Top Myanmar Travel Tips
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Change Its Name?
The nation officially called Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, but it had not been till 1989 that the ruling military junta changed the nation's name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Politically, the name Burma was seen as a relic of the nation's former British colonial past, as well as Myanmar as much more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Other names were additionally 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 as well as Myanmar are still utilized interchangeably, on the ground and also on the world stage. This short article breaks down the changes, what you 'should' say as well as the question: does it even matter?
Best Times to Visit Myanmar
There are commonly 3 seasons in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer season
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high period is November to February when the weather condition is warm but not stifling, and also attracts the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the minimal lodging alternatives tricky to secure as well as will mean attempting to book ahead or deal with paying for the more costly choices left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature increases in Myanmar and impending rainfalls are due. There is a minimal number of visitors that makes it easy to book holiday accommodation however it is exceptionally hot.
An e-Visa is readily available to visitors from these 100 countries.
To get one, go to the official e-Visa website. You'll be required to submit a passport photo as well as pay a fee of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply and you should obtain 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 permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be less costly-- if you wish to save some money, getting a visa by means of your local Myanmar embassy might be cheaper. As an example, the cost is just ₤ 14 in the UK however $40 in the United States, so do your research as well as do not neglect to factor in mailing expenses.
It is only possible to enter 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) as well as Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration web site for the most up to date at the time you take a trip.
Flights to Myanmar are the usual option for visitors as the very first mode of entrance, with normal scheduled services from Bangkok. Yet, taking into consideration where Myanmar lies-- surrounded by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand and Laos to the east and also India as well as Bangladesh to its west-- there are several methods for land access, although not every one of them are recommended because of safety.
No matter, you have to define a "Port of Entry" in your online application which denotes just how you will certainly be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a list of choices, where you will certainly require 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 (positioned 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 boundary to western Thailand)
Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula and also the collection of islands)
Tamu (in the Sagaing Area 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).
Actually, you can go into Myanmar at any designated "Port of Entry" but it is best to adhere to the one you originally specified preferably to prevent any hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports and also Land Boundary Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not require to be specified up front. Additionally, you may leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is cheaper and also has extra connections than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar-- Long Distance
Myanmar's local transport alternatives might be aggravating however the long distance propositions are a lot more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is sluggish as well as flying is budget-friendly so it may be your far better option.
You can still book flights the traditional means by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days-- check-in entails ticking people off a list of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the airport as well as getting your bag off a trolley by the airplane and 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. And also a lot of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing businesses and a variety of high-end levels.
Most buses travel over night which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing, yet isn't so great for rest. Also, you'll tend to arrive at strange times in the early 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 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 very same night to sleep straight away.
Buses are very chilly, the deluxe buses will offer you a blanket however, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn't have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hrs for a food as well as toilet break-- a little bit aggravating 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 tacky music videos until the very early hrs of the early morning. Pack your iPod, buy some heavy-duty extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be turned off.
Never ask a driver regarding reaches of the southern Mon State and Tenasserim area are generally off-limits to visitors unless you have gotten a government visa in advance. In some places you'll require a guide to chaperone you. Check before you make plans.
Leaving the beaten path is tough-- even within the 'open' parts, Myanmar's developing infrastructure indicates that there are established routes you can travel and you'll struggle to go any other way. Trying to do otherwise could be extremely pricey.
Work your sightseeing and tour around the heat-- Myanmar is popular for its dawns and sunsets, which additionally matches nicely with staying inside (maybe for a nap or pool dip if you have one) throughout the mid-day warmth.
Anticipate to go barefoot a great deal in temples on seriously grubby floorings. In temples where birds are nesting or monkeys and dogs hangout, you can anticipate to step in a great deal of animal faeces while you're exploring Myanmar's temples. Socks aren't allowed either so you simply need to get used to it. Have wipes for your feet so you can clean off some after each visit.
Be a mindful temple visitor, the majority of Myanmar's temples are places of worship, not just views for tourists. Respect 'do not climb/do not enter' signs as well as keep your voice down-- individuals will certainly be praying.
Expect to pay an access cost for Bagan and also Inle Lake-- this charge is charged to all foreigners and there's no getting around it. The fees are: Bagan-- $20; Inle Lake-- $10.
Lodging in Myanmar
Hostels are gradually opening up, indicating you can sleep in cheaper accommodation than you could a few years ago. Things are gradually getting better for solo travellers, though expenses are still far more of what you'll pay somewhere else in Southeast Asia.
Guesthouses are rustic however enchanting. The accommodation provides a feeling for what a local house could be like, basic but wonderfully decorated in teak) and the breakfast was generally exceptional. And also, it's nice to put cash into the hands of the locals, not some big brand chain.
Most hostels, hotels and guesthouses supply a towel yet you may have to provide a refundable $10 deposit on check-in. Hotels will certainly additionally provide some form of toiletries. Some hostels and also guesthouses do also, yet it can not be depended on.
Be cautious about the curfew-- some guesthouses may lock the door at night, leaving you unable to access your bed. Check before you go out for the night.
Reserve holiday accommodation and transport in advance throughout peak period. The tourist sector in Myanmar seems to have experienced a boom which the infrastructure has actually failed to keep speed with. The majority of resorts are little and also boutique like so if there's someplace certain you want to stay it's vital to book in advance. It is especially vital to book in advance during high season (November to March). In some rural areas, monasteries will take tourists in for a small charge if there are no spaces readily available. Yet don't rely on the local monks being able to help you out.
Food and also Drink in Myanmar
Order local dishes: it is always the best choice. There are noodles during the night bus stops, fermented tea leaf salads in local restaurants and also an amazing selection of curries as well as salads
Use chopsticks: Several items of cutlery are wiped with a not so fantastic looking water supply and also dishcloth. Prepackaged chopsticks are an ideal choice.
