Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Travel Documents
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation officially known as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it wasn’t 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 previous British colonial past, and Myanmar as more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Various 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 on the world stage. This article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and also the concern: does it even matter?
Best Times to See Myanmar
There are generally 3 periods in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime period
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather is warm however not stifling, and brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the minimal lodging choices tricky to secure and will mean trying to book in advance or face paying for the more costly options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature climbs in Myanmar as well as approaching rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of tourists that makes it very easy to book accommodation however it is incredibly hot.
An e-Visa is readily available to travellers from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the main e-Visa site. You’ll need to submit a passport photo and also pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply and also you should get authorization 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 permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local consular office may be more affordable– if you wish to save some cash, getting a visa through your local Myanmar embassy might be less costly. For example, the price is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the United States, so do your research and do not fail to remember 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; as well as at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration website for the most up to date at the time you take a trip.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the usual option for travellers as the very first mode of entry, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, taking into consideration where Myanmar is located– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the east as well as India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are several methods for land access, although not every one of them are suggested because of safety and security.
No matter, you have to specify a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes how you will certainly be reaching Myanmar. You will be given a list of options, from which you will certainly require to select one of 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 also Yangon)
Crossing 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 boundary to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula and also 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 village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the boundary of Southeastern India).
In truth, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stay with the one you originally specified when possible to avoid 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 Border Checkpoints given that your exit point does not require to be specified up-front. In addition, you may exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is cheaper and also has extra connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation options might be aggravating however the cross country propositions are far more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and flying is inexpensive so it might be your far better option.
You can still book flights the old-school way 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, luggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal as well as grabbing your bag off a cart by the airplane and 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 don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are budget-friendly with competing firms and a series of luxury levels.
A lot of buses travel overnight which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing, however isn’t so wonderful for rest. Additionally, you’ll tend to reach at odd times in the morning as well as 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. Take into consideration if it will be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same night to sleep immediately.
Buses are very chilly, the high-end buses will certainly give you a covering however, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every few hours for a food and also toilet break– a little bit irritating 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 more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and cheesy video till the early hours of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be shut off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver about he time of arrival. Due to superstitions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a location conjures up bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You will not obtain a response.
You will generally reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will usually charge a cost however be aware 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 travel and company. Search for a company that does include pick-up as taxis are exorbitant.
Booking buses online is harder– There isn’t one convenient online booking portal and also the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it does not necessarily indicate the bus is full. Try reservation elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without fees.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, yet bus rides are bumpy– you could take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are additionally an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among tourists.
There are no international car-rental agencies, yet the majority of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– along with guesthouses and hotels elsewhere– can arrange cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly apparent in the local transport.
With minimal public transport, taxis will certainly be your major means of navigating especially for getting to and 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) 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 certainly be more than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi fares.
Cabs for the day may be your much better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and $28 for a couple of hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger variable than time in determining the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hour journey about Yangon can cost 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 as well as is a massive contributing aspect to the expense.
Everybody intends to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing and tour trips. Do not hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own private transportation. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, several of the side trips can be fascinating and also drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your travel plan and you may be happy you opted for their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electrical motorcycles) outside the cities is much cheaper yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest locations, and also nearly all tourists establish a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can’t handle it– otherwise you’ll be among the lots of visitors walking around toting head to foot road rash as well as plasters.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km should give you an idea. The time recommended for reaching the bus station (22km far 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 trip 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 hours of the morning, your only choice to reach my hotel may be through horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, but because this is the main form of traveler transportation here it is only all-natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money and ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to make use of dollars, they need to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also newer than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for defects, discolouration as well as creases at the currency exchange kiosks. You may additionally have trouble 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.
Making use of kyat is most likely to be less expensive due to the fact that 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 upon just how rich you look.
There are ATMs as well as they mainly function however ensure you have cash prior to turning up at more remote spots like the coastline. Sometimes they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM fee of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any kind of charges your financial institution might charge. And also you most likely will not have the ability to withdraw more than $150 each time.
