Top Myanmar Travelling Tips
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation officially known as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it wasn't up until 1989 that the ruling military junta altered 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 former 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 currently 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 utilized interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This short article breaks down the modifications, what you 'should' say as well as the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Visit Myanmar
There are typically 3 seasons in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer season
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high period is November to February when the climate is warm but not stifling, and brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the minimal accommodation alternatives tricky to secure as well as will mean attempting to book ahead or face paying out for the more costly options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar and approaching rains are due. There is a limited number of travelers that makes it easy to book accommodation but it is extremely hot.
An e-Visa is offered to tourists from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa site. You'll need to submit a passport photo and also pay a fee 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 arrive and you're in.
Your e-Visa letter stands for 90- days from the date of issue and also allows you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be less expensive-- if you wish to save some money, looking for a visa by means of your local Myanmar consular office may be cheaper. For instance, the price is simply ₤ 14 in the UK yet $40 in the USA, so do your research and don't forget to consider mailing expenses.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration site for the latest at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the common alternative for visitors as the very first mode of access, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. But, taking into consideration where Myanmar is located-- bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the eastern and India as well as Bangladesh to its west-- there are multiple avenues for land entry, although not every one of them are recommended because of safety.
Regardless, you must specify a "Port of Entry" in your online application which denotes exactly how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will be given a list of options, where 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 (positioned in between Mandalay and also Yangon)
Crossing 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 southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the border of the Thai Peninsula and also 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 boundary village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the boundary of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can enter Myanmar at any designated "Port of Entry" yet it is best to adhere to the one you initially mentioned ideally to prevent any hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can leave at any one of the International Airports and Land Boundary Checkpoints given that your exit point does not require to be specified up-front. Additionally, you might exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is more affordable as well as has a lot more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar-- Long Distance
Myanmar's local transportation choices might be irritating however the cross country propositions are much more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving as well as flying is economical so it might be your much better choice.
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 listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport terminal and grabbing your bag off a cart by the aircraft as well as 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 lot of fun if you don't let it get you stressed.Buses are economical with competing businesses and a variety of high-end levels.
Most buses travel overnight which is excellent for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn't so great for sleep. Also, you'll have a tendency to arrive at weird times in the morning as well as will not have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That's a great deal of hrs waiting on a 'top-up' nap. Consider if it will certainly be more affordable to fly if you're going to book accommodation the same night to rest immediately.
Buses are really cold, the luxury buses will certainly provide you a covering however, use your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn't have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every few hrs for a food as well as toilet break-- a little bit irritating if you're trying 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 music CD's and also cheesy video up until the very early hours of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request the sound to be shut off.
Never ask a vehicle driver regarding 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 location invokes bad spirits as well as is taken seriously. The result? You won't obtain an answer.
You will mainly book buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse-- they will normally charge a fee yet know that the charge can vary significantly.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price - this actually does vary depending on destination, mode of travel and company. Look for a firm that does include pickup as taxis are extortionate.
Reserving buses online is harder-- There isn't one helpful online reservation site 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 booking somewhere else.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are often faster than the trains, yet bus rides are bumpy-- you may take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are additionally an option for some routes; the Mandalay-- Bagan service is popular among travellers.
There are no international car-rental agencies, yet the majority of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan-- along with guesthouses and also hotels elsewhere-- can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar's Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With limited public transportation, taxis will be your main means of getting around particularly for getting to and also from airport terminals and also within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate-- rates are established on the spot (after a quick 'just 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. Commonly 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 fares.
Taxi cabs for the day might be your 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 bigger factor than time in determining the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hr trip around Yangon can set you back USD 70 while taking a trip further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each method, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar as well as is a substantial contributing element to the price.
Every person intends to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing trips. Do not be afraid to say no when you're paying for your own private transportation. Besides, that's the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, some of the side journeys can be interesting and drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your travel plan and you may be happy you opted for their suggestions!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much less expensive however beware of the dust-- Myanmar is by far among the dustiest places, and nearly all visitors establish a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Don't take an e-Bike if you can not manage it-- or else you'll be just one of the lots of visitors walking toting head to foot road rash and bandages.
The big 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 far 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 journey 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.
Get ready for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hrs of the morning, your only choice to reach my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, yet considering that this is the primary form of vacationer transport here it is only natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATMs 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 need to be immaculate. What's pristine/brand new-- unfolded, uncreased as well as newer than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for flaws, discolouration and also creases at the money exchange kiosks. You could 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 likely to be less expensive due to the fact that the USD currency exchange rate is casual-- someplace in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, most likely depending on just how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mainly function but make certain you have cash prior to showing up at more remote places like the coastline. Sometimes they might be out of service.
