isn’t so wonderful for rest. Also, you’ll have a tendency to reach at odd times in the morning and will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hrs waiting on a ‘top-up’ nap. Think about if it will certainly be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same night to take a nap straight away.
Buses are extremely chilly, the deluxe buses will certainly offer you a blanket yet, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every few 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, even though these are the buses which bring you to your destination around 3 or 4am. What’s more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and tacky music videos till the early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, buy some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a driver regarding he time of arrival. Due to superstitions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a destination invokes bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not get a response.
You will primarily book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will usually charge a fee but know that the fee can differ significantly.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this truly does differ depending on destination, mode of traveling and also company. Search for a firm that does include pick-up as taxis are outrageously priced.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one helpful on-line reservation portal as well as the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re told 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 usually faster than the trains, however bus rides are rough– you could take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise a choice for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental firms, however most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– as well as guesthouses and hotels in other places– can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your main way of navigating particularly for getting to and also from airports and within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are set on the spot (after a fast ‘just how much can I get away with’ computation) as well as you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often the taxi to as well as from the airport/bus will be greater than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi fares.
Cabs for the day may be your much better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger aspect than time in determining the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hr trip about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each way, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar and is a huge contributing variable to the expense.
Every person intends to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer during your sightseeing journeys. Don’t be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your very own personal transport. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, some 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 opted for their recommendations!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much more affordable however beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far one of the dustiest places, as well as mostly all travelers establish a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can’t manage it– otherwise you’ll be one of the lots of tourists walking around toting head to foot road rash and plasters.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km should provide you an idea. The time recommended for reaching the bus station (22km away 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 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 extremely early hours of the early morning, your only choice to reach my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, however since this is the major form of tourist transport here it is only natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATMs 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 use dollars, they must be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as newer than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for problems, discolouration as well as creases at the currency exchange booths. You could also have problems changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in United States dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is most likely to be more affordable since the USD currency exchange rate is casual– somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, most likely depending upon exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mainly function yet ensure you have money before turning up at more remote areas 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 kind of costs your bank could charge. As well as you possibly will not be able to withdraw more than $150 each time.
ATM machines give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, however primarily the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational airport terminal to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and call for cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels in advance online this may save you taking extra money for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted mainly only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, normally charging a little fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more costly than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and also dining establishments. Companies are recouping their costs.
A dorm bed will certainly 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 visitor hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a run down, 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 high-end comes with a rate of $250 per night) with various other very good options coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A modern hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package vacationer’ locations like Ngapali coastline can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a number of hostels there too). On the plus side, you usually obtain a cost-free morning meal with your lodging.
Street food is most affordable– 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 cheap, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also economical at a number of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour expenses
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to pay for the privilege of being a foreigner as well as utilizing squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing shoes as well as taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of things like mementos yet if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and also walk away.
Tipping is not usual technique in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is frequently excruciating throughout the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the traveler buses make it more difficult to get impressive photos and move freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State as well as the far, criminal activity levels are remarkably reduced.
Still, you ought to take the typical preventative measures of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Female visitors should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is dirty and also there isn’t always soap in bathrooms so use your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Watch out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and nose when biking around. Likewise take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as warm. Subsequently, several visitors use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels can make you sick.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients this way. Nonetheless, as it’s frequently pre-cut, try to find a seller that has actually kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Most government advisories caution 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 brought about the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the country remain closed to foreigners because of problem in between the government and different ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mostly in Kachin and Shan States, close to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, as well as far from the major tourist destinations.
Accurate information on problems and also closed areas can be tough to come by. Check your government’s advice prior to travelling, and inquire about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent resource of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders as well as legs in spite of the heat, as well as you will certainly make everyone more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tee shirts are the attire of choice. These are strongly encouraged as well as often enforced for getting in the temples and also pagodas.
Every person wears skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Several vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat and also tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing so grab an affordable one a the marketplace if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are crucial! Entering pagodas means going barefoot as well as flip flops are the very best footwear option. Struggling with laces in the blistering heat is an undesirable interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after visiting a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach yet in other places it’s less typical.
The local people are exceptionally genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travelling can be irritating, hot as well as slow but remember: you selected to visit Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. Nonetheless, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by residents who wish to chat. Visitors are no longer a novelty in most of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Normally individuals are wonderful as well as more than happy to appear in photos and try as well as chat with limited typical words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a great deal which is normally best handled by providing a smile and a mingalabar (hello there in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and if you’re paying for a guide, make certain they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| due to the fact that it provides 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, most times onto the ground.
Great deals of citizens have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as cab drivers frequently roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spit after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the kids. 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 product in Myanmar as well as likewise functions as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and dining establishments as residents use the kissing noise as a call for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to identify the place of the kissing sound so don’t be alarmed!
The two essential expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it respectful, but it is well received. Be prepared for the majority of citizens to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is generally done by hand and is billed per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothing laundered and also unless you wish to turn over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you truly need washing and wash your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are very easy to find by however tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can’t flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is very typical in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t handle anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird 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 as well as North American 2-pin plugs in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to get over it or, better still, buy a local SIM. You can get one at most airport terminals when you land or in among the stores in the street and the store staff will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can find out more concerning your network choices below. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘quick’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading video clips whenever. Online access has actually improved, with wi-fi becoming the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and also cafes have it free of charge– and the net is now spreading tofarther locations. But tightly squeezed bandwidth and power interruptions can use the internet a discouraging exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and also do not expect to Skype home extremely often, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be better with a backpack than a suitcase. Suitcases aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in as well as out of myriad forms of transport and hefting it up several high stairs isn’t better.
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