Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Myanmar Travel Information Mandalay
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation officially referred to as Burma acquired 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 former British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as a lot more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were also 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 Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground and on the world stage. This short article breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and also the inquiry: does it even matter?
Best Times to Visit Myanmar
There are commonly 3 seasons in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summer season
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather condition is warm yet not stifling, and attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the limited holiday accommodation choices challenging to secure and also will indicate attempting to book ahead or face paying out for the a lot more expensive options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar and also approaching rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of tourists which makes it very easy to book accommodation but it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is offered to tourists from these 100 countries.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa site. You’ll be required to upload a passport photo as well as pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and also you should obtain approval within 3 working days.
Print out your e-Visa letter, show it when you arrive and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter stands for 90- days from the day of issue and enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local embassy might be less expensive– if you intend to save some money, looking for a visa by means of your local Myanmar consular office may be less costly. As an example, the expense is simply , 14 in the UK but $40 in the United States, so do your research as well as do not forget to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and also at 3 Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration website for the latest at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the normal option for travellers as the first mode of entrance, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. But, considering where Myanmar is located– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and Laos to the eastern as well as India and also Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple for land access, although not all of them are recommended due to safety.
Regardless, you must specify a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes just how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a listing of choices, from which you will require to select among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (located in between Mandalay as well as 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 border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the border of the Thai Peninsula and also the collection of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Region of northwestern Myanmar on the border 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 boundary of Southeastern India).
In truth, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” however it is best to stay with the one you originally stated preferably to avoid any kind of hold up in the handling 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 stated up-front. Additionally, you might exit at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is less costly and has extra connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation choices may be discouraging however the cross country propositions are a lot more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and flying is economical so it may be your better choice.
You can still reserve flights the old-school means by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little 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 as well as grabbing your bag off a cart by the aircraft as well as flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. As well as a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing companies as well as a range of luxury levels.
A lot 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 reach at strange times in the early morning and also will not have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hrs awaiting a ‘top-up’ snooze. Consider if it will be less costly to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the exact same night to sleep straight away.
Buses are really cold, the high-end buses will certainly provide you a blanket but, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every few hrs for a food and toilet break– a bit irritating if you’re trying to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, even though 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 as well as tacky video until the very early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some heavy-duty extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be turned off.
Never ever ask a vehicle 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 reach a location summons bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not obtain a response.
You will mainly book buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally charge a cost yet know that the cost can vary dramatically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this really does vary depending upon destination, mode of travel and company. Search for a company that does include pick-up as taxis are expensive.
Reserving buses online is harder– There isn’t one convenient on-line reservation portal as well as the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not necessarily indicate the bus is full. Attempt reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, however bus rides are bumpy– you could take into consideration taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are also an option for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– in addition to guesthouses and hotels in other places– can organize cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your major method of getting around especially for getting to and also from airport terminals and also within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– prices are set on the spot (after a quick ‘just how much can I get away with’ computation) and you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often the taxi to and 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.
Taxis for the day may be your better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan as well as $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger variable than time in dictating the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hour trip around Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each means, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar as well as is a big contributing factor to the cost.
Everybody intends to take you to a craft shop, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing and tour trips. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your own personal transport. Nevertheless, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, some of the side journeys can be fascinating and drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your travel plan and you may be happy you chose their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electrical motorcycles) outside the cities is much less expensive yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest areas, and also almost all tourists create a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not manage it– or else you’ll be one of the lots of visitors walking around toting head to foot road rash as well as bandages.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 kilometres ought to provide you an idea. The time suggested 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 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.
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 through horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, yet since this is the primary form of tourist transportation here it is just all-natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can make use of 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 checked thoroughly for imperfections, discolouration and also folds at the currency exchange stands. You may likewise have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Using kyat is likely to be cheaper since the USD exchange rate is casual– somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is usually applied on the spot, most likely depending upon just how rich you look.
There are ATMs as well as they mainly function however see to it you have cash before showing up at more remote spots like the coastline. Sometimes they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM fee of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any charges your bank could charge. As well as you probably won’t have the ability to take out more than $150 each time.
ATM machines give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, yet mainly the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational flight terminal to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and also need cash payment. If you have reserved your hotels ahead of time online this may save you taking additional cash for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mainly only in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, normally charging a small cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling 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 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 tourist hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a drab, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury resorts 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 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 tourist’ destinations like Ngapali coastline can cost 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 obtain a complimentary breakfast with your lodging.
Street food is most cost effective– 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 certainly cost $7-$12.
Bottled water is economical, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also inexpensive at a number of dollars per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour prices
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner and utilizing squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing shoes and taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on costs of items like mementos but if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest as well as walk away.
Tipping is not usual method in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn and fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is often excruciating during the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the visitor buses make it harder to get fantastic images and walk around freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are incredibly reduced.
Still, you need to take the typical precautions of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Female tourists should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is filthy and there isn’t always soap in shower rooms so use your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be really 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. Subsequently, lots of visitors use the a/c in their room however sleeping in low temperatures can make you unwell.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. However, as it’s typically pre-cut, look for a seller that has kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
A lot of government advisories alert against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has led to the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the country continue to be closed to foreigners because of problem between the government as well as different ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are primarily in Kachin and Shan States, near the frontiers with China and Thailand, and far from the major vacationer destinations.
Accurate information on conflicts as well as closed locations can be difficult to come by. Check your government’s advice prior to taking a trip, and inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great source of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders as well as legs regardless of the heat, and you will make everybody more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tees are the attire of choice. These are strongly encouraged as well as usually enforced for going into the temples and also pagodas.
Everyone wears skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Lots of vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm and tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are convenient for taking in the sights so pick up an affordable one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are essential! Entering pagodas indicates going barefoot and also flip flops are the best footwear selection. Dealing with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an unwanted distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach however in other places it’s much less usual.
The local individuals are incredibly genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travel can be irritating, hot and sluggish yet keep in mind: you selected to visit Myanmar and that it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. Nevertheless, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by residents that wish to talk. Tourists are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Typically the people are wonderful and also more than happy to appear in photographs and try and speak with limited usual words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a whole lot which is normally best managed by providing a smile and a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, pay attention and also if you’re spending for a guide, make certain they have good clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, small parcels which 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 amounts 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, many times onto the ground.
Great deals of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as taxi drivers typically roll down the window in slow traffic to spew after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by kids in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this fantastic article by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese girls. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty product in Myanmar and additionally functions as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes as well as restaurants as residents use the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s simpler for staff to determine the area of the kissing audio so do not be distressed!
Both essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Not only is it courteous, 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 anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand as well as is billed per item rather than kilo so try to show up with your clothing washed and unless you intend to turn over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you really require washing and wash your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by but tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can not flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is really common in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t cope with anything other than 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 several adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin connects in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to overcome it or, better still, purchase a local SIM. You can obtain one at the majority of flight terminals when you land or in among the shops in the street as well as the shop staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more about your network options here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘fast’ link, don’t expect to be downloading video clips whenever. On-line access has actually improved, with wi-fi the norm– most hotels, guesthouses and also coffee shops have it free of charge– and the web is now spreading tomore remote places. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power failures can make using the net a frustrating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and also don’t expect to Skype home extremely often, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be better with a knapsack than a luggage. Travel suitcases aren’t ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Getting in and out of myriad forms of transport and also hefting it up lots of high staircases isn’t better.
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