Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Travel Smart Myanmar
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country formally called Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it had not been up 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 viewed as a relic of the country’s former British colonial past, and Myanmar as a lot more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were likewise 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 also Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and the concern: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Visit Myanmar
There are usually 3 seasons in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summer season
May to October: Damp, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the climate is warm yet not stifling, as well as attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the minimal holiday accommodation options tricky to secure and also will imply trying to book in advance or deal with paying out for the more pricey options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level increases in Myanmar and impending rains are due. There is a minimal number of visitors that makes it very easy to book accommodation yet it is extremely warm.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 countries.
To obtain one, go to the main e-Visa web site. You’ll be required to submit a passport photo and also pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and also you should obtain 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 date of issue as well as permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local consular office may be cheaper– if you intend to save some money, obtaining a visa through your local Myanmar consular office may be cheaper. For example, the price is simply , 14 in the UK however $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and also don’t neglect to consider mailing costs.
It is only possible to enter 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) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration site for the latest at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the typical choice for visitors as the initial mode of access, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. But, considering where Myanmar lies– bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand and Laos to the east as well as India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous for land access, although not all of them are suggested due to security.
No matter, you must define a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes just how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will be given a listing of choices, where you will certainly require to pick among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (located in between Mandalay as well as 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 boundary 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 Area of northwestern Myanmar on the boundary to northeastern India).
- Rih Khaw Dar (a six-hour drive from the boundary town of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stick to the one you initially mentioned preferably to avoid any hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any of the International Airports as well as Land Border Checkpoints given that your exit point does not need to be stated up front. In addition, you may leave at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is cheaper as well as has extra connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transport alternatives might be irritating however the long distance propositions are much more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and flying is cost effective so it might be your better option.
You can still reserve flights the traditional way by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in involves ticking people off a list of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and also getting your bag off a cart by the airplane and flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It actually is an experience. And also a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are cost effective with competing businesses and also a range of deluxe levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing, however isn’t so terrific for rest. Also, you’ll often tend to arrive at weird times in the morning and also will not have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting on a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same evening to sleep straight away.
Buses are very chilly, the high-end buses will provide you a covering 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 bit aggravating 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 song CD’s and tacky music videos up until the early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, buy some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a driver regarding he time of arrival. As a result of superstitions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will get to a location invokes bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You won’t obtain a response.
You will mainly book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally bill a fee however be aware that the fee can differ significantly.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this truly does vary depending upon destination, mode of traveling and also company. Try to find a firm that does include pickup as taxis are outrageously priced.
Reserving buses online is harder– There isn’t one handy on-line booking website 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. Try reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without costs.
Buses are often faster than the trains, but bus rides are bumpy– you may consider taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are additionally a choice for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental firms, yet many travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– as well as guesthouses and also hotels in other places– can arrange cars and drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With minimal public transportation, taxis will certainly be your main method of navigating particularly for getting to as well as from flight terminals as well as within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ estimation) and you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Typically the taxi to as well as 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 fares.
Taxis for the day may be your far better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and $28 for a couple of hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger 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 means, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar and also is a substantial contributing factor to the cost.
Everyone wants to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut producer during your sightseeing trips. Don’t be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your very own personal transport. Besides, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, several of the side trips can be fascinating as well as drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you went with their recommendations!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much more affordable but beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far one of the dustiest locations, and also almost all tourists create a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– otherwise you’ll be among the many visitors walking around toting head to foot road rash and also bandages.
The big cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km ought to provide you an idea. The time advised for reaching the bus station (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so don’t 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.
Prepare for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hours of the early morning, your only alternative to reach my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, yet because this is the major form of vacationer transportation here it is just all-natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATM Machines 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 must be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also newer than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for flaws, discolouration as well as folds at the money exchange kiosks. You could also have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is most likely to be more affordable because the USD exchange rate is casual– somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, possibly depending on just how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mainly work yet make certain you have cash before showing up at more remote areas like the beach. Occasionally they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine cost of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any type of charges your bank could charge. As well as you most likely won’t be able to take out greater than $150 at once.
ATMs give kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places about, however mostly the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational airport to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and also require cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels beforehand online this might save you taking extra cash money for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted mainly only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, usually charging a little cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses as well as dining establishments. Companies are recouping their expenses.
A dorm bed will certainly 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 tourist hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dingy, no-frills room.
For hotels, high-end hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where deluxe comes with a rate of $250 per night) with other great alternatives 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 visitor’ locations 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 as well). On the bonus side, you generally get a free breakfast 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 meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will certainly cost $7-$12.
Mineral water is affordable, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also inexpensive at a number of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner and also utilizing squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear and taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the much more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on costs of items like mementos but if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not common practice in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak as well as out cold by 10pm! The heat is often intolerable during the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it harder to get remarkable images and also move 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 reduced.
Still, you should take the usual preventative measures of using hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Female tourists 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 certainly go near your mouth.
Watch out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and also nose when cycling around. Likewise take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as warm. Subsequently, several visitors use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperature levels can make you unwell.
Fruit is simple to find so top up your immune system with nutrients this way. However, as it’s usually pre-cut, search for a vendor that has kept the flies away and also if it’s sluiced with water, ensure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
Most government advisories advise against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually resulted in the mass displacement of thousands of people. A few other parts of the nation continue to be shut to foreigners due to problem between the government as well as different ethnic armies clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are primarily in Kachin and also Shan States, close to the frontiers with China and Thailand, as well as far from the significant traveler locations.
Exact details on problems and also closed locations can be tough to come by. Check your government’s guidance before taking a trip, as well as inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great source of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders and also legs despite the high temperatures, and also you will make everybody much 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 and also commonly enforced for getting in the temples as well as pagodas.
Everybody uses 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 ‘conservative wear’ box. They are convenient for taking in the sights so get an inexpensive one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are vital! Going into pagodas indicates going barefoot and flip flops are the very best footwear selection. Battling with laces in the blistering heat is an undesirable distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after seeing a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend far better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities and at the beach but somewhere else it’s much less typical.
The local individuals are remarkably genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travel can be irritating, warm and slow however bear in mind: you picked to visit Myanmar and that it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. Nonetheless, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by locals who intend to chat. Tourists are no more a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Typically the people are lovely and are happy to appear in pictures and also try and speak through minimal usual words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a lot which is usually best managed by offering a smile and a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, listen hard and 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 spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, tiny parcels which contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| since it provides 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 spat out, many times onto the ground.
Lots of citizens have the tell tale red stained teeth and cab drivers often roll down the window in sluggish traffic to spit after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the kids. Why not? Read this great 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 item in Myanmar and likewise functions as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and dining establishments as locals make use of the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to recognize the place of the kissing noise so do not be startled!
Both most important expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it respectful, however it is well received. Be ready for most locals to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand and also is charged per item rather than kilo so try to turn up with your clothes washed as well as unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you truly need washing and also wash your smaller items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by yet tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is really common in developing countries where the plumbing system can not handle anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hours ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin plugs in addition to 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 get one at most airport terminals when you land or in among the shops in the street as well as the shop staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more about your network choices here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘fast’ connection, do not expect to be downloading video clips any time. On-line access has improved, with wi-fi becoming the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and also cafes have it completely free– and also the internet is currently spreading tofarther places. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and power failures can use the internet a discouraging exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and do not expect to Skype home very often, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a knapsack than a suitcase. aren’t suitable on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in and also out of myriad forms of transportation as well as hefting it up numerous steep staircases isn’t far better.
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