traveltips

MYANMAR TRAVEL TIPS

Visa Information

To enter Myanmar, you must obtain an appropriate visa prior to departure from your point of origin. Nationals of 100 countries can now obtain an e-visa online at evisa.moip.gov.mm. All other nationalities must submit an application at their nearest Myanmar embassy or consulate.

Visitors traveling with an e-visa must enter the country within 90 days of receiving the e-visa approval letter and are only permitted to enter via one of the following ports: Yangon, Mandalay or Naypyidaw International Airports, or Tachileik, Myawaddy and Kawthaung Land Border Checkpoints. The e-visa requires a fee of USD 50 and is valid for a maximum stay of 28 days from date of entry.

Visa-free stays of up to 14 days are permitted for nationals of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Singaporean nationals may stay visa-free for up to 30 days.

While we do our best to provide the most up-to-date information, visa requirements may change at short notice. Obtaining the correct visa is the responsibility of each passenger and the company will not be held accountable for any refusal upon entry. Therefore, we recommend that you check with your consulate or embassy for current visa information before leaving home.

 

Weather

The best time to visit Myanmar is during the dry season between September and February. During this period, rainfall is low and temperatures are milder and more pleasant, particularly in northern regions where the higher altitude produces average temperatures of around 21°C (70 °F). March to May are the hottest months and daily temperatures can reach up to 40ºC (104ºF) in Yangon or a few degrees higher in Bagan and Mandalay. Frequent wet weather typically occurs between June and October with peak rainfall occurring during July to September. Seasonal rains typically affect southern parts of the country, particularly coastal regions such as Rakhine, Mon and Tanintharyi, while central Maynmar, including Mandalay and Bagan, remain relatively dry.

 

What to Pack

  • Cotton, linen or other lightweight clothing is recommended for the warm Myanmar weather throughout the year
  • Avoid sheer clothing and pack long-sleeved shirts and long skirts or trousers for visiting temples, shrines and palaces where it is often a requirement to cover the shoulders and knees
  • Smart-casual wear for dining at more established restaurants
  • A jacket or pullover and long pants may come in handy during the evenings, particularly during the colder months between November and February
  • Good walking shoes or sandals; keep in mind that you may be required to remove footwear when visiting religious sites
  • A sunhat or umbrella, water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses and insect repellent
  • Universal travel adaptor; Myanmar uses 230V 50Hz with sockets fit for plug types A, C D, G and I

 

Money Matters

Currency

The national currency in Myanmar is the Burmese Kyat (MMK) - pronounced chat.  Although US dollars are accepted in some shops and restaurants, it is recommended to have some local currency at hand. Notes are issued in denominations of 10,000, 5,000, 1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 kyat and coins of 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1 kyat. Coins also include 10-pyas and 50-pyas denominations, where 100 pyas is equal to one kyat.

Credit Cards

It is recommended that you carry some cash in local currency or US dollars as credit cards are generally not accepted in Myanmar, except for a few high-end hotels and restaurants. Those that do accept credit cards will usually accept Visa or MasterCard only and may add a surcharge.

Traveler’s Checks

Traveler's checks are generally not accepted in Myanmar.

Banks & ATMs

Normal banking hours are Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 16:00. ATMs can be found in most major cities.

 

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory but is often expected in Myanmar. You are traveling on an independent itinerary and the cost of your program does not include gratuities. Tipping is a very personal matter and should you feel you would like to acknowledge the service provided, please consider the following as a rough guide, per person per day. 

Type of Service / USD

Group Size (Number of People)

1

2

3

4

5-9

10+

Tour Director

15.00

12.00

10.00

8.00

6.00

5.00

Guide

15.00

12.00

10.00

8.00

6.00

5.00

Driver

8.00

6.00

5.00

4.00

3.00

2.50

Hotel Porters

2.00

2.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Housekeeping Staff

2.00

2.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Restaurant Staff

2.00

2.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

The above tipping guidelines are recommendations only and are not compulsory. Please use your own discretion in tipping, based on quality of service.

Restaurants: Some restaurants add a service charge to your bill. You may wish to add about 10% to the bill to show appreciation for the service, however this is not required or expected.

Taxis: Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped but they appreciate the fare being rounded up.

Language

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. Although English is taught as a secondary language in schools, fluency in English conversation is not prevalent. Therefore, learning a few basic words in the local language can help develop a good rapport with the locals.

English

Burmese

Hello

Mingalarbar

Goodbye

Thwa ba oun me

Thank you

Djay zu bae

How are you?

