Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Visit Myanmar Us Advisory
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country formally called Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it wasn’t up 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 seen as a relic of the nation’s former British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were also altered, which is why you will certainly 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 utilized interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This post breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and also the question: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Visit Myanmar
There are typically three periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the climate is warm yet not stifling, as well as brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the minimal holiday accommodation choices tricky to secure as well as will certainly imply trying to book in advance or face paying out for the much more expensive choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature rises in Myanmar and impending rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of vacationers which makes it easy to book lodging but it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is available to visitors from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa site. You’ll need to upload a passport photo as well as pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply and you should obtain 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 as well as permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local embassy may be less costly– if you want to save some cash, looking for a visa using your local Myanmar embassy may be cheaper. For example, the price is just , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the USA, so do your research and also do not forget to consider mailing expenses.
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 boundary 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 common alternative for visitors as the very first mode of access, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. However, thinking about where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and Laos to the eastern and India and Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous methods for land entry, although not all of them are recommended due to security.
No matter, you must specify a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes exactly how you will certainly be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a list of alternatives, where you will need to choose one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay and also Yangon)
Going Across 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 boundary to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the border of the Thai Peninsula and the collection of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Region 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 truth, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to adhere to the one you originally stated when possible to prevent any kind of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any one of the International Airports as well as Land Border Checkpoints given that your exit point does not need to be mentioned up front. Furthermore, you may exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is more affordable and has more links than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transportation alternatives might be irritating yet the cross country propositions are far more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and also flying is budget friendly so it may be your better choice.
You can still reserve flights the old-school way by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days– check-in entails ticking individuals off a list of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport and getting your bag off a trolley by the aircraft as well as flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It actually is an experience. And a lot of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are affordable with competing businesses and also a variety of deluxe levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is great for not losing a day of sightseeing, yet isn’t so wonderful for sleep. Likewise, you’ll often tend to arrive at odd times in the morning as well as won’t be able to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ nap. Think about if it will certainly be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same night to take a nap immediately.
Buses are really chilly, the luxury buses will provide you a blanket but, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of 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 even more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and tacky video till the early hours of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be shut off.
Never ask a vehicle driver about he time of arrival. Because of superstitious notions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a location conjures up bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The outcome? You won’t obtain a response.
You will mostly reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally charge a cost however know that the charge can differ drastically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this really does differ depending on destination, mode of traveling and company. Try to find a business that does include pickup as taxis are expensive.
Booking buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one handy on-line reservation website as well as the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not necessarily imply the bus is full. Try reservation elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without fees.
Buses are often faster than the trains, yet bus rides are rough– you might think about taking tablets for nausea. Boats are additionally a choice for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among tourists.
There are no international car-rental agencies, however many travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– as well as guesthouses and hotels elsewhere– can arrange cars and drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly evident in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will certainly be your major means of navigating particularly for getting to as well as from airport terminals and also within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– prices are set on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ computation) and also you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often 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 amount for taxi fares.
Cabs for the day might be your far better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan and $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger element than time in dictating the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hour journey about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar and also is a big contributing variable to the cost.
Every person intends to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer during your sightseeing trips. Don’t be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your own personal transport. Besides, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, a few of the side trips can be fascinating and also drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you opted for their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much cheaper but beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest areas, as well as mostly all vacationers create a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– otherwise you’ll be among the lots of travelers walking around toting head to foot road rash and also plasters.
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 recommended for reaching the bus terminal (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hrs.
Car quality is hit and miss so don’t count on air-conditioning and leather seats– that 1.5 hr trip 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 unforeseen. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hrs of the early morning, your only choice to get to my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, however considering that this is the main form of traveler transport here it is just all-natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money and ATMs in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they must be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as more recent than 2006. Each specific note is reviewed for imperfections, discolouration and also folds at the currency exchange kiosks. You may additionally have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is likely to be less expensive 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 exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines as well as they mostly function however make sure you have cash before showing up at more remote places like the beach. Often they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine cost of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any type of costs your bank may bill. As well as you probably will not have the ability to withdraw more than $150 each time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are lots of exchange places around, yet mainly the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational airport to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and require cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels in advance online this might save you taking extra cash money for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted mainly only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, typically billing a little fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being built. That includes guesthouses as well as restaurants. Companies are recovering their expenses.
