Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Travel House Myanmar
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation formally called Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however 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. Various other names were also changed, 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 Myanmar are still made use of interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This post breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and the concern: does it even matter?
Best Times to Go To Myanmar
There are normally 3 periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer season
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather is warm yet not stifling, and brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the minimal lodging choices challenging to secure as well as will certainly imply attempting to book in advance or face paying out for the a lot more costly options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level climbs in Myanmar and also approaching rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of tourists which makes it very easy to book holiday accommodation but it is unbelievably hot.
An e-Visa is readily available to visitors from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa web site. You’ll need to upload a passport photo and 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 stands 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 wish to save some cash, requesting a visa via your local Myanmar embassy might be cheaper. For instance, the expense is simply , 14 in the UK but $40 in the USA, so do your research as well as don’t forget to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to get in Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration web site for the latest at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the typical choice for visitors as the initial mode of entrance, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, considering where Myanmar lies– surrounded 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 methods for land access, although not every one of them are recommended because of safety and security.
Regardless, you must specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will be provided a list of alternatives, from which you will need to select among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Crossing at Land Border 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 border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the most southern 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 border village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to stick to the one you initially specified if possible to avoid any kind of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any of the International Airports and Land Border Checkpoints because your exit point does not require to be specified up front. In addition, you may leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is cheaper as well as has extra connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transport alternatives might be irritating however the cross country propositions are far more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving as well as flying is inexpensive so it might be your much better choice.
You can still book flights the old-school way by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a 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 terminal and also grabbing your bag off a cart by the plane and 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 a lot of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are budget friendly with competing companies as well as a variety of high-end levels.
A lot of buses travel over night which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, yet isn’t so terrific for sleep. Likewise, you’ll have a tendency to reach at odd times in the 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 hrs awaiting a ‘top-up’ snooze. Take into consideration if it will be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same evening to sleep straight away.
Buses are extremely cold, the luxury buses will provide you a blanket however, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hours for a food as well as toilet break– a little bit frustrating if you’re attempting to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, even though these are the buses which bring you to your destination around 3 or 4am. What’s even more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and also tacky music videos up until the very early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, buy some heavy-duty extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a driver regarding he time of arrival. Because of superstitions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will arrive at a location conjures up bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You won’t obtain an answer.
You will primarily reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will normally bill a cost but understand that the cost can vary drastically.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this truly does differ depending upon destination, mode of traveling as well as company. Look for a business that does include pickup as taxis are extortionate.
Booking buses online is harder– There isn’t one convenient online booking portal and the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it doesn’t always mean the bus is full. Try reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you may take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst tourists.
There are no international car-rental companies, yet most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– in addition to guesthouses as well as hotels somewhere else– can arrange cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly apparent in the local transport.
With minimal public transportation, taxis will be your primary way of getting around particularly for getting to and also from airport terminals and also within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a fast ‘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 prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Frequently the taxi to and also from the airport/bus will certainly be greater than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi prices.
Taxis for the day might be your better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan and $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger variable than time in dictating the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hour trip about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each means, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar and also is a huge contributing element to the expense.
Everyone wants to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer during your sightseeing and tour trips. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your own personal transportation. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, several of the side journeys can be intriguing and also drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your itinerary and you may be happy you opted for their suggestions!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electrical motorcycles) outside the cities is much more inexpensive yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest places, and also almost all tourists create a dust cough. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can not manage it– or else you’ll be just one of the many vacationers walking around toting head to foot road rash as well as plasters.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 kilometres should give you an idea. The time recommended for getting to the bus station (22km away from the centre) is 2.5 hrs.
