COUNTRY GUIDE

Myanmar

Closed off for decades, Myanmar remains untainted by the globalisation seen elsewhere in Asia. Travelling in Myanmar is like travelling back in time. Hoof and muscle are used in place of machines, and western fashion sensibilities haven’t set root. For those looking for a ‘pure’ travel destination, Myanmar is it.

Myanmar 1

AIRLINES

Domestic: We use the following 5 domestic airlines: Air KBZ, Mann Yadanarpon Airlines , Golden Myanmar Airlines , Myanmar National Airlines , and Air Thanlwin. All five airlines fly French-Italian ATR turboprop planes (Avions de Transports Régionaux), a type of plane well suited for the local conditions, airports and distances. The configuration is either 40 seats (ATR-42) or 70-seats (ATR 72) in rows of 4 seats with a middle aisle. Entry-exit is at the back of the plane. Standard One-class configuration.

International: The following airlines currently fly into Myanmar: Air China – CA, Air India –AI , Air Asia Berhad- AK, Bangokok Airways – PG, China Airlines – CI, China Southern –CZ, China Eastern Airlines – MU, China Express Airlines – G5, Cathy Dragon Air – KA, Flydubai – FZ, Donghai Airlines – DZ, Hainan Air – HU, Indigo Air – 6E, JC Cambodia – QD, Jetstar Asia – 3K, Korean Airlines – KE, Kunming Airlines – KY, Loong Air Airlines – GJ, Malaysia Airlines – MH, Malindo Air – OD, Myanmar Airways International – 8M, Myanmar National Airline – UB, Neos Air – NO, Nok Air – DD, Qatar Airways – QR, Qatar Airways (Freighter) – QR, Qingdao Airlines – QW, Ruili Airlines – DR, Singapore Airlines – SQ, Spring Airlines – 9C, Slik Air – MI, Sichuan Airlines – 3U, Thai Airways – TG, Thai Smile Airways – WE, Thai Lion Air – SL, Thai Airasia – FD, Vietjet Air – VJ, Vietnam Airlines – VN, Xiamen Airlines – MF, 9 Air – AQ , Air KBZ – K7.

AIRPORT TAX

All international and domestic airport taxes are included in the price of the tickets (subject to change without prior notice from airlines and authorities).

ARRIVAL IN MYANMAR

BY AIR

International flights fly into Yangon (RGN), Mandalay (MDL) and Nay Pyi Taw (NPT).

BY LAND

Myanmar is bordered by 5 countries: Thailand and Laos to the east, India and Bangladesh to the west and China to the north east. There are five international land borders open for travelers: Tachilek (located near the Thai border town of Mae Sai), Kawthaung (located in the south near the Thai town of Ranong, 5 hours from Phuket), Mywaddy (located across the river from the Tai town of Mae Sot), Tamu (crossing into India) and Rih Khaw Dar (crossing into India).

Travelers can now travel freely between borders without requiring any special permission. E-visas are accepted in all International Airports and land entry points (Tachileik, Kawthaung, Myawaddy, Tamu and Rih Khaw Dar and Hteekhee.)

ARRIVAL FORMALITIES

Queue up at the immigration counters with your passport with your visa stamped inside. If you are arriving with an e-visa, just hand your print out confirmation to the officer with your passport. After passing immigration, collect your luggage from the luggage belt and proceed to the customs counter. Hand over your filled-out customs form. Note that items of value and currency in excess of 10,000 USD are supposed to be declared and taken again on departure, but in practice things are made quite easy for tourists.

ATMs

ATMs for withdrawing Myanmar Kyats (MMK) available in Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake), Kalaw, Thandwe (Ngapali) and other major towns. Master and Visa accepted at ATMs throughout the country. One transaction service charge is 5,000 Kyats. One time maximum of 300,000 Kyats withdraw and Maximum 1,000,000 Kyats can be withdrawn within 24 hours. As some of the banks have limited the cash withdraw amount and sometimes it is unable to withdraw the cash when the internet line down, we highly recommend to take enough cash money along. Most ATMs have an English language version. Ask your tour guide for help when you need to locate an ATM.

CLOTHING

Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for traveling in Myanmar. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat and umbrella are a good idea in the rainy season and the umbrella can also offer useful shade from the sun.

