Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – What Places To Visit In Myanmar
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation officially called Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but 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 numerous ethnic groups in the country. Other names were additionally 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 as well as Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground and on the world stage. This article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say as well as the concern: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Visit Myanmar
There are usually 3 periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime period
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the climate is warm however not stifling, as well as brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the restricted holiday accommodation options difficult to secure and will certainly indicate trying to book ahead or deal with paying for the much more expensive options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level increases in Myanmar as well as approaching rains are due. There is a minimal number of vacationers which makes it easy to book accommodation yet it is incredibly warm.
An e-Visa is readily available to tourists from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the main e-Visa internet site. You’ll need to upload a passport photo and pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and also 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 allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local consular office might be less expensive– if you wish to save some cash, requesting a visa by means of your local Myanmar embassy might be less expensive. For instance, the price is simply , 14 in the UK yet $40 in the United States, so do your research as well as do not fail to remember to consider mailing expenses.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and also at 3 Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration web site for the most up to date at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the normal choice for travellers as the very first mode of access, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, thinking about where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the eastern as well as India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple methods for land entry, although not all of them are recommended due to safety.
No matter, you need to define a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes exactly how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be given a list of options, from which you will certainly need to select among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay as well as 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 most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula and 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).
In truth, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to adhere to the one you originally stated if possible to prevent any hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any one of the International Airports as well as Land Border Checkpoints because your exit point does not require to be stated up-front. In addition, you might exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is cheaper and also has more links than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation choices may be frustrating yet the long distance propositions are a lot more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish as well as flying is cost effective so it may be your far better choice.
You can still reserve flights the traditional means by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days– check-in involves ticking people off a listing of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport and also getting your bag off a trolley 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 really is an experience. And a lot of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are budget friendly with competing businesses and also a range of luxury levels.
Many buses travel overnight which is great for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so wonderful for sleep. Also, you’ll often tend to arrive at strange times in the early morning and also will not 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. Consider if it will be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same evening to rest straight away.
Buses are extremely cold, the deluxe buses will offer you a covering 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 bit frustrating if you’re attempting to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, despite the fact that 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 as well as tacky video until the early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, buy some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be shut off.
Never ask a driver about 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 summons bad spirits as well as is taken seriously. The outcome? You won’t obtain a response.
You will mainly reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will usually bill a cost yet know that the cost can vary dramatically.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this actually does differ depending upon destination, mode of traveling and company. Search for a firm that does include pick-up as taxis are exorbitant.
Reserving buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one handy online reservation portal as well as the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it doesn’t necessarily imply the bus is full. Try booking in other places.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without charges.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you might take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among visitors.
There are no international car-rental companies, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also 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 obvious in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will be your primary method of getting around particularly for getting to as well as from airport terminals and also within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– rates are established on the spot (after a quick ‘just how much can I get away with’ estimation) and you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not unusual to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often the taxi to as well as from the airport/bus will be greater than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi prices.
Taxi cabs for the day might be your much better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of taking in the sights in Bagan and also $28 for a couple of hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger variable than time in determining the price 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 means, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar as well as is a significant contributing variable to the price.
Every person wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing and tour journeys. 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 flip side, a few of the side journeys can be intriguing and drivers may take you to some cool places that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you opted for their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much less expensive yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far among the dustiest places, and mostly all visitors develop a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not manage it– otherwise you’ll be just 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 some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 km should give you an idea. The time recommended for reaching 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 and 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 unexpected. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hrs of the morning, your only choice to get to my hotel may be using horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, but since this is the major form of visitor transportation here it is just all-natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATMs in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars as well as the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they must be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also more recent than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for problems, discolouration and folds at the money exchange kiosks. You could likewise have problems changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be cheaper because the USD currency exchange rate is informal– someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, most likely relying on just how rich you look.
There are ATMs as well as they mainly function yet make certain you have money prior to showing up at more remote areas like the coastline. Occasionally they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine fee of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any type of charges your bank could charge. And also you probably will not have the ability to withdraw more than $150 at once.
ATM machines give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places around, however primarily the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational flight terminal to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines as well as call for cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels in advance online this might save you taking extra money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mainly only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, typically billing a small charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses as well as restaurants. Companies are recovering 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 vacationer hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dull, no-frills room.
For hotels, high-end resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where high-end comes with a rate of $250 per night) with 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’ destinations like Ngapali beach can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a number of hostels there also). On the bonus side, you normally obtain a free morning meal with your accommodation.
Street food is most cost effective– 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 set you back $7-$12.
Bottled water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally cheap at a number of dollars per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner as well as using squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing footwear as well as taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the much more touristy areas.
It’s possible to negotiate on prices of things like souvenirs however if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not common technique in Myanmar, and also it’s only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn as well as fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is often intolerable throughout the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the tourist buses make it more difficult to get impressive pictures as well as move around 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 extremely reduced.
Still, you should take the normal precautions of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Women travellers should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is unclean and also there isn’t always soap in shower rooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will 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 also nose when cycling around. Additionally take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. Consequently, lots of visitors use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperature levels can make you ill.
Fruit is simple to find so top up your body immune system with nutrients this way. Nevertheless, as it’s frequently pre-cut, search for a seller that has actually kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Many government advisories caution against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually caused the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the nation remain shut to foreigners due to dispute between the government and also various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are primarily in Kachin and Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and Thailand, and far from the significant traveler locations.
Accurate info on conflicts and also closed locations can be challenging to come by. Check your government’s guidance before taking a trip, as well as ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good resource of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and also legs regardless of the heat, and you will certainly make everyone a lot more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tees are the clothing of choice. These are highly encouraged and also usually enforced for entering 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 visitors pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat and also tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are practical for taking in the sights so pick up an affordable one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are necessary! Getting in pagodas indicates going barefoot and also flip flops are the very best footwear option. Struggling with laces in the blistering heat is an undesirable distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after visiting a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find people in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and at the beach but in other places it’s less typical.
The local people are incredibly genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travel can be discouraging, warm as well as slow however keep in mind: you picked to visit Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. Nonetheless, bargain hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by locals who wish to talk. Tourists are no more a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Generally the people are charming and are happy to appear in photographs and also attempt as well as speak through minimal typical words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a whole lot which is usually best dealt with by offering a smile and a mingalabar (hello there in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, pay attention as well as if you’re spending for a guide, ensure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, tiny parcels that contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| due to the fact that it provides a hit that’s equivalent to 6 mugs of coffee. However, 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.
Great deals of residents have the tell tale red stained teeth and taxi drivers usually roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spew after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by kids in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this great 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 product in Myanmar as well as likewise functions as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes and restaurants as residents use the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s much easier for staff to determine the area of the kissing sound so do not be alarmed!
The two essential expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it polite, yet it is well received. Be ready for many citizens to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand and also is billed per item rather than kilo so try to show up with your garments washed and also unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you actually need washing as well as wash your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are very easy to find by however tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely usual in developing countries where the plumbing system can’t cope with anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that odd half-hour difference| to its time area so it’s 6 and a half hours in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple 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, better still, purchase a local SIM. You can get one at the majority of flight terminals when you land or in one of the shops in the road as well as the shop staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can read more regarding your network options right here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘fast’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading videos whenever. Online access has actually improved, with wi-fi the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and coffee shops have it free of cost– and also the internet is currently spreading tomore remote areas. But tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power failures can use the net an irritating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and also do not anticipate to Skype home very frequently, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. Luggage aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in as well as out of myriad forms of transport and hefting it up numerous high staircases isn’t far better.
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