Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Yangon Travel Guide
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation officially known as Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it had not been till 1989 that the ruling military junta altered 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 a lot more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were also altered, 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 as well as on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and the question: does it even matter?
Best Times to Go To Myanmar
There are commonly 3 seasons in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime period
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather is warm however not stifling, as well as attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the restricted holiday accommodation options difficult to secure and also will certainly indicate trying to book in advance or deal with paying for the more costly options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature climbs in Myanmar and impending rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of tourists that makes it very easy to book holiday accommodation but it is unbelievably hot.
An e-Visa is readily available to tourists from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa site. You’ll need to upload a passport photo and also pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and you should get authorization within 3 working days.
Print out your e-Visa letter, show it when you get here and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter stands for 90- days from the day of issue as well as permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local embassy might be cheaper– if you wish to save some money, making an application for a visa via your local Myanmar embassy might be cheaper. For instance, the expense is just , 14 in the UK but $40 in the USA, so do your research and don’t forget 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; and also at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration web site for the latest at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the typical option for travellers as the very first mode of access, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, considering where Myanmar lies– bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the east and also India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple for land entrance, although not all of them are suggested due to security.
Regardless, you must define a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes exactly how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be given a listing of alternatives, from which you will require to pick among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay and also Yangon)
Going Across at Land Boundary 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 boundary to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the border of the Thai Peninsula as well as the cluster of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Area of northwestern Myanmar on the border 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 border of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” however it is best to stick to the one you originally mentioned if possible to avoid any type of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any one of the International Airports as well as Land Border Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not need to be mentioned up front. Additionally, you might exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is more affordable and has more connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transport choices may be frustrating yet the long distance propositions are much more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and flying is cost effective so it might be your much better choice.
You can still reserve flights the old-school method by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in involves ticking people off a listing of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport as well as grabbing your bag off a trolley by the aircraft as well as flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It truly is an experience. And a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are cost effective with competing firms as well as a range of high-end levels.
Most buses travel over night which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so great for sleep. Likewise, you’ll often tend to arrive at strange times in the morning as well as won’t have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours awaiting a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will certainly be less expensive to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same night to sleep immediately.
Buses are extremely chilly, the high-end buses will offer you a covering yet, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every few hrs for a food and toilet break– a little bit irritating 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 location around 3 or 4am. What’s even more, some still play their funky local music CD’s and also cheesy video until the very early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some heavy-duty extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a 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 arrive at a destination conjures up bad spirits as well as is taken seriously. The result? You will not obtain a response.
You will mostly reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will typically bill a fee however understand that the cost can vary drastically.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this really does differ depending upon destination, mode of travel and company. Look for a business that does include pick-up as taxis are exorbitant.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one handy online reservation portal and the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not always mean the bus is full. Try reservation elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without fees.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, but bus rides are bumpy– you might consider taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are likewise a choice for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental firms, but a lot of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– in addition to guesthouses and hotels somewhere else– can organize cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly evident in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will be your primary method of navigating especially for getting to and also from airports as well as within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a quick ‘just how much can I get away with’ computation) and also you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Commonly 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 quantity for taxi prices.
Taxi cabs for the day might be your better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of taking in the sights in Bagan and $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger aspect than time in determining the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hour trip about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each method, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar and also is a big contributing variable to the price.
Every person wishes to take you to a craft shop, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut manufacturer throughout 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, several of the side trips can be intriguing and drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you chose their recommendations!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much more affordable but beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest places, and also almost all travelers establish 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 one of the numerous tourists walking toting head to foot road rash and 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 give you an idea. The time recommended 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 and also leather seats– that 1.5 hour 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.
Plan for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hours of the morning, your only alternative to reach my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, however given that this is the major form of traveler transport here it is only natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to utilize dollars, they need to be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and newer than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for problems, discolouration and also folds at the currency exchange kiosks. You might additionally have trouble changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is most likely to be cheaper because the USD currency exchange rate is informal– somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, possibly depending on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mostly work yet ensure you have cash before turning up at more remote spots like the coastline. Often they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM cost of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any kind of fees your bank may bill. As well as you most likely will not be able to take out more than $150 at a time.
ATMs give kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places about, however mostly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational airport to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and also require cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels beforehand online this might save you taking additional money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted primarily only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, generally 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 as well as restaurants. Companies are recovering their expenses.
A dorm bed will certainly 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 visitor hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dull, no-frills room.
For hotels, deluxe hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a fine example where luxury comes at a cost of $250 per night) with various other great 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 visitor’ 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 also). On the bonus side, you typically obtain a complimentary morning meal 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 certainly cost $7-$12.
Bottled water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally cheap at a number of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour costs
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner and also making use of squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing footwear and taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to negotiate on prices of things like souvenirs however if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest as well as walk away.
Tipping is not usual technique in Myanmar, and it’s just foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and also out cold by 10pm! The heat is typically unbearable throughout the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the visitor buses make it more difficult to get remarkable photos and also walk around freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and the far, crime levels are remarkably reduced.
Still, you ought to take the normal preventative measures of making use of hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Female travellers should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is dirty and there isn’t always soap in bathrooms 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 bring something to cover your mouth and nose when biking around. Likewise take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. Consequently, several visitors use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperatures can make you unwell.
Fruit is easy to find so top up your immune system with nutrients in this way. However, as it’s typically 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.
Many government advisories advise against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has led to the mass displacement of thousands of people. A few other parts of the country continue to be closed to foreigners because of problem between the government as well as different ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near the frontiers with China and Thailand, and far from the significant vacationer destinations.
Precise info on problems as well as closed locations can be difficult to find. Check your government’s guidance before travelling, as well as ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good source of news from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and legs despite the high temperatures, and also you will make everyone much more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and t-shirts are the clothing of choice. These are highly encouraged and also often 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 men and women. Numerous vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm as well as tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing and tour so get a cheap one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are crucial! Entering pagodas means going barefoot and flip flops are the very best footwear choice. Struggling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwanted interruption. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after visiting a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and shoulders). You will find people in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach yet in other places it’s much less usual.
The local individuals are exceptionally genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your good manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be discouraging, warm as well as slow however bear in mind: you chose to go to Myanmar which it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. Nonetheless, bargain hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by residents that intend to chat. Visitors are no longer a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Normally individuals are lovely and are happy to appear in pictures as well as try and also talk with limited common words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a lot which is usually best handled 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 paying for a guide, make certain they have good clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, small parcels which contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s possibly popular| due to the fact that it delivers a hit that amounts to 6 mugs of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spat out, a lot of times onto the ground.
Great deals of locals have the tell tale red discolored teeth and cab drivers commonly roll down the window in slow traffic to spew after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this fantastic short 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 product in Myanmar as well as also acts as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the coffee shops as well as dining establishments as citizens use the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to identify the place of the kissing sound so don’t be startled!
Both most important phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it courteous, yet it is well received. Be prepared for a lot of 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 charged per item as opposed to kilo so try to show up with your garments washed as well as unless you wish to turn over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you actually need washing as well as clean your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are simple 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 common in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t handle anything other than bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hours ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have numerous adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin plugs in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to overcome it or, far better still, acquire a local SIM. You can obtain one at most flight terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the street as well as the store personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can find out more about your network selections below. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘fast’ connection, do not expect to be downloading videos whenever. Online access has improved, with wi-fi the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and also coffee shops have it free of cost– as well as the internet is now spreading tofarther locations. But tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can make using the web an aggravating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and don’t 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. Suitcases aren’t suitable on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in and out of myriad forms of transport and hefting it up lots of high stairs isn’t much better.
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