Top Myanmar Travel Tips – Visit Mayan Ruins In Belize Without A Tour
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation officially referred to as Burma acquired 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 viewed as a relic of the nation’s previous British colonial past, and Myanmar as more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were additionally changed, which is why you will certainly 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 and Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This short article breaks down the modifications, what you ‘should’ say and the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Visit Myanmar
There are typically three seasons 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 season is November to February when the climate is warm yet not stifling, and attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the minimal holiday accommodation options tricky to secure as well as will indicate trying to book ahead or deal with paying for the more expensive options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level climbs in Myanmar and approaching rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of tourists which makes it very easy to book holiday accommodation yet it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is offered to travellers from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa website. You’ll be required to submit a passport photo and pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply as well as you should get approval 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 and also permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy may be more affordable– if you intend to save some money, applying for a visa by means of your local Myanmar consular office might be cheaper. As an example, the price is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the USA, so do your research and also don’t forget to factor in mailing expenses.
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 three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration web site for the most recent at the time you take a trip.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the normal option for travellers as the first mode of entry, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, thinking about where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the east as well as India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land entrance, although not every one of them are advised because of safety and security.
Regardless, you need to 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 given a list of options, where you will 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 Yangon)
Crossing at Land Border Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the boundary to northern 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 border of the Thai Peninsula as well as 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 boundary town 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 stay with the one you originally mentioned if possible to avoid any 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 since your exit point does not require to be specified up-front. Additionally, you might leave at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is more affordable as well as has much more connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar– Long Distance
Myanmar’s local transport alternatives might be aggravating but the long distance propositions are much more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and flying is inexpensive so it may be your far better option.
You can still book flights the traditional means by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in entails ticking individuals off a list of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport terminal as well as grabbing your bag off a trolley by the plane as well as flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It truly is an experience. And also a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are cost effective with competing companies as well as a variety of luxury levels.
The majority of buses travel overnight which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, but isn’t so excellent for sleep. Likewise, you’ll often tend to arrive at strange times in the morning and also won’t be able to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hours waiting for a ‘top-up’ snooze. Think about if it will certainly be cheaper to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same evening to take a nap immediately.
Buses are extremely cold, the deluxe buses will certainly give you a blanket but, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hrs for a food and also toilet break– a little bit discouraging if you’re attempting 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 even more, some still play their funky local song CD’s as well as tacky music videos up until the early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some heavy-duty extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be shut off.
Never ask a vehicle driver about 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 reach a destination invokes bad spirits as well as is taken seriously. The result? You won’t get an answer.
You will generally book buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will normally bill a cost however know that the fee can vary drastically.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this truly does vary depending upon destination, mode of traveling and also company. Try to find a company that does include pickup as taxis are extortionate.
Booking buses online is harder– There isn’t one helpful on-line reservation site and the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it does not always mean the bus is full. Try booking in other places.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without fees.
Buses are often faster than the trains, however bus rides are rough– you could consider taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are also an option for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among travellers.
There are no international car-rental agencies, yet most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan– in addition to 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 transport, taxis will certainly be your main method of getting around especially for getting to and also from flight terminals and within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– rates are established on the spot (after a fast ‘just how much can I get away with’ estimation) and also you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Usually the taxi to and also 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.
Cabs for the day might be your much better bet– it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan and $28 for a couple of hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger aspect than time in dictating the price 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 means, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar and is a massive contributing element 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 very own personal transport. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, some of the side journeys can be intriguing and also drivers may take you to some cool places that aren’t on your schedule 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 by far one of the dustiest areas, and almost all travelers develop a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– or else you’ll be just one of the numerous travelers walking toting head to foot road rash as well as bandages.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has several of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km should give you an idea. The time suggested for getting to the bus station (22km away from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so do not count on air-conditioning and leather seats– that 1.5 hr trip 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.
Prepare for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hours of the early morning, your only option to reach my hotel may be through horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, but because this is the primary form of tourist transport here it is only all-natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money and ATM Machines 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 use dollars, they need to be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and newer than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for defects, discolouration and folds at the money exchange kiosks. You could also have trouble changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States bucks so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is most likely to be cheaper since the USD exchange rate is casual– someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is generally applied on the spot, possibly depending upon just how rich you look.
