Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Travel Guide Myanmar White Elephants
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 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 nation’s former British colonial past, and Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Other names were also 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 Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This article breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and the concern: does it even matter?
Best Times to Visit Myanmar
There are commonly 3 seasons in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime period
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 attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the restricted accommodation choices tricky to secure as well as will mean trying to book in advance or deal with paying out for the a lot more expensive alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar and also impending rains are due. There is a minimal number of tourists which makes it very easy to book lodging but it is extremely warm.
An e-Visa is offered to travellers from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa site. You’ll need to submit a passport photo and also pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply as well as you should obtain authorization 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 day of issue as well as enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local consular office might be less expensive– if you intend to save some money, getting a visa using your local Myanmar consular office may be less expensive. For example, the cost is simply , 14 in the UK however $40 in the United States, so do your research and do not fail to remember to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and also at 3 Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration internet site for the most recent at the time you take a trip.
Flights to Myanmar are the normal option for tourists as the first mode of access, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, considering where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the eastern as well as India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous methods for land access, although not every one of them are suggested due to security.
No matter, you must specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be given a listing of options, from which you will certainly need 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 (located 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 boundary 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 Area 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 boundary of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” however it is best to adhere to the one you originally specified when possible to avoid any type of hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports as well as Land Boundary Checkpoints since your exit point does not need to be stated up front. Furthermore, you might leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is less costly as well as has more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation alternatives may be irritating but the long distance propositions are far more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and flying is economical so it might be your far better option.
You can still book flights the traditional way by wandering right 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 getting your bag off a cart by the airplane and also flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. As well as a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing companies and also a variety of high-end levels.
A lot of buses travel over night which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, yet isn’t so terrific for sleep. Additionally, you’ll often tend to arrive at odd times in the early morning and also won’t have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hrs waiting on a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same night to rest immediately.
Buses are very cold, the deluxe buses will offer you a blanket yet, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hrs for a food as well as toilet break– a little bit irritating if you’re trying to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, even though these are the buses which bring you to your location around 3 or 4am. What’s even more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and tacky video till the early hours of the morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be turned off.
Never ask a driver about he time of arrival. As a result of superstitious notions 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 also is taken seriously. The result? You won’t obtain a response.
You will primarily reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will normally bill a fee however understand that the cost can differ considerably.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this really does vary depending upon destination, mode of traveling as well as company. Search for a company that does include pickup as taxis are outrageously priced.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one helpful online booking site and the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not always 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 usually faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you might think about taking tablets for nausea. Boats are also a choice for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental agencies, however many travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– along with guesthouses and also hotels somewhere else– can organize cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With minimal public transport, taxis will be your main means of navigating especially for getting to and from flight terminals as well as within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ computation) as well as you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Typically the taxi to and from the airport/bus will certainly be greater than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi fares.
Cabs for the day might be your better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and also $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger variable than time in dictating the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hr trip about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each method, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar as well as is a substantial contributing aspect to the cost.
Everybody wishes to take you to a craft shop, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut manufacturer during your sightseeing and tour journeys. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own private transport. Nevertheless, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, a few of the side journeys can be intriguing and drivers may take you to some cool places that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you chose their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much more inexpensive however beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest locations, as well as mostly all travelers develop a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can not manage it– otherwise you’ll be among the numerous travelers walking around toting head to foot road rash as well as bandages.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours 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 don’t count on air-conditioning and 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 unexpected. 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 using horse and cart. There is still a haggling process to be had, but considering that this is the primary form of traveler transportation here it is just natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to utilize dollars, they have to be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and more recent than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for problems, discolouration and folds at the money exchange kiosks. You may additionally have problems changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is likely to be more affordable because the USD exchange rate is casual– somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is generally applied on the spot, possibly depending upon how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mainly work but make certain you have money prior to showing up at more remote places like the coastline. Often they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine fee of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any kind of charges your bank could bill. As well as you most likely will not have the ability to take out greater than $150 each time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are lots of exchange places around, yet mostly the transactions are to change pristine 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 as well as need cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels ahead of time online this may save you taking extra cash for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted primarily only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, generally charging a small charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being built. That includes guesthouses as well as restaurants. Businesses are recouping their expenses.
Holiday accommodation expenses
A dorm bed will 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 tourist hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dingy, no-frills room.
For hotels, high-end resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a fine example where deluxe comes at a cost of $250 per night) with other very good alternatives coming in 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 traveler’ destinations like Ngapali beach can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a couple of hostels there as well). On the bonus side, you usually get a totally free breakfast with your lodging.
Street food is most economical– 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 also economical at a number of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the privilege of being a foreigner as well as using squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear and taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the more touristy locations.
It’s possible to negotiate on costs of things like souvenirs however if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest and also leave.
Tipping is not typical technique in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and also out cold by 10pm! The heat is usually unbearable throughout the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the tourist buses make it more difficult to get remarkable pictures and walk around easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are extremely low.
Still, you need to take the common preventative measures of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Female visitors should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is filthy and also there isn’t always soap in restrooms so use your sanitiser prior to 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 cycling around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. Consequently, several visitors use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperature levels can make you sick.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. However, as it’s frequently pre-cut, try to find a vendor that has actually kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
Most government advisories advise against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has brought about the mass displacement of countless people. A few other parts of the country remain closed to foreigners due to conflict between the government and various ethnic armies clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are primarily in Kachin and Shan States, near to the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and far from the major traveler locations.
Precise information on conflicts and closed locations can be hard to come by. Check your government’s guidance prior to travelling, and also inquire about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great source of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders as well as legs in spite of the heat, and also you will make everybody much more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tees are the outfit of choice. These are highly encouraged and also commonly enforced for going into the temples and also pagodas.
Everybody uses skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Many travelers pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat and tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are practical for taking in the sights so get a cheap one a the marketplace if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are necessary! Getting in pagodas means going barefoot and also flip flops are the best footwear option. Struggling with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an undesirable distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend far better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and at the beach however somewhere else it’s much less typical.
The local people are remarkably genteel as well as not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travel can be aggravating, warm and slow but keep in mind: you selected to check out Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. Nevertheless, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by locals who wish to talk. Vacationers are no longer a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Typically individuals are charming as well as are happy to appear in photos as well as attempt and also chat via limited common words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a lot which is normally best handled by offering a smile as well as a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention as well as if you’re spending for a guide, ensure they have good 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 possibly popular| due to the fact that it delivers a hit that amounts to 6 cups of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, a lot of times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red discolored teeth and taxi drivers usually roll down the window in sluggish traffic to spit after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the children. Why not? Read this brilliant article 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 functions as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes and also dining establishments as residents utilize the kissing noise as a call for service. Apparently it’s easier for staff to determine the area of the kissing audio so do not be surprised!
The two essential expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it courteous, but it is well received. Be ready for many citizens to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is generally done by hand and is charged per item rather than kilo so try to show up with your clothing washed as well as unless you intend to turn over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you actually need washing as well as clean your smaller items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are very easy 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 extremely usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can not handle anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hrs ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have several 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, far better still, buy a local SIM. You can obtain one at most airports when you land or in among the shops in the street and the shop personnel will have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can read more concerning your network selections below. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a ‘rapid’ connection, don’t expect to be downloading videos whenever. Online access has actually improved, with wi-fi coming to be the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and coffee shops have it totally free– and also the web is currently spreading tofarther places. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power interruptions can make using the web a discouraging exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and do not anticipate to Skype home extremely often, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You’ll be much better with a knapsack than a suitcase. Luggage aren’t suitable on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transportation and hefting it up numerous steep staircases isn’t far better.
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