The best piece of advice we can give you about travel to Myanmar is this: Keep an open mind, and an open heart, because there is much to learn and love about this incredible country.
But you may also find the following information useful:
The Myanmar currency, Kyat (pronounced Chat) trades at around 1,650 to £1.00 GBP. Check the latest rate here. But US Dollars are widely accepted, in small denominations. Credit cards are usually only accepted in some large hotels. Banks are closed at weekends and public holidays.
Note: Try and ensure all bills are new as they may not be accepted if torn or dirty.
Tipping is not expected, but appreciated nonetheless for good services.
ATMs are nowadays a common sight in tourist areas, but bear in mind it may not be possible to withdraw foreign currencies.
A visa is COMPULSORY to enter Myanmar. A 28-day tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors. The visa is issued by the Myanmar Embassy or Consulate normally. It usually takes 3-5 working days to obtain, it may be a little longer during the high season. At present, eVisa system is also in place. Check more info on http://www.evisa.moip.gov.mm/. Important Note: The Visa is valid 3 months from date of issue and NOT date of entry into the country so please time your application accordingly.
You should only need lightweight clothing throughout your stay, but a waterproof and warm jacket can be useful between June and September. Umbrellas are handy come rain or shine. Clothing that covers ankles and wrists will provide some protection against not only the sun but also insect bites. When visiting Myanmar, you should try to dress relatively conservatively. It’s particularly important to do so at religious sites, where long-sleeved shirts, and trousers or long skirts are the most appropriate form of attire.
FOOD AND DRINK
Myanmar cuisine is delicious, but sometimes very spicy! It is often described as a mix of Chinese, Indian and Thai food. The most popular national dish is rice noodles in a fish soup, known as Mohinga. It is commonly eaten at breakfast but makes for a pleasant light meal at any time of day. One of the best ways to sample Myanmar’s unique culture is to grab some street food on the go – you can normally pick up a tasty meal for under $1 USD.
Tea is a very popular drink in Myanmar – there are many tea shops dotted around where the locals are always happy to chat with visitors, and will frequently be open from early in the morning until late at night.
Avoid tap water, and carry bottled water with you.
English is widely-used throughout Myanmar, but a bit of effort to pick up some of the local lingo never goes amiss. Try these common phrases to start:
Hello: Min ga lar par,
Goodbye: Thwa dau mal,
How are you?: Nei kaon la?,
Nice to meet you: Twe ya da wanta ba de,
Please: Kyeizu pyu yue,
Thank you: Kyeizu tin ba de,
You are welcome : Ya ba de,
Internet access is sporadic still but Wifi is often available at busy tea shops and western-style coffee shops, as well as many larger hotels. It’s a similar situation with mobile phone coverage, although both are improving all the time.
In larger towns and cities, most hotels will have electricity, often backed up by generators. In more rural areas, it’s best not to rely on having power.
Many visitors find domestic air services the best way to get around Myanmar, but taking the bus or train can be a pleasant experience, if you don’t mind a bit of discomfort and have time on your hands.
The roads outside the big cities are frequently in a poor condition, and during the rainy season they can be difficult to navigate. However things have been improving in the recent years.
Self-driving is not allowed, however any special groups should consult with Visita Travel for prior arrangement e.g, permission etc.
Vaccinations are needed before visiting Myanmar, so check with your doctor before travelling. It is also important to begin taking malaria medication several weeks before travel. Insect repellent is vital, and bringing a portable mosquito net is a good idea especially if your itinerary includes hiking, trekking etc.
Public hospitals may not be in the standard you would expect. Most large hotels can recommend a reliable healthcare provider if needed. Expect to pay in cash before receiving any treatment.
If you need any medication it is essential to bring it with you, as buying over-the-counter in Myanmar is not advisable.
Wherever you go on holiday, taking out comprehensive insurance before you travel is strongly recommended. Should you require it, Visita Travel can help you to arrange suitable insurance for your Myanmar holiday, as an authorised referral agent of Holiday Extras.
Myanmar is a conservative, religious country, where the Buddhist faith is widely practised. In rural areas especially, the people can also be very superstitious. Monks should always be treated with the greatest of respect.
The people of Myanmar tend to be very friendly and polite at all times, and even though you are likely to be the centre of attention in some places, this is down to simple curiosity rather than any rudeness.
Don’t touch people on the head, as this is offensive, and ask before taking anyone’s photograph. Giving and accepting is normally done with both hands.
Myanmar is a very safe country, and the people friendly, helpful, and respectful towards visitors. As one would anywhere though, it is best to take sensible precautions. Tourists should be careful of walking around alone at night, and try not to flash large amounts of money or valuables around needlessly.
Visita Travel are pleased to offer a range of superb guided tours across Myanmar, and your English-speaking guide will be able to share much more advice and local knowledge with you.