Top Myanmar Travel Tips
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country officially referred to as Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it had not been until 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 country's former British colonial past, and Myanmar as much more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. 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 as well as Myanmar are still made use of interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the changes, what you 'should' say and also the concern: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to See Myanmar
There are normally 3 periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime season
May to October: Wet, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the climate is warm yet not stifling, and also draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the limited accommodation alternatives difficult to secure and will indicate trying to book in advance or face paying for the more pricey alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar as well as impending rains are due. There is a limited number of vacationers which makes it very easy to book holiday accommodation yet it is incredibly hot.
An e-Visa is available to visitors from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa site. You'll need to submit a passport photo as well as pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and also you should obtain authorization 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 enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be cheaper-- if you want to save some money, looking for a visa through your local Myanmar consular office might be less costly. For example, the price is simply ₤ 14 in the UK but $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and also do not neglect to factor in mailing costs.
It is only possible to enter 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) and also Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration web site for the most up to date at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the typical choice for visitors as the initial mode of entrance, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. However, taking into consideration where Myanmar lies-- bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the eastern as well as India and Bangladesh to its west-- there are several avenues for land access, although not every one of them are advised due to security.
Regardless, you must define a "Port of Entry" in your online application which denotes just how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will be given a list of alternatives, from which you will 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 (situated in between Mandalay and 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 southernmost part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula as well as the cluster 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 boundary village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can go into Myanmar at any designated "Port of Entry" however it is best to stay with the one you initially mentioned preferably to prevent any type of hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any one of the International Airports as well as Land Border Checkpoints because your exit point does not require to be specified up front. Additionally, you might leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is more affordable and has a lot more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar-- Cross Country
Myanmar's local transportation alternatives might be discouraging however the long distance propositions are a lot more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow as well as flying is cost effective so it might be your better option.
You can still reserve 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 includes ticking people off a listing of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport and also getting your bag off a trolley by the plane and also flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. As well as a lot of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing companies and a series of luxury levels.
Many buses travel over night which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn't so fantastic for rest. Also, you'll tend to arrive at weird times in the early morning as well as won't 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 rest immediately.
Buses are extremely chilly, the high-end buses will certainly provide you a blanket however, 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 also toilet break-- a bit irritating if you're trying to rest 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 song CD's and cheesy music videos until the early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a driver about 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 reach a location summons bad spirits as well as is taken seriously. The outcome? You won't obtain a response.
You will primarily book buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse-- they will usually bill a fee yet be aware that the fee can differ considerably.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price - this actually does vary depending upon destination, mode of travel as well as company. Search for a business that does include pick-up as taxis are extortionate.
Reserving buses online is harder-- There isn't one convenient on-line reservation site and the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you're told they're sold out, it doesn't always mean the bus is full. Try booking elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without fees.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, yet bus rides are rough-- you could consider taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are additionally an alternative for some routes; the Mandalay-- Bagan service is popular amongst visitors.
There are no international car-rental firms, however most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and also Bagan-- as well as guesthouses and hotels in other places-- can arrange cars and drivers.
Myanmar's Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With minimal public transportation, taxis will be your primary way of navigating especially for getting to and also from airport terminals as well as within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate-- prices are set on the spot (after a fast 'how much can I get away with' estimation) and you're going to need to negotiate hard. It's not unusual to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Frequently the taxi to as well as from the airport/bus will certainly be more than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi prices.
Taxis for the day may be your much better bet-- it can be around $35 for a day of taking in the sights in Bagan and also $28 for a few hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger variable than time in dictating the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hour trip about Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each means, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is pricey in Myanmar as well as is a substantial contributing variable to the price.
Everyone wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing journeys. Do not be afraid to say no when you're paying for your very own private transport. Nevertheless, that's the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, some of the side trips can be interesting as well as drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your schedule and you may be happy you opted for their recommendations!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much cheaper but beware of the dust-- Myanmar is by far one of the dustiest locations, as well as 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 not handle it-- otherwise you'll be among the lots of travelers walking toting head to foot road rash as well as plasters.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker-- Yangon has several of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km ought to provide you an idea. The time recommended for reaching 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 and leather seats-- that 1.5 hour 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.
Plan for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hours of the morning, your only alternative to get to my hotel may be using horse and cart. There is still a bargaining process to be had, but given that this is the primary form of vacationer transport here it is only natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and ATMs in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar-- dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat').
