Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Tourism Essay
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country officially referred to as Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it had not been till 1989 that the ruling military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Politically, the name Burma was seen as a relic of the nation’s former British colonial past, and also Myanmar as a lot more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Other names were additionally 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 also on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and the question: does it even matter?
Best Times to Go To Myanmar
There are normally three seasons in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime period
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather condition is warm however not stifling, and brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the minimal accommodation choices challenging to secure and also will mean attempting to book in advance or face paying out for the much more expensive options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature rises in Myanmar and impending rains are due. There is a minimal number of vacationers which makes it easy to book accommodation yet it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is readily available to visitors from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa site. You’ll be required to upload a passport photo and also pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply as well as you should obtain authorization within 3 working days.
Print out your e-Visa letter, show it when you get here and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter stands for 90- days from the day of issue and permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local embassy might be less costly– if you want to save some money, requesting a visa using your local Myanmar consular office may be less expensive. As an example, the cost is simply , 14 in the UK however $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and don’t forget to factor in mailing expenses.
It is only possible to get in 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 Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration internet site for the most recent at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the common option for travellers as the very first mode of access, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, taking into consideration where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the east and India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land entry, although not every one of them are advised due to safety.
Regardless, you need to define a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes exactly how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a listing of options, where you will require to pick one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay as well as 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 southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the border 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 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 stated preferably to avoid any type of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any of the International Airports and Land Border Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not need to be specified up-front. Furthermore, you might exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is less expensive as well as has extra links than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transportation choices might be aggravating but the cross country propositions are far more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving as well as flying is cost effective so it might be your far better option.
You can still reserve flights the traditional method 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 list of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and also getting your bag off a trolley by the airplane 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. As well as a lot of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are cost effective with competing companies as well as a variety of luxury levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is great for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, however isn’t so wonderful for sleep. Likewise, you’ll have a tendency to reach at weird times in the early morning and also will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hrs waiting on a ‘top-up’ snooze. Take into consideration if it will certainly be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the exact same evening to sleep straight away.
Buses are really cold, the deluxe buses will certainly provide you a covering yet, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hrs for a food as well as toilet break– a little bit irritating if you’re attempting to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, despite the fact that these are the buses which bring you to your location around 3 or 4am. What’s even more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and tacky music videos until the early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some heavy-duty extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be turned off.
Never ask a vehicle driver about he time of arrival. As a result of superstitious notions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will arrive at a location summons bad spirits as well as is taken seriously. The result? You will not get a response.
You will generally book buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally charge a fee however understand that the cost can differ substantially.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this really does vary depending upon destination, mode of traveling and also company. Try to find a company that does include pickup as taxis are extortionate.
Reserving buses online is harder– There isn’t one useful online booking portal and the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it does not always imply the bus is full. Try reservation elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without costs.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, yet bus rides are bumpy– you might take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are also an option for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental firms, yet most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– as well as guesthouses as well as hotels in other places– can arrange cars and drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your primary method of navigating especially for getting to and also from airport terminals and also within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a quick ‘just how much can I get away with’ computation) and you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Frequently the taxi to and from the airport/bus will be more 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 may be your far better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of taking in the sights in Bagan and $28 for a couple of hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger element than time in dictating the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hr trip about Yangon can cost USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each means, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar and also is a significant contributing element to the cost.
Everybody wants to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer throughout your sightseeing journeys. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your own personal transportation. Nevertheless, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, a few of the side trips can be interesting and also drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your itinerary and you may be happy you opted for their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much cheaper yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far one of the dustiest locations, as well as nearly all visitors create a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can’t manage it– otherwise you’ll be one of the numerous tourists walking toting head to foot road rash and plasters.
The big cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has several of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 km ought to provide you an idea. The time advised for getting to the bus station (22km away from the centre) is 2.5 hrs.
Car quality is hit and miss so do not count on air-conditioning as well as 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 early morning, your only choice to reach my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, yet given that this is the major form of tourist transport here it is only all-natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to utilize dollars, they have to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as newer than 2006. Each specific note is reviewed for defects, discolouration and folds at the currency exchange stands. You could likewise have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be cheaper since the USD currency exchange rate is informal– somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, most likely depending upon just how rich you look.