There are ATM machines as well as they mostly function but make certain you have money prior to turning up at more remote areas like the coastline. Often they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine fee of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any type of fees your bank may bill. And also you probably will not have the ability to withdraw more than $150 each time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places about, however mainly the transactions are to change pristine 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 booked your hotels in advance online this may save you taking extra cash money for accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly just in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, usually billing a little charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and dining establishments. Businesses are recovering their expenses.
A dorm bed will 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 dull, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a good example where luxury comes with a rate of $250 per night) with other excellent alternatives coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs 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 cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a couple of hostels there too). On the bonus side, you normally get a totally free breakfast with your accommodation.
Street food is most economical– around $1-$2 for a plate of something basic. Local restaurants cost around $2-$4 a dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Bottled water is economical, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally economical at a number of bucks per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour expenses
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and making use of squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear and also taking pictures. ‘Foreigner payments’ are preferred in the much more touristy areas.
It’s possible to negotiate on prices of items like mementos but if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not typical technique in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners that tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and out cold by 10pm! The heat is often excruciating during the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it more difficult to get outstanding pictures as well as move freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and the far, crime levels are exceptionally reduced.
Still, you ought to take the common safety measures of using hotel storage lockers or safes for your belongings. Female visitors should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is unclean and also there isn’t always soap in washrooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and nose when cycling around. Likewise take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as hot. As a result, several 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 body immune system with nutrients that way. However, as it’s frequently pre-cut, look for a vendor that has actually kept the flies away and if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
A lot of government advisories alert 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 thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the country stay shut to foreigners because of problem between the government and also various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mainly in Kachin and Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and Thailand, and far from the major traveler locations.
Precise info on conflicts and also closed areas can be challenging to come by. Check your government’s recommendations prior to travelling, and also inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great resource of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
The majority of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and legs regardless of the high temperatures, and you will certainly make everybody more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tees are the attire of choice. These are highly encouraged and usually enforced for entering the temples as well as pagodas.
Every person puts on skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Many vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm 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 chance.
Flip flops are essential! Going into pagodas indicates going barefoot as well as flip flops are the very best footwear option. Struggling with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an unwelcome distraction. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after seeing a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find people in shorts and strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach yet in other places it’s much less usual.
The local people are exceptionally genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travel can be discouraging, hot as well as slow-moving but remember: you selected to go to Myanmar which it’s not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. However, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by locals that intend to chat. Visitors are no longer a novelty in most of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Usually the people are lovely and more than happy to appear in photographs as well as try and also converse through minimal common words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a great deal which is typically best handled by offering a smile as well as a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, listen hard and also if you’re paying for a guide, ensure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, little parcels that contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s probably popular| since it delivers a hit that amounts to six cups of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spat out, most times onto the ground.
Lots of residents have the tell tale red stained teeth and taxi drivers frequently roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spit after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn’t give to the children. Why not? Read this fantastic 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 additionally serves as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes and also dining establishments as residents utilize the kissing noise as a call for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to identify the place of the kissing noise so do not be upset!
The two most important expressions you need in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it polite, yet it is well received. Be prepared for a lot of residents to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand and is billed per item rather than kilo so try to turn up with your garments laundered as well as unless you want to turn over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you truly require washing as well as clean your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by but tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can’t flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is extremely usual in developing countries where the plumbing system can’t cope with anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual 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 numerous adaptors for European and North American 2-pin connects in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to get over it or, better still, acquire a local SIM. You can get one at most airports when you land or in one of the stores in the road as well as the shop staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can learn more about your network options right here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a ‘rapid’ connection, do not expect to be downloading video clips at any time. On-line accessibility has actually improved, with wi-fi coming to be the standard– most hotels, guesthouses as well as cafes have it for free– as well as the net is now spreading tofarther places. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power interruptions can use the net an aggravating 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 much better with a backpack than a suitcase. aren’t perfect on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transportation and hefting it up many steep stairs isn’t far better.
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