Top Myanmar Travel TipsTop Myanmar Travel Tips
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The country officially called Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it wasn't up until 1989 that the ruling military junta altered 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 previous British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were likewise 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 and also Myanmar are still used 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 inquiry: does it even matter?
Best Times to Visit Myanmar
There are generally three periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summer season
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather condition is warm yet not stifling, and brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, subsequently, makes the restricted holiday accommodation choices challenging to secure and also will certainly mean attempting to book in advance or deal with paying out for the much more pricey alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature climbs in Myanmar and impending rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of visitors which makes it easy to book holiday accommodation but it is unbelievably warm.
An e-Visa is offered to visitors from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa web site. You'll be required to upload a passport photo and pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply as well as you should get 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 as well as enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Obtaining a visa from your local consular office may be less expensive-- if you wish to save some money, requesting a visa via your local Myanmar embassy may be less costly. As an example, the cost is just ₤ 14 in the UK however $40 in the USA, so do your research and also do not forget to consider mailing costs.
It is only possible to get in 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). Read the immigration site for the most recent at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the common choice 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 and northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern and also India and Bangladesh to its west-- there are numerous methods for land access, although not all of them are advised due to security.
No matter, you must define a "Port of Entry" in your online application which denotes how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will be given a listing of choices, where you will certainly need to choose among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
Mandalay (situated right in the center of Myanmar)
Yangon (situated 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 north 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 border of the Thai Peninsula as well as the cluster of islands)
Tamu (in the Sagaing Region of northwestern Myanmar on the boundary 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 reality, you can go into Myanmar at any designated "Port of Entry" but it is best to stay with the one you initially specified when possible to avoid 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 Boundary Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not need to be mentioned up-front. Additionally, you might exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is less costly as well as has extra connections than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar-- Long Distance
Myanmar's local transportation options may be discouraging but the long distance propositions are far more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and flying is budget-friendly so it may be your much better option.
You can still book flights the old-school method by wandering into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days-- check-in includes ticking individuals off a listing of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal as well as grabbing your bag off a cart by the aircraft and flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. And a lot of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are budget-friendly with competing firms and a variety of luxury levels.
A lot of buses travel over night which is wonderful for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn't so terrific for rest. Also, you'll often tend to arrive at strange times in the morning as well as won't be able to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That's a great deal of hours waiting on a 'top-up' nap. Think about if it will be less expensive to fly if you're going to book accommodation the same evening to rest straight away.
Buses are very chilly, the deluxe buses will provide you a covering yet, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn't have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hours for a food and toilet break-- a little bit discouraging 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 even more, some still play their funky local music CD's as well as cheesy music videos 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 switched off.
Never ask a driver regarding he time of arrival. Due to superstitious notions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a destination summons bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You won't get a response.
You will generally book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse-- they will normally charge a cost however understand that the cost can vary drastically.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price - this really does vary depending upon destination, mode of travel and also company. Search for a firm that does include pick-up as taxis are expensive.
Reserving buses online is more difficult-- There isn't one handy online booking website as well as the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you're told they're sold out, it doesn't always imply the bus is full. Attempt reservation elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are almost always faster than the trains, however bus rides are rough-- you could consider taking tablets for nausea. Boats are additionally an option for some routes; the Mandalay-- Bagan service is popular among visitors.
There are no international car-rental firms, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan-- in addition to guesthouses and also hotels in other places-- can organize cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar's Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your major way of getting around particularly for getting to as well as from flight terminals as well as within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate-- prices are established on the spot (after a fast 'just how much can I get away with' calculation) as well as you're going to have to negotiate hard. It's not uncommon to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Usually the taxi to as well as 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 quantity for taxi fares.
Taxi cabs for the day may be your 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 larger factor than time in dictating the price of hiring a driver: a 12 hour journey around Yangon can set you back USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar and also is a big contributing factor to the expense.
Everyone wishes to take you to a craft shop, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut producer throughout your sightseeing and tour trips. Do not hesitate to say no when you're paying for your very own private transportation. Besides, that's the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, several of the side trips can be interesting and 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 as well as e-Bikes (electric motorcycles) outside the cities is much more affordable but beware of the dust-- Myanmar is without a doubt among the dustiest locations, and also almost all vacationers establish a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses as well as myanmar accountancy council something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can't handle it-- otherwise you'll be one of the many tourists walking around toting head to foot road rash and also bandages.
The big cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker-- Yangon has several of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 kilometres ought to provide you an idea. The time suggested for reaching the bus station (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 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.
