Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Visit
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country formally known as Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it wasn’t up 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 nation’s previous British colonial past, and also Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were also altered, 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 and also Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground and on the world stage. This post breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and also the concern: does it even matter?
Best Times to See Myanmar
There are typically three seasons in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summer season
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather condition is warm yet not stifling, and also draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the restricted holiday accommodation alternatives difficult to secure as well as will indicate trying to book ahead or face paying out for the much more costly choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level climbs in Myanmar and also approaching rains are due. There is a limited number of travelers that makes it easy to book accommodation however it is incredibly hot.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa site. You’ll be required to upload a passport photo as well as pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply and 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 as well as permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be less costly– if you want to save some money, obtaining a visa through your local Myanmar embassy may be more affordable. For instance, the expense is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the USA, so do your research and also don’t fail to remember to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; as well as at three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration website for the current at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the typical choice for tourists as the first mode of access, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. However, considering where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern and India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous methods for land entrance, although not every one of them are recommended because of safety.
Regardless, you must define a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes just how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will be given a listing of options, from which you will certainly need to select among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (located in between Mandalay and also Yangon)
Crossing at Land Border Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the border 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 Region on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula as well as 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 border village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stay with the one you originally stated preferably to avoid any kind of hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any of the International Airports and also Land Border Checkpoints since your exit point does not need to be specified up-front. In addition, you may leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is less expensive as well as has more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation alternatives may be irritating but the cross country propositions are a lot more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish as well as flying is budget friendly so it may be your much better option.
You can still book flights the old-school method by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days– check-in entails 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 aircraft and flight announcements are made by a person 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 budget-friendly with competing businesses and also a series of high-end levels.
A lot of buses travel over night which is terrific for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, yet isn’t so wonderful for sleep. Likewise, you’ll tend to reach at strange times in the morning and also will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hrs waiting on a ‘top-up’ nap. Consider if it will certainly be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same evening to rest immediately.
Buses are really chilly, the deluxe buses will give you a covering yet, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hours for a food and also toilet break– a bit frustrating if you’re attempting 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 more, some still play their funky local music CD’s as well as cheesy music videos until the early hours of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be turned off.
Never ask a vehicle driver about he time of arrival. Because of superstitions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will reach a location summons bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The outcome? You won’t get an answer.
You will generally reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally charge a cost but understand that the fee can vary significantly.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this actually does differ depending on destination, mode of traveling as well as company. Search for a company that does include pick-up as taxis are outrageously priced.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one handy on-line reservation website and the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not necessarily indicate the bus is full. Try reservation somewhere else.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without fees.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you may think about taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise an option for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst tourists.
There are no international car-rental firms, yet a lot of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– in addition to guesthouses as well as hotels elsewhere– can arrange cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly apparent in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your major method of getting around particularly for getting to and from flight terminals as well as within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a fast ‘just how much can I get away with’ calculation) as well as you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Typically the taxi to and from the airport/bus will be more than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi fares.
Taxis for the day might be your better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of taking in the sights 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 travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each method, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar and is a significant contributing factor to the price.
Every person wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing trips. Do not be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your own private transport. Nevertheless, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, a few of the side journeys can be intriguing as well as 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 motorcycles) outside the cities is much less expensive but beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest locations, and mostly all visitors establish a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– or else you’ll be just one of the many travelers walking around toting head to foot road rash as well as plasters.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 kilometres should provide you an idea. The time advised for reaching the bus terminal (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hrs.
Car quality is hit and miss so do not count on air-conditioning as well as leather seats– that 1.5 hr journey in Yangon could all be done in 38 degree heat with absolutely 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 very early hours of the morning, your only choice to reach my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, however considering that this is the primary form of traveler transport here it is only natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATMs in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they have to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for flaws, discolouration as well as folds at the currency exchange stands. You might likewise have trouble changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is most likely to be more affordable because 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 relying on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mostly work however see to it you have money before turning up at more remote spots like the beach. Occasionally they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM fee of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any kind of fees your bank might charge. And also you probably won’t have the ability to withdraw greater than $150 at once.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places around, however mostly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational airport to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and require cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels ahead of time online this may save you taking additional money for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mainly just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, normally billing a small charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses as well as dining establishments. Companies are recouping their 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 vacationer hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dull, 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 luxury comes with a rate of $250 per night) with other very good choices can be found at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ destinations 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 plus side, you typically get a cost-free breakfast with your lodging.
Street food is most inexpensive– 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 cost $7-$12.
Bottled water is inexpensive, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally economical at a number of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner and also utilizing squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing shoes as well as taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on costs of things like souvenirs but if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest as well as walk away.
Tipping is not usual method in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners that tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is often intolerable throughout the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the traveler buses make it more difficult to get amazing images and also walk around freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and the far, criminal activity levels are extremely low.
Still, you need to take the normal preventative measures of making use of hotel 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 filthy and there isn’t always soap in bathrooms so use your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. Consequently, numerous travellers use the a/c in their room however sleeping in low temperature levels can make you sick.
Fruit is easy to find so top up your immune system with nutrients this way. Nevertheless, as it’s typically pre-cut, search for a vendor that has kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
Many government advisories warn against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually resulted in the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. A few other parts of the nation stay shut to foreigners because of dispute between the government and also various ethnic armies clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mainly in Kachin and also Shan States, close to the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and far from the significant visitor destinations.
Exact information on disputes and also closed areas can be challenging to find. Check your government’s advice prior to taking a trip, and also inquire about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent source of news from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders as well as legs regardless of the high temperatures, as well as you will certainly make everyone much more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as t-shirts are the attire of choice. These are strongly encouraged and typically enforced for going into the temples and pagodas.
Everybody puts on skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Many visitors pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat and also tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing so pick up an affordable one a the marketplace if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are necessary! Getting in pagodas indicates going barefoot and flip flops are the most effective footwear option. Battling with laces in the scorching heat is an undesirable interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will certainly find people in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach however elsewhere it’s much less typical.
The local individuals are incredibly genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travel can be irritating, warm as well as slow yet bear in mind: you chose to check out Myanmar which it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. Nevertheless, bargain hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by residents that intend to chat. Travelers are no longer a novelty in most of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Normally individuals are lovely and also more than happy to appear in pictures and try and chat through limited typical words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a whole lot which is normally best managed by offering a smile and a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, pay attention and also if you’re paying for a guide, make sure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, tiny parcels that contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s possibly popular| due to the fact that it provides 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, the majority of times onto the ground.
Great deals of residents have the tell tale red stained teeth and also cab drivers frequently 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 children. Why not? Read this great short 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 product in Myanmar and additionally works as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the coffee shops as well as dining establishments as citizens make use of the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to identify the place of the kissing audio so do not be distressed!
The two essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Not only is it courteous, yet it is well received. Be prepared for most residents to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand and also is billed per item rather than kilo so try to show up with your clothes laundered and also unless you intend to turn over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you really require washing and clean your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are very easy to find by but tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely typical in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t manage anything apart from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird 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 connects as well as British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to overcome it or, better still, get a local SIM. You can get one at many airports when you land or in among the stores in the road and the shop personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can learn more about your network selections right here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘rapid’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading video clips any time. On-line access has improved, with wi-fi becoming the standard– most hotels, guesthouses as well as cafes have it free of charge– and also the internet is currently spreading tofarther locations. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power interruptions can make using the web a frustrating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and also don’t anticipate to Skype home extremely frequently, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. aren’t excellent on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transportation and hefting it up several high stairs isn’t far better.
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