Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Visit Myanmar Instagram
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country formally called Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it wasn’t until 1989 that the ruling military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Politically, the name Burma was viewed as a relic of the nation’s previous British colonial past, and also Myanmar as much more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. 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 utilized interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This post breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and also the question: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are typically three seasons in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather condition is warm but not stifling, as well as brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the restricted accommodation alternatives challenging to secure and also will imply attempting to book ahead or face paying for the a lot more costly alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature rises in Myanmar and also impending rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of travelers which makes it very easy to book lodging yet it is incredibly hot.
An e-Visa is available to visitors from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa website. You’ll be required to upload a passport photo and also pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply and also you should obtain 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 is valid for 90- days from the day of issue as well as allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy may be cheaper– if you wish to save some cash, looking for a visa through your local Myanmar consular office may be less costly. For instance, the cost is simply , 14 in the UK but $40 in the United States, so do your research as well as don’t neglect to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration site for the most up to date at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the normal alternative for travellers as the initial mode of entrance, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. However, considering where Myanmar is located– surrounded by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the eastern and also India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land access, although not every one of them are encouraged because of security.
No matter, you need to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes just how you will be getting to Myanmar. You will be provided a listing of options, from which you will certainly need to select among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (located in between Mandalay and also Yangon)
Going Across at Land Border 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 Region on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula and also the cluster of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Area of northwestern Myanmar on the border 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 enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to adhere to the one you initially specified if possible to avoid any hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports as well as Land Boundary Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not require to be specified up-front. In addition, you may exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is more affordable and also has much more connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transportation choices might be aggravating however the long distance propositions are a lot more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and flying is cost effective so it might be your much better choice.
You can still book flights the old-school method by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a 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 as well as grabbing your bag off a trolley by the aircraft 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. As well as a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are cost effective with competing companies as well as a series of luxury levels.
Many buses travel overnight which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing, yet isn’t so fantastic for rest. Also, you’ll often tend to reach at weird times in the morning and also won’t be able to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the exact same night to take a nap straight away.
Buses are really cold, the deluxe buses will certainly provide you a covering yet, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hrs for a food as well as toilet break– a bit discouraging 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 location around 3 or 4am. What’s more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and also tacky video till the very early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be shut off.
Never ever ask a driver regarding he time of arrival. Due to superstitious notions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will arrive at a location summons bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The result? You won’t get a response.
You will mainly reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will usually bill a fee however be aware that the fee can differ significantly.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this really does differ depending on destination, mode of travel and company. Look for a firm that does include pick-up as taxis are expensive.
Reserving buses online is harder– There isn’t one helpful on-line reservation website and the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it does not always indicate the bus is full. Try reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without fees.
Buses are often faster than the trains, however bus rides are bumpy– you could consider taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are also a choice for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, however the majority of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– along with guesthouses and also hotels in other places– can organize cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will be your major means of navigating especially for getting to and also from airport 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 quick ‘just how much can I get away with’ calculation) and you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Commonly the taxi to as well as from the airport/bus will certainly be more than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi fares.
Taxis for the day may be your much 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 aspect than time in dictating the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hr 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 quoted at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar and also is a huge contributing aspect to the price.
Everybody wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut manufacturer throughout your sightseeing trips. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own personal transport. Nevertheless, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, a few of the side trips can be intriguing and drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your itinerary and you may be happy you went with their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much cheaper but beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far among the dustiest places, as well as nearly all travelers develop a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can’t manage it– or else you’ll be one of the lots of travelers walking toting head to foot road rash and plasters.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km ought to give you an idea. The time advised for getting to the bus station (22km away 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 unexpected. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hours of the morning, your only option to get to my hotel may be using horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, however given that this is the major form of traveler transportation here it is just natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they have to be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and more recent than 2006. Each specific note is reviewed for defects, discolouration as well as folds at the currency exchange booths. You may also have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is likely to be less costly since the USD currency exchange rate is informal– somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is usually applied on the spot, possibly relying on just how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mostly work yet ensure you have money prior to showing up at more remote places like the coastline. Often they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM cost of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any costs your bank might charge. And also you most likely will not be able to take out more than $150 each time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are lots of exchange places around, yet mostly the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational airport to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines as well as need cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels ahead of time online this may save you taking extra cash money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mainly just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, generally billing a tiny cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being built. That includes guesthouses and restaurants. Companies are recovering 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, deluxe hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where high-end comes with a price of $250 per night) with various other great options being available at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can cost USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ locations like Ngapali coastline can cost 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 usually obtain a totally free breakfast 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 dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is inexpensive, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally economical at a couple of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour costs
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner as well as using squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing footwear and taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of things like mementos but if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest and also 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 dawn and fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is usually unbearable during the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the visitor buses make it harder to get impressive photos as well as move freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State and also the far, crime levels are exceptionally low.
Still, you need to take the normal preventative measures of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Women visitors should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is gross and also there isn’t always soap in restrooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and nose when cycling around. Additionally take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. As a result, numerous travellers use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels can make you sick.
Fruit is easy to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients in this way. Nevertheless, as it’s usually pre-cut, search for a vendor that has kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
The majority of government advisories alert against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has led to the mass displacement of countless individuals. A few other parts of the nation stay closed to foreigners due to dispute between the government as well as different ethnic militaries gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mainly in Kachin as well as Shan States, near the frontiers with China and Thailand, and far from the major traveler destinations.
Exact info on disputes and closed areas can be challenging to come by. Check your government’s recommendations before taking a trip, as well as inquire about the situation when 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
The majority of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and legs regardless of the heat, and also you will make everybody a lot more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also t-shirts are the attire of choice. These are highly encouraged as well as typically enforced for entering the temples as well as pagodas.
Everybody puts on skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Several vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm and tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing so get an inexpensive one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are crucial! Entering pagodas implies going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear choice. Struggling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwanted interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after visiting a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend much better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities and at the beach yet elsewhere it’s less usual.
The local individuals are incredibly genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be frustrating, warm as well as sluggish yet bear in mind: you picked to see Myanmar which 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 great deal by residents that wish to talk. Vacationers are no longer a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Normally individuals are charming as well as are happy to appear in pictures and also attempt and chat through limited typical words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a lot which is generally best dealt with by providing a smile and a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention as well as if you’re paying for a guide, ensure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, little parcels that contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s possibly popular| due to the fact that it supplies a hit that amounts to six mugs of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the spin-off is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, the majority of times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as cab drivers frequently roll down the window in slow traffic to spew 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 youngsters. Why not? Read this fantastic write-up by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese girls. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar and likewise acts as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the coffee shops and dining establishments as citizens utilize the kissing noise as a call for service. Apparently it’s easier for staff to recognize the area of the kissing noise so don’t be alarmed!
The two crucial phrases you need in Myanmar are:
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it courteous, yet it is well received. Be ready for the majority of residents to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand and is charged per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothing laundered as well as unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you truly require washing and also clean your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are very easy 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 extremely usual in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t handle anything aside 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 several adaptors for European as well as North American 2-pin plugs as well as British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to overcome it or, better still, buy a local SIM. You can get one at the majority of airports when you land or in one of the stores in the street and the store personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more concerning your network options right here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘rapid’ connection, do not anticipate to be downloading videos whenever. Online accessibility has improved, with wi-fi the norm– most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it totally free– and also the web is now spreading tomore remote areas. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and power interruptions can make using the net a frustrating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and also do not anticipate to Skype home very often, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You’ll be better with a backpack than a luggage. aren’t ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering and out of myriad forms of transport and also hefting it up numerous high staircases isn’t much better.
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