Nay kaung lar?

Excuse me

Khwint phyu par

How much?

Bey lauk’ le?

I don’t understand

Na ma ley bu

Beautiful

Hla dal

 

Time Zone

GMT+6:30

Health

Please consult your doctor for specific advice about your personal medical requirements and note the following advisories:

  • Getting immunized against cholera, hepatitis A and B, tetanus, typhoid and tuberculosis and Japanese encephalitis is recommended.
  • A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers over nine months old coming from areas at risk of yellow fever transmission (including parts of South America and Africa).
  • Malaria is present in Myanmar but the main areas of risk are in remote, rural areas. There is little risk in the major cities and typical tourist destinations.
  • Please note that dengue can be transmitted by mosquitoes in Myanmar, although cases tend to occur in more rural areas. The risk of getting dengue in major cities and towns is low. To reduce the risk, avoid mosquito bites as much as possible; keep your arms and legs covered, use insect repellent and avoid perfumes, hairspray and other scented products.

Drinking Water

Do not drink tap water in Myanmar and avoid ice in your drinks unless it is made from mineral water. We supply clean bottled drinking water when you travel by private vehicle. Use bottled water to clean your teeth. Exercise caution when eating and drinking outside reputable hotels and restaurants and please only dine at places recommended by our guide or local representative as many local restaurants do not follow typical food hygiene practices.

The hot weather in Myanmar can be exhausting, even after just a few hours of sightseeing. Remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, especially while traveling to Bagan and Mandalay which are relatively dry zones. 

Special Requirements

If you are on prescribed medication, ensure that you take a copy of your prescriptions in case of loss of supply. Be sure to pack enough medication in your hand luggage for the duration of your trip as it may not be available locally. It is important to keep it in its original packaging. Check with the relevant embassy or consulate that your medication is legal in the countries you plan to visit and find out whether you need to take a doctor's letter with you.

Please advise your travel professional of any special dietary requirements or allergies at least six weeks prior to departure. Every effort will be made to comply with your request. Travelers with physical disabilities and those who require frequent or on-going medical attention should advise their travel professional of their situation at the time of booking or at the earliest possible opportunity.

 

Religion and Etiquette

Religion

There is no official religion in Myanmar, although over 90% of the population practice Theravada Buddhism. Christianity and Islam each represent approximately 4% of the population with the remaining 2% made up of Hindus and other religions.

Customs

When visiting temples or places of worship, you may see people bow their head as a sign of respect to Buddha images and statues. This gesture is not as an act of worship but an expression of gratitude for the teachings of Buddha.

Cultural Etiquette

The feet are considered the most unclean part of the body and it is offensive to point your feet directly at a person or at an image of the Buddha. The head is considered the most sacred part of the body, so it is considered rude to touch the head of another person.

Bargaining

Bargaining is common practice when shopping at local markets in Myanmar, although it is not practiced in major department stores and shopping malls. Bargaining should be an enjoyable experience for both buyers and sellers. Remember to keep it light-hearted, be reasonable in your offer and meet the seller somewhere in the middle.

Photography

Please ask permission before photographing local people, including young children. Photography is not permitted in some locations, such as museums and art galleries. Avoid taking photographs of government buildings and military personnel. If in doubt, ask your guide.

Waste Disposal

Please help to keep the environment clean and dispose of any waste appropriately. Avoid littering and separate recyclables where possible.

Animal Welfare

We do not offer activities that are harmful to animals, such as riding on the backs of elephants. We work hard to ensure that the experiences we offer are positive and enriching for all involved. If you would like to engage in experiences with animals, please consult your guide for our socially responsible recommendations that do not put any animals at risk.

Child Safety Awareness

We are an advocate of the Friends International ChildSafe Movement. We believe that children from any background deserve an opportunity to learn and grow and should be protected from harmful or exploitative situations. We do not encourage giving money to beggars or children selling souvenirs as these activities incentivize the children to stop going to school. We also do not encourage visits to schools or orphanages, unless the activity has been adequately vetted and does not cause disruption to the children’s education or daily life.

If you encounter a situation where you believe a child is at risk, please inform your guide who will be able to contact the relevant authorities or child safe organizations.

 

Shopping

Souvenirs can be a great way of keeping memories alive and staying connected with a special place that you visited. However, please think carefully about what you buy and consider the supply chain ethics of your purchases. Here are our tips for responsible travel shopping.

