Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Niko Travel Myanmar
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country formally known as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it had not been 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 seen as a relic of the country’s former British colonial past, and also Myanmar as more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the nation. Other names were likewise 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 made use of interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This post breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say as well as the concern: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are generally 3 seasons in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the climate is warm however not stifling, as well as attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the minimal holiday accommodation choices difficult to secure and will imply attempting to book ahead or face paying for the much more pricey options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature rises in Myanmar as well as approaching rains are due. There is a limited number of vacationers which makes it very easy to book accommodation yet it is incredibly warm.
An e-Visa is readily available to tourists from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa website. You’ll need to submit a passport photo and also pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply as well as 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 as well as allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local consular office may be less costly– if you wish to save some money, requesting a visa by means of your local Myanmar consular office might be less expensive. For example, the cost is just , 14 in the UK but $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and also don’t fail to remember to factor in mailing expenses.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; as well as at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration internet site for the most recent at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the typical option for tourists as the very first mode of access, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, considering where Myanmar lies– bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and Laos to the eastern as well as India and Bangladesh to its west– there are several for land entry, although not every one of them are recommended because of safety and security.
Regardless, you must specify a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be given a list of choices, where you will need 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 (located in between Mandalay as well as Yangon)
Crossing at Land Boundary 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 boundary 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 collection of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Area 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” however it is best to stick to the one you initially stated ideally 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 Boundary Checkpoints given that your exit point does not require to be stated up front. Additionally, you might leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is less costly as well as has more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transport choices may be discouraging yet the long distance propositions are a lot more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving as well as flying is budget friendly so it might be your much better option.
You can still reserve flights the old-school means by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in involves ticking people off a list of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport as well as getting your bag off a cart by the airplane and also flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. And also a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are budget friendly with competing companies and also a variety of high-end levels.
Most buses travel over night which is excellent for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, however isn’t so great for sleep. Additionally, you’ll often tend to reach at odd times in the early morning and also won’t be able to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hrs awaiting a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will certainly be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the exact same night to take a nap immediately.
Buses are really cold, the luxury buses will give you a covering however, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hours for a food and toilet break– a bit discouraging 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 tacky music videos till the very early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be shut off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver regarding reaches of the southerly Mon State as well as Tenasserim area are normally off-limits to travelers unless you have actually gotten a government visa beforehand. In some areas you’ll need a guide to chaperone you. Check before you make plans.
Getting off the beaten path is challenging– even within the ‘open’ parts, Myanmar’s developing infrastructure indicates that there are established routes you can travel and you’ll have a hard time to go otherwise. Trying to do otherwise might be extremely pricey.
Work your sightseeing and tour around the heat– Myanmar is renowned for its sunrises as well as sunsets, which also corresponds well with staying inside (perhaps for a snooze or pool dip if you have one) throughout the mid-day warmth.
Anticipate to go barefoot a whole lot in temples on seriously grubby floors. In temples where birds are nesting or monkeys as well as dogs hangout, you can anticipate to step in a great deal of animal faeces while you’re checking out Myanmar’s temples. Socks aren’t allowed either so you simply have to get used to it. Have wipes for your feet so you can wipe some after each visit.
Be a mindful temple visitor, a lot of Myanmar’s temples are places of worship, not just sights for travelers. Respect ‘do not climb/do not enter’ signs and keep your voice down– individuals will be praying.
Expect to pay an entry cost for Bagan as well as Inle Lake– this fee is charged to all foreigners and there’s no getting around it. The charges are: Bagan– $20; Inle Lake– $10.
Accommodation in Myanmar
Hostels are slowly opening, meaning you can rest in cheaper accommodation than you could a couple of years back. Things are gradually improving for solo travellers, though costs are still much more of what you’ll pay somewhere else in Southeast Asia.
Guesthouses are rustic but lovely. The lodging offers a feel for what a local house might be like, basic yet beautifully decorated in teak wood) as well as the breakfast was generally exceptional. Plus, it’s nice to place money into the hands of the residents, not some large brand chain.
A lot of hostels, hotels and guesthouses offer a towel yet you might need to provide a refundable $10 down payment on check-in. Hotels will also provide some form of toiletries. Some hostels as well as guesthouses do as well, yet it can’t be counted on.
Beware the curfew– some guesthouses may lock the door at night, leaving you unable to access your bed. Check before you go out for the night.
Reserve holiday accommodation as well as transport beforehand during peak period. The tourist sector in Myanmar seems to have actually experienced a boom which the facilities has failed to keep pace with. Most resorts are small and also boutique like so if there’s somewhere particular you intend to stay it’s necessary to book in advance. It is especially essential to book in advance during high season (November to March). In some rural areas, monasteries will take travellers in for a small fee if there are no areas readily available. Yet do not count on the local monks being able to help you out.
Food as well as Drink in Myanmar
Order local dishes: it is constantly the very best selection. There are noodles at night bus stops, fermented tea leaf salads in local dining establishments as well as an incredible selection of curries and salads
Use chopsticks: Several pieces of cutlery are cleaned with a not so terrific looking water supply and dishcloth. Packaged chopsticks are a suitable option.
