Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Travel Around Myanmar
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation formally called Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it wasn’t until 1989 that the ruling military junta altered the nation’s name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Politically, the name Burma was seen as a relic of the nation’s former British colonial past, and Myanmar as much more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the nation. Other names were also changed, which is why you will see Rangoon now 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 made use of interchangeably, on the ground and on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say as well as the question: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are usually three periods in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime period
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather condition is warm but not stifling, and attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the limited accommodation alternatives tricky to secure and also will indicate attempting to book in advance or face paying for the much more expensive options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level rises in Myanmar and also upcoming rains are due. There is a minimal number of visitors that makes it easy to book lodging yet it is unbelievably warm.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa site. You’ll need to submit a passport photo and also pay a cost 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 get here and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter stands for 90- days from the day of issue and permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local embassy might be less expensive– if you want to save some money, making an application for a visa using your local Myanmar embassy might be cheaper. As an example, the price is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the United States, so do your research and also do not fail to remember to consider mailing expenses.
It is only possible to get in Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at 3 Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration internet site for the most up to date at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the usual choice for travellers as the initial mode of entry, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. However, considering where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand and Laos to the east as well as India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are several for land access, although not every one of them are advised because of safety.
Regardless, you have to define a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes exactly how you will be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be given a list of alternatives, from which you will need to pick one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Crossing at Land Boundary 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 Region on the border 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 town of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the boundary of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stick to the one you originally stated preferably to avoid any hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any one of the International Airports and also Land Border Checkpoints because your exit point does not need to be stated up-front. Furthermore, you may exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is less expensive and has a lot more links than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transportation alternatives might be frustrating yet the cross country propositions are much more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and also flying is budget friendly so it may be your better choice.
You can still reserve 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 people off a listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport as well as grabbing your bag off a cart by the plane and flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It truly is an experience. And also a lot of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are budget-friendly with competing companies and also a series of deluxe levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, yet isn’t so great for rest. Additionally, you’ll have a tendency to arrive at weird times in the early morning as well as won’t be able to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same night to rest straight away.
Buses are really chilly, the luxury buses will certainly offer you a blanket but, 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 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 and also tacky video until the early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a driver about he time of arrival. Due to superstitions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a destination conjures up bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You will not obtain a response.
You will primarily reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will typically bill a cost however know that the cost can vary significantly.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this actually does differ depending on destination, mode of travel and company. Search for a firm that does include pickup as taxis are expensive.
Booking buses online is harder– There isn’t one useful on-line booking site as well as the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it does not necessarily indicate the bus is full. Try booking in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without fees.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, however bus rides are bumpy– you may think about taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are also an alternative for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, however many travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– in addition to guesthouses as well as hotels elsewhere– can arrange cars and drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With minimal public transportation, taxis will be your primary method of getting around especially for getting to as well as from airport terminals and within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a quick ‘how much can I get away with’ calculation) and also you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Commonly the taxi to and from the airport/bus will be greater than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi fares.
Taxi cabs for the day may be your much better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and also $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger factor than time in determining the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hr journey about Yangon can cost USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar as well as is a massive contributing factor to the cost.
Everyone wants to take you to a craft shop, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut manufacturer throughout your sightseeing and tour trips. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own personal transportation. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, several of the side trips can be fascinating as well as drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you went with their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much more inexpensive however beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest places, as well as nearly all visitors develop a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not manage it– or else you’ll be among the lots of visitors walking toting head to foot road rash as well as plasters.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has several of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 km ought to provide you an idea. The time advised for getting to the bus terminal (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
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 nothing more than the heat of the engine fan to ‘cool’ you down.
Prepare for the unexpected. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hrs of the early morning, your only option to get to my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, however given that this is the main form of tourist transport here it is only all-natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money and ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to utilize dollars, they must be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and more recent than 2006. Each specific note is reviewed for defects, discolouration and creases at the currency exchange kiosks. You could additionally have trouble changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is likely to be less expensive because the USD currency exchange rate is informal– someplace in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, possibly depending upon just how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mainly function but ensure you have cash prior to showing up at more remote spots like the beach. In some cases they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine charge of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any type of costs your bank may bill. And also you most likely won’t have the ability to take out greater than $150 at once.
ATMs dispense kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places about, yet mostly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational flight terminal to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines as well as require cash payment. If you have reserved your hotels ahead of time online this may save you taking additional cash money for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted primarily just in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, usually billing a tiny cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being developed. That includes guesthouses and also dining establishments. Companies are recovering their costs.
A dorm bed will set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a basic 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 dull, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a fine example where deluxe comes with a cost of $250 per night) with various other very good choices being available at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A modern hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package vacationer’ 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 also). On the plus side, you generally get a complimentary morning meal with your 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 featuring something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Bottled water is affordable, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise 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 making use of squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing shoes and also taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to negotiate on prices of products like mementos however if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and also walk away.
Tipping is not usual practice in Myanmar, as well as it’s only foreigners who tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is frequently unbearable during the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the traveler buses make it more difficult to get outstanding photos as well as walk around freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous area of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State as well as the far, crime levels are extremely low.
Still, you ought to take the normal preventative measures of making use of hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Women travellers should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is gross and also there isn’t always soap in bathrooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth as well as nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. As a result, lots of visitors use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels can make you sick.
Fruit is very easy to find so top up your body immune system with nutrients this way. Nonetheless, as it’s typically pre-cut, search for a vendor that has kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
The majority of government advisories advise against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually led to the mass displacement of countless individuals. Some other parts of the nation remain shut to foreigners due to conflict between the government and various ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are primarily in Kachin as well as Shan States, close to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and far from the major visitor locations.
Accurate information on conflicts and also closed areas can be difficult to come by. Check your government’s guidance prior to taking a trip, and ask 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
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and legs regardless of the heat, and you will certainly make everyone a lot more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tees are the outfit of choice. These are strongly encouraged and often enforced for entering the temples as well as pagodas.
Every person puts on skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Lots of travelers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm as well as tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are convenient for taking in the sights so get one a the marketplace if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are essential! Entering pagodas indicates going barefoot and flip flops are the best footwear selection. Dealing 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 much better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach however in other places it’s much less typical.
The local individuals are remarkably genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travel can be discouraging, warm and also sluggish but bear in mind: you picked 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. However, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by residents who intend to talk. Travelers are no more a novelty in most of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Generally the people are charming and more than happy to appear in pictures as well as try and also talk with minimal usual words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a great deal which is generally best managed by providing a smile and also a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, pay attention as well as if you’re spending for a guide, ensure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks 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 probably popular| since it delivers a hit that’s equivalent to six mugs of coffee. However, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, the majority of times onto the ground.
Great deals of locals have the tell tale red discolored teeth and also taxi drivers frequently 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 children. Why not? Read this brilliant post by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese girls. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as additionally serves as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and restaurants as residents make use of the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s much easier for staff to recognize the location of the kissing sound so don’t be distressed!
The two essential expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it respectful, yet it is well received. Be ready for most locals to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand and is charged per item rather than kilo so try to turn up with your garments laundered and unless you wish to turn over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you actually need washing and also clean your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are 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 usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t handle anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that strange half-hour difference| to its time area so it’s 6 and a half hrs in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have numerous adaptors for European as well as 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, much better still, purchase a local SIM. You can obtain one at the majority of airports when you land or in among the shops in the road and the store personnel will have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can find out more concerning your network options below. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘quick’ connection, do not expect 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 free of charge– as well as the web is now spreading tomore remote areas. However tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power interruptions can use the internet an irritating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, as well as don’t anticipate to Skype home very often, 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 ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transport and hefting it up several steep stairs isn’t much better.
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