Top Myanmar Travel TipsTop Myanmar Travelling Tips
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation formally referred to as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it wasn't till 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 previous British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were likewise altered, 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 utilized interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This short article breaks down the modifications, what you 'should' say and also the question: does it even matter?
Best Times to See Myanmar
There are typically 3 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 period is November to February when the weather is warm but not stifling, and also attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the minimal holiday accommodation choices difficult to secure and will mean attempting to book in advance or face paying for the more pricey options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar and also approaching rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of vacationers which makes it easy to book accommodation yet it is exceptionally warm.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa internet site. You'll need to submit a passport photo as well as pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply as well as you should obtain authorization 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 date of issue and enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be less expensive-- if you want to save some cash, applying for a visa through your local Myanmar consular office might be less expensive. As an example, the expense is just ₤ 14 in the UK however $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and do not forget to consider mailing costs.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at 3 Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration website for the most up to date at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the normal option for visitors as the initial mode of entry, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. But, taking into consideration where Myanmar is located-- bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand and Laos to the eastern and also India and Bangladesh to its west-- there are numerous avenues for land entrance, although not all of them are recommended because of safety.
Regardless, you have to define a "Port of Entry" in your on-line application which denotes just how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will be given a listing of choices, where you will require to select among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
Mandalay (located right in the middle of Myanmar)
Yangon (situated in the south)
Nay Pyi Taw (located in between Mandalay and also Yangon)
Going Across at Land Boundary 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 border to western Thailand)
Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area 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 border village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
In truth, you can go into Myanmar at any designated "Port of Entry" but it is best to stay with the one you initially stated ideally to prevent any kind of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any one of the International Airports and also Land Border Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not need to be stated up-front. Additionally, you may exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is more affordable as well as has extra connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar-- Long Distance
Myanmar's local transportation choices might be irritating however the cross country propositions are far more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and also flying is budget-friendly so it may be your far better option.
You can still reserve flights the old-school method by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days-- check-in involves ticking people off a list of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport as well as grabbing your bag off a trolley by the plane as well as flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign and calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It truly is an experience. And also a great deal of fun if you don't let it get you stressed.Buses are cost effective with competing companies and a variety of luxury levels.
The majority of buses travel overnight which is terrific for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, yet isn't so excellent for sleep. Additionally, you'll tend to reach at strange times in the early morning and will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That's a lot of hours waiting on a 'top-up' nap. Consider if it will certainly be less expensive to fly if you're going to book accommodation the very same night to take a nap straight away.
Buses are really chilly, the high-end buses will certainly provide you a blanket but, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hrs for a food and toilet break-- a bit frustrating if you're attempting to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, although 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 also cheesy music videos till the early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be turned off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver regarding he time of arrival. Because of superstitions based upon 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 as well as is taken seriously. The result? You won't obtain an answer.
You will generally reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse-- they will typically charge a cost yet be aware that the cost can vary dramatically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price - this really does vary depending upon destination, mode of traveling and company. Search for a firm that does include pick-up as taxis are outrageously priced.
Reserving buses online is more difficult-- There isn't one helpful on-line booking website and also the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you're informed they're sold out, it does not necessarily imply the bus is full. Attempt reservation elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without costs.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, yet bus rides are bumpy-- you may think about taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise an alternative for some paths; the Mandalay-- Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, yet a lot of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan-- as well as guesthouses and hotels elsewhere-- can organize cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar's Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your primary way of getting around particularly for getting to and from airports and also within cities like Yangon and also Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate-- prices are set on the spot (after a fast 'how much can I get away with' calculation) and you're going to need 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 be greater than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi fares.
Taxis for the day might be your much better bet-- it can be about $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan as well as $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger factor than time in determining the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hr trip about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar and also is a significant contributing factor to the cost.
Everybody wants to take you to a craft shop, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut manufacturer during your sightseeing trips. Don't be afraid to say no when you're paying for your own private transportation. Nevertheless, that's the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, some of the side trips can be fascinating and also 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 however beware of the dust-- Myanmar is by far one of the dustiest locations, and also nearly all travelers create a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Don't take an e-Bike if you can't manage it-- or else you'll be among the many travelers walking toting head to foot road rash and also plasters.
The big cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker-- Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km should provide you an idea. The time suggested for reaching the bus station (22km away from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so don't count on air-conditioning as well as 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 unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hrs of the early morning, your only choice to get to my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a haggling process to be had, but because this is the main form of traveler transport here it is only all-natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATMs in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar-- dollars and also 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 and also newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for defects, discolouration and also folds at the currency exchange booths. You could likewise have trouble changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is likely to be more affordable due to the fact that the USD currency exchange rate is casual-- somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is generally applied on the spot, most likely depending on how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and they mostly function yet make sure you have cash before showing up at more remote places like the beach. Sometimes they may be out of service.
