Leading Myanmar Travel Tips
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country officially referred to as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it had not been till 1989 that the ruling military junta changed the country's name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Politically, the name Burma was viewed as a relic of the nation's former British colonial past, and also Myanmar as much more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Other names were also altered, 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 and Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This article breaks down the modifications, what you 'should' say and the concern: does it even matter?
Best Times to Go To Myanmar
There are usually 3 seasons in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the climate is warm but not stifling, and also attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the restricted accommodation choices difficult to secure and also will certainly imply trying to book ahead or deal with paying for the a lot more costly options 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 limited number of travelers which makes it very easy to book lodging however it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa site. You'll need to upload a passport photo and also pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply and also 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 is valid for 90- days from the day of issue and also allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local embassy may be cheaper-- if you wish to save some money, getting a visa by means of your local Myanmar embassy might be less expensive. For instance, the cost is simply ₤ 14 in the UK however $40 in the USA, so do your research and also don't neglect to consider mailing expenses.
It is only possible to enter 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 also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration internet site for the current at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the usual option for visitors as the initial mode of entrance, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. However, considering where Myanmar is located-- bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern and India as well as Bangladesh to its west-- there are numerous avenues for land entrance, although not every one of them are recommended because of safety and security.
Regardless, you need to define a "Port of Entry" in your on the internet application which denotes just how you will certainly be reaching Myanmar. You will be provided a list of choices, from which you will certainly require to pick among 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 as well as Yangon)
Crossing 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 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 truth, you can go into Myanmar at any designated "Port of Entry" however it is best to stay with the one you originally mentioned if possible to avoid any kind of hold up in the processing 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 stated up front. Furthermore, you might leave at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is less expensive and has more links than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar-- Long Distance
Myanmar's local transportation alternatives might be discouraging however the cross country propositions are much more enticing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow as well as flying is budget friendly so it may be your better option.
You can still book flights the traditional way by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days-- check-in includes ticking people off a listing of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport and getting your bag off a trolley by the airplane and also flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign and calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It actually 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 also a range of luxury levels.
A lot of buses travel over night which is great for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, however isn't so wonderful for sleep. Likewise, you'll often tend to reach at odd times in the morning as well as won't have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That's a great deal of hrs waiting for a 'top-up' nap. Think about if it will be less costly to fly if you're going to book accommodation the exact same night to rest immediately.
Buses are extremely chilly, the high-end buses will certainly offer you a covering yet, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few 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, although 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 cheesy video till the very early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a 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 arrive at a destination summons bad spirits and also is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not obtain an answer.
You will primarily book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse-- they will generally bill a fee however be aware 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 travel and also company. Try to find a company that does include pickup as taxis are outrageously priced.
Reserving buses online is more difficult-- There isn't one convenient online booking portal as well as 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. Try booking in other places.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without costs.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, yet bus rides are bumpy-- you could think about taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are also a choice for some paths; the Mandalay-- Bagan service is popular amongst travellers.
There are no international car-rental companies, however a lot of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan-- in addition to guesthouses and also hotels elsewhere-- can arrange cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar's Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will be your major means of getting around particularly for getting to and from flight terminals and also within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate-- prices are set on the spot (after a fast 'just how much can I get away with' calculation) and you're going to need to negotiate hard. It's not unusual to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Typically the taxi to and also from the airport/bus will be more than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi fares.
Taxi cabs 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 $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger variable than time in dictating the expense of hiring a driver: a 12 hr journey about Yangon can cost USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar and is a huge contributing element to the cost.
Every person intends to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer during your sightseeing and tour trips. Do not be afraid to say no when you're paying for your own private transportation. After all, that's the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, some of the side trips can be intriguing and drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you chose their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and also e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much more inexpensive however beware of the dust-- Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest locations, as well as nearly all vacationers develop a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Don't take an e-Bike if you can not manage it-- otherwise you'll be just one of the numerous visitors walking toting head to foot road rash and also plasters.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker-- Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km ought to give you an idea. The time suggested for getting to the bus station (22km away from the centre) is 2.5 hrs.
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 nothing more than the heat of the engine fan to 'cool' you down.
Plan for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hrs of the morning, your only choice to get to my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a bargaining procedure to be had, but because this is the primary form of vacationer transportation here it is only all-natural that they are awaiting new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar-- dollars as well as the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat').
If you're going to use dollars, they have to be immaculate. What's pristine/brand new-- unfolded, uncreased and also more recent than 2006. Each specific note is reviewed for imperfections, discolouration and also creases at the money exchange kiosks. You might also have problems changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in United States bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Using kyat is most likely to be less costly due to the fact that the USD currency exchange rate is casual-- someplace in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, probably relying on just how rich you look.
