Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Tourism News
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country officially referred to as Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it wasn’t up until 1989 that the ruling military junta altered the nation’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 much more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were additionally changed, which is why you will certainly see Rangoon currently 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 used 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 generally 3 seasons in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer season
May to October: Damp, rainy season
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather condition is warm yet not stifling, and also draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the minimal holiday accommodation choices tricky to secure and will certainly indicate trying to book ahead or face paying for the much more expensive options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level climbs in Myanmar and also approaching rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of vacationers that makes it very easy to book holiday accommodation but it is unbelievably hot.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa website. You’ll be required to upload a passport photo and pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply as well as you should get 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 as well as permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be less costly– if you want to save some cash, applying for a visa through your local Myanmar embassy may be less expensive. For instance, the cost is simply , 14 in the UK but $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and don’t neglect to factor in mailing expenses.
It is only possible to get in Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at 3 Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration internet site for the latest at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the normal alternative for travellers as the initial mode of entrance, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. However, taking into consideration where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand and Laos to the eastern and also India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are several avenues for land entry, although not every one of them are encouraged due to security.
No matter, you have 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 list 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 (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (located in between Mandalay as well as Yangon)
Going Across at Land Border 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 Area on the border of the Thai Peninsula and 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 boundary town of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
In truth, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to stay with the one you initially mentioned preferably to avoid any type of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports as well as Land Boundary Checkpoints because your exit point does not need to be stated up-front. In addition, you might leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is less expensive and also has a lot more connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transport options may be aggravating however the long distance propositions are far more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and flying is economical so it might be your far better choice.
You can still reserve flights the old-school 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 listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport and also grabbing 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 actually is an experience. As well as a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are budget friendly with competing firms and also a variety of high-end levels.
Many buses travel overnight which is excellent for not losing a day of sightseeing, however isn’t so excellent for rest. Also, you’ll often tend to reach at strange times in the morning and won’t have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hours waiting on a ‘top-up’ nap. Consider if it will certainly be less expensive to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same night to take a nap straight away.
Buses are very cold, the luxury buses will certainly provide you a covering however, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hours for a food as well as toilet break– a bit aggravating 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 destination around 3 or 4am. What’s more, some still play their funky local music CD’s as well as cheesy video till the early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be turned off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver about 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 invokes bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You won’t get a response.
You will mainly reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally charge a fee yet know that the cost can differ significantly.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this really does differ depending upon destination, mode of travel and also company. Try to find a business that does include pick-up as taxis are exorbitant.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one helpful on-line reservation site and also the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not necessarily mean the bus is full. Attempt booking in other places.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without costs.
Buses are often faster than the trains, however bus rides are bumpy– you might think about taking tablets for nausea. Boats are also a choice for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, yet a lot of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– along with guesthouses and hotels somewhere else– can arrange cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will be your main means of getting around particularly for getting to and also from airport terminals and also within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are set on the spot (after a fast ‘just how much can I get away with’ estimation) as well as you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Usually 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 fares.
Cabs for the day might be your far better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan as well as $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 hour trip around Yangon can cost USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar and also is a substantial contributing variable to the price.
Everybody intends to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut producer during your sightseeing trips. Don’t be afraid 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 flip side, several of the side trips can be intriguing and drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your itinerary and you may be happy you chose their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electrical motorcycles) outside the cities is much more inexpensive however beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far one of the dustiest locations, as well as mostly all tourists create a dust cough. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not manage it– otherwise you’ll be just one of the numerous vacationers walking around toting head to foot road rash and also bandages.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km should provide you an idea. The time advised for reaching 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 and leather seats– that 1.5 hr 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 unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hours of the morning, your only choice to get to my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, however since this is the main form of tourist transport here it is only all-natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars as well as the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they have to be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and more recent than 2006. Each specific note is reviewed for problems, discolouration and folds at the currency exchange kiosks. You may also have trouble changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US bucks so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is most likely to be less costly due to the fact that the USD exchange rate is casual– someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is generally applied on the spot, possibly relying on how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and they mostly function however ensure you have money prior to showing up at more remote spots like the coastline. Occasionally they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine fee of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any charges your financial institution could bill. As well as you probably will not have the ability to withdraw more than $150 at once.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places about, however mostly the transactions are to change immaculate 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 and also call for cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels beforehand online this may save you taking additional money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, usually charging a small fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and dining establishments. Companies are recouping their expenses.
Holiday accommodation 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 vacationer hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a run down, 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 deluxe comes at a rate of $250 per night) with other very good alternatives coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ locations like Ngapali coastline can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a number of hostels there too). On the bonus side, you generally obtain a free breakfast 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 set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is cheap, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally economical at a couple of dollars per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and using squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing footwear as well as taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the much more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on costs of products like mementos yet if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest as well as leave.
Tipping is not typical technique in Myanmar, and also it’s just foreigners that tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak and out cold by 10pm! The heat is commonly excruciating during the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the visitor buses make it harder to get amazing photos as well as move around easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are remarkably reduced.
Still, you ought to take the common precautions of using hotel storage lockers or safes for your belongings. Female visitors should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is gross and also there isn’t always soap in restrooms so use your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Watch out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and also nose when biking around. Also take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as warm. Consequently, many tourists use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels can make you sick.
Fruit is very easy to find so top up your body immune system with nutrients this way. However, as it’s typically pre-cut, look for a seller that has kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, ensure it’s filtered water.
A lot of government advisories caution against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually resulted in the mass displacement of countless people. A few other parts of the country continue to be closed to foreigners because of dispute in between the government as well as various ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are primarily in Kachin and also Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and far from the major visitor destinations.
Accurate info on problems and also closed areas can be tough to come by. Check your government’s guidance before taking a trip, as well as inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great source of news from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders as well as legs regardless of the high temperatures, and you will make everyone much more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as tee shirts are the attire of choice. These are strongly encouraged and frequently enforced for getting in the temples and pagodas.
Everyone uses skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Many visitors pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm and also tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing so grab an affordable one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are crucial! Going into pagodas means going barefoot and also flip flops are the very best footwear selection. Struggling with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an unwanted 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 clothe conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and at the beach yet in other places it’s less common.
The local people are extremely genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be irritating, warm and sluggish yet remember: you picked to check out Myanmar and that it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. Nonetheless, bargain hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by residents who want to chat. Tourists are no more a novelty in most of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Typically individuals are charming and more than happy to appear in photos as well as attempt and converse via minimal usual words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a great deal which is usually best handled by offering a smile and a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, listen hard and if you’re spending for a guide, make sure they have good clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, small parcels that contain tobacco, spices and also 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. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, the majority of times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red discolored teeth and also taxi drivers commonly roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spew after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by kids in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this fantastic 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 item in Myanmar as well as additionally acts as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and dining establishments as residents use the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to identify the area of the kissing audio so don’t be upset!
Both crucial expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it respectful, yet it is well received. Be ready for many locals 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 and also is billed per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothes laundered as well as unless you want to hand over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you truly require washing and also wash your smaller sized items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by but tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can not flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely typical in developing nations where the plumbing system can not manage anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that strange 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 multiple adaptors for European and North American 2-pin connects along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to overcome it or, better still, get a local SIM. You can obtain one at the majority of airport terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the road and also the store staff will have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can read more concerning your network choices here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘fast’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading video clips whenever. On-line access has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the norm– most hotels, guesthouses as well as cafes have it for free– and also the web is currently spreading tomore remote places. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and power blackouts can make using the internet a frustrating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and don’t anticipate to Skype home very often, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. Luggage aren’t ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Getting in and also out of myriad forms of transport as well as hefting it up several steep stairs isn’t much better.
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