Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Tour Myanmar Laos
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country formally known as Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it had not been till 1989 that the ruling military junta changed the nation’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 Myanmar as more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Other names were also 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 as well as Myanmar are still utilized interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This short article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and also the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are commonly three periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the climate is warm but not stifling, and brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the minimal holiday accommodation alternatives difficult to secure and will mean attempting to book ahead or face paying for the much more costly choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature rises in Myanmar and impending rains are due. There is a minimal number of vacationers that makes it easy to book holiday accommodation however it is unbelievably warm.
An e-Visa is readily available to travellers from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa web site. You’ll be required to upload a passport photo as well as pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and you should get approval 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 day of issue and also allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy may be cheaper– if you intend to save some cash, making an application for a visa via your local Myanmar consular office might be cheaper. For example, the expense is simply , 14 in the UK but $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and don’t fail to remember to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; as well as at 3 Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration web site for the latest at the time you take a trip.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the normal option for tourists as the very first mode of entrance, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. However, thinking about where Myanmar lies– bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the east and India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are several avenues for land access, although not every one of them are suggested due to security.
Regardless, you need to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes exactly how you will certainly be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a listing of alternatives, from which you will certainly need to select one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated 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 Border Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the boundary to north 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 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 boundary village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stick to the one you initially specified preferably to avoid any kind 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 because your exit point does not need to be specified up front. Furthermore, you may exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is more affordable and has a lot more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation alternatives may be frustrating yet the cross country propositions are far more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving as well as flying is affordable so it may be your far better choice.
You can still book flights the traditional method 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 listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and getting your bag off a cart by the aircraft and also flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It truly is an experience. As well as a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing firms and a range of high-end levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so wonderful for sleep. Also, you’ll have a tendency to arrive at strange times in the early morning and won’t be able to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hrs waiting on a ‘top-up’ nap. Take into consideration if it will be cheaper to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same night to rest straight away.
Buses are really chilly, the deluxe buses will certainly give you a blanket yet, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hrs for a food as well as toilet break– a little 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 location around 3 or 4am. What’s even more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and tacky video up until the very early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be switched off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver about he time of arrival. As a result of superstitions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a destination summons bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You won’t obtain a response.
You will mainly book buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will usually charge a cost but understand that the charge can differ substantially.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this actually does vary depending upon destination, mode of traveling and company. Try to find a firm that does include pickup as taxis are extortionate.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one handy on-line reservation site as well as the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it does not always indicate the bus is full. Try booking somewhere else.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are often faster than the trains, yet bus rides are bumpy– you could take into consideration taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are additionally a choice for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst visitors.
There are no international car-rental firms, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– along with guesthouses as well as hotels somewhere else– can arrange 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 minimal public transportation, taxis will be your primary way of getting around particularly for getting to as well as from airports as well as within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are set on the spot (after a quick ‘just how much can I get away with’ computation) as well as you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Typically the taxi to and from the airport/bus will certainly be more than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi fares.
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 also $28 for a couple of hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger factor than time in determining the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hr journey around 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 estimated at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar and also is a huge contributing factor to the expense.
Everybody intends to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut producer during your sightseeing and tour trips. Do not hesitate 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 flip side, a few of the side journeys can be interesting and also drivers may take you to some cool places that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you opted for their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much cheaper yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far among the dustiest places, and mostly all vacationers establish a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can’t handle it– otherwise you’ll be one of the many visitors walking around toting head to foot road rash and also plasters.
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 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 do not count on air-conditioning and 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.
Get ready for the unforeseen. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hrs of the morning, your only choice to get to my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, yet given that this is the primary form of vacationer transport here it is just all-natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and ATMs in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they need to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for imperfections, discolouration and creases at the money exchange kiosks. You may also have problems changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is likely to be more affordable because the USD currency exchange rate is informal– someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, probably depending upon just how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mainly function yet ensure you have money before showing up at more remote places like the beach. In some cases they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine fee of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any type of costs your financial institution could bill. And you probably won’t be able to take out more than $150 at once.
ATM machines give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, yet mainly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational airport to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and call for cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels ahead of time online this may save you taking extra cash money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, generally billing a small cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more costly than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and also restaurants. Companies are recouping their expenses.
Holiday accommodation expenses
A dorm bed will 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 tourist hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a drab, no-frills room.
For hotels, high-end resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a good example where high-end comes with a price of $250 per night) with various other excellent options can be found 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 traveler’ locations like Ngapali coastline can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a number of hostels there as well). On the plus side, you generally get a free morning meal 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 dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or including something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Bottled water is inexpensive, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise affordable at a couple of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour expenses
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and also utilizing squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing shoes as well as taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the much more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of things like mementos but if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not usual practice in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is usually intolerable during the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the visitor buses make it more difficult to get fantastic images as well as move freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are incredibly reduced.
Still, you ought to take the common safety measures of using hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Female 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 utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be really dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and also nose when biking around. Additionally take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as hot. Subsequently, numerous tourists use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels can make you ill.
Fruit is easy to find so top up your immune system with nutrients in this way. Nevertheless, as it’s typically pre-cut, search for a seller that has kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
The majority of government advisories caution against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually brought about the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the nation continue to be shut to foreigners due to conflict between the government and different ethnic militaries gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin and Shan States, near the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and far from the significant visitor destinations.
Precise info on problems and closed areas can be difficult to find. Check your government’s recommendations prior to taking a trip, as well as inquire about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great resource of news from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and legs despite the heat, as well as you will make everyone much more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as tee shirts are the outfit of choice. These are highly encouraged and frequently enforced for getting in the temples and also pagodas.
Everybody uses skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Numerous travelers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm and also tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are convenient for taking in the sights so pick up an inexpensive one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are crucial! Entering pagodas implies going barefoot as well as flip flops are the most effective footwear selection. Struggling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwanted interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend much better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and at the beach but elsewhere it’s much less usual.
The local people are extremely genteel as well as not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be irritating, warm as well as slow yet bear in mind: you picked to check out Myanmar and that 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 locals that wish to talk. Vacationers are no more a novelty in most of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Usually the people are wonderful and more than happy to appear in photos as well as attempt and also speak with minimal usual words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a whole lot which is usually best handled by providing a smile and also a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, listen hard and if you’re paying for a guide, ensure they have good clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, tiny 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’s equivalent to 6 mugs of coffee. Yet, 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.
Lots of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as cab drivers typically roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spit after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by kids in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the children. Why not? Read this fantastic post by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese ladies. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty product in Myanmar and also serves as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and also dining establishments as residents utilize the kissing sound as an ask for service. Apparently it’s easier for staff to determine the place of the kissing sound so don’t be alarmed!
Both most important expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Not only is it courteous, but it is well received. Be ready for most citizens to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand and also is billed 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 actually need washing and also clean your smaller items yourself 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 tissue or sanitary products– this is very typical 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 hours in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have numerous adaptors for European and North American 2-pin plugs as well as British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to overcome it or, far better still, acquire a local SIM. You can obtain one at many airports when you land or in one of the shops in the street and the shop staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can read more about your network choices right here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘quick’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading video clips any time. On-line access has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and cafes have it for free– as well as the internet is currently spreading tofarther places. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can use the internet an aggravating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and don’t anticipate to Skype home extremely frequently, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. Travel suitcases aren’t ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in as well as out of myriad forms of transport as well as hefting it up many high staircases isn’t better.
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