There are ATMs as well as they mainly work however see to it you have cash before turning up at more remote areas like the coastline. Often they may be out of service.
You'll pay an ATM machine charge of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any kind of charges your bank could bill. And also you possibly won't be able to withdraw more than $150 at once.
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 big cities orinternational airport terminal to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines as well as call for cash payment. If you have reserved your hotels in advance online this may save you taking extra cash money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, generally charging a tiny fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia-- infrastructure is still being developed. That includes guesthouses and dining establishments. Companies are recouping their expenses.
Holiday accommodation prices
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 vacationer hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dingy, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where deluxe comes at a rate of $250 per night) with various other great 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 visitor' destinations like Ngapali coastline can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a couple of hostels there as well). On the plus side, you usually 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 meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will cost $7-$12.
Mineral water is affordable, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is additionally low-cost at a couple of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the privilege of being a foreigner as well as using squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing shoes and taking photos. 'Foreigner payments' are popular in the much more touristy locations.
It's possible to bargain on costs of products like souvenirs yet if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest as well as walk away.
Tipping is not usual method in Myanmar, as well as it's just foreigners that tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn and also out cold by 10pm! The heat is frequently excruciating throughout the peak sunshine hrs and the arrival of the tourist buses make it harder to get fantastic photos and also walk around easily.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State as well as the far, crime levels are exceptionally reduced.
Still, you should take the normal precautions of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your belongings. Women travellers should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser-- the money is unclean and there isn't always soap in shower rooms so utilize your sanitiser before you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Watch out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning-- Myanmar can be as hot. As a result, several travellers use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you unwell.
Fruit is very easy to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. Nevertheless, as website it's often pre-cut, look for a seller that has kept the flies away and if it's sluiced with water, ensure it's filtered water.
Safety and security
A lot of government advisories advise against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has led to the mass displacement of thousands of people. A few other parts of the nation stay closed to foreigners because of dispute between the government and various ethnic militaries gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near the frontiers with China and also Thailand, as well as far from the major traveler locations.
Exact info on conflicts and closed locations can be tough to come by. Check your government's advice before travelling, and ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum is a good source of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders and legs regardless of the high temperatures, as well as you will make everyone more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and also tee shirts are the clothing of choice. These are strongly encouraged and frequently enforced for getting in the temples and also pagodas.
Every person puts on skirts-- men and women alike-- the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Several visitors pick one up as they're breezy in the warm and tick the 'traditional wear' box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so grab an affordable one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are crucial! Going into pagodas means going barefoot as well as flip flops are the very best footwear option. Dealing with laces in the scorching heat is an undesirable interruption. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after seeing a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you'll blend better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and shoulders). You will certainly find individuals in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities and at the beach however somewhere else it's much less typical.
The local individuals are incredibly genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your good manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be irritating, warm and also slow-moving yet bear in mind: you picked to visit Myanmar which it's not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. Nevertheless, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by citizens that wish to chat. Tourists are no more a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are charming and more than happy to appear in photos and try and also talk through minimal typical words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a lot which is usually best handled by providing a smile as well as a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, listen hard and if you're spending for a guide, make sure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, little parcels that contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It's most likely popular| because it provides a hit that amounts to six mugs of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the byproduct is bright-red saliva which is spat out, a lot of times onto the ground.
Great deals of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth as well as cab drivers commonly roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spit after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn't give to the kids. Why not? Read this great article by Uncornered Market.
It's common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese women. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as also functions as a sun block.
It's also common to hear a kissing sound in the coffee shops and also restaurants as locals utilize the kissing noise as a call for service. Apparently it's much easier for staff to recognize the area of the kissing sound so don't be surprised!
Both crucial expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it respectful, yet it is well received. Be ready for the majority of citizens to giggle in reaction-- 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 washed and also unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you really require washing as well as 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't flush toilet tissue or sanitary products-- this is really typical in developing countries where the plumbing system can not manage anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that odd 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 several adaptors for European and also 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, far better still, get a local SIM. You can get one at the majority of flight terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the street as well as the shop staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more concerning your network options below. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a 'rapid' connection, do not anticipate to be downloading videos at any time. Online access has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the norm-- most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it for free-- as well as the net is now spreading tomore remote places. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and power interruptions can use the net an aggravating exercise.
Do your research ahead of time or pack a guidebook, and also don't expect to Skype home extremely frequently, it's hardly possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You'll be better with a backpack than a luggage. aren't suitable on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering and also out of myriad forms|types|kinds} of transportation and also hefting it up numerous steep staircases isn't better.
Leading Myanmar Travel Tips