Top Myanmar Travel TipsTop Myanmar Travelling Tips
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The nation officially referred to as Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, however it had not been till 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 previous British colonial past, and also Myanmar as more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were also 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 used interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the modifications, what you 'should' say as well as the inquiry: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are normally three periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summertime period
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather is warm but not stifling, as well as brings in the greatest number of visitors. This, in turn, makes the minimal accommodation options difficult to secure and also will certainly mean trying to book ahead or face paying out for the a lot more pricey options left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level increases in Myanmar and also impending rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of visitors that makes it easy to book accommodation but it is exceptionally warm.
An e-Visa is offered to travellers from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa internet site. You'll need to submit a passport photo and pay a cost of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply and also 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 date of issue and enables you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy may be less costly-- if you wish to save some money, looking for a visa via your local Myanmar consular office might be less expensive. For instance, the cost is simply ₤ 14 in the UK but $40 in the USA, so do your research and do not neglect to consider mailing expenses.
It is only possible to go into Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; as well as at three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration website for the most up to date at the time you take a trip.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the common option for visitors as the very first mode of entry, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. However, taking into consideration where Myanmar is located-- surrounded by China to the North and also northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the east and also India as well as Bangladesh to its west-- there are numerous for land entrance, although not all of them are advised due to safety and security.
Regardless, you must specify a "Port of Entry" in your on-line application which denotes just how you will certainly be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a listing of options, from which you will certainly need to select one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
Mandalay (located right in the center of Myanmar)
Yangon (located in the south)
Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay and also 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 border of the Thai Peninsula and 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 border village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
Actually, you can go into Myanmar at any designated "Port of Entry" yet it is best to stick to the one you initially stated preferably to avoid any type of hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any one of the International Airports and also Land Border Checkpoints since your exit point does not require to be specified up front. In addition, you might leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in and out of Yangon is less costly as well as has extra connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar-- Cross Country
Myanmar's local transport choices might be irritating however the long distance propositions are a lot more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow as well as flying is affordable so it might be your much better choice.
You can still reserve flights the traditional way by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days-- check-in involves ticking people off a list of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal 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 don't let it get you stressed.Buses are budget friendly with competing businesses and also a range of high-end levels.
Most buses travel over night which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, but isn't so wonderful for sleep. Additionally, you'll tend to reach at odd times in the morning and will not have the ability to check into your hostel or hotel till 2 p.m. That's a lot of hours waiting for a 'top-up' snooze. Think about if it will be less expensive to fly if you're going to book accommodation the same night to sleep straight away.
Buses are really chilly, the deluxe buses will certainly give you a blanket however, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so expect to stop every couple of hrs for a food as well as toilet break-- a bit aggravating if you're attempting 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 music CD's and tacky music videos up until the early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be switched off.
Never ask a vehicle driver about he time of arrival. Due to superstitions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will reach a location invokes bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You won't obtain an answer.
You will mostly book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse-- they will typically charge a cost yet understand that the cost can vary considerably.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price - this really does vary depending upon destination, mode of travel as well as company. Look for a business that does include pick-up as taxis are expensive.
Reserving buses online is harder-- There isn't one useful on-line booking website as well as the ones that do exist have a limited number of tickets. If you're told they're sold out, it doesn't always mean the bus is full. Attempt reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without costs.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, however bus rides are rough-- you may think about taking tablets for nausea. Boats are additionally an option for some routes; the Mandalay-- Bagan service is popular among tourists.
There are no international car-rental agencies, however the majority of travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan-- as well as guesthouses as well as hotels in other places-- can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar's Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly obvious in the local transport.
With minimal public transportation, taxis will be your primary means of navigating especially for getting to and also from airports as well as within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate-- rates are established on the spot (after a quick 'how much can I get away with' calculation) and you're going to need to negotiate hard. It's not unusual to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Often the taxi to and 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 amount for taxi prices.
Taxi cabs for the day might be your better bet-- it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing and tour in Bagan and $28 for a couple of hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger aspect than time in dictating the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hour journey about Yangon can cost USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hr drive each way, can be estimated at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar and is a massive contributing variable to the cost.
Everyone wants to take you to a craft shop, a silk factory or a nut producer during your sightseeing and tour journeys. Do not hesitate to say no when you're paying for your very own private transportation. After all, that's the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, several of the side trips can be intriguing and drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you chose their recommendations!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much more affordable yet beware of the dust-- Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest places, and also almost all vacationers establish a dust cough. Pack sunglasses as well as something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can't handle it-- otherwise you'll be just one of the many tourists walking around toting head to foot road rash and bandages.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker-- Yangon has some of the worst traffic. 1.5 hours to cover 15 kilometres ought to provide you an idea. The time recommended for reaching the bus terminal (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 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.
