Myanmar

Everything You Need to Know Before Traveling to Myanmar

Myanmar is also known as Burma, in recent years it has become a magnet for tourists. It’s a place where Buddhism is the way of life. It has some wondrous sights: a thousand temples scattered across the countryside in Bagan; the leg-rowers and floating gardens of Inle Lake, and majestic rivers – the Ayeyarwady and the Chindwin – navigable into the furthest reaches of the country. But the big draw is the chance to see a country where the 21st-century world has barely intruded. This time Myproguide will tell you everything you need to know before traveling to Myanmar.

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Currency

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The Burmese money is known as the Kyat (pronounced ‘chat’), it is often abbreviated as MMK or K. The Kyat is originally derived from an ancient Burmese unit called Kyattha that equals to 16.3 grams of silver. 

  • 1USD=1,500Kyats.
  • Tip: one free app that is useful to check exchange rates is xCurrency it works both on iOS and Android.

You Might Find Interesting Horse Carriage Riding in Myanmar

Keep in mind that Myanmar is a cash-based society so always have some cash at hand. Credit cards are not very commonly accepted, although international cards are increasingly available in cities, towns and tourist areas. Another thing that is important is to bring new bills because the Central Bank of Myanmar has told banks to accept bills that are in perfect conditions, meaning no folds, stamps, stains, writing marks or tears.

Tipping Culture

Tipping is not customary in Myanmar, though little extra ‘presents’ are sometimes expected (even if they’re not asked for) in exchange for a service.

  • Airport: if someone helps you with your bags, a small tip is welcomed.
  • Restaurants: as wages are low, it’s a good idea to leave change for waiters.
  • Temples: a small donation is appreciated if a caretaker is required to unlock a temple.

Power

All power sockets in Myanmar-Burma provide a standard voltage of 230V with a standard frequency of 50Hz. You can use all your equipment in Myanmar-Burma if the outlet voltage in your own country is between 220V-240V. This is the case in most of Europe, Australia, the United Kingdom and most countries in Africa and Asia.

Myanmar-Burma uses power outlets and plugs of types A, C, D, G & I. Take a look at the pictures below to see what these plugs and power sockets look like:

Weather

Myanmar weather is divided into three seasons 

  • Hot season (summer), February to May. Keep in mind that temperatures during this time period may rise above 40ºC (104ºF). 
  • Rainy season, June to September 
  • Cold season, October to January
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How do I Get There?

1. Air

Most international flights most arrive at Yangon International Airport. However, there are direct flights to Mandalay International Airport departing from China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, and Thailand. Or you can fly into Nay Pyi Taw International Airport from China and Thailand. 

Airlines offer discounted tickets online depending on how far in advance you book. Good deals are often available from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore on budget airlines such as AirAsia and Silk Air. If you are looking for a ticket in Myanmar you can buy international tickets from travel agents or online.

2. Land

Arriving in and departing Myanmar by land to/from China, India, and Thailand is possible, although for Chinese and Indian crossings you will need a permit.

Border Crossings:

According to Lonely Planet, no bus or train service connects Myanmar with another country, nor can you travel by car or motorcycle across the border – you must walk across. E-visas are currently only available at the following Myanmar–Thailand borders: Tachileik, Myawaddy, and Kawthoung. For other crossings, have your visa ready in your passport before you get to the border.

  • Mae Sai in northern Thailand to/from Tachileik in Shan State
  • Mae Sot in Thailand to/from Myawaddy in Kayin State
  • Ranong in Thailand to/from Kawthoung at the far southern end of Tanintharyi Region
  • Phu Nam Ron in Thailand to/from Htee Khee in Tanintharyi Region
  • Ruili in Yunnan Province, China, to/from Mu-se in Shan State
  • Moreh in India’s Manipur state to/from Tamu in Sagaing Region

Visa

Most visitors need a visa when visiting Myanmar. The good news is that most nationalities can apply for a visa online. To avoid any visa processing fees from independent companies you can go directly to their website. You’ll need a passport photo and pay a fee of $50 and it may take up to 3 working days to process. Check out the following map to see what kind of visa requirements are there for your nationality:

A close up of a map

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Photo by Wikipedia

Getting around

Unless you are flying, all travel in Myanmar takes time. Buses are almost always faster than the trains, but bus rides are bumpy, so it is recommended to have some tablets for motion sickness. Boats are also an option for some routes. Like, the Mandalay–Bagan service is popular among travelers.

Yangon International Airport is the main hub for domestic flights. Local airlines include Air Bagan and Myanmar National Airlines. Note that it is cheaper and easier to book domestic flights via agencies once you are in Myanmar.

There are no international car-rental agencies, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan – as well as guesthouses and hotels elsewhere – can arrange cars and drivers.

Where to Stay

  • Guesthouses: There is an increasing number of guesthouses opening across Myanmar near tourist locations. So, this can be a good option too if you want something better than a hostel but more budget-friendly than a hotel. 
  • Hostels: Found in the major cities and tourist centers and is aimed at the budget crowd.
  • Hotels: Very common, but don’t expect luxury or anything boutique outside of big cities.
  • Resorts: They are mainly located at the beaches at Ngapali, Chaung Tha and Ngwe Saung.

See Also: What to Eat in Yangon | Food Guide for First-Timers

Last but not least, here are some important tips about etiquette in Myanmar:

Related: 6 Beautiful Places that will Make You Fall in Love with Myanmar

  • Keep in mind that Myanmar is a relatively new emerging from decades of isolation. Therefore, it is comparatively more conservative than its neighboring countries. Many people still wear traditional dress (longyi for man and htamein for women). You would rarely see people exposing their knees or shoulders. 
  • Money is normally handed and received with the right hand, while the left hand loosely supports the right arm. 
  • Never use your feet to point at a person or thing. 
  • A smile goes a long way. As does know some words in Burmese. For example, Mingalarbar is a basic greeting.

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