Evenings in the hill stations and on Inle Lake can be quite chilly so bring a sweater or other warm clothing if visiting these areas. This applies especially for the winter months, November-February, treks and the Inle lake area, where early morning boat rides can be quite cold. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting pagodas and monasteries. Though a long scarf or sarong may be used as a temporary cover.

Shoes (and socks!) must be removed before entering any religious building or private home. It is therefore useful to wear shoes (or sandals) without too many laces and which can easily be taken off.

CREDIT CARDS

Many restaurants, hotels and shops do accept credit cards (surcharge of 3-8%), but it is not recommended to rely on this service as the Internet often shuts down during the day making payment by card impossible.

NOTE: Surcharges can change without prior notice. Check the percentage charged before you pay.

DO

There’s no more perfect time to experience our custom private tours of Myanmar. With the country dramatically opening its doors to the world over the last decade, opportunities for new discoveries, crowd free beaches and rarely encountered vista’s have never been higher in Myanmar. This untamed gem is teeming with wonders from the enigmatic temple plains to fabulous colonial relics and a vast archipelago of pristine sand. It’s a lifetime experience that should not be missed!

14 Days / 13 Nights
Bago

Thailand-Myanmar Overland

  • WWII history of Kanchanburi
  • Visit Kamphangphet Historical Park
  • Nature at Lan Sang and Taksin National Park
  • Ancient pagodas and churches of Mawlamyine
  • Circle train ride through Yangon
5 Days / 4 Nights
Kawthaung

The Legend of Pila Island - Mergui Archipelago

  • Barefoot luxury at Awei Pila Resort
  • Panoramic views of the Mergui Archipelago
  • Eco-friendly stay that protects the environment
  • Indulge in pampering spa treatments
  • Snorkel or dive the surrounding waters
3 Days / 2 Nights
Mandalay

Myitkyina and Kachin State

  • Discover Kachin culture
  • Visit Myitkyina’s highlights
  • Cruise the Myit Sone confluence
  • See Kachin traditional weaving
  • Meet local blacksmiths

ELECTRICITY

Myanmar uses 220V, and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round 2-pin or 3 pin plugs. Though many new hotels are fitted with universal plugs, it is still recommended to bring a universal adaptor. Power outages are quite common but hotels have their own generators.

ENTERTAINMENT

There is not much in the way of western style entertainment in Myanmar. In the rest of the country, entertainment is mostly confined to the hotels and tourist-orientated restaurants. For those seeking a taste of the local culture in the evenings, head to tea shop, beer hall or night market where the locals gather to relax and socialize.

FOOD

The staples of Burmese cuisine are rice, rice noodles, and curries. The main ingredient of the meal is usually rice and the curries tend to be not as spicy as those from India or Thailand. A clear soup called hingyo accompanies most meals and a fermented fish sauce or paste called ngapiye is usually served to add to the flavor. Chinese, Indian and European food is served in restaurants at most tourist places.

HEALTH

No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in Myanmar and it is advisable to take precautions especially if traveling off the beaten track. Please consult with your usual doctor or a doctor specialized in tropical countries before traveling.

Medical facilities are rather limited in Myanmar (Yangon has the best facilities) and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling. Such an insurance should cover the cost of an evacuation flight out of Myanmar (most of the time to Bangkok) which are sometimes necessary.

HOURS OF BUSINESS

Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 09:00 until 16:00. Most shops are open every day. An exception is Bogyoke Market (Scott Market), which is closed on Monday and public holidays.

The museums in Myanmar are open Tuesday – Sunday only and are also closed on public holidays. Several other sites are usually closed on one day of the week.

INTERNET

Almost all of the hotels now have Wi-Fi in cities like Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake) and Ngapali. Most cafes and restaurants in these destinations also have Wi-Fi.

LANGUAGE

The national language of Myanmar is Burmese, of which there are over 80 different dialects spoken. The written language uses an amazing looking script based on ancient Indian characters. In the cities, many of the older generation still speak very good English and it is also becoming popular again with the younger generation.

MONEY

The currency in Myanmar is the kyat (pronounced ‘chat’) and comes in notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5,000 and 10,000 kyat. As in many countries of the area, the US Dollar is the most useful currency to carry but we recommend for travelers to exchange some money into kyat. In many local restaurants and shops, kyat is the only method of payment allowed.

