Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Tourist Visa Application Form
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country officially called Burma acquired 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 former British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were also changed, which is why you will 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 also Myanmar are still utilized interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and also the question: does it even matter?
Best Times to See Myanmar
There are normally 3 periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather is warm but not stifling, as well as draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the limited holiday accommodation options challenging to secure and will certainly imply attempting to book in advance or deal with paying for the much more pricey choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar and also impending rains are due. There is a limited number of vacationers which makes it very easy to book lodging but it is unbelievably warm.
An e-Visa is available to visitors from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa site. You’ll be required to upload a passport photo as well as pay a cost 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 as well as allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local consular office may be more affordable– if you want to save some cash, applying for a visa by means of your local Myanmar consular office may be less costly. As an example, the price is simply , 14 in the UK however $40 in the USA, so do your research and do not neglect to consider 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 three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration website for the latest at the time you take a trip.
Flights to Myanmar are the normal alternative for tourists as the very first mode of access, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. However, considering where Myanmar is located– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the east and also India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are several avenues for land entry, although not all of them are advised because of safety.
No matter, you need to define a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes just how you will be getting to Myanmar. You will be provided a listing of options, from which you will require to pick among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located 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 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 Region on the border of the Thai Peninsula and 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 boundary of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to adhere to the one you initially mentioned when possible to prevent any hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any one of the International Airports and also Land Boundary 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 more affordable as well as has extra connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transport options may be discouraging yet the long distance propositions are far more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and flying is budget-friendly so it may be your far better option.
You can still book flights the old-school means by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in includes ticking people off a listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and getting your bag off a trolley by the plane and also flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. And also a lot of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are budget friendly with competing companies and a series of high-end levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is excellent for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, but isn’t so wonderful for sleep. Also, you’ll tend to arrive at strange times in the early morning and will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel until 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 very same evening to rest straight away.
Buses are really cold, the luxury buses will certainly provide you a blanket but, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hrs 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, even though these are the buses which bring you to your destination around 3 or 4am. What’s even more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and cheesy music videos up until the very early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, buy some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a 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 arrive at a location invokes bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You won’t obtain an answer.
You will mainly book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally charge a fee yet be aware that the charge can vary significantly.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this truly does differ depending upon destination, mode of traveling and company. Search for a firm that does include pickup as taxis are expensive.
Booking buses online is harder– There isn’t one convenient on-line reservation website as well as the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it doesn’t always imply the bus is full. Try booking in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without fees.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, yet bus rides are bumpy– you may consider taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are also an option for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental firms, however most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– along with guesthouses and 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 minimal public transport, taxis will certainly be your major method of navigating particularly for getting to and also from flight terminals and within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ computation) and you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often the taxi to and from the airport/bus will certainly be more than you paid 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 about $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan and also $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger element than time in determining the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hr journey around Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each means, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar and also is a big contributing variable to the price.
Everybody wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut manufacturer throughout your sightseeing and tour journeys. Do not be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your own private transportation. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, a few of the side journeys can be fascinating and also drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you went with their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much more inexpensive but beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest areas, and nearly all travelers establish a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can’t manage it– otherwise you’ll be among the lots of visitors walking around toting head to foot road rash as well as plasters.
The big cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 kilometres should give you an idea. The time suggested 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 and leather seats– that 1.5 hour journey 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 reach my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, however given that this is the primary form of visitor transport here it is just all-natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money and ATMs in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to make use of dollars, they must be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for problems, discolouration and also creases at the money exchange booths. You might additionally have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is likely to be less costly because the USD currency exchange rate is casual– someplace in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, possibly depending on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATMs as well as they mainly function however ensure you have money prior to turning up at more remote spots like the coastline. In some cases they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine cost of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any fees your financial institution could charge. And you possibly won’t be able to take out greater than $150 each time.
ATMs give kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places around, yet primarily the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational airport terminal to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and require cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels in advance online this may save you taking additional money for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly just in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, usually billing a little charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more costly than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being built. That includes guesthouses and dining establishments. Companies are recovering their expenses.
A dorm bed will set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a basic personal 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, luxury resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where luxury comes with a cost of $250 per night) with other very good choices can be found at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A modern hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package vacationer’ locations like Ngapali beach can cost 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 usually get a totally free breakfast with your accommodation.
Street food is most cost effective– around $1-$2 for a plate of something basic. Local restaurants cost around $2-$4 a dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will certainly set you back $7-$12.
Bottled water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also affordable at a number of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour costs
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner and also using squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing footwear and taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to negotiate on prices of products like mementos yet if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest as well as walk away.
Tipping is not common technique in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is often excruciating during the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the traveler buses make it more difficult to get fantastic photos as well as move around freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and the far, crime levels are incredibly low.
Still, you should take the typical precautions of making use of hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Women travellers should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is gross as well as there isn’t always soap in washrooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and nose when biking around. Additionally take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as warm. As a result, lots of travellers use the a/c in their room however sleeping in low temperature levels can make you sick.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients in this way. Nevertheless, as it’s typically pre-cut, look for a seller that has actually kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
A lot of government advisories caution against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually caused the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the nation continue to be closed to foreigners as a result of conflict between the government as well as various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, as well as far from the significant vacationer locations.
Precise details on disputes 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 good resource of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and legs regardless of the heat, and you will certainly make everybody much more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also t-shirts are the attire of choice. These are highly encouraged and also frequently enforced for going into the temples and also pagodas.
Every person uses skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Many vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warmth and also tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing so pick up a cheap one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are essential! Going into pagodas implies going barefoot and also flip flops are the very best footwear option. Battling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwelcome interruption. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend much better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will certainly find people in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach however elsewhere it’s much less typical.
The local individuals are extremely genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be aggravating, warm and also slow but remember: you chose to check out Myanmar and that it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. Nevertheless, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by citizens that want to chat. Travelers are no longer a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Normally individuals are lovely and also are happy to appear in photographs and also attempt and talk via minimal usual words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a great deal which is generally best dealt with by offering a smile as well as 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, make certain they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, small parcels which contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| since it supplies a hit that amounts to 6 mugs of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spat out, most times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red stained teeth and taxi drivers typically roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spit after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the kids. Why not? Read this great post by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese ladies. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as likewise serves as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the coffee shops and dining establishments as citizens use the kissing noise as a call for service. Apparently it’s much easier for staff to determine the area of the kissing sound so don’t be surprised!
Both crucial expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it respectful, yet it is well received. Be prepared for the majority of residents to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand as well as is billed per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your garments washed and also unless you wish to turn over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you really require washing and also wash your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are very easy 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 common in developing countries where the plumbing system can’t handle anything other than bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that odd 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 North American 2-pin connects in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to overcome it or, much better still, purchase a local SIM. You can get one at a lot of airports when you land or in among the shops in the road as well as the shop personnel will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can find out more concerning your network selections below. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘quick’ connection, do not expect to be downloading video clips whenever. Online accessibility has actually improved, with wi-fi coming to be the standard– most hotels, guesthouses as well as cafes have it absolutely free– and the net is currently spreading tofarther locations. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and power interruptions can make using the internet an aggravating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, as well as do not expect 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 optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in and also out of myriad forms of transportation as well as hefting it up numerous high staircases isn’t much better.
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