Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Myanmar Travel Blog 2017
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation formally referred to as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it had not been up until 1989 that the ruling military junta altered 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 much more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were additionally 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 made use of interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and the question: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are commonly 3 periods in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the climate is warm yet not stifling, and also brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the restricted holiday accommodation choices difficult to secure and will certainly indicate attempting to book ahead or deal with paying out for the much more costly options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases 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 exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is offered to tourists from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa internet site. You’ll be required to submit a passport photo and pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply as well as 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 is valid for 90- days from the date of issue as well as enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local consular office may be cheaper– if you intend to save some money, making an application for a visa via your local Myanmar embassy may be cheaper. For example, the cost is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the United States, so do your research and do not neglect to consider mailing costs.
It is only possible to get in Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration site for the most recent at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the typical choice for visitors as the very first mode of entry, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, taking into consideration where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the east and also India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple for land entrance, although not every one of them are suggested because of security.
Regardless, you must specify a “Port of Entry” in your on the internet application which denotes exactly how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will be provided a listing of choices, where you will certainly require to select among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (located in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Crossing at Land Border 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 border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region 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 village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to adhere to the one you initially specified when possible to avoid any type of 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 because your exit point does not require to be specified up front. Additionally, you may leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is more affordable and has much more connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation options may be aggravating however the long distance propositions are a lot more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and also flying is budget friendly so it might be your better option.
You can still book flights the traditional means by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in includes ticking people off a listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and getting your bag off a cart by the plane and also 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 do not let it get you stressed.Buses are economical with competing companies and a range of luxury levels.
The majority of buses travel over night which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing, yet isn’t so terrific for rest. Likewise, you’ll often tend to arrive at weird 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 great deal of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ nap. Take into consideration 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 deluxe buses will certainly provide you a blanket yet, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every few hours for a food and also toilet break– a little bit aggravating if you’re attempting to sleep 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 even more, some still play their funky local song CD’s and tacky music videos until the early hours of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be turned off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver regarding he time of arrival. Due to superstitions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a location invokes bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You will not obtain a response.
You will mostly reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will usually charge a fee yet be aware that the cost can differ significantly.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this actually does differ depending on destination, mode of travel and company. Try to find a business that does include pick-up as taxis are outrageously priced.
Booking buses online is harder– There isn’t one helpful on-line reservation website and the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it doesn’t necessarily mean the bus is full. Attempt booking elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without fees.
Buses are almost always faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you might consider taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise a choice for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst visitors.
There are no international car-rental companies, however the majority of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan– as well as guesthouses as well as hotels in other places– can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will be your primary means of getting around particularly for getting to and also from airport terminals and also within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– rates are established on the spot (after a quick ‘just how much can I get away with’ computation) as well as you’re going to have 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 paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi prices.
Taxi cabs for the day may be your better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and also $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger aspect than time in dictating the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hr journey about Yangon can cost USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each method, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar and is a massive contributing element to the price.
Everyone intends to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing trips. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your very own private transport. After all, 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 locations that aren’t on your itinerary and you may be happy you opted for their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electrical motorcycles) outside the cities is much cheaper however beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far among the dustiest locations, as well as mostly all travelers establish a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and 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 numerous vacationers walking toting head to foot road rash as well as bandages.
The big cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 km ought to provide you an idea. The time suggested for reaching 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 and also leather seats– that 1.5 hr trip in Yangon could all be done in 38 degree heat with nothing more than the heat of the engine fan to ‘cool’ you down.
Prepare for the unforeseen. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hours of the early morning, your only option 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 major form of traveler transport here it is only all-natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATMs in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars as well as the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to make use of dollars, they must be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as more recent than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for flaws, discolouration and also folds at the money exchange kiosks. You could also have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in United States dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is likely to be less costly because the USD currency exchange rate is informal– someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, most likely relying on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines as well as they mainly function however make sure you have cash before showing up at more remote areas like the beach. In some cases 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 fees your financial institution may bill. And also you probably won’t be able to withdraw more than $150 at once.
ATMs give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, but 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 booked your hotels in advance online this may save you taking additional money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, normally billing a tiny charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being developed. That includes guesthouses and also dining establishments. Companies are recouping their costs.
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a basic 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 drab, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a fine example where high-end comes with a cost 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 modern hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package vacationer’ destinations like Ngapali beach can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a couple of hostels there also). On the bonus side, you typically obtain a free morning meal 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 meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or including something like pizza) will certainly set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also affordable at a number of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and also utilizing squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing footwear as well as taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the much more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on costs of things like mementos yet if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest as well as leave.
Tipping is not usual practice in Myanmar, and also it’s just foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn and also out cold by 10pm! The heat is often excruciating during the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the tourist buses make it more difficult to get fantastic photos and walk around freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State as well as the far, criminal activity levels are remarkably reduced.
Still, you ought to take the normal precautions of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Women visitors 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 shower rooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and nose when cycling around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as hot. Subsequently, several 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 in this way. Nevertheless, as it’s commonly pre-cut, try to find a seller that has kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
A lot of government advisories caution against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has caused the mass displacement of countless people. A few other parts of the country stay closed to foreigners because of dispute in between the government and different ethnic militaries gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mainly in Kachin and also Shan States, near the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and far from the significant traveler destinations.
Precise information on problems and also closed locations can be difficult to come by. Check your government’s advice prior to taking a trip, as well as ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good resource of news from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders and legs regardless of the heat, and also you will make everybody much more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tees are the outfit of choice. These are highly encouraged as well as typically enforced for getting in the temples and also pagodas.
Everyone puts on skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Numerous visitors pick one up as they’re breezy in the warmth and also tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so grab a cheap 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 best footwear choice. Dealing with laces in the blistering heat is an undesirable interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after checking out 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 certainly find people in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach however somewhere else it’s less typical.
The local individuals are exceptionally genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be discouraging, warm and also sluggish however bear in mind: you selected to see Myanmar and that it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. Nevertheless, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by citizens who wish to chat. Vacationers are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are lovely and also more than happy to appear in pictures and also try as well as speak with minimal typical words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a great deal which is normally best handled by providing a smile as well as a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and also 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 spewing red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| since it provides a hit that amounts to 6 cups of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, a lot of times onto the ground.
Lots of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth and also cab drivers often roll down the window in slow traffic to spit after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the children. Why not? Read this brilliant 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 as well as additionally functions as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the coffee shops as well as restaurants as locals make use of the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to recognize the location of the kissing noise so do not be surprised!
Both essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it respectful, yet it is well received. Be ready for most citizens to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand as well as is billed per item rather than kilo so try to turn up with your clothing washed and unless you intend to turn over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you truly require washing and wash your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are very easy to find by but tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely common in developing nations where the plumbing system can not manage anything apart from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual 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 several adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin plugs along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to get over it or, much better still, purchase a local SIM. You can get one at the majority of airport terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the street and the store personnel will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more about your network choices below. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘fast’ link, do not expect to be downloading videos at any time. On-line access has improved, with wi-fi the norm– most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it absolutely free– as well as the net is now spreading tomore remote locations. But tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can make using the net an irritating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and don’t anticipate to Skype home extremely often, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You’ll be better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. Luggage aren’t suitable on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transport and hefting it up many steep staircases isn’t much better.
Thanks for reading this guide to Top Traveling Tips for Myanmar – Myanmar Travel Blog 2017