Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Travel Doctor Myanmar
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country officially called Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it had not been till 1989 that the ruling military junta altered 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 former British colonial past, and Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were also altered, which is why you will 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 used interchangeably, on the ground and on the world stage. This post breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say as well as the question: does it even matter?
Best Times to See Myanmar
There are generally 3 periods in which you can visit 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 but not stifling, and also attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the limited lodging alternatives difficult to secure as well as will imply attempting to book ahead or deal with paying out for the a lot more expensive alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level increases in Myanmar and also upcoming rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of visitors that makes it very easy to book accommodation however it is incredibly warm.
An e-Visa is available to tourists from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa site. You’ll need to upload a passport photo and also pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply as well as 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 permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy may be less costly– if you want to save some cash, getting a visa through your local Myanmar embassy may be more affordable. For instance, the price is simply , 14 in the UK however $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and don’t neglect 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; and at three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration site for the most up to date at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the usual choice for tourists as the first mode of access, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. However, taking into consideration where Myanmar lies– bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern and India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are several methods for land access, although not all of them are encouraged due to safety.
Regardless, you have to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes just how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will be provided a listing of choices, where you will require to select among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay and also Yangon)
Crossing 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 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 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 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” but it is best to stay with the one you originally stated if possible to prevent any hold up in the handling 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 mentioned up front. Additionally, you may leave at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is more affordable as well as has more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transport options may be aggravating but the cross country propositions are far more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and also flying is cost effective so it might be your far 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 involves ticking individuals off a listing of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal as well as grabbing your bag off a cart by the airplane as well as flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It actually is an experience. And a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are budget-friendly with competing businesses and a range of luxury levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, but isn’t so excellent for sleep. Likewise, you’ll have a tendency to arrive at odd times in the early morning as well as will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting on a ‘top-up’ snooze. Take into consideration if it will certainly be less expensive to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same evening to sleep immediately.
Buses are extremely cold, the deluxe buses will offer you a blanket but, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hours for a food as well as toilet break– a little bit frustrating if you’re trying to sleep 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 song CD’s and also tacky music videos till the very early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, buy some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a 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 reach a location invokes bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not get a response.
You will generally reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will typically charge a cost yet understand that the cost can differ dramatically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this really does differ depending upon destination, mode of traveling as well as company. Search for a firm that does include pick-up as taxis are expensive.
Reserving buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one convenient on-line reservation website and also the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it doesn’t always imply the bus is full. Try booking elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without costs.
Buses are often faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you could think about taking tablets for nausea. Boats are also an option for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among tourists.
There are no international car-rental companies, yet most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– as well as guesthouses and also hotels in other places– can organize cars and drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your major method of navigating especially for getting to and from flight terminals and also within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a quick ‘just how much can I get away with’ computation) and 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 be greater than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi prices.
Taxis for the day might 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 element than time in dictating the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hour journey around Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling 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 price.
Every person intends to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer during your sightseeing and tour trips. Do not be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your very 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 intriguing as well as drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you chose their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electrical motorcycles) outside the cities is much less expensive however beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest places, and mostly all travelers develop a dust cough. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can’t manage it– otherwise you’ll be just one of the several tourists walking around toting head to foot road rash and plasters.
The big cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 km should give you an idea. The time suggested for getting to the bus station (22km away 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 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 really early hours of the morning, your only choice to reach my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, but since this is the main form of tourist transportation here it is only all-natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATMs in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they have to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for defects, discolouration and also creases at the money exchange kiosks. You could also have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in United States dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is likely to be less costly since the USD currency exchange rate is casual– somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, possibly depending upon just how rich you look.
There are ATMs and they mainly function but make certain you have money before showing up at more remote areas like the beach. Often they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM cost of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any fees your financial institution might bill. As well as you probably will not be able to withdraw more than $150 at once.
ATMs give kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places about, but 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 actually reserved your hotels beforehand online this might save you taking added cash for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mainly just in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, usually charging a small fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling 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. Companies are recouping their expenses.
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a basic personal room with en-suite from around $35 for a single bed. In traveler hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a drab, 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 luxury comes at a price of $250 per night) with various other very good choices coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs 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 coastline can set you back 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 normally obtain a free morning meal with your lodging.
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 featuring something like pizza) will certainly cost $7-$12.
Mineral water is economical, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally cheap at a couple of dollars per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour prices
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the privilege of being a foreigner and also using squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing footwear and taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of products like mementos however if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and walk away.
Tipping is not typical technique in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise as well as out cold by 10pm! The heat is usually unbearable throughout the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it more difficult to get impressive photos as well as move around easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State and the far, crime levels are extremely low.
Still, you ought to take the normal preventative measures of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Female travellers should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is unclean and there isn’t always soap in restrooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to 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 and also nose when biking around. Likewise take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as warm. Subsequently, several tourists use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you sick.
Fruit is easy to find so top up your immune system with nutrients this way. Nonetheless, as it’s typically pre-cut, try to find a vendor that has kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
A lot of government advisories caution 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 thousands of individuals. A few other parts of the nation remain closed to foreigners due to problem in between the government as well as different ethnic militaries gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are primarily in Kachin as well as Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and far from the significant traveler destinations.
Exact details on conflicts as well as closed areas can be challenging to come by. Check your government’s advice prior to travelling, and also inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good source of information from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders as well as legs despite the high temperatures, as well as you will make everybody more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tee shirts are the outfit of choice. These are strongly encouraged as well as usually enforced for going into the temples as well as pagodas.
Everyone wears skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Several tourists pick one up as they’re breezy in the warmth and also tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing so pick up one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are important! Going into pagodas indicates going barefoot and flip flops are the most effective footwear selection. Battling with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an undesirable distraction. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend much better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will certainly find people in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and at the beach yet elsewhere it’s less common.
The local people are extremely genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be irritating, warm and sluggish yet bear in mind: you chose to go to Myanmar and that it’s not the same as 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 chat. Visitors are no longer a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Usually individuals are lovely and also are happy to appear in pictures and also attempt and chat with limited common words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a whole lot which is usually best handled by offering a smile as well as a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, pay attention as well as if you’re spending for a guide, make certain they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s possibly popular| due to the fact that it supplies a hit that amounts to six cups of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spat out, most times onto the ground.
Great deals of citizens have the tell tale red discolored teeth and cab drivers usually roll down the window in slow traffic to spit after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this great 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 item in Myanmar and additionally works as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes as well as dining establishments as citizens utilize the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s easier for staff to identify the place of the kissing audio so do not be startled!
The two crucial expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Not only is it courteous, yet it is well received. Be prepared for a lot of residents to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is normally done by hand as well as is charged per item instead of 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, select the items you truly require washing as well as wash your smaller items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by however tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can’t flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is extremely typical in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t cope with anything apart from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that strange half-hour difference| to its time area so it’s 6 and a half hours ahead 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 need to get over it or, far better still, acquire a local SIM. You can obtain one at a lot of airports when you land or in one of the shops in the road and the store staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can read more about your network options below. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a ‘fast’ connection, do not expect to be downloading videos any time. Online access has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and cafes have it free of cost– as well as the net is currently spreading tofarther locations. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can use the web a frustrating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, as well as do not expect to Skype home extremely frequently, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. Travel suitcases aren’t ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transport and also hefting it up many steep staircases isn’t much better.
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