Car quality is hit and miss so don’t 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 unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hrs of the early morning, your only alternative to get to my hotel may be through horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, but given that this is the main form of visitor transport here it is just natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money and ATMs in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars as well as the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to utilize dollars, they need to be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and newer than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for defects, discolouration and also folds at the money exchange kiosks. You may also have trouble changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US bucks so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be less costly because the USD exchange rate is informal– somewhere 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 ATMs and also they mainly function however make sure you have money prior to showing up at more remote areas like the beach. Sometimes they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine charge of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any costs your bank may charge. And you most likely won’t have the ability to withdraw more than $150 at a time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places around, however primarily the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational airport terminal to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and require cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels in advance online this might save you taking additional cash for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted primarily only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, normally billing a tiny charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being developed. That includes guesthouses and also restaurants. Companies are recouping their costs.
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 traveler 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 fine example where high-end comes with a rate of $250 per night) with various other excellent choices coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A modern hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package visitor’ destinations like Ngapali beach can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a number of hostels there too). On the plus side, you typically get a complimentary breakfast with your holiday accommodation.
Street food is most economical– 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 cost $7-$12.
Mineral water is affordable, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise cheap at a number of dollars per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour expenses
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner as well as making use of squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear and also taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to negotiate on prices of items like souvenirs yet if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not usual technique in Myanmar, as well as it’s just foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and also out cold by 10pm! The heat is commonly unbearable during the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the tourist buses make it harder to get outstanding photos and move easily.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State as well as the far, crime levels are extremely low.
Still, you should take the typical preventative measures of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your belongings. Women tourists should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is unclean and there isn’t always soap in shower rooms so use your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and also nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. As a result, many visitors use the a/c in their room however sleeping in low temperatures can make you sick.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients this way. Nonetheless, as it’s often pre-cut, search for a seller that has kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
A lot of government advisories caution against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has led to the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the country continue to be closed to foreigners due to conflict in between the government and also various ethnic militaries gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mainly in Kachin as well as Shan States, near the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and far from the major visitor destinations.
Exact info on problems as well as closed areas can be difficult to find. Check your government’s guidance before travelling, and inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good source of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders and also legs in spite of the high temperatures, and you will make everyone more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tee shirts are the clothing of choice. These are strongly encouraged as well as often enforced for going into the temples and also pagodas.
Every person uses skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Many visitors pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat and tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are practical for taking in the sights so get an affordable one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are necessary! Entering pagodas means going barefoot and flip flops are the most effective footwear choice. Battling with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an undesirable distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and shoulders). You will find people in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach yet in other places it’s less usual.
The local people are remarkably genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be discouraging, warm and also slow-moving yet bear in mind: you chose to check out Myanmar which it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. However, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by locals who intend to chat. Vacationers are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Typically the people are lovely and also more than happy to appear in pictures and also attempt and also converse via minimal common words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a lot which is normally best managed by offering a smile as well as a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and if you’re paying for a guide, make certain they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, tiny parcels that contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| due to the fact that it provides a hit that amounts to six mugs of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spat out, most times onto the ground.
Lots of citizens have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as taxi drivers commonly roll down the window in sluggish traffic to spit after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the kids. Why not? Read this great short article 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 product in Myanmar as well as also functions as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes as well as restaurants as locals make use of the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s much easier for staff to identify the place of the kissing audio so do not be distressed!
Both essential phrases you need in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it courteous, however it is well received. Be prepared for most residents to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand and is charged per item instead of kilo so try to turn up with your clothes washed and also unless you want to turn over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you really require washing and also clean your smaller sized items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by but tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely typical in developing nations where the plumbing system can not handle anything apart from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that strange half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hours in advance 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 have to get over it or, much better still, purchase a local SIM. You can get one at most airport terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the street and also the shop staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can read more concerning your network selections here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘rapid’ link, do not expect to be downloading videos any time. On-line access has actually improved, with wi-fi coming to be the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and also coffee shops have it totally free– and also the web is currently spreading tomore remote locations. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power failures can make using the net an aggravating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and do not expect to Skype home very 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. Travel suitcases aren’t ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in and out of myriad forms of transport and also hefting it up lots of high stairs isn’t far better.
Thanks for reading this guide to Top Traveling Tips for Myanmar – Travel House Myanmar