If you're going to use dollars, they have to be pristine. What's pristine/brand new-- unfolded, uncreased as well as website newer than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for flaws, discolouration as well as creases at the money exchange booths. You might likewise have problems changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is likely to be less expensive due to the fact that the USD currency exchange rate is informal-- someplace between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, most likely relying on just how rich you look.
There are ATM machines as well as they mainly function yet make certain you have money before showing up at more remote places like the coastline. Often they might be out of service.
You'll pay an ATM machine fee of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any fees your bank could charge. As well as you probably will not be able to take out more than $150 each time.
ATMs give kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, but primarily the transactions are to change immaculate dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational flight terminal to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and also need cash payment. If you have booked your hotels beforehand online this may save you taking additional cash for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mainly only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, generally billing a tiny cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more costly than the rest of Southeast Asia-- infrastructure is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses as well as dining establishments. Companies are recouping their expenses.
A dorm bed will 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 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 rate of $250 per night) with various other excellent choices coming in 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 vacationer' destinations like Ngapali beach can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a couple of hostels there too). On the plus side, you typically obtain a totally free breakfast with your holiday 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 cost $7-$12.
Bottled water is cheap, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise economical at a couple of dollars per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour prices
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner as well as using squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear as well as taking photos. 'Foreigner payments' are preferred in the more touristy areas.
It's possible to bargain on prices of items like mementos however if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest as well as walk away.
Tipping is not common technique in Myanmar, and it's just foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn and also fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is usually unbearable throughout the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the traveler buses make it harder to get remarkable pictures as well as move easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are extremely low.
Still, you ought to take the common safety measures of using hotel storage lockers or safes for your belongings. Women travellers should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser-- the money is gross and also there isn't always soap in restrooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and nose when cycling around. Also take care with your air conditioning-- Myanmar can be as hot. Consequently, numerous visitors use the a/c in their room however sleeping in low temperatures can make you sick.
Fruit is very easy to find so top up your body immune system with nutrients that way. Nevertheless, as it's typically pre-cut, try to find a vendor that has kept the flies away as well as if it's sluiced with water, ensure it's filtered water.
Many government advisories caution against travel to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has brought about the mass displacement of countless people. Some other parts of the nation stay shut to foreigners because of dispute in between the government and also various ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mostly in Kachin as well as Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and Thailand, and also far from the major traveler locations.
Accurate details on disputes and also closed locations can be challenging to come by. Check your government's guidance prior to taking a trip, and also inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent source of information from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and 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 entering the temples as well as pagodas.
Everybody wears skirts-- men and women alike-- the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both males and females. Several travelers pick one up as they're breezy in the warm and also tick the 'traditional wear' box. They are practical for sightseeing so pick up a cheap one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are important! Getting in pagodas means going barefoot as well as flip flops are the best footwear selection. Struggling with laces 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 better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find people in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and at the beach however somewhere else it's less usual.
The local people are extremely genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be discouraging, warm and also slow 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 citizens. Nonetheless, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by locals that intend to chat. Visitors are no longer a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Typically the people are charming and also more than happy to appear in pictures and also try and chat through limited typical words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a lot which is usually best handled by providing a smile and also a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and also if you're spending for a guide, make sure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, small parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It's most likely popular| because it delivers a hit that's equivalent to six mugs 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 locals have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as cab drivers often roll down the window in sluggish traffic to spit after eating 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 great short article by Uncornered Market.
It's common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese girls. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as also functions as a sunscreen.
It's also common to hear a kissing noise in the cafes and dining establishments as locals make use of the kissing noise as a call for service. Apparently it's less complicated for staff to recognize the location of the kissing sound so do not be alarmed!
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 most locals to giggle in reaction-- they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is normally done by hand as well as is charged per item as opposed to kilo so try to turn up with your clothing laundered and also unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you truly need washing and also wash your smaller items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by but tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can't flush toilet tissue or sanitary products-- this is very usual in developing countries where the plumbing system can't cope with anything apart from bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that strange half-hour difference| to its time area so it's 6 and a half hrs in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin plugs along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to get over it or, much better still, purchase a local SIM. You can obtain one at most airports when you land or in among the shops in the street as well as the store staff will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more concerning your network choices right here. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a 'quick' link, do not anticipate to be downloading video clips any time. Online accessibility has improved, with wi-fi becoming the norm-- most hotels, guesthouses and coffee shops have it completely free-- and also the web is currently spreading tofarther areas. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and power outages can make using the net a frustrating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, as well as do not anticipate to Skype home extremely frequently, it's barely possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You'll be much better with a knapsack than a travel suitcase. aren't suitable 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.
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