Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Visa For Americans
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation formally referred to as Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it wasn’t up until 1989 that the ruling military junta changed the country’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, as well as Myanmar as much more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. 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 as well as Myanmar are still made use of interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say as well as the question: does it even matter?
Best Times to Go To Myanmar
There are typically three periods in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather is warm but not stifling, and attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the minimal holiday accommodation options challenging to secure and will imply attempting to book in advance or deal with paying for the more costly alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar and impending rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of vacationers that makes it easy to book lodging however it is incredibly hot.
An e-Visa is available to visitors from these 100 countries.
To obtain one, go to the main e-Visa internet site. You’ll need to upload a passport photo as well as pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and also 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 day of issue as well as enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy may be less costly– if you wish to save some cash, requesting a visa using your local Myanmar embassy may be cheaper. For example, the price is just , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the United States, so do your research and also don’t fail to remember to consider 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 3 Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration internet site for the most recent at the time you take a trip.
Flights to Myanmar are the typical option for travellers as the initial mode of access, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. But, considering where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the east and also India and Bangladesh to its west– there are several avenues for land entry, although not every one of them are suggested because of safety and security.
Regardless, you must define a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes just how you will be getting to Myanmar. You will be provided a listing of alternatives, from which you will certainly require to pick one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Going Across at Land Border 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 southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the border of the Thai Peninsula as well as 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).
Actually, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to stick to the one you originally mentioned ideally to prevent any kind of hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any one of the International Airports and also Land Boundary Checkpoints because your exit point does not need to be mentioned up front. Furthermore, you might exit at the Htikee Land Boundary 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 may be aggravating however the cross country propositions are a lot more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving as well as flying is budget-friendly so it might 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 bit like flying in the older days– check-in includes ticking people off a listing of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport terminal and getting your bag off a trolley by the plane and flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. As well as a lot of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are affordable with competing businesses and also a range of luxury levels.
Many buses travel overnight which is excellent for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so wonderful for rest. Additionally, you’ll tend to arrive at odd times in the early morning and also will not have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hrs waiting for a ‘top-up’ nap. Take into consideration if it will certainly be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same evening to sleep immediately.
Buses are really cold, the luxury buses will certainly offer you a covering yet, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hours for a food as well as toilet break– a bit irritating 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 location around 3 or 4am. What’s more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and also cheesy music videos up until the very early hours of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be shut off.
Never ask a driver regarding he time of arrival. Because of superstitious notions 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 also is taken seriously. The result? You won’t get a response.
You will mainly reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will usually bill a cost yet be aware that the charge can vary significantly.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this truly does vary depending on destination, mode of traveling as well as company. Try to find a company that does include pickup as taxis are expensive.
Reserving buses online is harder– There isn’t one useful online booking portal and also the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not necessarily mean the bus is full. Attempt reservation elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without costs.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you could think about taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are additionally an option for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, yet the majority of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– in addition to guesthouses as well as hotels in other places– 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 certainly be your primary means of getting around especially for getting to and from airport terminals and also within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ calculation) and you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Usually 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 quantity for taxi prices.
Taxis for the day may be your better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and also $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger variable than time in determining the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hr journey around Yangon can cost USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar and also is a big contributing aspect to the price.
Every person wants to take you to a craft shop, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer during your sightseeing journeys. Do not be afraid 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 flip side, several of the side journeys can be intriguing and drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you went with their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much more affordable yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far among the dustiest areas, and also nearly all vacationers establish a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– otherwise you’ll be among the several visitors walking toting head to foot road rash as well as plasters.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km ought to give you an idea. The time suggested for reaching the bus terminal (22km away from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so don’t count on air-conditioning as well as 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.
Prepare for the unforeseen. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hours of the morning, your only option to reach my hotel may be through horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, but given that this is the major form of visitor transport here it is just natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to utilize dollars, they need to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for defects, discolouration and also creases at the money exchange kiosks. You might also 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.
