MYANMAR TRAVEL TIPS
GMT + 6 hours 30 minutes
As a Buddhist country, respect for temples and all that implies is important. Removing shoes and accepting this (rather than making a fuss) goes a long way when travelling around the country.
Remember to comment favourably about famous Buddhist sites, like the Shewadagon, when speaking with Burmese people. Do not be direct with a monk nor touch a monk or nun (especially women), even accidentally.
The local currency in Myanmar is the kyat (pronounced “chat”).
Currencies you may exchange are: US Dollars and Euros.
The official language of Myanmar is Burmese. There are also several minority languages and dialects, with approximately one hundred languages spoken across the country. The writing consists of circular and semi-circular characters, which were adapted from the Mon script, which in turn was developed from a southern Indian script in the eighth century.
The majority of hotels in Myanmar accept credit cards. However many shops and restaurants may require you to pay in cash (Kyats).
The import and export of the Burmese kyat is forbidden, and the export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared upon entry.
We recommend US $3-8 per person per day for the guide and US $1.50-4 per person per day for the driver. If giving a monetary tip please put it in an envelope. In hotels, porters expect gratuity. Give them US $0.50 per checked baggage. You are not expected to tip restaurant waiters and taxi drivers.
For full details on climate, please see Best Time to Go.
Select modest and practical clothing for travelling. People in Myanmar are not accustomed to revealing clothes – conservative shorts are acceptable. Lightweight clothing is recommended, cotton or cotton/synthetic mixtures are the most comfortable.
As you will be doing a lot of walking, a sensible pair of shoes (two pairs is actually better in case one gets muddy or damaged) is essential.
If you are using prescribed drugs and medicine, make sure that you carry sufficient medication.
Anti-malaria precaution is necessary, especially if you are traveling during March through November.
Cholera inoculations are recommended.
Medicines are very limited in Burma, so please bring enough supplies. We recommend that you carry a small medical kit.
Please note that it is not safe to drink tap water in Myanmar.
For up to date information on latest health and vaccination recommendations, please contact your doctor.
The current is 220 Volts/50 cycles and uses 2 flat pin plugs (US style). Converters should be taken into Myanmar as they may not be available.
A torch/flashlight is highly recommended in the event of power cuts.
It is essential that you have plenty of film and camera batteries with you as it may sometimes be difficult to obtain them in Myanmar. You should not photograph any defence related services or airports. You are allowed to bring video cameras into Myanmar, but please be clear about guidelines for their use when in the country.
Photographs of local Burmese people are not problematic, but it is best to have your local guide ask the person’s permission before photographing them. The Burmese are among the friendliest of Asian people and photography usually does not present any problems.
Arrival and Departure Formalities
Visa Application: Every foreign national visiting Myanmar needs a visa. Abercrombie & Kent Myanmar can assist in applying for a visa by sending an invitation letter to the clients, but the visa still needs to be processed at the Myanmar Embassy in your country. The visa fees and processing period will vary from 3 days to 2 weeks according to the country of application. Please check with your nearest Myanmar Consulate for up to date information
E-Visa: The newest way to apply for a Tourist Visa to Myanmar is through the online "E-Visa" process, which officially began on 1 September 2014. This method can only be used for Tourist Visas and can only be used by travelers of 67 nationalities. It is also important to note that this can only be used for travelers arriving at Yangon International Airport, Mandalay International Airport, or Nay Pyi Taw International airport, and not at any land border crossing.
The validity of the E-Visa approval letter is (90) days and a tourist must enter Myanmar before the expiry date. The validity dates on the E-Visa is not able to change in case the trip is delayed or postponed and will have to re-apply another visa. Once entering Myanmar, a tourist can stay in Myanmar for 28 days. The approval process currently takes 5 working days. It is important to note that E-Visas must be applied by the travelers themselves and that the status of the E-Visa application can only be checked online. Neither Myanmar Embassies in respective countries nor Abercrombie & Kent Myanmar can assist with the process. Since it is still early in the E-Visa process, we still recommend applying at your local Embassy until the process has been proven to work efficiently.
Visa Validity The tourist visa is valid for 3 months from the day the visa is issued but tourists are only eligible to stay 28 days from their arrival date into Myanmar. Example: If the visa is valid till 10th April and the clients enter into the country on 7th April, they are allowed to stay 28 days from the arrival date
It is important to remember that first and foremost you are a guest in Myanmar and like any good guest, you must exercise discretion and sensitivity to the country you are visiting. This is especially true in Myanmar due to its rigid government and Buddhist traditions.
While we may pride ourselves on our openness and forthright expression of thought, these are not traditions held in high esteem in by the Burmese people. Remember respect, deference and patience are key characteristics when travelling and interacting with the Burmese.
Losing your temper is considered highly rude and boorish – patience is a virtue in Burma. Remember to respect the concept of “face”, and give that person the respect he or she should be accorded.
After decades of military dictatorship, Myanmar is now a democracy, though we advise caution when engaging your guide or driver in a discussion about democracy and the government (both former and present).
The Burmese are highly superstitious people and put great store in auspicious symbols such as lucky days and religious objects. Respect these beliefs and do not get into a debate about these with your guides.
Burmese cuisine combines influences from India and China. It is not, however, one of the most notable cuisines of Southeast Asia. Burmese cuisine is less piquant than Thai and less varied than Vietnamese. Dishes tend to include coconut and curry bases but are somewhat heavier than the curries of neighbouring countries. Rice is the staple food and is normally served steamed to complement vegetable, meat and fish dishes.
Please note that tap water is unsafe but bottled water is available as are the following beverages: tea, coffee (although outside hotels not good), soft drinks, beer (Myanmar Beer is especially recommended), fresh juices and imported wines.
There are a variety of interesting items to be bought in Myanmar. Shops and markets throughout the country feature lovely sarongs, textile weavings, lacquer alms bowls (for monks) woodcarvings and exquisitely embroidered kalagas hangings.
The government-run state shops are considered very expensive and it is recommended that you concentrate on local shops and free markets where bargaining is encouraged.
Please note that credit cards and travellers cheques are not widely accepted in Myanmar so you will need to prepare cash for payment.
Please be clear about the export laws when contemplating any expensive art purchase.