ATMs dispense kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, yet mainly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational flight terminal to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and call for cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels ahead of time online this might save you taking added cash money for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted mostly only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, generally charging a tiny cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being built. That includes guesthouses and also dining establishments. Businesses are recovering their expenses.
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 vacationer hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a run down, no-frills room.
For hotels, deluxe hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where deluxe comes with a rate of $250 per night) with various other great options 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 visitor’ 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 as well). On the bonus side, you normally obtain a totally free morning meal with your holiday accommodation.
Street food is most affordable– around $1-$2 for a plate of something basic. Local restaurants cost around $2-$4 a meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or including something like pizza) will certainly cost $7-$12.
Mineral water is inexpensive, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise cheap at a couple of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour costs
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner as well as using squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing shoes and also taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to negotiate on costs of items like mementos yet if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest as well as walk away.
Tipping is not common method in Myanmar, and also it’s just foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is often intolerable throughout the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the visitor buses make it harder to get incredible photos and also move easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and also the far, crime levels are incredibly reduced.
Still, you need to take the typical preventative measures of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Female travellers should not experience any 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 go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be really dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth as well as nose when biking around. Likewise take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as warm. Subsequently, numerous tourists use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels 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 typically pre-cut, try to find a seller that has actually kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, ensure it’s filtered water.
A lot of government advisories advise 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 resulted in the mass displacement of countless people. Some other parts of the country continue to be shut to foreigners because of conflict in between the government and different ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are primarily in Kachin and also Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and far from the significant visitor locations.
Precise info on problems and also closed locations can be hard to find. Check your government’s recommendations before taking a trip, and ask 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
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders as well as legs despite the high temperatures, and also you will make everyone a lot more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tees are the outfit of choice. These are strongly encouraged and also often enforced for getting in the temples as well as 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 tourists pick one up as they’re breezy in the warmth as well as tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so grab a cheap one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are crucial! Going into pagodas means going barefoot and flip flops are the best footwear option. Battling with laces in the scorching heat is an unwanted distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will certainly find people in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach but elsewhere it’s less usual.
The local people are exceptionally genteel as well as not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be discouraging, warm and also slow-moving however bear in mind: you picked to see Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. However, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by citizens who intend to chat. Visitors are no longer a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are lovely and also are happy to appear in pictures and try and chat through limited typical words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a great deal which is generally best handled by providing a smile as well as a mingalabar (hello there in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and if you’re paying for a guide, ensure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, small parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it delivers a hit that’s equivalent to six mugs of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spat out, many times onto the ground.
Great deals of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as taxi drivers commonly roll down the window in slow traffic to spew 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 kids. Why not? Read this great article 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 as well as additionally serves as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the coffee shops as well as restaurants as residents make use of the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s much easier for staff to determine the place of the kissing audio so do not be startled!
The two most important expressions you require 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 ready for many residents 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 as well as is charged per item as opposed to kilo so try to show up with your clothing washed and unless you intend to turn over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you truly need washing and also clean your smaller sized items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by yet tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can not flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is very usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can not deal with anything apart from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hours in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have several adaptors for European as well as North American 2-pin connects as well as British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to get over it or, better still, acquire a local SIM. You can obtain one at the majority of flight terminals when you land or in among the shops in the street as well as the shop staff will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more about your network choices below. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘quick’ connection, do not anticipate to be downloading video clips whenever. Online accessibility has improved, with wi-fi becoming the norm– most hotels, guesthouses as well as cafes have it free of charge– and the internet is now spreading tofarther areas. But tightly squeezed bandwidth and power interruptions can make using the internet an irritating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and also don’t anticipate to Skype home very often, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be better with a knapsack than a luggage. Travel suitcases aren’t perfect on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in and also out of myriad forms of transportation and hefting it up several steep stairs isn’t much better.
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