Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Tourism Master Plan
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation officially called Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it had not been till 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 more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Various 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 Myanmar are still made use of 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?
Best Times to See Myanmar
There are normally 3 periods in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather condition is warm but not stifling, and brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the minimal lodging options difficult to secure and also will certainly indicate attempting to book ahead or face paying out for the much more costly options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature climbs in Myanmar and also approaching rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of visitors which makes it easy to book holiday accommodation yet it is exceptionally warm.
An e-Visa is readily available to visitors from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa web site. You’ll be required to submit a passport photo and also pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and also 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 also permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local consular office may be less costly– if you wish to save some money, looking for a visa through your local Myanmar embassy may be more affordable. As an example, the cost is just , 14 in the UK but $40 in the United States, so do your research as well as do not fail to remember to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to get in Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and 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 most up to date at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the typical choice for tourists as the very first mode of entrance, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. However, taking into consideration where Myanmar is located– surrounded by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern as well as India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are several for land entrance, although not all of them are advised because of safety.
No matter, you need to specify a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes exactly how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will be provided a list of options, where you will certainly need to choose among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay and also Yangon)
Going Across 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 border of the Thai Peninsula and the cluster of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Area of northwestern Myanmar on the boundary 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 go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stay with the one you originally specified when possible to prevent any type 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 Boundary Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not require to be specified up front. In addition, you may leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is less expensive and has much more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation alternatives may be frustrating yet the cross country propositions are far more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving as well as flying is affordable so it might be your better choice.
You can still reserve flights the traditional means by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days– check-in includes ticking individuals off a list of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport and getting your bag off a trolley by the plane 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. And a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are budget friendly with competing companies and a range of deluxe levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing, however isn’t so fantastic for rest. Also, you’ll often tend to reach at weird times in the morning and also will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting on a ‘top-up’ nap. Think about if it will be cheaper to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the exact same night to sleep straight away.
Buses are extremely cold, the deluxe buses will offer you a covering but, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hours for a food and also toilet break– a little 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 more, some still play their funky local song CD’s as well as tacky music videos till the very early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be switched off.
Never ever ask a driver regarding he time of arrival. Because of superstitions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will reach a destination conjures up bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not get a response.
You will generally reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally charge a fee however be aware that the cost can vary drastically.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this truly does differ depending on destination, mode of traveling as well as company. Look for a firm that does include pick-up as taxis are extortionate.
Reserving buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one handy on-line reservation 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 in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without costs.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, however bus rides are rough– you may take into consideration taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are also a choice for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst tourists.
There are no international car-rental firms, but the majority of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– as well as guesthouses and hotels in other places– can arrange cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly apparent in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will certainly be your primary way of getting around particularly for getting to and from airports and within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ calculation) as well as you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often the taxi to and from the airport/bus will be greater than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi prices.
Taxis for the day may be your better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan as well as $28 for a couple of hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger variable than time in determining the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hr trip around Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar and also is a significant contributing element to the cost.
Every person intends to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer during your sightseeing and tour journeys. Do not hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own personal transport. Besides, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, some of the side trips can be interesting and drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you went with their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much more inexpensive however beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far among the dustiest places, and also almost all travelers develop a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can’t handle it– otherwise you’ll be just one of the several vacationers walking toting head to foot road rash as well as bandages.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 km ought to provide you an idea. The time advised 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 nothing more than the heat of the engine fan to ‘cool’ you down.
Plan for the unforeseen. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hrs of the early morning, your only alternative to get to my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, yet since this is the major form of visitor transport here it is just all-natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATMs in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they have to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also more recent than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for problems, discolouration and folds at the money exchange stands. You may additionally have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US bucks so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is likely to be more affordable because the USD currency exchange rate is informal– somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, probably relying on how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and they mainly function however ensure you have cash prior to turning up at more remote spots like the beach. Sometimes they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine fee of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any type of charges your bank could bill. And you possibly won’t have the ability to take out greater than $150 each time.
ATMs dispense kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places about, but mainly the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational flight terminal to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and also need cash payment. If you have booked your hotels in advance online this might save you taking additional cash for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted primarily just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, normally charging a tiny fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and restaurants. Companies are recovering their costs.
A dorm bed will certainly 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, high-end resorts 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 other excellent options being available 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’ locations 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 also). On the bonus side, you usually obtain a free morning meal with your 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 featuring something like pizza) will certainly cost $7-$12.
Bottled water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise economical at a couple of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner and using squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing shoes as well as taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on costs of items like mementos however if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and also walk away.
Tipping is not typical technique in Myanmar, as well as it’s just foreigners who tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak and out cold by 10pm! The heat is typically unbearable during the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the traveler buses make it more difficult to get remarkable photos and move around easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are extremely reduced.
Still, you ought to take the common preventative measures of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Female tourists should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is dirty and there isn’t always soap in shower rooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth as well as nose when cycling around. Likewise take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as hot. As a result, numerous 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 this way. However, as it’s usually pre-cut, search for a seller that has actually kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, ensure 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 between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually brought about the mass displacement of thousands of people. Some other parts of the nation continue to be closed to foreigners as a result of problem between the government and different ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin as well as Shan States, close to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, as well as far from the significant tourist destinations.
Accurate info on conflicts and closed areas can be tough to find. Check your government’s advice prior to taking a trip, and ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent source of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
The majority of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and legs despite the heat, and also you will make everyone a lot more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tees are the outfit of choice. These are strongly encouraged as well as typically enforced for going into the temples and pagodas.
Everyone wears skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Many visitors pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat and also tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are practical for taking in the sights so grab an affordable one a the marketplace if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are important! Getting in pagodas indicates going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear option. Dealing with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an unwelcome interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend 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 and also at the beach however somewhere else it’s less common.
The local people are exceptionally genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travelling can be frustrating, warm and also sluggish but bear in mind: you selected to visit Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. However, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by locals that want to chat. Visitors are no more a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Normally individuals are beautiful as well as are happy to appear in photos and attempt as well as speak via limited typical words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a great deal which is normally best handled by offering a smile and also a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, 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 eating betel quids, tiny parcels that contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it supplies a hit that amounts to 6 cups of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spat out, the majority of times onto the ground.
Great deals of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth and also taxi drivers usually roll down the window in slow traffic to spit after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the children. Why not? Read this brilliant short article by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese girls. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as also acts as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and also restaurants as locals utilize the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to identify the area of the kissing audio so do not be alarmed!
The two most important expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it respectful, but it is well received. Be ready for a lot of locals to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand and also is charged per item instead of kilo so try to show up with your clothes laundered and unless you want to turn over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you truly need washing and also clean your smaller sized items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are 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 really common in developing countries where the plumbing system can’t handle 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 several adaptors for European and North American 2-pin connects as well as British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to get over it or, far better still, acquire a local SIM. You can obtain one at many airports when you land or in one of the shops in the road and also the store personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more regarding your network options right here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘rapid’ connection, do not anticipate to be downloading video clips at any time. Online accessibility has improved, with wi-fi the norm– most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it absolutely free– as well as the web is currently spreading tomore remote locations. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and power outages can use the net an aggravating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and don’t expect to Skype home extremely frequently, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be better with a backpack than a luggage. Luggage aren’t perfect on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in as well as out of myriad forms of transport as well as hefting it up many steep stairs isn’t better.
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