Leading Myanmar Travel Tips
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country officially referred to as Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it had not been till 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 country's previous British colonial past, and also Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous 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 used interchangeably, on the ground and on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the changes, what you 'should' say and the concern: does it even matter?
Best Times to See Myanmar
There are usually 3 periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather condition is warm yet not stifling, and draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the minimal lodging choices tricky to secure and also will imply attempting to book ahead or face paying out for the more expensive alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar and upcoming rains are due. There is a limited number of vacationers that makes it easy to book holiday accommodation however it is extremely warm.
An e-Visa is readily available to travellers from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa web site. You'll be required to submit a passport photo and also pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 mins 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 stands for 90- days from the date of issue and permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local consular office might be cheaper-- if you wish to save some money, making an application for a visa through your local Myanmar consular office might be less expensive. For example, the expense is just ₤ 14 in the UK yet $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and do not forget to consider 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 at 3 Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration web site for the latest at the time you take a trip.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the usual choice for travellers as the first mode of access, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, thinking about where Myanmar lies-- surrounded by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand and Laos to the east as well as India and also Bangladesh to its west-- there are several avenues for land entrance, although not every one of them are advised due to safety.
Regardless, you have to define a "Port of Entry" in your online application which denotes exactly how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a listing of choices, where you will require to choose one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
Mandalay (located right in the middle of Myanmar)
Yangon (located in the south)
Nay Pyi Taw (located in between Mandalay and also 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 boundary to western Thailand)
Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula and also 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 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 stick to the one you originally specified ideally 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 since your exit point does not require to be stated up front. Furthermore, you may 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 options may be aggravating but the cross country propositions are far more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is slow and also flying is affordable so it may be your much better option.
You can still reserve 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 people off a listing of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport as well as getting your bag off a trolley by the aircraft and flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. As well as a great deal of fun if you don't let it get you stressed.Buses are budget-friendly with competing businesses and also a variety of deluxe levels.
A lot of buses travel overnight which is excellent for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, yet isn't so great for rest. Additionally, you'll often tend to arrive at odd times in the early 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' snooze. Take into consideration if it will be less expensive to fly if you're going to book accommodation the same night to sleep immediately.
Buses are really chilly, the deluxe buses will give you a blanket but, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn't have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hours for a food and toilet break-- a bit aggravating 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 more, some still play their funky local music CD's and also tacky video till the very early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be turned off.
Never ever ask a vehicle 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 get to a destination conjures up bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You won't obtain an answer.
You will primarily reserve buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse-- they will generally charge a cost however know that the charge can differ drastically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price - this truly does vary depending upon destination, mode of travel as well as company. Try to find a firm that does include pickup as taxis are expensive.
Booking buses online is more difficult-- There isn't one convenient online reservation portal as well as the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you're told they're sold out, it does not always imply the bus is full. Attempt booking in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, yet bus rides are bumpy-- you may consider taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are likewise an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay-- Bagan service is popular amongst visitors.
There are no international car-rental firms, however the majority of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan-- along with guesthouses as well as hotels elsewhere-- can arrange cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar's Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your main method of getting around particularly for getting to and also from flight terminals and within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate-- rates 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 unusual to hear prices 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 quantity for taxi prices.
Cabs for the day might be your much better bet-- it can be around $35 for a day of taking in the sights in Bagan as well as $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger variable than time in dictating the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hour trip around Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar as well as is a substantial contributing element to the cost.
Everybody wants to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing trips. Do not hesitate to say no when you're paying for your own personal transportation. Besides, that's the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, a few of the side journeys can be interesting and also drivers may take you to some cool places that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you opted for their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much more inexpensive but beware of the dust-- Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest areas, and also almost all visitors create a dust cough. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can't handle it-- or else you'll be one of the lots of vacationers walking toting head to foot road rash as well as plasters.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker-- Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 kilometres should give 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 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 absolutely 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 extremely early hours of the morning, your only choice to reach my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, yet given that this is the main form of tourist transport here it is only all-natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar-- dollars as well as the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat').
If you're going to utilize dollars, they need to be pristine. What's pristine/brand new-- unfolded, uncreased and more recent than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for defects, discolouration and creases at the currency exchange stands. You could additionally have trouble changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in US dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is most likely to be more affordable since the USD exchange rate is informal-- somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, probably depending upon how rich you look.
There are ATM machines as well as they mostly function but see to it you have money before showing up at more remote spots like the coastline. In some cases they might be out of service.
