Top Myanmar Travel TipsTop Myanmar Travel Tips
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation formally called Burma got independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it wasn't 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 seen as a relic of the country's former British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as much more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Other names were likewise altered, 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 and also on the world stage. This post breaks down the modifications, what you 'should' say and also the question: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to See Myanmar
There are typically 3 seasons in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Wet, rainy season
The popular, high season is November to February when the climate is warm however not stifling, and brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the limited accommodation choices difficult to secure as well as will certainly mean trying to book in advance or face paying out for the much more costly alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level increases in Myanmar as well as upcoming rains are due. There is a minimal number of visitors that makes it easy to book lodging however it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is readily available to travellers from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa website. You'll need to submit a passport photo and pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and 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 is valid for 90- days from the day of issue as well as permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be more affordable-- if you want to save some cash, applying for a visa by means of your local Myanmar consular office might be cheaper. As an example, the expense is just ₤ 14 in the UK however $40 in the USA, so do your research as well as don't fail to remember 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 three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration site for the current at the time you travel.
Flights to Myanmar are the common choice for visitors as the very first mode of entrance, with regular scheduled services from Bangkok. However, considering where Myanmar lies-- bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the eastern and also India and also Bangladesh to its west-- there are several avenues for land entry, although not every one of them are encouraged because of security.
Regardless, you must specify a "Port of Entry" in your online application which denotes exactly how you will be getting to Myanmar. You will be provided a listing of choices, where you will certainly require to pick among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
Mandalay (situated right in the center of Myanmar)
Yangon (located in the south)
Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay as well as Yangon)
Going Across at Land Border 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 boundary to western Thailand)
Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula and also 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 town 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 stick to the one you initially stated if possible to prevent any 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 because your exit point does not need to be stated up-front. In addition, you might exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is more affordable and has more links than Mandalay.
Navigating Myanmar-- Cross Country
Myanmar's local transport options may be frustrating yet the cross country propositions are a lot more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish and also flying is inexpensive so it may be your much better option.
You can still reserve flights the old-school way by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days-- check-in involves ticking individuals off a listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport as well as getting your bag off a cart by the plane and flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It actually is an experience. As well as a great deal of fun if you don't let it get you stressed.Buses are cost effective with competing firms as well as a range of high-end levels.
The majority of buses travel over night which is terrific for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, but isn't so great for rest. Also, you'll have a tendency to reach at strange times in the morning and also won't have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That's a lot of hours waiting for a 'top-up' nap. Consider if it will be cheaper to fly if you're going to book accommodation the exact same evening to sleep straight away.
Buses are extremely chilly, the high-end buses will give you a blanket yet, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn't have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hours for a food and also toilet break-- a little bit discouraging if you're trying to sleep 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 tacky music videos till the very early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be shut off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver regarding he time of arrival. As a result of superstitious notions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a location summons bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You will not obtain an answer.
You will mostly book buses via your hotel, hostel or guesthouse-- they will typically bill a fee yet be aware that the charge can differ substantially.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price - this truly does vary depending upon destination, mode of traveling as well as company. Look for a business that does include pickup as taxis are extortionate.
Reserving buses online is harder-- There isn't one convenient on-line reservation website and the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you're told they're sold out, it does not necessarily indicate the bus is full. Try booking elsewhere.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without costs.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, however bus rides are bumpy-- you might take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise a choice for some routes; the Mandalay-- Bagan service is popular among visitors.
There are no international car-rental companies, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan-- in addition to guesthouses as well as hotels somewhere else-- can organize cars as well as drivers.
Myanmar's Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and also this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With minimal public transport, taxis will certainly be your main means of navigating especially for getting to and from airport terminals as well as within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate-- prices are set on the spot (after a quick 'how much can I get away with' estimation) as well as you're going to have to negotiate hard. It's not unusual to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Commonly the taxi to and from the airport/bus will certainly be more than you paid for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi fares.
Taxis for the day may be your far better bet-- it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan as well as $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger element than time in determining the expense 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 costly in Myanmar and also is a significant contributing factor to the expense.
Everybody intends to take you to a craft shop, 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 very own private transportation. Nevertheless, that's the reason you are paying a premium. On the other hand, a few of the side trips can be fascinating as well as drivers may take you to some cool areas that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you went with their recommendations!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electrical motorcycles) outside the cities is much more inexpensive yet beware of the dust-- Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest places, as well as nearly all vacationers create a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and also something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not manage it-- otherwise you'll be among the several visitors walking around toting head to foot road rash and also plasters.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker-- Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 km ought to give 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 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 unexpected. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the very early hrs of the early morning, your only choice to reach my hotel may be using horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, however given that this is the primary form of traveler transport here it is only all-natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Money and 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 pristine. What's pristine/brand new-- unfolded, uncreased as well as newer than 2006. Each individual note is reviewed for flaws, discolouration and also creases at the money exchange stands. You may additionally have difficulty changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US dollars so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Making use of kyat is likely to be cheaper due to the fact that the USD exchange rate is informal-- somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is usually applied on the spot, most likely depending on exactly how rich you look.
