Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Travel Operator
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country officially called Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it wasn’t 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 also Myanmar as a lot more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were also 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 also Myanmar are still utilized interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This post breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say as well as the question: does it even matter?
Best Times to Visit Myanmar
There are commonly 3 periods in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather condition is warm however not stifling, and also draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the minimal holiday accommodation options challenging to secure and also will certainly mean attempting to book in advance or face paying for the much more expensive options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature rises in Myanmar and impending rains are due. There is a minimal number of vacationers which makes it very easy to book holiday accommodation but it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is offered to tourists from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa internet site. You’ll need to upload a passport photo and also pay a fee 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 also enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be cheaper– if you want to save some money, obtaining a visa by means of your local Myanmar embassy might be more affordable. As an example, the cost is just , 14 in the UK but $40 in the United States, so do your research and also don’t fail to remember to factor in mailing expenses.
It is only possible to get in Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration site for the current at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the usual choice for tourists as the initial mode of access, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, considering where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern as well as India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land entrance, although not every one of them are encouraged because of safety.
Regardless, you have to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be given a listing of alternatives, where you will certainly require to choose one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (located in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Going Across at Land Boundary Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the boundary to north Thailand)
- Myawaddy (in the Kayin State of southeastern Myanmar on the border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula and also the collection of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Region of northwestern Myanmar on the border to northeastern India).
- Rih Khaw Dar (a six-hour drive from the boundary village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stick to the one you initially mentioned when possible to avoid any hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any one of the International Airports as well as Land Border Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not require to be stated up front. Additionally, you might exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is less costly as well as has extra connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transportation options might be frustrating but the long distance propositions are far more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and flying is cost effective so it might be your better option.
You can still reserve flights the old-school way by wandering 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 grabbing your bag off a cart by the aircraft and also flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It actually is an experience. As well as a lot of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are budget-friendly with competing companies and a range of deluxe levels.
A lot of buses travel over night which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so great for sleep. Also, you’ll often tend to arrive at odd times in the early morning and won’t have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hrs waiting for a ‘top-up’ snooze. Think about if it will certainly be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same evening to sleep straight away.
Buses are extremely cold, the luxury buses will give you a covering however, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hours for a food and toilet break– a little bit irritating if you’re trying to sleep 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 even more, some still play their funky local music CD’s and also cheesy music videos till the very early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a vehicle 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 arrive at a destination invokes bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You will not obtain a response.
You will mostly reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will normally charge a cost however know that the charge can vary dramatically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this truly does vary depending on destination, mode of travel and company. Search for a business that does include pickup as taxis are exorbitant.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one useful on-line reservation site and the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it doesn’t always indicate the bus is full. Attempt reservation elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without costs.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, yet bus rides are rough– you could consider taking tablets for nausea. Boats are also an alternative for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental firms, yet most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– along with guesthouses and also hotels somewhere else– can organize cars and drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your main way of navigating particularly for getting to as well as from airport terminals and also within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ computation) and also you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often the taxi to and also from the airport/bus will be greater 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 around $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan as well as $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger factor than time in determining the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hr trip about Yangon can cost USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each means, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar and also is a big contributing aspect to the cost.
Every person intends to take you to a craft shop, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer during your sightseeing trips. Do not hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own personal transport. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, some of the side trips can be fascinating and also drivers may take you to some cool places that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you went with their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much cheaper however beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest areas, as well as nearly all visitors establish a dust cough. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– or else you’ll be one of the numerous travelers walking 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 kilometres should 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 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.
Plan for the unforeseen. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hrs of the morning, your only option to get to my hotel may be using horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, however given that this is the main form of vacationer transportation here it is only all-natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars as well as the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to utilize dollars, they must be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as newer than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for flaws, discolouration as well as creases at the money exchange stands. You could additionally have problems changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US bucks so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is most likely to be more affordable since the USD exchange rate is casual– somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is generally applied on the spot, possibly depending upon just how rich you look.
There are ATMs and also they mostly work but make sure you have money prior to showing up at more remote places like the coastline. Occasionally they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any fees your financial institution might charge. As well as you possibly won’t be able to take out more than $150 at once.
ATMs dispense kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, however primarily the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational airport to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and call for cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels beforehand online this may save you taking additional money for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mainly just in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, generally charging a small charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses as well as restaurants. Companies are recovering their costs.
Holiday accommodation costs
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 traveler hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a drab, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where deluxe comes at a price of $250 per night) with various other very good options being available 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’ locations like Ngapali beach 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 generally obtain a cost-free morning meal with your holiday accommodation.
Street food is most budget friendly– 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 economical 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 as well as using squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing shoes and also 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 usual practice in Myanmar, and it’s just foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise as well as fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is frequently unbearable during the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the visitor buses make it more difficult to get impressive images and also move freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are exceptionally reduced.
Still, you ought to take the normal preventative measures of using hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Female tourists 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 bathrooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Watch out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and also nose when cycling around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. Consequently, several tourists use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you sick.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients in this way. However, as it’s commonly pre-cut, try to find a seller that has actually kept the flies away as well as 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 caused the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the country stay shut to foreigners due to dispute between the government as well as various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mainly in Kachin and Shan States, near the frontiers with China and Thailand, and far from the major tourist locations.
Exact information on conflicts and closed locations can be challenging to come by. Check your government’s advice before travelling, and inquire about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good resource of information from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and legs despite the heat, as well as you will certainly make everybody more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tee shirts are the clothing of choice. These are strongly encouraged and also frequently enforced for entering the temples and also pagodas.
Every person wears skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Numerous vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm and tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so pick up an inexpensive one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are necessary! Entering pagodas means going barefoot and also flip flops are the very best footwear selection. Dealing with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an undesirable interruption. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after seeing a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and at the beach yet elsewhere it’s less common.
The local individuals are incredibly genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be frustrating, hot as well as sluggish however bear in mind: you chose 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 citizens. Nonetheless, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by residents who wish to chat. Tourists are no more a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are lovely and also are happy to appear in photographs and also attempt as well as speak via limited common words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a great deal which is normally best dealt with by offering a smile and a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, pay attention as well as if you’re spending for a guide, make sure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, little parcels that contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it supplies 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, a lot of times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as cab drivers often roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spew after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children 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 girls. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as also serves as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes and also dining establishments as locals make use of the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s easier for staff to identify the location of the kissing noise so don’t be surprised!
Both crucial expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it polite, yet it is well received. Be prepared for many residents to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand and also is billed per item as opposed to kilo so try to show up with your garments washed and also unless you intend to turn over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you really need washing and also clean your smaller sized 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’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is very usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can not deal with anything other than 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 and North American 2-pin plugs along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to get over it or, much better still, acquire a local SIM. You can get one at many airport terminals when you land or in among the stores in the street as well as the store staff will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more about your network options right here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘fast’ connection, do not expect to be downloading videos at any time. On-line accessibility has improved, with wi-fi becoming the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and also coffee shops have it free of charge– and the internet is currently spreading tofarther areas. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can use the web an aggravating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, as well as don’t expect to Skype home extremely frequently, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You’ll be much better with a knapsack than a luggage. Luggage aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in and also out of myriad forms of transportation and hefting it up lots of high stairs isn’t much better.
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