Get ready for the unexpected. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hours of the morning, your only alternative to get to my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a haggling procedure to be had, yet since this is the major form of traveler transport here it is only natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and ATMs in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar-- dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat').
If you're going to utilize dollars, they have to be pristine. What's pristine/brand new-- unfolded, uncreased and more recent than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for flaws, discolouration as well as creases at the money exchange kiosks. You could additionally have problems changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is most likely to be less costly since the USD exchange rate is informal-- someplace in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is typically applied on the spot, probably depending upon how rich you look.
There are ATMs and they mostly work however make certain you have cash before turning up at more remote places like the beach. Often they may be out of service.
You'll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for every withdrawal which is in addition to any fees your financial institution could charge. And you most likely will not have the ability to take out greater than $150 at a time.
ATM machines dispense kyat only. There are a lot of exchange places around, yet mostly 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 and need cash payment. If you have actually reserved your hotels ahead of time online this may save you taking extra cash for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted mainly just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as 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 built. That includes guesthouses and restaurants. Companies are recouping their expenses.
A dorm bed will 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 hotels can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a fine example where luxury comes at a rate of $250 per night) with other excellent options 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 traveler' locations like Ngapali beach can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a number of hostels there too). On the plus side, you typically obtain a cost-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 meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or including something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Bottled water is low-cost, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also affordable at a couple of dollars per bottle.
Sightseeing and tour costs
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and also using squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing shoes as well as taking photos. 'Foreigner payments' are popular in the more touristy areas.
It's possible to negotiate on prices of products like mementos yet if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and also 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 sunrise as well as fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is typically excruciating during the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the tourist buses make it more difficult to get outstanding pictures and move around easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State and also the far, criminal activity levels are exceptionally low.
Still, you should take the typical safety measures of making use of hotel lockers or safes for your valuables. Female visitors should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser-- the money is filthy as well as there isn't always soap in shower rooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Look out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth and nose when cycling around. Also take care with your air conditioning-- Myanmar can be as warm. Subsequently, numerous visitors use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels can make you unwell.
Fruit is very easy to find so top up your body immune system with nutrients in this way. Nonetheless, as it's often pre-cut, look for a vendor that has actually kept the flies away as well as if it's sluiced with water, ensure 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 and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually caused the mass displacement of thousands of individuals. A few other parts of the nation stay closed to foreigners due to problem between the government and also various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mostly in Kachin and also Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and Thailand, and also far from the major tourist locations.
Accurate info on conflicts as well as closed areas can be tough to find. Check your government's guidance before travelling, as well as ask 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
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and legs regardless of the high temperatures, as well as you will certainly make everyone a lot 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 often enforced for going into the temples as well as pagodas.
Every person puts on skirts-- men and women alike-- the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Lots of tourists get more info pick one up as they're breezy in the heat and tick the 'conservative wear' box. They are convenient for sightseeing and tour so pick up a cheap one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are vital! Getting in pagodas indicates going barefoot and also flip flops are the best footwear choice. 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 far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will certainly find people in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities as well as at the beach but elsewhere it's less usual.
The local individuals are incredibly genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your best manners and your patience. Travelling can be frustrating, warm as well as slow but remember: you picked to check out Myanmar and that 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 whole lot by residents who intend to chat. Tourists are no more a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia but Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are lovely and also are happy to appear in pictures as well as attempt and also 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 and a mingalabar (hi in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, listen hard and also if you're paying for a guide, ensure 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 that contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It's most likely popular| since it supplies a hit that's equivalent to 6 cups of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, many times onto the ground.
Lots of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth and also cab drivers typically roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spit after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children 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 item in Myanmar as well as additionally acts as a sun block.
It's also common to hear a kissing sound in the coffee shops as well as 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 place of the kissing noise so don't be startled!
The two most important phrases you need in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it courteous, however it is well received. Be prepared for most citizens to giggle in reaction-- they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand and also is charged per item rather than kilo so try to show up with your clothing laundered and also unless you wish to hand over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you truly require washing as well as wash your smaller items yourself 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 not deal with anything other than bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual 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 North American 2-pin connects along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either have to overcome it or, much better still, acquire a local SIM. You can get one at the majority of flight terminals when you land or in among the shops in the road and the store personnel will have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can learn more about your network options right here. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a 'rapid' connection, 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 completely free-- and also the net is currently spreading tomore remote locations. But tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power interruptions can use the web an irritating exercise.
Do your research in advance or pack a guidebook, and don't expect to Skype home very often, it's barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You'll be much better with a knapsack than a travel suitcase. Suitcases aren't perfect on dusty, sandy, unevenroads. Entering and also out of myriad forms of transportation as well as hefting it up lots of steep staircases isn't much better.
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