There are ATMs and also they mostly work yet make certain you have cash before turning up at more remote spots like the coastline. In some cases 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 fees your financial institution may bill. As well as you possibly will not have the ability to withdraw greater than $150 each time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places around, but mainly the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational airport terminal to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines as well as require cash payment. If you have actually booked your hotels in advance online this may save you taking additional cash money for holiday accommodation.
Credit cards are accepted mostly just in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, normally charging a small charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travel in Myanmar
Myanmar is a lot more pricey than the rest of Southeast Asia-- facilities is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses and restaurants. Businesses are recovering their expenses.
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a standard private 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, deluxe resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being an example where high-end comes with a rate of $250 per night) with various other excellent options coming in at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which costs around $120 a night). A contemporary 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 also). On the plus side, you generally get a cost-free breakfast with your lodging.
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 including something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also low-cost at a number of dollars per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour costs
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to pay for the benefit of being a foreigner and utilizing squat toilets, going into pagodas, storing footwear and also taking pictures. 'Foreigner payments' are popular in the more touristy areas.
It's possible to negotiate on costs of products like mementos yet if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest as well as leave.
Tipping is not common method in Myanmar, and also it's just foreigners that tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for daybreak and fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is usually excruciating during the peak sunshine hours and the arrival of the vacationer buses make it harder to get fantastic pictures and also move around freely.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far northern, mountainous location of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State as well as the far, crime levels are remarkably reduced.
Still, you should take the normal precautions of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your belongings. Female visitors should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser-- the cash is filthy as well as there isn't always soap in washrooms so use your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Watch 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 a/c-- Myanmar can be as warm. As a result, many travellers use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you sick.
Fruit is simple to find so top up your body immune system with nutrients in this way. Nonetheless, as it's often pre-cut, look for a seller that has actually kept the flies away and also if it's sluiced with water, make sure it's filtered water.
Many government advisories warn against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes in between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has caused the mass displacement of thousands of people. A few other parts of the country remain shut to foreigners because of problem in between the government and various ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are primarily in Kachin and also Shan States, close to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, as well as far from the major visitor locations.
Exact information on disputes as well as closed areas can be tough to come by. Check your government's guidance before travelling, and 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
Most of the locals dress conservatively| get more info and also cover their shoulders and legs regardless of the heat, as well as you will certainly make everyone much more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants and tees are the attire of choice. These are strongly encouraged as well as frequently enforced for entering the temples and pagodas.
Everybody puts on 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 as well as tick the 'traditional wear' box. They are practical for sightseeing so get an affordable one a the marketplace if you have the chance.
Flip flops are essential! Entering pagodas means going barefoot and flip flops are the very best footwear option. Dealing with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an undesirable interruption. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after seeing a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you'll blend far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and shoulders). You will find people in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and at the beach but elsewhere it's less typical.
The local individuals are remarkably genteel as well as not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be irritating, warm and also sluggish but remember: you selected to go to Myanmar and that it's not like being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. However, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a lot by citizens who want to talk. Visitors are no longer a novelty in a lot of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Usually the people are charming and more than happy to appear in photos and try and also speak via limited usual words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a whole lot which is usually best handled by providing a smile as well as a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and if you're paying for a guide, make certain they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after eating betel quids, small parcels that contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It's probably popular| because it provides a hit that amounts to 6 mugs of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spat out, the majority 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 chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you shouldn't 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 women. This is Thanaka, an aesthetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty product in Myanmar and likewise works as a sun block.
It's also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and restaurants as citizens make use of the kissing sound as an ask for service. Apparently it's easier for staff to identify the location of the kissing audio so do not be surprised!
The two essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it courteous, but it is well received. Be ready for the majority of citizens to giggle in response-- they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting 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 show up with your clothing laundered as well as unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you actually require washing as well as wash your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are very easy to find by yet tampons are not so bring what you require with you.
You can't flush toilet paper or sanitary products-- this is very usual in developing countries where the plumbing system can not handle anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that strange 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 numerous adaptors for European and North American 2-pin plugs along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to overcome it or, better still, get a local SIM. You can obtain one at the majority of flight terminals when you land or in among the shops in the street as well as the shop staff will have you set up in about 5 mins. You can learn more about your network choices right here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a 'rapid' link, don't anticipate to be downloading video clips whenever. On-line access has actually improved, with wi-fi the norm-- most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it totally free-- and the web is currently spreading tofarther places. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power failures can make using the internet a discouraging exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and also do not anticipate to Skype home very often, it's barely possible to get a messenger service to work at times!
You'll be better with a backpack than a suitcase. Suitcases aren't perfect on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering as well as out of myriad forms of transport and hefting it up many steep staircases isn't better.
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