In the past, US dollars were widely accepted throughout the country. In an attempt to limit inflation, the Myanmar Government passed a law in November 2015 that no longer allows businesses to accept US dollars as payment. Hotels will also no longer be allowed to exchange currency. US dollars can still be exchanged in Myanmar, but only at approved money changers.

US Dollars are the best currency for exchanging and the Euro is becoming more popular, especially in Yangon. The exchange rate in Yangon is generally better than upcountry and the larger the bill, the better the rate (ie- 100 USD notes receive 2% more kyat compared to 50 USD notes). Notes should be in pristine condition and not torn, dirty or washed as these will not be accepted in Myanmar. Sometimes, bills will be rejected just because they are creased.

POST MAIL

Postcards are sold at all main tourist sites and stamps are available from post offices, some hotel reception desks and stationary shops.

A postcard to Europe costs MMK 500 to 1000 to send and can take up to three to four weeks to reach the country of destination.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

24 December
Fri
Christmas Day
29 November
Mon
National Day
17 November
Wed
Tazaungtaing holidays

READING LIST

  • Burma Chronicles – Guy Delisle – A unique take on Burma, Guy Delisle’s Burma Chronicles is a graphic novel depicting the year Delisle spent in the country with his wife and young son, and their surreal experience of dealing with the autocratic military junta which ruled the country. It depicts the seemingly small but telling cases of authoritarian repression which affect Delisle and his family, and which reveal the wider truth about life under the generals.
  • Burmese Days – George Orwell – The most popular read about Myanmar, Orwell’s classic is set in 1920s imperial Burma. The novel is a loosely fictionalized account of his time there, and reveals the dark side of the British Raj in a way that few have before or since. It undermines the sanctified narrative of the ‘colonizing mission’ and depicts a racially motivated campaign of conquest and exploitation, all managed by a corrupt and incompetent imperial bureaucracy.
  • Defeat into Victory – Field Marshal Sir William – Sir William Slim led shattered British forces from Burma to India in one of the lesser-known but more nightmarish retreats of WWII. The book recounts allied forces retaking Burma in WWII.
  • Finding George Orwell in Burma – Emma Larkin – Emma Larkin uses Orwell as a guide as she travels across Burma, visiting the places he lived in and finding the lingering influence of the colonial bureaucracy of which he was a part of. Her travels allowed her to see both Burma and Orwell anew and to understand the political development of one of the 20th century’s most vital literary figures.
  • From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey – Pascal Khoo Thwe – A stunning memoir of a former Burmese student rebel leader. Born into the Padaung tribal minority in remote Burma, Pascal Khoo Thwe suffered under the fierce persecution of his country’s military dictatorship, before escaping to start a new life in the UK. The novel is both an incredible survival story and a depiction of a little known culture and society.

RELIGION

Buddhism is the dominant religion in Myanmar and over 85% of the population practice it. The monastery is the traditional focal point of village life in Myanmar and monks rely on villagers for donations of both money and food. Every boy in Myanmar is expected to spend some time as a monk. The remainder of the population are Christians, Muslims, Hindus and animists.

SAFETY

Myanmar is a safe country to visit. As a global rule, never leave your valuables unattended in the vehicles and always maintain eye contact and a firm grip on cameras and shoulder bags.

Avoid hiring and riding motorbike late at night in Tourist destinations and choose reliable taxi on the streets. Grab Taxi is available in Yangon and Mandalay.

SEE

With a hidden world of sights, sounds and tales to newly discover, its no wonder Myanmar has become the next go-to destination in Asia. Our Myanmar day trips and city tours encourage discovery and fun while revealing unexpected sides of the country. Whether it’s adventure, cultural immersion, or a glimpse into local daily life, our Myanmar experiences provide the perfect gateway to discovery.

