Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Tourism Currency
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country formally called Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it had not been till 1989 that the ruling military junta changed the nation’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, and also Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous 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 also Myanmar are still utilized interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and the concern: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Visit Myanmar
There are typically three seasons in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime period
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 brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the limited lodging alternatives challenging to secure and also will imply trying to book ahead or deal with paying for the much more costly options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar as well as approaching rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of vacationers which makes it very easy to book lodging yet it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is offered to travellers from these 100 countries.
To obtain one, go to the main e-Visa website. You’ll need to upload a passport photo and pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 mins 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 stands for 90- days from the date of issue and permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be more affordable– if you want to save some cash, requesting a visa by means of your local Myanmar consular office may be less expensive. For instance, the expense is just , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the USA, so do your research and also do not fail to remember to factor in mailing expenses.
It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration website for the most recent at the time you take a trip.
Flights to Myanmar are the typical alternative for visitors as the initial mode of entrance, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. However, considering where Myanmar lies– bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the east as well as India and Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land entry, although not every one of them are suggested because of security.
Regardless, you must define a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes exactly how you will be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be given a list of alternatives, from which you will certainly need to select one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay and 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 border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area 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” yet it is best to adhere to the one you originally specified ideally to prevent any hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any one of the International Airports and Land Border Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not need to be stated up front. In addition, you might exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is more affordable and also has more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transport options may be discouraging yet the cross country propositions are a lot more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and flying is inexpensive so it may be your far better option.
You can still book 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 involves ticking people off a list of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport and also grabbing your bag off a trolley by the plane as well as 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 also a lot of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are budget-friendly with competing firms and a series of deluxe levels.
The majority of buses travel over night which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, yet isn’t so wonderful for rest. Also, you’ll tend to arrive at odd 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 awaiting 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 take a nap straight away.
Buses are extremely cold, the deluxe buses will provide you a covering however, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hours for a food and toilet break– a little bit irritating if you’re attempting to sleep 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 as well as cheesy video up until the early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some heavy-duty extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be switched off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver about reaches of the southerly Mon State and also Tenasserim region are normally off-limits to travelers unless you have obtained a government visa ahead of time. In some locations you’ll need a guide to chaperone you. Check before you make plans.
Leaving the beaten path is hard– even within the ‘open’ parts, Myanmar’s developing infrastructure implies that there are established routes you can travel and you’ll have a hard time to go otherwise. Attempting to do otherwise might be very costly.
Work your sightseeing and tour around the heat– Myanmar is famous for its daybreaks and sunsets, which likewise matches well with staying inside (probably for a nap or pool dip if you have one) throughout the mid-day heat.
Expect to go barefoot a great deal in temples on seriously unclean floorings. In temples where birds are nesting or monkeys and also dogs hangout, you can expect to step in a lot of animal faeces while you’re exploring Myanmar’s temples. Socks aren’t permitted either so you just have to get used to it. Have wipes for your feet so you can wipe some after each visit.
Be a considerate temple visitor, most of Myanmar’s temples are places of worship, not just views for tourists. Respect ‘do not climb/do not enter’ indicators and also keep your voice down– people will be praying.
Anticipate to pay an entry charge for Bagan and also Inle Lake– this cost is charged to all foreigners and there’s no getting around it. The costs are: Bagan– $20; Inle Lake– $10.
Accommodation in Myanmar
Hostels are slowly opening up, implying you can sleep in cheaper accommodation than you could a few years back. Things are gradually getting better for solo tourists, though prices are still much more of what you’ll pay somewhere else in Southeast Asia.
Guesthouses are rustic but lovely. The lodging offers a feel for what a local house could be like, basic however perfectly decorated in teak) as well as the breakfast was typically exceptional. And also, it’s nice to place cash right into the hands of the locals, not some large brand chain.
The majority of hostels, hotels as well as guesthouses provide a towel but you might need to offer up a refundable $10 deposit on check-in. Hotels will likewise supply some form of toiletries. Some hostels and guesthouses do as well, however it can not be relied on.
Beware the curfew– some guesthouses might lock the door at night, leaving you unable to get to your bed. Check before you go out for the night.
Book accommodation as well as transportation in advance during peak period. The tourist market in Myanmar appears to have actually experienced a boom which the infrastructure has actually fallen short to maintain pace with. Many hotels are little and also boutique like so if there’s somewhere specific you want to stay it’s important to book ahead of time. It is specifically necessary to book ahead during high period (November to March). In some rural areas, monasteries will take travellers in for a small charge if there are no rooms offered. However do not count on the local monks being able to help you out.
Food and Drink in Myanmar
Order local dishes: it is constantly the best selection. There are noodles at night bus stops, fermented tea leaf salads in local dining establishments as well as a fantastic variety of curries and also salads
Use chopsticks: Numerous pieces of cutlery are cleaned with a not so fantastic looking water supply and also dishcloth. Packaged chopsticks are an excellent option.
