Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Obama Visit
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country formally called Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it wasn’t 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 previous British colonial past, and Myanmar as more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were likewise 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 utilized interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This post breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and the concern: does it even matter?
Best Times to Go To Myanmar
There are typically 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 season is November to February when the climate is warm however not stifling, and brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the minimal holiday accommodation choices tricky to secure and will certainly mean trying to book ahead or face paying for the more costly choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level climbs in Myanmar and impending rains are due. There is a minimal number of tourists that makes it very easy to book lodging however it is unbelievably hot.
An e-Visa is offered to travellers from these 100 countries.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa site. 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 get 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 stands for 90- days from the day of issue as well as permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be less expensive– if you wish to save some cash, applying for a visa using your local Myanmar embassy might be less expensive. As an example, the price is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the USA, so do your research as well as don’t forget to factor in 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 also at three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration internet site for the latest at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the typical alternative for travellers as the very first mode of entry, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. However, thinking about where Myanmar lies– surrounded by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern and India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are several methods for land entry, although not every one of them are recommended due to security.
No matter, you have to define a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes how you will be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a listing of choices, where you will certainly require to choose one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay and 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 boundary to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost 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 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 boundary of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to adhere to the one you initially specified when possible to avoid any type of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any of the International Airports and Land Boundary Checkpoints because your exit point does not need to be mentioned up-front. Furthermore, you may exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is less costly and also has a lot more connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transportation alternatives might be discouraging but the long distance propositions are a lot more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and flying is cost effective so it may be your better option.
You can still reserve flights the traditional means 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 listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport terminal and grabbing your bag off a trolley by the plane as well as flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and 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 businesses as well as a variety of deluxe levels.
A lot of buses travel over night which is terrific for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so excellent for sleep. Also, you’ll tend to reach at weird times in the early morning and also won’t be able to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hours awaiting a ‘top-up’ nap. Think about if it will be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same night to rest straight away.
Buses are extremely chilly, the deluxe buses will give you a covering but, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hrs for a food and also toilet break– a little bit discouraging if you’re trying 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 more, some still play their funky local music CD’s and also tacky video until the early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be switched off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver regarding he time of arrival. As a result 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 destination invokes bad spirits as well as is taken seriously. The outcome? You won’t get an answer.
You will primarily reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will typically bill a fee however be aware that the cost can differ dramatically.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this really does vary depending on destination, mode of travel and company. Try to find a business that does include pick-up as taxis are extortionate.
Reserving buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one useful on-line reservation portal and also the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it doesn’t necessarily imply the bus is full. Try reservation somewhere else.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without charges.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, however bus rides are bumpy– you could take into consideration taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are likewise an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst tourists.
There are no international car-rental agencies, however many travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– along with guesthouses and hotels elsewhere– can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly apparent in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will be your main way of navigating especially for getting to as well as from airport terminals and within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a fast ‘just how much can I get away with’ computation) as well as you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Commonly the taxi to and also 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 amount for taxi prices.
Taxis for the day might be your far better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan and also $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger variable than time in determining the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hr journey about Yangon can cost USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar and is a big contributing variable to the cost.
Everyone wants to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer throughout your sightseeing and tour trips. Do not 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 flip side, several of the side trips can be fascinating and also drivers may take you to some cool places that aren’t on your travel plan and you may be happy you opted for their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much more affordable yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest places, and mostly all vacationers establish a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can’t handle it– or else you’ll be just one of the several visitors walking toting head to foot road rash and plasters.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 km 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 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.
Get ready for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hours of the morning, your only alternative to get to my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, yet given that this is the main form of tourist transport here it is just all-natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money and ATMs in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to make use of dollars, they have to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for imperfections, discolouration and also creases at the money exchange kiosks. You might additionally have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be less costly because the USD exchange rate is casual– someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is usually applied on the spot, most likely relying on how rich you look.
There are ATMs and also they mostly function yet make certain you have money before showing up at more remote places like the coastline. Occasionally they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any type of fees your financial institution might charge. And you probably will not have the ability to take out more than $150 at a time.
ATMs dispense kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places about, yet mostly 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 ahead of time online this might save you taking additional cash for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted primarily only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, normally charging 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 and restaurants. Companies are recouping their costs.
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a basic private 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 a good example where luxury comes at a cost of $250 per night) with various other excellent alternatives coming in 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 vacationer’ locations like Ngapali coastline can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a couple of hostels there too). On the plus side, you normally get a totally free breakfast with your holiday accommodation.
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 set you back $7-$12.
Bottled water is affordable, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also cheap at a number of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the privilege of being a foreigner as well as making use of squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing footwear and also taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the much more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on prices of things like souvenirs however if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and walk away.
Tipping is not usual practice in Myanmar, as well as it’s just foreigners who tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise as well as out cold by 10pm! The heat is usually intolerable throughout the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it harder to get amazing photos and also move freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and also the far, crime levels are exceptionally low.
Still, you should take the usual preventative measures of making use of hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Female visitors should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is gross as well as there isn’t always soap in washrooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be really dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and also nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. Consequently, numerous travellers use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels can make you ill.
Fruit is easy to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients this way. However, as it’s often pre-cut, look for a vendor that has kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
A lot of government advisories warn against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually led to the mass displacement of countless people. Some other parts of the country continue to be closed to foreigners because of problem in 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 also far from the significant traveler locations.
Precise details on problems and also closed areas can be tough to find. Check your government’s guidance before travelling, and also ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good resource of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders as well as legs regardless of the high temperatures, and also you will certainly 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 as well as typically enforced for entering the temples and pagodas.
Every person wears skirts– males and females 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 warm and also tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are practical for taking in the sights so grab a cheap one a the marketplace if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are crucial! Getting in pagodas indicates going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear choice. Struggling with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an unwanted distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after visiting a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach but somewhere else it’s less common.
The local people are remarkably genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travel can be aggravating, hot and also sluggish but bear in mind: you chose 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 cab drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by citizens who wish to talk. Vacationers are no more a novelty in most of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Typically individuals are charming and also are happy to appear in photographs and attempt and converse through minimal common words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a whole lot which is typically best handled by offering a smile and a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, listen hard as well as if you’re spending for a guide, make sure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| since it delivers a hit that’s equivalent to 6 cups of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the spin-off is bright-red saliva which is spat out, a lot of times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as taxi drivers often roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spew after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the children. Why not? Read this great short article by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese ladies. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as also acts as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes as well as restaurants as locals utilize the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to recognize the area of the kissing audio so do not be surprised!
The two crucial phrases you require in Myanmar are:
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 response– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand and also is charged per item instead of kilo so try to turn up with your garments laundered and also unless you intend to hand over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you actually need washing and wash your smaller sized items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by but tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can not flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is very common in developing countries where the plumbing system can not manage anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hrs in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple adaptors for European and 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, better still, get a local SIM. You can get one at a lot of airport terminals when you land or in among the shops in the street and also the shop personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more about your network options here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘quick’ connection, don’t expect to be downloading video clips at any time. On-line accessibility has improved, with wi-fi the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and cafes have it free of charge– and the web is now spreading tofarther areas. But tightly squeezed bandwidth and power outages can make using the web a discouraging exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and do not anticipate to Skype home extremely frequently, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a knapsack than a luggage. aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in and out of myriad forms of transport as well as hefting it up numerous steep staircases isn’t far better.
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