Myanmar
Full Day

Sandoway Explorer

  • Explore Myanmar’s lesser-visited Thandwe region
  • Learn about traditional weaving and fishing practices
  • Embark on a scenic river cruise, visiting local villages
Myanmar
Full Day

Golf Yangon – Pun Hlaing Golf Club

  • Enjoy 18 holes of golf in colonial Yangon
  • Play at one of the city’s two internationally-recognised courses
  • Wind down in the clubhouse after a memorable round
Myanmar
Half Day

Yangon Adventure Walk

  • Explore the maze of laneways, characteristic of downtown Yangon
  • Visit a Hindu temple and local tea shop
  • Experience local bus and pedal-powered trishaw transport

SHOPPING

There are many fantastic local products in Myanmar that make excellent souvenirs and memories from your trip. Traditional crafts include lacquerware, especially in Bagan, woodcarvings, stone carvings, bronze work, rattan, silver jewellery, silk longyis and hand-woven textiles.

There are also several social enterprises in Yangon, Bagan and Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake) selling locally-produced items made by disadvantaged communities.

STAY

Having recently opened its doors to tourism in the last decade, Myanmar is ripe for exploration. Our preferred hotels in Myanmar are the perfect base for exploring the many and varied attractions of Myanmar. All of our accommodations are handpicked by our travel experts to give you the most memorable experiences in this enchanting country.

Myanmar Other

Hotel Zwekabin

Mandalay Region

Yadanarpon Dynasty Hotel

Mandalay Region

Hotel Yadanarbon Mandalay

TELEPHONE

Some international SIM cards will work in Myanmar, including Thailand (AIS), Singapore (M1) (SINGETEL) (STARHUB) and Vietnam (Viettel).

Local SIM cards are available throughout the country from four network providers: Myanmar Post & Telecommunications, Ooredoo, MyTel and Telenor. Typically these cost 1,500 kyat (USD $1.50) with top-up cards in allotments of 5,000 (USD $5.00) and 10,000 (USD $10.00). SIM cards are also available at Yangon Airport and Mandalay Airport.

TIME

Myanmar is 6h30 min ahead of GMT in winter and 5h30 min in summer: 1500H GMT = 2130H in Myanmar (winter). Myanmar is 30 minutes behind Bangkok (Thailand) time: 1500H in Bangkok = 1430H in Myanmar.

TIPPING

Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in a country where the average annual income is quite low compared to Europe for example.

It is customary to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped. Do not let guide talk you into tipping more than you plan to. It is totally up to you who you tip, when and how much.

TRANSPORTATION

Although the distances might be short in Myanmar, the road conditions can make the journey quite long. Please check with our staff or your guide to get an accurate estimate on drive times, Google maps are notoriously wrong on drive times in Myanmar.

Please let us know in advance of people with back problems or who need special attention are traveling in order for us to make necessary arrangements.

The road between Bagan and Mandalay is our highly recommended option to experience a short road trip in Myanmar. The road condition is now good, and the stops and scenery along the way are very interesting.

TRAVEL CHECKS

Travelers Checks currently CANNOT BE USED or exchanged in Myanmar 

WATER

It is not advisable to drink tap water. Purified bottled water and purified water in large 20-litre containers is safe and available everywhere. All hotels provide a complimentary bottle of local purified water per person in the room. Most also have water stations to refill reusable water bottles (just ask at the reception, restaurant or bar about where water bottles can be refilled).

We recommend bringing a reusable water bottle from home as safe refill options are becoming more common in Myanmar and this is a good way to reduce plastic waste and help protect the environment.

Ice cubes in drinks are generally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants, but it is best to avoid it at street stalls or in country areas. Some minor stomach problems are always possible when travelling in exotic countries. Bring a supply of your usual anti-diarrhea medicine.

Some minor stomach problems are always possible when travelling in exotic countries. Bring a supply of your usual anti-diarrhoea medicine.

WEATHER

Myanmar has three distinct seasons: cold-dry season (November-February), hot-dry season (March-April), and wet season (May-October). Due to crowds in the cold-dry season, rainy season may be the ideal time to visit!

REGION
1 Jan
2 Feb
3 Mar
4 Apr
5 May
6 Jun
7 Jul
8 Aug
9 Sep
10 Oct
11 Nov
12 Dec
YANGON
MANDALAY / BAGAN / INLE
BEACHES

Pleasant Weather, No Rain

High Heat and Humidity

Tropical Climate, Possible Intermittent Rain

Tropical Climate, High Chances of Rain

Possible Risk of Typhoons and Storms

Cool to Cold Temperature (At Night)

WHERE NEXT?

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