Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Tourist Currency
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation formally known as Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but 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 viewed as a relic of the country’s previous British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the nation. Other names were also 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 as well as on the world stage. This short article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say as well as the question: does it even matter?
Best Times to See Myanmar
There are commonly 3 periods in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer season
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the climate is warm but not stifling, as well as brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the restricted lodging options challenging to secure and also will mean attempting to book ahead or face paying for the much more expensive alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level rises in Myanmar and also upcoming rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of travelers that makes it very easy to book holiday accommodation however it is incredibly warm.
An e-Visa is readily available to travellers from these 100 countries.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa site. You’ll be required to submit a passport photo and also pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply and also you should get approval within 3 working days.
Print out your e-Visa letter, show it when you get here and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter is valid for 90- days from the day of issue as well as permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local embassy might be cheaper– if you wish to save some money, applying for a visa using your local Myanmar embassy may be cheaper. As an example, the cost is just , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the United States, so do your research and do not fail to remember to consider mailing costs.
It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration web site for the latest at the time you take a trip.
Flights to Myanmar are the usual option for travellers as the very first mode of access, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. But, thinking about where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the east as well as India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land entrance, although not every one of them are suggested due to safety and security.
Regardless, you need to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes exactly how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will be given a list of options, where you will require to pick one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay as well as Yangon)
Crossing at Land Boundary Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the border 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 Region on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula and also the cluster 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).
In truth, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to stick to the one you originally mentioned ideally to prevent any kind of hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports as well as Land Border Checkpoints given that your exit point does not require to be specified up-front. In addition, you might exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is cheaper as well as has a lot more connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation choices might be aggravating yet the cross country propositions are much more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and also flying is inexpensive so it might be your far better choice.
You can still reserve flights the old-school method by wandering 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, luggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal as well as grabbing your bag off a cart by the airplane and also flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. And a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are budget friendly with competing firms as well as a range of deluxe levels.
A lot of buses travel overnight which is terrific for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, but isn’t so fantastic for sleep. Also, you’ll have a tendency to reach at weird 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 hours awaiting a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will be less expensive to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same night to sleep immediately.
Buses are very chilly, the luxury buses will certainly offer you a blanket yet, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hrs for a food and also toilet break– a little bit aggravating if you’re trying 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 even more, some still play their funky local music CD’s as well as tacky music videos till the early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some heavy-duty extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be turned off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver regarding he time of arrival. Because of superstitions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a location invokes bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The result? You will not obtain a response.
You will mostly reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will usually charge a fee yet understand that the cost can differ dramatically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this actually does vary depending on destination, mode of travel as well as company. Try to find a firm that does include pickup as taxis are expensive.
Reserving buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one useful on-line reservation website and the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not always imply the bus is full. Attempt reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are often faster than the trains, yet bus rides are rough– you might consider taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are likewise a choice for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among travellers.
There are no international car-rental firms, yet many travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– in addition to guesthouses and also hotels in other places– can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With minimal public transportation, taxis will be your primary method of navigating particularly for getting to as well as from flight terminals and within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– prices are set on the spot (after a quick ‘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. Often the taxi to as well as from the airport/bus will certainly be greater than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi prices.
Taxi cabs for the day might be your much better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and $28 for a couple of hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger element than time in dictating the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hour journey around Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar and is a huge contributing element to the cost.
Every person intends to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut producer during your sightseeing and tour journeys. Do not be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your very own personal transport. 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 places that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you chose their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electrical motorcycles) outside the cities is much cheaper yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest locations, and nearly all vacationers develop a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can’t handle it– otherwise you’ll be among the many visitors walking toting head to foot road rash and also plasters.
The large 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 suggested 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 as well as leather seats– that 1.5 hour trip 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 unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hrs of the morning, your only choice to get to my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, however considering that this is the main form of traveler transport here it is only natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATMs in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to make use of dollars, they have to be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also more recent than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for imperfections, discolouration and folds at the currency exchange kiosks. You might additionally have problems changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is likely to be cheaper due to the fact that the USD currency exchange rate is casual– someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, probably depending on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines as well as they mainly work but see to it you have cash before showing up at more remote spots like the beach. Occasionally they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine fee of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any type of fees your bank could bill. And you probably will not have the ability to take out more than $150 at a time.