Inform the staff if you don't eat something. If you like a little spice in your meals state how much spice you like as the chefs often tend to go easy on tourists!
The fish is tasty and also an excellent, fresh option in many dining establishments.
There is rather a lot of sugar in the food and also beverages. If you aren't a fan of sugar there's an alternative to skip the sugar (tea, coffee, freshly blended juices), make certain you request for 'no sugar'.
Salads feature greatly on food selections yet do not expect a fresh crunch-- most salads are marinated and also seasoned in oil, salt and also lime juice and do not usually include salad leaves.
Hygiene standards are reduced in Myanmar and you could get ill once.
Street food isn't as prolific as other areas in Southeast Asia but you can find it and it's great. Street food will tend to be about 1,000-1,700 kyat a dish (under $2).
You can not drink the water but most hotels, hostels and also guesthouses supply cost-free water either in bottles in your area or by means of a big water dispenser at reception. Otherwise, bottled water is really low-cost.
Alcohol is extensively available with beer, rum and also bourbon being preferred alternatives.
Beer stations are simple to discover and fun areas to get a drink with the locals if you do not intend to being in a restaurant.
Understand that there isn't a late night culture in Myanmar-- most restaurants close by 9 p.m. and also bars follow suit around 10-- 11 p.m. This is a nation where meditation at sunrise is a lot more prominent than late night drinking.
Large chains can't be discovered as well as brands are in short supply. Myanmar isn't a nation of fast-food chains and beyond beverage brand names like Coke and Schwepps Tonic, you're going to be getting local brands as well as eating from local dining establishments.
Shops are little, family owned affairs-- you won't discover a 7-Eleven. There are a couple of comparable 'Grab 'n' Go' shops dotted around, however mostly you're going to purchase treats and drinks from tiny, local businesses. They can look a little bit intimidating, like you're intruding by walking in. Don't worry, simply step in, they want your business.
There are people smoking indoors- this can be a shock if you come from a country where smoking cigarettes in public places has actually long been banned.
Health and Safety in Myanmar
Myanmar is an unbelievably safe country-- the majority of the populace is Buddhist and with a belief in karma, criminal activity levels are exceptionally reduced.
Still, you need to take the usual safety measures of making use of hotel storage lockers or safes for your valuables. Female visitors should not experience any type of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser-- the money is unclean and also there isn't always soap in bathrooms so use your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Keep an eye out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning-- Myanmar can be as hot. As a result, lots of tourists use the a/c in their room yet sleeping in low temperature levels can make you unwell.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your immune system with nutrients this way. Nonetheless, as it's commonly pre-cut, try to find a seller that has actually kept the flies away and also if it's sluiced with water, make certain it's filtered water.
Safety and security
Many government advisories alert against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually brought about the mass displacement of countless people. Some other parts of the nation stay closed to foreigners as a result of dispute between the government and also various ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are primarily in Kachin and also Shan States, near the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and also far from the major tourist locations.
Accurate details on conflicts as well as closed areas can be hard to come by. Check your government's recommendations prior to travelling, and inquire about the situation once you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum is an excellent source of news from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders and also legs in spite of the heat, and also you will make everybody more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as t-shirts are the outfit of choice. These are highly encouraged and frequently enforced for getting in 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. Numerous vacationers pick one up as they're breezy in the warmth and tick the 'conservative wear' box. They are convenient for taking in the sights so get a cheap one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are necessary! Getting in pagodas means going barefoot and also flip flops are the most effective footwear option. Battling with shoelaces in the blistering heat is an unwelcome 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 also shoulders). You will certainly find people in shorts as well as strappy tops in the cities and at the beach yet in other places it's much less usual.
The local individuals are extremely genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your best manners as well as your patience. Travel can be discouraging, hot and slow-moving however keep 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. Nevertheless, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a whole lot by residents that wish to chat. Visitors are no longer a novelty in most of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are beautiful and also are happy to appear in pictures and try and also speak via limited usual words or sign language.
You mayalso get stared at a whole lot which is usually best dealt with by providing a smile and also a mingalabar (hey there in Burmese). Burmese check here 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, tiny parcels which contain tobacco, spices and also areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It's most likely popular| due to the fact that it delivers a hit that's equivalent to six cups of coffee. However, 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 discolored teeth and also cab drivers typically roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spew after eating on the betel quids.
There is some begging by children in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this brilliant write-up by Uncornered Market.
It's common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese women. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar and also works as a sunscreen.
It's also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes as well as dining establishments as residents use the kissing sound as a call for service. Apparently it's much easier for staff to identify the place of the kissing sound so do not be distressed!
Both essential phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Hello there: Ming-gu-la-bah
Not only is it courteous, however it is well received. Be prepared for most residents to giggle in reaction-- they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is typically done by hand and is billed per item instead of kilo so try to turn up with your clothes laundered and unless you intend to hand over $20 for a load of washing, select the items you actually require washing as well as wash your smaller items yourself as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by however tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can't flush toilet tissue or sanitary products-- this is very 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 in addition to British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to get over it or, far better still, acquire a local SIM. You can obtain one at many airport terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the road and the store personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can learn more regarding your network selections here. Still, with 1 mbps thought about to be a 'rapid' connection, do not expect to be downloading videos at any time. Online accessibility has improved, with wi-fi coming to be the norm-- most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it totally free-- and also the internet is now spreading tomore remote places. However tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can make using the internet a discouraging exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and also do not anticipate to Skype home extremely frequently, it's hardly 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. Getting in and out of myriad forms of transport and hefting it up many steep staircases isn't much better.
Thanks for reading this guide to Top Traveling Tips for Myanmar