Tell the staff if you do not eat something. If you like a little spice in your dishes state how much spice you like as the chefs often tend to go easy on travelers!
The fish is scrumptious as well as a wonderful, fresh choice in the majority of restaurants.
There is quite a lot of sugar in the food and beverages. If you aren’t a fan of sugar there’s an option to skip the sugar (tea, coffee, freshly blended juices), make sure you request for ‘no sugar’.
Salads feature heavily on food selections but don’t expect a fresh crunch– most salads are marinaded and also seasoned in oil, salt as well as lime juice and do not normally include salad leaves.
Hygiene standards are reduced in Myanmar as well as you might get ill once.
Street food isn’t as prolific as various other places in Southeast Asia however you can find it and it’s great. Street food will tend to be about 1,000-1,700 kyat a dish (under $2).
You can’t consume the water yet most hotels, hostels as well as guesthouses supply free water either in bottles in your room or by means of a large water dispenser at reception. Or else, bottled water is really economical.
Alcohol is extensively offered with beer, rum and also scotch being prominent choices.
Beer stations are very easy to find and enjoyable places to get a beverage with the locals if you do not wish to sit in a restaurant.
Know that there isn’t a late night culture in Myanmar– most dining establishments close by 9 p.m. as well as bars follow suit around 10– 11 p.m. This is a country where meditation at sunrise is much more preferred than late night alcohol consumption.
Huge chains can not be found as well as brand names remain in short supply. Myanmar isn’t a nation of fast-food chains as well as beyond drink brands like Coke as well as Schwepps Tonic, you’re going to be purchasing local brands and eating from local restaurants.
Stores are tiny, family owned affairs– you won’t discover a 7-Eleven. There are a couple of equal ‘Grab ‘n’ Go’ shops populated about, yet primarily you’re going to get snacks and also drinks from small, local businesses. They can look a little bit intimidating, like you’re intruding by strolling in. Do not fret, just step in, they want your business.
There are people smoking indoors- this can be a surprise if you come from a nation where smoking cigarettes in public places has long been prohibited.
Health and Safety in Myanmar
Myanmar is an incredibly safe country– most of the population is Buddhist and with an idea in karma, criminal activity levels are incredibly low.
Still, you need to take the common preventative measures of making use of hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Female travellers should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is dirty and there isn’t always soap in bathrooms so use your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be really dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and also nose when biking around. Likewise take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. Consequently, many travellers use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperature levels can make you unwell.
Fruit is simple to find so top up your body immune system with nutrients that way. Nevertheless, as it’s usually pre-cut, try to find a vendor that has actually kept the flies away and also if it’s sluiced with water, ensure it’s filtered water.
A lot of government advisories warn 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 nation remain shut to foreigners due to problem between the government and also various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near to the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, as well as far from the significant vacationer locations.
Exact details on problems and closed areas can be difficult to find. Check your government’s guidance prior to taking a trip, as well as ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great resource of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
The majority of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders and legs in spite of the heat, and also you will make everyone much more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as tees are the attire of choice. These are highly encouraged and also frequently enforced for entering the temples as well as pagodas.
Every person 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 vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warmth as well as tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for taking in the sights so pick up an affordable one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are necessary! Getting in pagodas means going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear selection. Dealing with laces in the blistering heat is an unwelcome interruption. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend much better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find people in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities and at the beach however somewhere else it’s less usual.
The local people are exceptionally genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be irritating, hot and also sluggish however bear in mind: you picked to see Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. Nevertheless, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by residents that want to chat. Vacationers are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are lovely as well as are happy to appear in photographs as well as attempt and converse with limited usual words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a lot which is usually best dealt with by offering a smile and also a mingalabar (hello there in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and also if you’re spending for a guide, ensure 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 and areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s possibly popular| due to the fact that it supplies 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, many times onto the ground.
Great deals of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth and also cab drivers typically roll down the window in slow traffic to spit 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 post 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 also serves as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the coffee shops and restaurants as locals make use of the kissing sound as an ask for service. Apparently it’s much easier for staff to determine the location of the kissing sound so do not be startled!
Both most important expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it courteous, however 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 typically done by hand as well as is billed per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothing laundered and unless you want to hand over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you truly require washing and wash 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 very usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can not handle anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird half-hour difference| to its time zone 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 along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to get over it or, far better still, get a local SIM. You can obtain one at a lot of airport terminals when you land or in among the stores in the street and also the shop staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more regarding your network selections below. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘quick’ link, do not anticipate to be downloading videos whenever. Online accessibility has actually improved, with wi-fi the norm– most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it free of charge– and also the web is now spreading tomore remote places. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and power blackouts can use the internet an aggravating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, as well as don’t 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 backpack than a travel suitcase. Suitcases aren’t ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering and out of myriad forms of transportation and also hefting it up numerous steep stairs isn’t far better.
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