Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar Visit Visa Form
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country officially known as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it had not been 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 seen as a relic of the country’s former British colonial past, and also Myanmar as 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 as well as Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and also the question: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Visit Myanmar
There are typically 3 periods in which you can visit Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather is warm yet not stifling, as well as draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the restricted accommodation choices difficult to secure and will mean trying to book in advance or deal with paying out for the more pricey choices 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 visitors which makes it very easy to book lodging but it is unbelievably warm.
An e-Visa is readily available to tourists from these 100 countries.
To obtain one, go to the main e-Visa web site. You’ll be required to submit a passport photo as well as pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply as well as you should get authorization within 3 working days.
Print out your e-Visa letter, show it when you arrive and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter is valid for 90- days from the day of issue and also allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local consular office may be less expensive– if you wish to save some cash, applying for a visa via your local Myanmar consular office might be more affordable. For example, the price is simply , 14 in the UK however $40 in the USA, so do your research and don’t fail to remember to consider mailing costs.
It is only possible to enter 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 also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration web site for the most up to date at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the common choice for tourists as the initial mode of entrance, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. But, thinking about where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the east as well as India and Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous for land entrance, although not every one of them are encouraged because of safety.
No matter, you must specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes how you will certainly be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be given a listing of alternatives, from which you will certainly require to choose one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay and also 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 most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the boundary 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 town 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” however it is best to adhere to the one you initially mentioned if possible to avoid any kind of hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports and Land Boundary Checkpoints given that your exit point does not require to be mentioned up-front. In addition, you might 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 also has much more links than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transport choices might be discouraging but the cross country propositions are a lot more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and flying is budget-friendly so it might be your much better choice.
You can still book flights the traditional way by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days– check-in involves ticking individuals off a list of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport as well as getting your bag off a cart by the plane as well as flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign and also 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 budget-friendly with competing businesses and a range of high-end levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing, however isn’t so fantastic for sleep. Also, you’ll tend to reach at odd times in the early morning and won’t have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ snooze. Take into consideration if it will be less expensive to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the exact same evening to take a nap immediately.
Buses are very chilly, the high-end buses will give you a blanket yet, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every few hours for a food and toilet break– a little bit irritating if you’re trying 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 music CD’s and also cheesy video until the very early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be turned off.
Never ever ask a driver about he time of arrival. Due to superstitious notions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will get to a location conjures up bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The result? You will not obtain an answer.
You will generally book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will generally bill a fee but understand that the fee can differ considerably.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this really does differ depending on destination, mode of traveling and also company. Search for a company that does include pick-up as taxis are exorbitant.
Booking buses online is harder– There isn’t one convenient on-line reservation portal and the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it doesn’t necessarily imply the bus is full. Attempt booking somewhere else.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without costs.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, but bus rides are bumpy– you might take into consideration taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are likewise an option for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– as well as guesthouses as well as hotels elsewhere– can arrange cars and drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly evident in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will certainly be your main method of getting around particularly for getting to and also from airport terminals and within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– prices 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 rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often the taxi to as well as from the airport/bus will certainly be greater than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi fares.
Taxis for the day might be your 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 larger aspect than time in determining the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hour trip about Yangon can set you back 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 pricey in Myanmar and is a significant contributing factor to the price.
Everyone intends to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing and tour trips. Do not 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 other hand, some of the side trips can be interesting and drivers may take you to some cool places that aren’t on your travel plan and you may be happy you chose their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much cheaper yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is by far one of the dustiest places, and almost all vacationers develop a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and 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 many visitors walking around toting head to foot road rash and also plasters.
The big 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 give you an idea. The time recommended for reaching the bus terminal (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so do not 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.
Get ready for the unforeseen. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hours of the morning, your only option to get to my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, however considering that this is the major form of vacationer transport here it is only all-natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and ATMs in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to utilize dollars, they have to be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also more recent than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for problems, discolouration and also folds at the money exchange stands. You could likewise have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be more affordable because the USD exchange rate is casual– someplace in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is generally applied on the spot, possibly relying on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mostly work but ensure you have money prior to turning up at more remote places like the coastline. In some cases 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 charges your financial institution may bill. As well as you possibly will not have the ability to take out more than $150 each time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are lots of exchange places around, but mainly the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational airport to change money 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 may save you taking added cash for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted mostly just in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, usually charging a small charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses as well as restaurants. Companies are recovering 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 visitor hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dingy, 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 high-end comes with a cost of $250 per night) with various other great alternatives coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A modern hotel can cost USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package visitor’ locations like Ngapali coastline can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a number of hostels there as well). On the plus side, you generally get a complimentary morning meal 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 cost $7-$12.
Bottled water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise cheap at a couple of dollars per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour expenses
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner and utilizing squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing shoes and taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the much more touristy locations.
It’s possible to bargain on costs of items like mementos but if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not typical 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 and out cold by 10pm! The heat is often unbearable during the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it harder to get outstanding photos and move around easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State and the far, crime levels are incredibly reduced.
Still, you need to take the normal preventative measures of using hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Women tourists should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is dirty and also there isn’t always soap in bathrooms 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 cycling around. Likewise take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as hot. Consequently, numerous travellers use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperatures can make you unwell.
Fruit is easy to find so top up your immune system with nutrients this way. Nonetheless, as it’s often pre-cut, try to find a vendor that has kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
The majority 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 actually resulted in the mass displacement of thousands of people. Some other parts of the country remain closed to foreigners because of dispute between the government as well as various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and far from the significant traveler locations.
Precise info on conflicts and also closed areas can be tough to come by. Check your government’s recommendations 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 great source of news from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
The majority of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and also legs despite the high temperatures, as well as you will certainly make everybody much more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also t-shirts are the clothing of choice. These are highly encouraged and also often enforced for entering the temples and pagodas.
Everybody uses skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Many visitors pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat as well as tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing and tour so pick up an affordable one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are crucial! Going into pagodas indicates going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear option. Struggling with laces in the blistering heat is an unwelcome interruption. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend far better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach yet elsewhere it’s less common.
The local people are extremely genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travel can be irritating, hot and also slow yet bear in mind: you picked to visit Myanmar and that it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. Nevertheless, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by residents that intend to talk. Travelers are no more a novelty in most of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Usually individuals are beautiful as well as are happy to appear in pictures and also try and speak with limited typical words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a great deal which is normally best managed 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 paying for a guide, make certain they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, tiny parcels which contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| since it provides a hit that amounts to 6 mugs of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the spin-off is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, many times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as taxi drivers commonly roll down the window in sluggish traffic to spit after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the children. Why not? Read this brilliant post by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese girls. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic 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 and dining establishments as locals use the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to recognize the area of the kissing audio so do not be startled!
The two most important expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it courteous, however it is well received. Be ready for many residents 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 as well as is charged per item instead of kilo so try to turn up with your garments washed as well as unless you want to hand over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you really need washing and wash your smaller items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by yet tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can not flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely common in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t handle 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 numerous adaptors for European as well as North American 2-pin plugs in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to overcome it or, much better still, purchase a local SIM. You can get one at a lot of flight terminals when you land or in among the shops in the street as well as the shop personnel will have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can read more about your network selections right here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘fast’ link, don’t expect to be downloading videos any time. Online accessibility has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the standard– most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it free of charge– and the net is now spreading tomore remote places. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power failures can make using the internet a discouraging exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and don’t 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 backpack than a suitcase. Travel suitcases aren’t ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering and also out of myriad forms of transport and also hefting it up numerous steep staircases isn’t better.
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