13 things you must know before traveling to Myanmar (Burma)
Your ultimate myanmar travel guide 13 key things every traveler must know
Visiting Myanmar was one of my most unique and fulfilling travel experiences ever. I fell in love with this gorgeous country the second I entered it.
The locals are amazing. Even though communication isn't always easy, they will try to do everything to make you feel welcome. The countryside is breathtaking and without question is Myanmar the most photogenic country I've ever visited.
The situation in Myanmar has improved a lot since 2010, still there is little basic infrastructure and things like clean running water and electricity are not a matter of course. This Myanmar travel guide will help you plan your next vacation. It will help you pack wisely, understand some basic rules that are key to Myanmar Travel and, it will answer all your main questions about Burmese culture.
Have fun exploring! I truly hope this beautiful country will leave you speechless, just as it did me!
1. Do I need a Visa for Myanmar? YES – most likely you will need a tourist Visa. Luckily it is very easy to apply and you can do it from your country ONLINE. To help visitors save time and money on getting a Myanmar visa, the Myanmar Government put the Myanmar E-Visa online in 2011. Apply through this link
Tourist Visas are easy to apply for, valid for 28 days, cost 85 USD and take 3 days to process.
2. Communication What's the national language? Am I going to be okay with English?
National Languages: there are approximately a hundred languages spoken in Myanmar (due to the many ethnic tribes), the official language is Burmese.
A solid English will help you get around, nevertheless Burmese are generally not fluent in English. People working in tourism and hotels in bigger cities will be your safest bet. Luckily Burmese are a friendly folk and always make an effort to communicate with foreigners.
Here are a few phonetically-spelt phrases in Burmese to begin with:
Hello = Ming-ga-la bar Thank you = Chay-zoo tin-ba-dee Good bye = Tar tar
Train, Bus, Car ... what to chose? There are several ways of traveling in Myanmar. Chosing the right transportation method for your travel needs is essential.
As it is quite a big topic I have written a seperate, more extensive post about HOW TO GET AROUND IN MYANMAR
Find all the information you need here
4. How do I pay? Money tips $$$
Local currency: Myanmar Kyat 1 USD = 1340 Myanmar Kyat
The country works on a closed money economy, so the official currency (the Kyat) cannot be purchased outside Myanmar. When bringing dollars, they should be new, crisp, and clean dollar bills. Any stain, mark, or significant crease on your dollar will make it unusable under their eyes. This is because the business will not be able to exchange it with the government, and they end up with “worthless” US dollars on their hands.
Banks and official money-changers will give you the “real” and best rate when exchanging money. The black market will seem to offer “better” rates, but they are often counterfeit; avoid changing money in the black market. USD are widely used as well. Many hotels and stores will accept nice, clean USD bills.
What about ATM's and Credit Cards? There are ATM's everywhere. It is very easy to withdraw cash from the machines. As not every card is accepted make sure to take along at least two cards. In my experience Debit Cards worked flawlessly.
Credit Cards: Visa and Master Card. American Express is generally not accepted.
5. Is there WIFI? Will I be able to keep my social media up – to – date =)? The network is still quite undeveloped, but most hotels will provide WiFi. Just be aware that it might not always work and, if it does, it won't be at a speed you know from home. If you absolutely need WiFi, I would suggest you consider buying a Myanmar Prepaid Card with some Data on it.
6. Clothing – Men wear skirts!! This is your ultimate Myanmar packing list & some useful tips and tricks to avoid not being allowed entering temples, pagodas and other sights!
Myanmar is a conservative country. Please wear appropriate clothing. Women should ideally wear long pants or skirts to cover their knees and avoid deep V necks or sleeveless tops. Men should try to keep their shoulders and legs covered. The traditional Burmese dress is the longyi, a wraparound skirt worn by men and women. Men tie theirs in the front and women fold the cloth over and secure it at the side. It’s completely acceptable for a foreigner to wear a longyi. You can buy the traditional Longyi for about 5000 kyat ( 3USD) literally everywhere. Dress rules are strict so if you are not sure if you brought appropriate clothes, I'd recommend you buy a couple of Longyi upon arrival in any of the markets. Wearing appropriate clothes will safe you going through the disappointment of not being allowed into a temple or any other sight.
The best shoe you can bring is a pair of Flip Flops. People in Myanmar do everything in their Flip Flops. Also, you will quickly realize that it is the most practical shoe to wear, as shoe wear is not allowed in any of the temples and pagodas. So you'll find yourself taking your shoes off and putting them back on several times a day.
8. Don't forget to take along --> Flashlight, umbrella, warm clothes, rain coat --> not all areas are hot e.g. Kalaw or Pyion O Lwin Mosquito repellent, camera, hand sanitizer and some wet wipes
9. How do I charge my electronics?
Electricity in Myanmar: Myanmar power voltage is 230 V 50 Hz; Power sockets C, D, F, & G Check if you need an adapter here.
10. Thanakha, the local make – up
Something that will catch your attention when you travel to Myanmar is the white face painting on a Burmese woman. Some women paint simple circle shapes, others make it more sophisticated with flowers and leave patterns, leaving us intrigued.
The white make up is a Burmese traditional cosmetic named Thanakha, which most of the Burmese females use to protect their skin and of course, for beauty purpose. Thanakha is made from natural sources. Thanakha means both “Cosmetic for beauty” and “cleansing” in Burmese. It is made from roots and timber covers of Thanakha tree. It's a fairly easy process. The roots and timber are being soaked in water and ground in a mortar.
11. Cleanliness and Hygiene Burmese are known for their lack of cleanliness in the kitchen and in general. Unfortunately I have to tell you to not feel discouraged if you actually get food poisoning at one point.
12. Food and Beverage
Try to eat Vegetarian and, if you do not trust a restaurant maybe consider eating snacks and fruits → cook it, peel it, or forget it!!
Do not drink any water other than bottled, don't consume any ice and make sure cutlery is dry before using it.
13. General Know - How
Population: 54 Million
Capital: Naypyidaw (not worth visiting unless you are in the area for some reason)
Largest city, industrial hub: Yangon
International airports: Yangon (RGN) & Mandalay (MDL)
Easiest international connection: from Bangkok to Yangon --> many flights per day
Myanmar is bordered by India and Bangladesh to its west, Thailand and Laos to its east and People's Republic of China to its north and northeast.