You'll pay an ATM machine cost of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any type of charges your financial institution might charge. And also you possibly won't be able to withdraw greater than $150 at a time.
ATMs give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, however primarily the transactions are to change pristine 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 actually booked your hotels in advance online this may save you taking extra money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted primarily just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, usually billing a little fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia-- infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses as well as restaurants. Companies are recouping their expenses.
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 drab, no-frills room.
For hotels, deluxe 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 various other great choices being available at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can set you back 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 resort (though there are a couple of hostels there also). On the plus side, you generally obtain a cost-free morning meal with your accommodation.
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 featuring something like pizza) will certainly set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is cheap, 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 pay for the privilege of being a foreigner as well as making use of squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear as well as taking photos. 'Foreigner payments' are popular in the more touristy areas.
It's possible to bargain on costs of items like souvenirs however if you negotiate too hard the locals lose interest as well as leave.
Tipping is not common technique in Myanmar, and it's only foreigners who tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak and out cold by 10pm! The heat is often intolerable during the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the traveler buses make it more difficult to get amazing pictures and also move 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 the far, crime levels are incredibly low.
Still, you ought to take the common safety measures of making use of hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Female visitors should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser-- the cash is gross and there isn't always soap in restrooms so use your sanitiser before you touch here anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and nose when biking around. Likewise take care with your air conditioning-- Myanmar can be as hot. As a result, lots of tourists use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperature levels can make you unwell.
Fruit is easy to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. However, as it's typically pre-cut, search for a seller that has kept the flies away and if it's sluiced with water, make sure it's filtered water.
Many government advisories warn against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually led to the mass displacement of countless individuals. Some other parts of the nation continue to be closed to foreigners due to dispute between the government and also different ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and Thailand, and far from the significant traveler destinations.
Precise details on disputes and closed locations can be challenging to find. Check your government's guidance prior to taking a trip, and also ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum is a good resource of news from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and also legs despite the heat, and also you will make everybody more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also t-shirts are the outfit of choice. These are highly encouraged and commonly enforced for getting in the temples and also pagodas.
Everyone uses skirts-- males and females alike-- the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Numerous travelers pick one up as they're breezy in the warmth and also tick the 'traditional wear' box. They are convenient for taking in the sights so grab a cheap one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are important! Going into pagodas implies going barefoot as well as flip flops are the most effective footwear selection. Dealing with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an undesirable distraction. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you'll blend much better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach yet in other places it's much less typical.
The local people are extremely genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be discouraging, warm as well as slow-moving but bear in mind: you chose to visit Myanmar which it's not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. Nonetheless, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by locals that wish to chat. Tourists are no more a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Usually the people are lovely and are happy to appear in photographs as well as try and chat via minimal typical words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a whole lot which is typically best handled by providing a smile and a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, listen hard and if you're paying for a guide, make sure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It's probably popular| since it delivers a hit that amounts to 6 cups of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the spin-off is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, a lot of times onto the ground.
Great deals of citizens have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as taxi drivers often roll down the window in slow traffic to spew after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn't give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this great short article by Uncornered Market.
It's common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese women. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty product in Myanmar and additionally works as a sun block.
It's also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes as well as restaurants as locals use the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it's simpler for staff to identify the location of the kissing sound so do not be distressed!
Both crucial expressions you need 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 response-- they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is normally done by hand and is billed per item as opposed to kilo so try to show up with your clothing laundered and also unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you truly need washing and also wash your smaller sized items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by yet tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can not flush toilet paper or sanitary products-- this is very typical in developing countries where the plumbing system can not deal with anything other than bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual half-hour difference| to its time zone so it's 6 and a half hours in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple adaptors for European as well as 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, much better still, acquire a local SIM. You can get one at the majority of flight terminals when you land or in among the stores in the street as well as the store staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can read more regarding your network options below. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a 'rapid' connection, do not anticipate to be downloading video clips any time. On-line accessibility has improved, with wi-fi becoming the norm-- most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it absolutely free-- and the web is currently spreading tofarther areas. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can make using the internet a discouraging exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and also do not 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 luggage. Travel suitcases aren't excellent on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering and also out of myriad forms of transportation as well as hefting it up lots of steep staircases isn't much better.
Thanks for reading this guide to Top Traveling Tips for Myanmar