Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Myanmar Us Travel Advisory
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation officially referred to as Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it wasn’t until 1989 that the ruling military junta altered 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, and Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Other names were also changed, 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 as well as 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 the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are usually three periods in which you can see 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, as well as draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the minimal lodging alternatives challenging to secure as well as will certainly mean trying to book ahead or deal with paying out for the much more expensive choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level climbs in Myanmar and also approaching rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of visitors which makes it easy to book holiday accommodation however it is extremely warm.
An e-Visa is 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 fee 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 date of issue and allows 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 cash, obtaining a visa using your local Myanmar consular office might be less expensive. For instance, the price is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the United States, so do your research as well as 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 and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; as well as at 3 Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration website for the latest at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the typical alternative for travellers as the very first mode of access, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. However, taking into consideration where Myanmar lies– bordered by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand and Laos to the eastern and also India and Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land access, although not every one of them are recommended due to safety and security.
No matter, you must define a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes just how you will certainly be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be given a listing of choices, where you will certainly require to pick among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay as well as Yangon)
Crossing 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 border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the border of the Thai Peninsula and also the collection 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 boundary town 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” but it is best to adhere to the one you originally stated if possible to prevent any kind of hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any of the International Airports as well as Land Boundary 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 access from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is less expensive and has a lot more connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transport choices might be discouraging but the long distance propositions are much more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish as well as flying is inexpensive so it may be your better choice.
You can still book flights the traditional means 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 as well as getting your bag off a cart by the airplane as well as flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. And a lot of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are affordable with competing companies and also a range of luxury levels.
The majority of buses travel over night which is excellent for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, however isn’t so excellent for sleep. Likewise, you’ll often tend to reach at odd times in the morning as well as will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will certainly be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same night to take a nap immediately.
Buses are very cold, the high-end buses will certainly provide you a blanket however, wear 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 discouraging if you’re attempting 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 music CD’s and tacky music videos up until the early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be shut off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver regarding he time of arrival. Due to 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 won’t obtain an answer.
You will primarily reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will normally bill a fee however understand that the cost can vary significantly.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this truly does differ depending on destination, mode of traveling as well as company. Try to find a company that does include pick-up as taxis are expensive.
Booking buses online is harder– There isn’t one handy on-line booking portal as well as the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not necessarily indicate the bus is full. Try reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook 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 motion sickness. Boats are also an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, however the majority of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– as well as guesthouses as well as hotels in other places– can arrange cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly evident in the local transport.
With minimal public transportation, taxis will certainly be your main way of getting around particularly for getting to as well as from airports and within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a fast ‘just how much can I get away with’ calculation) and 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 also 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.
Taxi cabs for the day may be your much better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan and $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger variable than time in determining the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hr journey about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar as well as is a huge contributing aspect to the expense.
Every person wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing and tour journeys. Don’t be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your own personal transport. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, some of the side trips can be interesting and drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you chose their recommendations!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electrical motorcycles) outside the cities is much less expensive but beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest areas, and nearly all travelers develop a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– otherwise you’ll be among the many travelers walking toting head to foot road rash and plasters.
The big cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 kilometres ought to provide you an idea. The time advised for getting to 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 hr 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 extremely early hours of the morning, your only option to get to my hotel may be through horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, but since this is the primary form of tourist transport here it is only natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATMs in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars as well as 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 as well as more recent than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for defects, discolouration as well as folds at the currency exchange stands. You might also have trouble changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is most likely to be cheaper since the USD exchange rate is informal– someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is usually applied on the spot, possibly depending upon exactly how rich you look.
There are ATMs and they mainly work yet make certain you have cash before showing up at more remote areas like the coastline. In some cases they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any fees your financial institution might charge. And you probably won’t be able to take out more than $150 at a time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, however mainly 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 need cash payment. If you have reserved your hotels in advance online this might save you taking extra cash for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, normally billing a little charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses as well as dining establishments. Businesses are recouping their costs.
Holiday accommodation 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 traveler hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a drab, no-frills room.
For hotels, deluxe hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where luxury comes at a rate of $250 per night) with various other excellent alternatives coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can cost USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ locations like Ngapali coastline can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a couple of hostels there also). On the bonus side, you generally get a totally free 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 dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or including something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is affordable, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also cheap at a number of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour prices
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner as well as making use of squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing footwear and taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the much more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of things like mementos yet if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and walk away.
Tipping is not usual method in Myanmar, as well as it’s only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is commonly excruciating during the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it more difficult to get impressive images and also move around easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State as well as the far, criminal activity levels are remarkably low.
Still, you need to take the typical safety measures of making use of hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Female tourists 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 use your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth as well as nose when biking around. Additionally take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. As a result, many travellers use the a/c in their room however sleeping in low temperatures can make you sick.
Fruit is very easy to find so top up your body immune system with nutrients this way. Nonetheless, as it’s often pre-cut, try to find a seller that has kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
A lot of government advisories alert against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has brought about the mass displacement of countless people. Some other parts of the country stay closed to foreigners as a result of conflict between the government and also different ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are primarily in Kachin as well as Shan States, near to the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and far from the major tourist destinations.
Exact info on conflicts as well as closed locations can be hard to find. Check your government’s guidance prior to travelling, and also ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great resource of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders as well as legs regardless of the heat, as well as you will make everyone more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tee shirts are the attire of choice. These are strongly encouraged as well as usually enforced for getting in the temples as well as pagodas.
Everyone wears skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Lots of tourists pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm and also tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing so get an inexpensive one a the marketplace if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are important! Getting in pagodas implies going barefoot and flip flops are the most effective footwear option. Struggling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwelcome interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after visiting a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend far better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will certainly find people in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and at the beach but somewhere else it’s less typical.
The local people are extremely genteel as well as not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be frustrating, warm and slow yet remember: you picked to check out Myanmar which it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. However, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by citizens who want to chat. Vacationers are no longer a novelty in most of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Usually the people are charming as well as are happy to appear in pictures and also try as well as speak via limited common words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a great deal which is usually best dealt with by offering a smile and also a mingalabar (hello there in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, pay attention and if you’re spending for a guide, ensure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, small parcels which contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it provides a hit that’s equivalent to 6 cups of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, most times onto the ground.
Great deals of citizens have the tell tale red discolored teeth and taxi drivers commonly roll down the window in sluggish traffic to spit after eating 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 youngsters. Why not? Read this great article 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 item in Myanmar as well as also works as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the coffee shops and also restaurants as citizens use the kissing sound as an ask for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to identify the location of the kissing audio so do not be startled!
The two crucial phrases you need in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it courteous, but it is well received. Be ready for a lot of locals to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand as well as is billed per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothes washed and unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you actually need washing as well as wash your smaller items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are very easy to find by yet 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 nations where the plumbing system can’t deal with anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird half-hour difference| to its time area so it’s 6 and a half hrs ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have several adaptors for European as well as North American 2-pin plugs along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to overcome it or, much better still, acquire a local SIM. You can obtain one at many flight terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the street as well as the shop personnel will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more regarding your network options below. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a ‘quick’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading video clips any time. Online access has actually improved, with wi-fi becoming the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and cafes have it free of cost– and the internet is now spreading tofarther places. But tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can make using the net a frustrating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and do not expect to Skype home extremely frequently, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be better with a knapsack than a luggage. Luggage aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in and out of myriad forms of transportation and hefting it up numerous steep staircases isn’t much better.
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