You'll pay an ATM fee of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any type of charges your financial institution might bill. And also you probably won't have the ability to withdraw greater than $150 at a time.
ATM machines give kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places around, but mainly the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational airport to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and need cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels beforehand online this may save you taking extra money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mainly just in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, typically billing a little fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia-- facilities is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and also dining establishments. Companies are recouping 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 visitor hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dull, no-frills room.
For hotels, high-end resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a fine example where high-end comes at a price of $250 per night) with other great choices being available at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A modern hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular 'package visitor' locations like Ngapali coastline can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a couple of hostels there also). On the bonus side, you typically get a free morning meal with your lodging.
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.
Mineral water is cheap, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise economical at a number of dollars per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner and utilizing squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing shoes as well as taking photos. 'Foreigner payments' are popular in the more touristy locations.
It's possible to negotiate on prices of things like souvenirs but if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest as well as leave.
Tipping is not usual practice 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 daybreak and also out cold by 10pm! The heat is usually unbearable during the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it harder to get fantastic images and also walk around freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous area of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State and the far, criminal activity levels are remarkably reduced.
Still, you ought to take the common precautions of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Women tourists should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser-- the money is dirty as well as there isn't always soap in washrooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Watch out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth as well as nose when cycling around. Additionally take care with your a/c-- Myanmar can be as hot. Consequently, several travellers use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels can make you unwell.
Fruit here is easy to find so top up your body immune system with nutrients that way. Nonetheless, as it's typically pre-cut, search for a seller that has kept the flies away as well as if it's sluiced with water, make certain it's filtered water.
Most government advisories warn against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has brought about the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. A few other parts of the nation stay closed to foreigners due to conflict between the government and different ethnic armies clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mainly in Kachin and Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and Thailand, and also far from the major traveler locations.
Precise information on problems as well as closed areas can be difficult to find. Check your government's recommendations before travelling, and also ask about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum is a great resource of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders and legs regardless of the high temperatures, as well as you will certainly make everyone much more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as tees are the attire of choice. These are strongly encouraged and often enforced for getting in the temples and pagodas.
Everybody puts on skirts-- men and women alike-- the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Many vacationers pick one up as they're breezy in the warmth and tick the 'conservative wear' box. They are practical for taking in the sights so grab one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are vital! Going into pagodas implies going barefoot and also flip flops are the best footwear choice. Struggling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwelcome distraction. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you'll blend better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and shoulders). You will find people in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach yet in other places it's less typical.
The local individuals are remarkably genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your good manners as well as your patience. Travel can be aggravating, hot and also slow-moving however keep in mind: you chose to visit Myanmar which it's not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. However, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by citizens that want to talk. Vacationers are no longer a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are beautiful and more than happy to appear in pictures and attempt and talk through minimal common words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a great deal which is generally 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 paying for a guide, make certain they have good clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It's most likely popular| due to the fact that it provides a hit that amounts to six cups of coffee. However, 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 citizens have the tell tale red stained teeth and taxi 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 should not give to the kids. Why not? Read this brilliant write-up by Uncornered Market.
It's common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese ladies. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar and additionally works as a sunscreen.
It's also common to hear a kissing sound in the coffee shops and also dining establishments as citizens make use of the kissing sound as an ask for service. Apparently it's less complicated for staff to recognize the area of the kissing audio so do not be alarmed!
The two most important phrases you need in Myanmar are:
Not only is it respectful, 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 expecting it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is normally done by hand and also is billed per item rather than kilo so try to turn up with your garments laundered and unless you intend to hand over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you actually need washing and clean 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 extremely common in developing nations where the plumbing system can't manage anything aside from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that weird half-hour difference| to its time area 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 as well as British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to overcome it or, far better still, get a local SIM. You can get one at a lot of flight terminals when you land or in one of the shops in the road as well as the store staff will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can read more regarding your network selections right here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a 'fast' link, do not anticipate to be downloading video clips any time. Online accessibility has actually improved, with wi-fi becoming the norm-- most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it totally free-- and also the internet is now spreading tofarther locations. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can use the web an irritating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and don't expect to Skype home very frequently, it's barely possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You'll be much better with a knapsack than a suitcase. Suitcases aren't optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Getting in and out of myriad forms of transport and also hefting it up many high stairs isn't far better.
Thanks for reading this guide to Top Traveling Tips for Myanmar
Top Myanmar Travelling Tips