Prepare for the unanticipated. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hrs of the morning, your only choice to get to my hotel may be via horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, however given that this is the main form of vacationer transportation here it is only all-natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATMs in Myanmar
You can make use of 2 currencies in Myanmar-- dollars and also 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 as well as more recent 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 identification numbers.
Some vendors insist on payments in United States dollars so you can bring some US dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is most likely to be more affordable because the USD currency exchange rate is casual-- somewhere in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, most likely relying on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and they mostly function but see to it you have money prior to turning up at more remote places like the coastline. Often they may be out of service.
You'll pay an ATM machine charge of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any kind of fees your financial institution may charge. As well as you possibly will not have the ability to take out more than $150 at a time.
ATMs give kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places around, but mostly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational flight terminal to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and need cash payment. If you have reserved 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, generally billing a small fee, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia-- facilities is still being developed. That includes guesthouses as well as restaurants. Businesses are recouping 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 visitor hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a run down, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a fine example where high-end comes with a cost of $250 per night) with various other great alternatives can be found 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 vacationer' 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 bonus side, you normally get a totally free 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 dish. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will cost $7-$12.
Bottled water is affordable, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is likewise inexpensive at a couple of dollars per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner and also using squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing footwear as well as taking pictures. 'Foreigner payments' are popular in the more touristy areas.
It's possible to negotiate on costs of things like mementos however if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and walk away.
Tipping is not typical method in Myanmar, and also it's only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for dawn and fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is commonly unbearable during the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the visitor buses make it more difficult to get fantastic pictures as well as walk around freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and the far, crime levels are incredibly reduced.
Still, you ought to take the usual safety measures of utilizing hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Women travellers should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser-- the cash is unclean as well as there isn't always soap in bathrooms so use your sanitiser before you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and also nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning-- Myanmar can be as warm. Subsequently, many tourists use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperature levels can make you unwell.
Fruit is simple to find so top up your immune system with nutrients that way. However, as it's commonly pre-cut, search for a vendor that has kept the flies away as well as if it's sluiced with water, make sure it's filtered water.
The majority of 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 resulted in the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. Some other parts of the country continue to be shut to foreigners due to dispute between the government and different ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and Thailand, and also far from the significant vacationer destinations.
Precise details on disputes and closed areas can be challenging to find. Check your government's advice before travelling, as well as ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum is a good resource of news from visitors on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and also cover their shoulders as well as legs despite the high temperatures, as well as you will make everybody a lot more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tees are the attire of choice. These are strongly encouraged as well as typically enforced for entering the temples and pagodas.
Everybody uses skirts-- males and females alike-- the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Lots of visitors pick one up as they're breezy in the heat and 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 crucial! Going into pagodas implies going barefoot and also flip flops are the most effective footwear selection. Dealing with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an unwelcome interruption. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after checking out a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you'll blend much better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will find people in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and at the beach but in other places it's much less usual.
The local individuals are exceptionally genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your good manners as well as your patience. Travel can be frustrating, hot and slow but remember: you picked to see Myanmar which it's not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the locals. Nonetheless, haggle hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by residents who intend to chat. Vacationers are no more a novelty in most of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Typically individuals are wonderful as well as more than happy to appear in photos and try and also converse with limited usual words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a lot which is normally best dealt with by offering a smile and a mingalabar (hello there 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 pavements are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, little parcels which contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It's possibly popular| because it provides a hit that amounts to 6 mugs of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the spin-off is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, most times onto the ground.
Lots of citizens have the tell tale red stained teeth as well as cab drivers frequently roll down the window in sluggish traffic to spew 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 post 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 product in Myanmar as well as also functions as a sunscreen.
It's also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes as well as dining establishments 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 essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it polite, but it is well received. Be prepared for many locals 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 as opposed to kilo so try to show up with your garments washed and unless you want to turn over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you really require washing as well as clean your smaller sized items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are very easy to find by however tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can not flush toilet paper or sanitary products-- this is really typical 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 hours in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have several adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin plugs in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to get over it or, better still, get a local SIM. You can get one at the majority of airport terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the street as well as the store staff will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can find out more regarding your network choices here. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a 'rapid' connection, don't expect to be downloading video clips any time. Online access has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the norm-- most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it absolutely free-- and the web is now spreading tomore remote places. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power blackouts can make using the internet an aggravating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and don't expect to Skype home very often, it's barely possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You'll be much better with a knapsack than a suitcase. aren't ideal on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Getting in and out of myriad forms of transportation and hefting it up many high stairs isn't better.
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