ATMs give kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places about, however mostly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the large 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 reserved your hotels ahead of time online this may save you taking additional cash money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, typically billing a tiny cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more costly than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being built. That includes guesthouses as well as dining establishments. Businesses are recouping their expenses.
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a standard personal 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 dingy, 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 deluxe comes with a rate of $250 per night) with various other excellent choices can be found 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 traveler’ destinations like Ngapali coastline can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a couple of hostels there too). On the plus side, you normally obtain a complimentary morning meal with your accommodation.
Street food is most budget friendly– 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.
Mineral water is economical, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise inexpensive at a number of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner as well as using squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear and taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of products like souvenirs however if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest as well as walk away.
Tipping is not typical technique in Myanmar, as well as it’s only foreigners that tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is typically excruciating during the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the visitor buses make it harder to get incredible photos and move around easily.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State as well as the far, crime levels are remarkably reduced.
Still, you should take the typical safety measures of using hotel storage lockers or safes for your belongings. Female visitors should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is filthy and also there isn’t always soap in shower rooms so use your sanitiser prior to 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 nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. Consequently, several tourists use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you sick.
Fruit is easy to come by so top up your body immune system with nutrients that way. Nevertheless, as it’s often pre-cut, try to find a vendor that has kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
Most government advisories caution against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has led to the mass displacement of countless individuals. Some other parts of the nation continue to be shut to foreigners because of dispute in between the government and different ethnic armies clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near the frontiers with China and Thailand, and also far from the major traveler locations.
Exact info on conflicts and closed locations can be difficult to come by. Check your government’s guidance prior to taking a trip, and also inquire about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good source of news from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and also legs in spite of the heat, and also you will certainly make everyone more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tees are the outfit of choice. These are highly encouraged as well as commonly enforced for entering the temples and also pagodas.
Every person puts on skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Numerous tourists pick one up as they’re breezy in the warmth and tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so get a cheap one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are important! Going into pagodas indicates going barefoot and flip flops are the most effective footwear choice. Battling with laces in the scorching heat is an unwanted interruption. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend 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 as well as at the beach however elsewhere it’s much less common.
The local people are extremely genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travel can be irritating, warm as well as slow but bear in mind: you picked to check out Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. Nevertheless, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by residents who wish to chat. Tourists are no longer a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Typically individuals are charming and are happy to appear in photographs as well as try and also talk via limited usual words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a great deal which is generally best handled by offering a smile as well as a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, listen hard and if you’re spending for a guide, make sure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, tiny parcels which contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| since it provides a hit that amounts to six cups of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the spin-off is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, the majority of times onto the ground.
Lots of citizens have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as taxi drivers typically roll down the window in slow traffic to spew after eating 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 children. Why not? Read this brilliant write-up 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 and also acts as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes as well as restaurants as locals utilize the kissing sound as an ask for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to determine the place of the kissing sound so don’t be alarmed!
Both essential expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Not only is it courteous, however it is well received. Be prepared for the majority of citizens to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is normally done by hand as well as is charged per item instead of kilo so try to turn up with your clothing laundered as well as unless you intend to hand over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you truly need washing and wash your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by but tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is really usual in developing countries where the plumbing system can not deal with anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that odd 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 numerous adaptors for European and 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, far better still, purchase a local SIM. You can obtain one at a lot of airport terminals when you land or in among the shops in the street as well as the store personnel will have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can learn more about your network options right here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘quick’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading video clips at any time. On-line accessibility has improved, with wi-fi becoming the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and also cafes have it absolutely free– as well as the net is now spreading tofarther areas. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and power outages can use the internet a frustrating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and also do not anticipate to Skype home extremely often, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a luggage. Suitcases aren’t excellent on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering and also out of myriad forms of transportation and also hefting it up many steep stairs isn’t better.
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