Holiday accommodation prices
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 tourist hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a run down, no-frills room.
For hotels, high-end hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a good example where deluxe comes with a rate of $250 per night) with various other very good choices being available 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 cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a number of hostels there too). On the bonus side, you generally get a complimentary breakfast with your holiday accommodation.
Street food is most affordable– around $1-$2 for a plate of something basic. Local restaurants cost around $2-$4 a dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or including something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is cheap, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally affordable at a couple of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and also using squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing shoes and taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the more touristy locations.
It’s possible to negotiate on prices of things like souvenirs however if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not typical practice in Myanmar, and it’s just foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is often excruciating throughout the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the tourist buses make it harder to get impressive photos and also move freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State as well as the far, crime levels are incredibly reduced.
Still, you ought to take the common precautions of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Women tourists should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is gross and also there isn’t always soap in washrooms so use your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth as well as nose when biking around. Additionally take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as hot. Subsequently, numerous visitors use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you ill.
Fruit is easy to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients this way. Nevertheless, as it’s usually pre-cut, try to find a vendor that has kept the flies away and also if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
A lot of government advisories alert against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes 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 stay shut to foreigners because of problem in between the government as well as various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin as well as Shan States, near the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and far from the significant visitor locations.
Accurate details on conflicts and also closed locations can be challenging to come by. Check your government’s guidance before travelling, as well as ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent resource of information from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
The majority of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders as well as legs despite the high temperatures, as well as you will certainly make everyone much more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tee shirts are the outfit of choice. These are highly encouraged as well as frequently enforced for going into the temples and pagodas.
Everyone puts on skirts– males and females 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 warmth and tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so get a cheap one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are essential! Entering pagodas implies going barefoot as well as flip flops are the most effective footwear option. Battling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwanted distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after seeing a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend much better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find people in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach however in other places it’s much less common.
The local people are exceptionally genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be irritating, hot and also slow yet remember: you chose to check out Myanmar and that it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. However, bargain hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by citizens who want to talk. Vacationers are no more a novelty in most of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are wonderful as well as are happy to appear in photos and try and also chat through limited usual words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a whole lot which is usually best managed by offering a smile as well as a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, pay attention and also if you’re paying for a guide, ensure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, small parcels that contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| since it provides a hit that’s equivalent to 6 cups of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spat out, a lot of times onto the ground.
Great deals of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth and cab drivers frequently roll down the window in sluggish traffic to spit after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by kids in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this brilliant short article by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese women. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar and also functions as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the coffee shops and dining establishments as citizens use the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to recognize the location of the kissing sound so don’t be upset!
Both most important expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Not only is it polite, however it is well received. Be ready for a lot of locals to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand and also is billed per item as opposed to kilo so try to show up with your garments washed and also unless you want to turn over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you truly require washing and wash your smaller items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by yet tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can’t flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is really usual in developing countries 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 ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have numerous adaptors for European as well as North American 2-pin connects in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to get over it or, much better still, buy a local SIM. You can get one at the majority of flight terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the road and the store personnel will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can read more concerning your network choices here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘rapid’ link, do not expect to be downloading video clips at any time. Online access has improved, with wi-fi becoming the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and cafes have it free of cost– and also the web is currently spreading tomore remote areas. However tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power blackouts can use the internet a discouraging exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and don’t expect to Skype home extremely frequently, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You’ll be much better with a knapsack than a travel suitcase. Luggage aren’t excellent on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in and also out of myriad forms of transport and also hefting it up lots of high staircases isn’t better.
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