There are ATMs and also they mostly function however see to it you have cash before showing up at more remote areas like the beach. Occasionally 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 charges your financial institution could charge. And also you most likely will not have the ability to withdraw greater than $150 at a time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places about, yet mostly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational airport terminal to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines as well as require cash payment. If you have booked your hotels in advance online this might save you taking additional cash money for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted primarily just in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, normally billing a small fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being built. That includes guesthouses and also restaurants. Businesses are recouping 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 tourist hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dull, no-frills room.
For hotels, deluxe resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where high-end comes at a cost of $250 per night) with other excellent choices coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ 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 cost-free morning meal with your lodging.
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 including 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 number of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour costs
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and making use of squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear as well as taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the much more touristy areas.
It’s possible to negotiate on prices of products like mementos yet if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest and also leave.
Tipping is not common technique in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise as well as fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is usually excruciating during the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it harder to get amazing images and move freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous area of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State as well as the far, criminal activity levels are exceptionally low.
Still, you need to take the common precautions of making use of hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Women visitors should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is unclean as well as there isn’t always soap in bathrooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Watch out for the dust- Myanmar can be really dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and also nose when cycling around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. As a result, several tourists use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperature levels can make you ill.
Fruit is very easy to come by so top up your body immune system with nutrients that way. Nonetheless, as it’s frequently pre-cut, search for a seller that has actually kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
A lot of 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 resulted in the mass displacement of countless individuals. A few other parts of the nation stay shut to foreigners because of dispute in between the government as well as various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mainly in Kachin and also Shan States, near the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and also far from the major tourist locations.
Precise information on problems as well as closed areas can be tough to find. Check your government’s recommendations before taking a trip, and also inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great resource of news from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
The majority of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and also legs in spite of the heat, as well as you will certainly make everyone 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 usually enforced for entering the temples and also pagodas.
Everybody wears skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Several travelers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warmth and also tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing so grab one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are essential! Going into pagodas means going barefoot as well as flip flops are the most effective footwear choice. Dealing with laces in the blistering heat is an unwelcome distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after seeing a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and at the beach however somewhere else it’s less usual.
The local individuals are remarkably genteel as well as not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travelling can be discouraging, warm and also sluggish yet keep in mind: you selected to go to Myanmar and that it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. However, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by citizens who intend to chat. Travelers are no longer a novelty in most of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Usually individuals are wonderful as well as are happy to appear in pictures and attempt and also talk through limited usual words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a lot which is generally best handled by providing a smile and a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and also if you’re paying for a guide, make sure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, little parcels that contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it provides a hit that’s equivalent to six cups of coffee. But, 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 residents have the tell tale red stained teeth and also taxi drivers frequently roll down the window in sluggish 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 kids. Why not? Read this fantastic post 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 and also acts as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes and also dining establishments as residents use the kissing noise as a call for service. Apparently it’s much easier for staff to determine the place of the kissing sound so don’t be alarmed!
The two essential phrases you need in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it polite, but it is well received. Be prepared for a lot of locals to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand and also is billed per item rather than kilo so try to show up with your garments laundered and also unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you truly require washing and clean your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by but tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely common in developing countries where the plumbing system can’t cope with anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird half-hour difference| to its time area so it’s 6 and a half hours ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have numerous adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin plugs in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to overcome it or, better still, purchase a local SIM. You can obtain one at a lot of flight terminals when you land or in one of the shops in the road and the store personnel will have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can read more about your network choices below. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘fast’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading videos whenever. Online access has improved, with wi-fi becoming the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and also coffee shops have it free of charge– as well as the internet is currently spreading tomore remote locations. But tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power blackouts can use the internet an aggravating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, as well as don’t expect to Skype home extremely frequently, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a luggage. Luggage aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering and out of myriad forms of transportation and also hefting it up numerous steep staircases isn’t better.
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