Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Ramree Island Myanmar Visit
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation officially called Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it wasn’t up until 1989 that the ruling military junta changed 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 previous British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as much more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were also changed, which is why you will 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 made use of interchangeably, on the ground and on the world stage. This article breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and the concern: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to See Myanmar
There are commonly three periods in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather is warm however not stifling, as well as draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the restricted holiday accommodation alternatives tricky to secure as well as will indicate attempting to book in advance or deal with paying for the a lot more pricey options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level rises in Myanmar as well as approaching rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of tourists which makes it easy to book holiday accommodation however it is extremely warm.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa 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 arrive and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter is valid for 90- days from the day of issue as well as allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local embassy might be cheaper– if you want to save some cash, making an application for a visa by means of your local Myanmar embassy might be less costly. For instance, the price is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and do not neglect to factor in mailing expenses.
It is only possible to get in Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay as well as Nay Pyi Taw international airports; as well as at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration site for the most up to date at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the normal option for visitors as the initial mode of entrance, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, taking into consideration where Myanmar is located– surrounded by China to the North and northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern and also India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land access, although not every one of them are encouraged due to security.
No matter, you have to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes exactly how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be given a list of choices, from which you will certainly require to select among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (situated in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Going Across at Land Boundary 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 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 border of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” however it is best to stick to the one you initially stated preferably to prevent any type of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports and Land Border Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not need to be specified up-front. In addition, you may leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is more affordable as well as has much more connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation choices might be discouraging but the long distance propositions are much more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and also flying is budget-friendly so it might be your 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 includes ticking people off a listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and grabbing your bag off a trolley by the airplane and also flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It truly is an experience. And a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing businesses and also a series of high-end levels.
The majority of buses travel overnight which is terrific for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so excellent for rest. Additionally, you’ll often tend to arrive at weird times in the morning and also won’t have the ability 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 certainly be less expensive to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same evening to sleep straight away.
Buses are extremely cold, the luxury buses will certainly offer you a covering however, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hours for a food and toilet break– a bit frustrating if you’re trying to sleep 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 song CD’s and tacky music videos up until the early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a driver about he time of arrival. As a result of superstitious notions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a destination conjures up bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not obtain a response.
You will mostly book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will normally charge a cost however know that the charge can vary considerably.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this actually does vary depending on destination, mode of traveling and company. Search for a company that does include pick-up as taxis are outrageously priced.
Reserving buses online is harder– There isn’t one handy on-line booking portal and the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it doesn’t always indicate the bus is full. Attempt reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, but bus rides are bumpy– you may consider taking tablets for nausea. Boats are also an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among tourists.
There are no international car-rental firms, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– along with guesthouses as well as hotels elsewhere– can organize cars and drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With minimal public transportation, taxis will certainly be your primary means of navigating especially for getting to as well as from airports and within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– prices are established on the spot (after a quick ‘how much can I get away with’ calculation) 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 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 much better bet– it can be about $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 element than time in dictating the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hour trip around Yangon can cost USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each means, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar as well as is a substantial contributing aspect to the expense.
Everyone wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer throughout your sightseeing trips. Do not be afraid to say no when you’re paying for your very own personal transportation. 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 plan and you may be happy you opted for their suggestions!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much cheaper but beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest places, and nearly all vacationers create a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not manage it– or else you’ll be just one of the lots of vacationers walking toting head to foot road rash and also bandages.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has a few of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 kilometres should give you an idea. The time recommended for reaching the bus station (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so don’t count on air-conditioning and leather seats– that 1.5 hour 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 unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hours of the early morning, your only choice to reach my hotel may be through horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, yet because this is the main form of visitor transportation here it is just natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATM Machines 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 need to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as newer than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for problems, discolouration and also folds at the money exchange kiosks. You may likewise have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be less expensive since the USD exchange rate is informal– someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is generally applied on the spot, probably depending upon exactly how rich you look.
There are ATMs and also they mainly function but make certain you have money prior to turning up at more remote places like the beach. In some cases they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine cost of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any costs your bank may bill. As well as you probably will not have the ability to take out greater than $150 each time.
ATMs dispense kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places about, but mostly the transactions are to change immaculate 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 as well as require cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels beforehand online this may save you taking additional money for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and Mandalay also take them, normally billing a tiny fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and restaurants. Companies are recovering their expenses.
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 fine example where high-end comes with a price of $250 per night) with various other excellent alternatives being available 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 traveler’ destinations like Ngapali beach can set you back 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 normally obtain a free breakfast 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 dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or including something like pizza) will certainly set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is cheap, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise inexpensive at a number of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour costs
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner and also utilizing squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear and also taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to negotiate on costs of items like mementos but if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not common practice in Myanmar, and also it’s only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak and also out cold by 10pm! The heat is usually intolerable throughout the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the tourist buses make it more difficult to get incredible photos and also walk around easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are incredibly low.
Still, you should take the typical preventative measures of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Female travellers should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is dirty as well as there isn’t always soap in bathrooms so use 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 as well as nose when biking around. Likewise take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as hot. Subsequently, lots of visitors use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you sick.
Fruit is easy to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. Nevertheless, as it’s often 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.
Many government advisories advise against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually led to the mass displacement of countless people. Some other parts of the country remain shut to foreigners as a result of problem in between the government and various ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mainly in Kachin as well as Shan States, near the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and far from the significant vacationer locations.
Exact details on problems as well as closed locations can be tough to find. Check your government’s recommendations prior to taking a trip, and inquire about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent source of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and also legs regardless of the heat, and also you will certainly make everybody more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tees are the attire of choice. These are highly encouraged as well as often 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. Numerous visitors pick one up as they’re breezy in the heat and also tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing so get a cheap one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are important! Going into pagodas indicates going barefoot and flip flops are the best footwear option. Dealing with laces in the scorching heat is an undesirable interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after seeing 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 find individuals in shorts and strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach however in other places it’s less common.
The local individuals are remarkably genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travel can be frustrating, warm and sluggish but bear in mind: you chose to check out Myanmar and that it’s not like 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 whole lot by citizens who wish to chat. Travelers are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are charming and also are happy to appear in photographs and also try as well as chat with minimal usual words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a whole lot which is typically best dealt with by providing a smile as well as a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and also if you’re paying for a guide, ensure they have good clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, small parcels that contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it delivers a hit that’s equivalent to six mugs of coffee. But, 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 citizens have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as cab drivers usually roll down the window in slow traffic to spit after chewing 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 brilliant short article 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 and likewise works as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the coffee shops and dining establishments as residents utilize the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to identify the area of the kissing noise so do not be distressed!
Both essential phrases 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 a lot of residents to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand and is billed per item rather than kilo so try to turn up with your clothes laundered and also unless you want to hand over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you truly require washing as well as wash your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are simple 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 very common in developing countries where the plumbing system can not deal with anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that strange 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 numerous adaptors for European as well as North American 2-pin plugs as well as 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 obtain one at many airport terminals when you land or in among the stores in the street as well as the shop personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can read more concerning your network choices here. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a ‘rapid’ link, do not anticipate to be downloading videos whenever. Online accessibility has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the standard– most hotels, guesthouses and cafes have it totally free– and also the web is now spreading tofarther areas. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can use the web an irritating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and also do not anticipate to Skype home extremely often, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You’ll be better with a knapsack than a travel suitcase. Travel suitcases aren’t ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Getting in and also out of myriad forms of transport and also hefting it up numerous high stairs isn’t far better.
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