You'll pay an ATM cost of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any type of fees your financial institution might bill. And you most likely will not have the ability to take out more than $150 each time.
ATM machines give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, but mainly the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the big 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 reserved your hotels beforehand online this might save you taking additional money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted primarily only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, generally charging a little charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a whole lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia-- facilities is still being built. That includes guesthouses as well as dining establishments. Businesses are recovering their costs.
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a standard personal 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 a fine example where luxury comes at a cost of $250 per night) with various other great 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 tourist' locations like Ngapali beach can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a number of hostels there as well). On the bonus side, you usually get a complimentary breakfast with your holiday 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 featuring something like pizza) will certainly cost $7-$12.
Bottled water is cheap, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also low-cost at a number of dollars per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner and also making use of squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing footwear and also taking pictures. 'Foreigner payments' are preferred in the much more touristy locations.
It's possible to negotiate on costs of products like souvenirs however if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and leave.
Tipping is not usual method in Myanmar, and it's just foreigners who tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise and also out cold by 10pm! The heat is usually intolerable during the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it more difficult to get amazing photos as well as move around freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and also the far, crime levels are incredibly reduced.
Still, you need to take the normal precautions of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your belongings. Female tourists should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser-- the cash is dirty and also there isn't always soap in restrooms 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 really 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 warm. Consequently, check here numerous tourists use the a/c in their room however sleeping in low temperatures can make you unwell.
Fruit is very easy to find so top up your immune system with nutrients in this way. Nonetheless, as it's usually pre-cut, look for a seller that has actually kept the flies away and if it's sluiced with water, ensure it's filtered water.
Safety and security
The majority of government advisories advise against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually resulted in the mass displacement of thousands of people. A few other parts of the nation remain shut to foreigners because of problem in between the government and various ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are primarily in Kachin and Shan States, close to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and also far from the significant traveler locations.
Exact information on conflicts and closed areas can be hard to find. Check your government's advice before taking a trip, and also ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum is a good source of information from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
The majority of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders and also legs regardless of the high temperatures, and also you will make everyone more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tee shirts are the outfit of choice. These are strongly encouraged and also often enforced for getting in the temples and also pagodas.
Everyone uses 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 and also tick the 'conservative wear' box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so get one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are necessary! Entering pagodas implies going barefoot as well as flip flops are the very best footwear selection. Dealing with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an unwelcome distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after seeing a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you'll blend far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and shoulders). You will find individuals in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities and at the beach but in other places it's much less usual.
The local people are incredibly genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travelling can be irritating, hot and also slow-moving but bear in mind: you chose to check out Myanmar and that it's not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. Nonetheless, bargain hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by locals who wish to talk. Travelers are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Usually individuals are wonderful as well as are happy to appear in photos and also attempt as well as converse via limited usual words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a lot which is generally best dealt with by offering a smile and also a mingalabar (hello there in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and if you're spending for a guide, make sure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, tiny parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It's possibly popular| because it supplies a hit that's equivalent to 6 cups of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, a lot of times onto the ground.
Great deals of residents have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as cab drivers commonly roll down the window in slow 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 fantastic write-up 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 works as a sun block.
It's also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and restaurants as citizens make use of the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it's less complicated for staff to recognize the location of the kissing noise so don't be surprised!
Both crucial phrases you need in Myanmar are:
Hey there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it courteous, however it is well received. Be ready for a lot of residents to giggle in response-- they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is generally done by hand and also is billed per item instead of kilo so try to turn up with your clothes laundered as well as unless you intend to hand over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you truly need washing and clean your smaller items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by however tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can not flush toilet tissue or sanitary products-- this is extremely typical in developing nations where the plumbing system can't manage anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual half-hour difference| to its time zone so it's 6 and a half hrs ahead of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple 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 have to overcome it or, better still, get a local SIM. You can get one at the majority of flight terminals when you land or in one of the shops in the road as well as the store personnel will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can read more concerning your network options here. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a 'fast' connection, do not anticipate to be downloading videos at any time. On-line access has actually improved, with wi-fi the norm-- most hotels, guesthouses and coffee shops have it free of cost-- and also the web is now spreading tomore remote places. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power outages can make using the internet an irritating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, as well as don't expect to Skype home very often, it's hardly possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You'll be better with a backpack than a luggage. Luggage aren't excellent on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in as well as out of myriad forms|types|kinds} of transport and hefting it up numerous steep staircases isn't far better.