Inform the staff if you don’t consume something. If you like a little spice in your dishes specify just how much spice you like as the chefs tend to go easy on vacationers!
The fish is delicious and also a fantastic, fresh option in the majority of dining establishments.
There is rather a lot of sugar in the food and also beverages. If you aren’t a fan of sugar there’s an alternative to skip the sugar (tea, coffee, fresh blended juices), ensure you ask for ‘no sugar’.
Salads feature heavily on menus yet do not expect a fresh crunch– most salads are marinated and seasoned in oil, salt and also lime juice and don’t typically include salad leaves.
Hygiene standards are reduced in Myanmar and also you may get sick once.
Street food isn’t as prolific as various other areas in Southeast Asia but you can locate it and also it’s excellent. Street food will tend to be about 1,000-1,700 kyat a meal (under $2).
You can’t drink the water but most hotels, hostels and guesthouses supply cost-free water either in bottles in your area or by means of a large water dispenser at reception. Otherwise, bottled water is extremely affordable.
Alcohol is widely available with beer, rum and also bourbon being prominent options.
Beer stations are simple to find and also fun locations to get a beverage with the locals if you do not wish to being in a restaurant.
Understand that there isn’t a late night culture in Myanmar– most restaurants close by 9 p.m. as well as bars do the same around 10– 11 p.m. This is a country where meditation at dawn is a lot more popular than late night drinking.
Large chains can’t be found and brand names are in short supply. Myanmar isn’t a country of fast-food chains and beyond drink brand names like Coke and Schwepps Tonic, you’re going to be purchasing local brand names and also eating from local dining establishments.
Shops are small, family owned affairs– you won’t discover a 7-Eleven. There are a couple of equal ‘Grab ‘n’ Go’ shops dotted about, however mostly you’re going to buy treats as well as beverages from little, local businesses. They can look a bit intimidating, like you’re intruding by strolling in. Do not fret, simply step in, they want your business.
There are individuals smoking indoors- this can be a surprise if you come from a nation where cigarette smoking in public places has actually long been prohibited.
Health and Safety in Myanmar
Myanmar is an exceptionally safe country– the majority of the population is Buddhist and with a belief in karma, criminal activity levels are exceptionally reduced.
Still, you should take the normal preventative measures of making use of hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Female visitors 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 restrooms so use 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 as well as nose when cycling around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. Subsequently, several travellers use the a/c in their room however sleeping in low temperature levels can make you sick.
Fruit is easy to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients this way. Nonetheless, as it’s frequently 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
Many government advisories warn against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually led to the mass displacement of countless individuals. Some other parts of the country stay closed to foreigners because of conflict in 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 and also Thailand, as well as far from the major visitor destinations.
Exact information on disputes as well as closed areas can be difficult to find. Check your government’s recommendations before taking a trip, as well as ask about the situation once 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| as well as cover their shoulders as well as legs despite the heat, as well as you will certainly make everybody more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tees are the attire of choice. These are strongly encouraged and typically enforced for entering the temples and 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 heat as well as tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so get a cheap one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are vital! Going into pagodas indicates going barefoot and also flip flops are the very best footwear choice. Dealing with laces in the scorching heat is an unwanted interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts and strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach yet elsewhere it’s much less common.
The local individuals are extremely genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travel can be irritating, hot as well as slow yet remember: you chose to check out Myanmar which it’s not like 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 whole lot by locals that intend to chat. Travelers are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Typically the people are charming and also more than happy to appear in pictures as well as attempt and also chat with limited common words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a whole lot which is usually best managed by offering a smile and also a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, listen hard and if you’re paying for a guide, make certain they have good clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| since it supplies a hit that amounts to 6 cups of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the spin-off is bright-red saliva which is spat out, most times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red stained teeth and also taxi drivers commonly 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 should not give to the kids. Why not? Read this fantastic post by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese women. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as additionally acts as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and dining establishments as locals make use of the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to recognize the area of the kissing sound so don’t be alarmed!
The two essential expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it polite, yet it is well received. Be ready for a lot of citizens to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand and also is charged per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothes washed as well as unless you intend to turn over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you really require washing and clean your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by but tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can not flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can not manage anything apart from 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 multiple 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 get over it or, much better still, purchase a local SIM. You can obtain one at a lot of airport terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the road as well as the store staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can find out more about your network options below. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a ‘rapid’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading video clips whenever. On-line access has improved, with wi-fi becoming the standard– most hotels, guesthouses as well as cafes have it totally free– and also the internet is currently spreading tofarther areas. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power blackouts can use the internet an irritating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and don’t expect to Skype home extremely often, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You’ll be better with a knapsack than a travel suitcase. Suitcases aren’t suitable on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Entering and out of myriad forms of transportation and also hefting it up numerous high staircases isn’t better.
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