Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Travel And Tour Myanmar
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country formally known as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it wasn’t 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 country’s previous British colonial past, and Myanmar as much more inclusive of the numerous 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 and Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This post breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and also the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are typically three seasons in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Damp, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the climate is warm however not stifling, as well as brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the minimal holiday accommodation choices difficult to secure and also will imply trying to book in advance or deal with paying out for the a lot more pricey alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level increases in Myanmar and also approaching rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of vacationers that makes it easy to book accommodation yet it is unbelievably hot.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa site. You’ll need to submit a passport photo and pay a fee 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 get here and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter is valid for 90- days from the day of issue and allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local consular office may be cheaper– if you wish to save some cash, obtaining a visa via your local Myanmar embassy might be more affordable. As an example, the expense is just , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the USA, so do your research as well as do not fail to remember to factor in mailing expenses.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also 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 site for the current at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the common alternative for visitors as the first mode of entrance, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. But, considering where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern as well as India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous for land entrance, although not every one of them are advised due to safety.
No matter, you have to define a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes just how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a list of alternatives, where you will certainly need to choose among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay as well as Yangon)
Going Across at Land Boundary 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 border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula as well as the cluster 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 border village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the boundary of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to adhere to the one you originally stated when possible to avoid any type of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports and also Land Border Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not need to be specified up front. Furthermore, you might exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is less expensive and also has much more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transport alternatives may be frustrating however the cross country propositions are much more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish as well as flying is inexpensive so it may be your better option.
You can still book flights the old-school way by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in includes ticking individuals off a list of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and also grabbing your bag off a cart by the airplane and flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It actually is an experience. As well as a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing firms and also a variety of high-end levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing, however isn’t so terrific for rest. Likewise, you’ll tend to reach at strange times in the early morning as well as will not have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will certainly be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same evening to rest immediately.
Buses are extremely cold, the luxury buses will certainly provide you a blanket yet, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hrs for a food and also toilet break– a bit aggravating 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 as well as tacky music videos until the very early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be turned off.
Never ask a vehicle driver about he time of arrival. As a result of superstitious notions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will reach a destination invokes bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not obtain a response.
You will generally reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will normally bill a cost yet understand that the charge can differ substantially.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this truly does differ depending on destination, mode of traveling and also company. Try to find a business that does include pickup as taxis are exorbitant.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one handy online booking portal and the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it doesn’t necessarily mean the bus is full. Attempt reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without fees.
Buses are often faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you might consider taking tablets for nausea. Boats are additionally an alternative for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among visitors.
There are no international car-rental firms, however most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– in addition to guesthouses as well as hotels in other places– can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as 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 also from airports and also within cities like Yangon and 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 have to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Typically the taxi to and also 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 prices.
Taxi cabs for the day may be your far better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan as well as $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger variable than time in dictating the price 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 method, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar as well as is a significant contributing factor to the expense.
Everyone intends to take you to a craft shop, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut manufacturer during your sightseeing and tour journeys. Don’t hesitate 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 other hand, 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 opted for their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much more affordable but beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest places, as well as nearly all travelers create a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can’t manage it– otherwise you’ll be one of the numerous travelers walking 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 km should provide 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 do not count on air-conditioning and also leather seats– that 1.5 hour journey in Yangon could all be done in 38 degree heat with 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 really early hrs of the morning, your only alternative to reach my hotel may be using horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, yet since this is the primary form of traveler transport here it is only natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATMs in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to make use of dollars, they need to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and more recent than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for imperfections, discolouration as well as creases at the money exchange kiosks. You could also have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is likely to be less expensive due to the fact that the USD exchange rate is casual– someplace in 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 as well as they mainly function but make sure you have money prior to turning up at more remote spots like the beach. Often they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any kind of charges your financial institution might bill. And you possibly won’t have the ability to take out greater than $150 at once.
ATMs give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, but 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 and also need cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels in advance online this may save you taking additional cash money for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, usually billing a little cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being built. That includes guesthouses and dining establishments. Businesses 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 visitor 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 high-end comes with a cost of $250 per night) with other great alternatives 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 vacationer’ destinations like Ngapali beach can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a couple of hostels there as well). On the plus side, you generally obtain a complimentary 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 meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or including something like pizza) will certainly set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is economical, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also inexpensive at a couple of dollars per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner as well as using squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing footwear as well as taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the much more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of products like souvenirs but if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and walk away.
Tipping is not typical practice in Myanmar, and also it’s just foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise as well as fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is frequently excruciating throughout the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the visitor buses make it more difficult to get fantastic pictures as well as walk around easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State as well as the far, crime levels are exceptionally reduced.
Still, you need to take the usual safety measures of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Women visitors should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is dirty as well as there isn’t always soap in washrooms so use your sanitiser before you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and also nose when biking around. Also take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as warm. Consequently, many tourists use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperatures can make you sick.
Fruit is simple to find so top up your immune system with nutrients in this way. Nonetheless, as it’s typically pre-cut, look for a seller that has kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
Most government advisories caution against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has brought about the mass displacement of countless individuals. Some other parts of the nation continue to be shut to foreigners as a result of conflict in between the government and different ethnic militaries gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin as well as Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and far from the significant traveler destinations.
Accurate info on disputes and closed locations can be challenging to come by. Check your government’s guidance prior to travelling, as well as ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great source of news from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders as well as legs in spite of the heat, as well as you will make everybody more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tee shirts are the attire of choice. These are highly encouraged as well as often enforced for going into the temples and also pagodas.
Everybody wears skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Several tourists 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 grab one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are vital! Going into pagodas means going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear selection. Dealing with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwelcome distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after visiting 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 people in shorts and strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach but in other places it’s less usual.
The local individuals are incredibly genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travel can be frustrating, hot and slow-moving yet bear in mind: you selected to go to Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. However, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by locals who wish to chat. Travelers are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Typically individuals are lovely and are happy to appear in photos as well as try and also converse via limited usual words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a great deal which is usually best dealt with by offering a smile as well as a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, listen hard and if you’re spending for a guide, ensure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements 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 probably popular| since it delivers a hit that amounts to six mugs of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spat out, many times onto the ground.
Lots of citizens have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as cab drivers typically roll down the window in sluggish 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 children. Why not? Read this fantastic article 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 item in Myanmar and also functions as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the coffee shops and restaurants as citizens use the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s easier for staff to recognize the area of the kissing sound so do not be upset!
The two essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it polite, however it is well received. Be prepared for most residents to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is normally done by hand and is billed per item rather than kilo so try to show up with your clothing laundered and also unless you want to turn over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you really need washing and wash your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are very easy to find by however tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can not flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is extremely usual in developing countries where the plumbing system can’t cope with anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that odd half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hrs ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple adaptors for European and North American 2-pin connects in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to get over it or, better still, get a local SIM. You can obtain one at a lot of airport terminals when you land or in among the stores in the street as well as the shop personnel will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more about your network choices below. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘quick’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading video clips at any time. On-line access has actually improved, with wi-fi the norm– most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it totally free– and the internet is now spreading tofarther areas. But tightly squeezed bandwidth and power blackouts can use the internet an aggravating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and also don’t expect to Skype home very frequently, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be better with a backpack than a suitcase. Luggage aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Getting in and out of myriad forms of transportation and also hefting it up numerous high stairs isn’t far better.
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