Making use of kyat is likely to be more affordable since the USD exchange rate is informal– somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is usually applied on the spot, possibly depending upon exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines as well as they mainly work yet see to it you have cash before turning up at more remote spots like the coastline. In some cases they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine charge of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any charges your financial institution may bill. And you most likely will not be able to take out more than $150 each time.
ATMs give kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places about, yet primarily the transactions are to change immaculate 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 as well as require cash payment. If you have reserved your hotels beforehand online this may save you taking additional cash for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted mostly just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, typically billing a small fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being built. That includes guesthouses and restaurants. Companies are recovering their expenses.
Holiday accommodation prices
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 resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a good example where deluxe comes at a cost of $250 per night) with other great alternatives 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 visitor’ locations like Ngapali coastline can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a number of hostels there as well). On the plus side, you normally get a totally free breakfast 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 meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will certainly set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise inexpensive at a number of dollars per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour expenses
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner as well as making use of squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear as well as taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of items like mementos yet if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest as well as walk away.
Tipping is not typical practice in Myanmar, as well as it’s just foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is often intolerable during the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the traveler buses make it harder to get fantastic photos and move around freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State as well as the far, crime levels are remarkably reduced.
Still, you ought to take the common preventative measures of making use of hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Women tourists should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is gross as well as there isn’t always soap in restrooms so use your sanitiser before you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be really dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and also nose when cycling around. Likewise take care with your air conditioning– 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 find so top up your body immune system with nutrients this way. However, as it’s usually pre-cut, search for a seller that has actually kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, ensure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
The majority 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 caused the mass displacement of countless people. Some other parts of the country stay closed to foreigners as a result of dispute in between the government and also various ethnic armies clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin and Shan States, near the frontiers with China and Thailand, and far from the significant tourist destinations.
Precise information on problems and closed areas can be tough to come by. Check your government’s guidance before travelling, and ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good source of news from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
The majority of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and also legs regardless of the heat, and also you will certainly make everybody a lot more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tees are the clothing of choice. These are strongly encouraged and also typically enforced for entering the temples and also pagodas.
Every person puts on skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Numerous travelers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm and also tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so pick up one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are necessary! Going into pagodas indicates going barefoot and flip flops are the most effective footwear choice. Battling with laces in the scorching heat is an undesirable interruption. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and at the beach however somewhere else it’s less typical.
The local people are exceptionally genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be frustrating, hot and also sluggish however bear in mind: you picked to go to Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. Nonetheless, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by citizens who intend to talk. Vacationers are no more a novelty in most of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are beautiful and are happy to appear in photos and also try and also chat through limited typical words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a great deal which is normally best managed by offering a smile and a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, listen hard and also if you’re paying for a guide, ensure they have good clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, small parcels that contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s possibly popular| due to the fact that it supplies a hit that’s equivalent to six mugs of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the spin-off is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, many times onto the ground.
Great deals of citizens have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as cab drivers usually roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spit after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by kids in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the youngsters. 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, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as likewise acts as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes and also dining establishments as locals utilize the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s easier for staff to recognize the place of the kissing audio so don’t be distressed!
The two most important phrases you need in Myanmar are:
Not only is it respectful, however it is well received. Be ready for most citizens 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 and is charged per item rather than kilo so try to show up with your clothes laundered and unless you want to hand over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you really require washing and also wash your smaller items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by however tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t manage anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual half-hour difference| to its time area so it’s 6 and a half hrs in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have numerous adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin connects as well as British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to overcome it or, far better still, buy a local SIM. You can obtain one at the majority of flight terminals when you land or in among the shops in the road as well as the shop personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can read more concerning your network options below. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘quick’ link, don’t expect to be downloading videos any time. Online accessibility has actually improved, with wi-fi the standard– most hotels, guesthouses as well as cafes have it absolutely free– and also the internet is currently spreading tofarther areas. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power blackouts can make using the net an irritating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and do not anticipate to Skype home very often, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a suitcase. Luggage aren’t perfect on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Getting in and out of myriad forms of transport and also hefting it up numerous high stairs isn’t better.
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