  • Purchase Selectively - Purchasing local crafts is a great way of showing support for local artisans. Some sellers, however, resort to importing mass-produced items from foreign countries. Therefore, we recommend that you inspect your purchases carefully, be selective and ask questions about where the items came from.
  • Purchase Locally - We recommend dining at locally-run establishments rather than at international franchise restaurants when you have the opportunity. Choosing restaurants that use locally grown ingredients instead of imported products helps to reduce your carbon footprint and is also a great way to immerse in the local food culture.
  • Purchase Responsibly - Avoid buying counterfeit items and ensure that the item you are purchasing is not stolen or taken without permission from a historical site. Insist on documentation to support the legitimacy of the item and its history.

Ethical Souvenirs

We do not encourage the trade of culturally sensitive souvenirs that may result in negative impacts to the community, culture or nature. To help you make more informed decisions, here is a guide to souvenirs to look out for in Myanmar as well as items you may want to avoid.

What to Buy

  • Lacquerware products, particularly in Bagan
  • Hand-woven textiles such as silk and cotton
  • Shan paper crafts and umbrellas
  • Rattan crafts and other handmade items by local artisans
  • Bogyoke Aung San Market in Yangon (formerly known as Scott Market) is a great place to pick up various products, from shoulder bags to paintings, food products and local clothes

What Not to Buy

  • Statues of Buddha and other relics from temples or religious monuments
  • Elephant tusks (ivory) and other animal products
  • Products made from endangered animals, such as bags or purses made from tortoise shell, crocodile skin, tiger skin and bones
  • Antiques and gemstones

Useful Tips:

  • Take your purchases home with you wherever possible to avoid complications with additional shipping fees, customs duties and regulations. Airfreight and shipments can sometimes take several months to arrive.
  • Avoid purchasing expensive items unless you are certain of its quality and value. Some vendors may overstate the value of their goods. While our guides will try to assist wherever possible, they are not authorities on antiques or rare items.
  • Take the time to read credit card slips and calculate the exchange rate before signing.
  • Retain receipts of your purchases as you may be asked to provide proof of purchase to local officials when exiting the country. You may also need to present it to customs on your return home.

If you are looking for a specific item, your guide may help refer you to a vendor that carries the item. However, this should not be taken as an endorsement of the vendor. All purchases are your own responsibility and we do not accept liability for products that are found to be faulty or not as advertised. We do not take responsibility for any loss or damage during shipment.

 

Local Food

Food in Myanmar is characterized by a variety of tastes with influences from India, Thailand and China due to its geographic location. The diversity of Myanmar's cuisine is also attributed to the various ethnic minorities that each have their own flavors and cooking styles. Seafood is common in coastal regions such as Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, Mawlamyaing, Myeik and Dawei, while meat and poultry are more popular in landlocked cities such as Mandalay.

Mohinga is perhaps the most popular Myanmar dish, usually enjoyed for breakfast. It consists of rice vermicelli served in a fish broth with onions, garlic, ginger, lemon grass and sliced tender core of banana-stem, served with boiled eggs, fried fishcake and deep-fried gourd. A typical Myanmar meal includes steamed rice and a curry of meat or fish. This is usually accompanied with side dishes such as fried vegetables, dips and a light soup. Salads, or thoke, made of either noodle, vermicelli or potato are also popular. The central ingredient is mixed with baked eggplant, ginger, tomato or pickled tea leaves, garlic oil, peanuts, coriander, and dried shrimp.

Drinks are usually not served during the meal. Instead, the meal is accompanied with a light broth served from a communal bowl. Outside of meal times, light green tea or still water are popular beverages. Fruits are often served as desserts or enjoyed as fresh juices. Seasonally available fruits include durian, pineapple, mango, banana, avocado, papaya, pomelo, watermelon, mangosteen and rambutan.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please advise your travel professional at least six weeks prior to departure. Every effort is made to accommodate your request, but please be aware that this may not always be possible, particularly in remote areas.

 

Responsible Travel

Consider these simple tips to enhance your experience and have a more positive impact when traveling:

  • Find out as much as possible about your destination; learning about the site’s history, culture and environment can enhance the experience when you are there
  • Learn a few words of the local language
  • Pack light and limit excess trash
  • Select accommodations, restaurants and activities that have clear goals and policies in relation to environmental impact, employment practices and sustainability objectives
  • Buy local products and services
  • Minimize your carbon footprint by using alternative transportation options or offsetting your carbon emissions
  • Engage in local culture by eating local food, shopping at local markets and taking part in cultural festivals
  • Connect with locals who can provide unique insights into the destination
  • Leave the places you visit the way you found them; follow designated walking trails and do not remove archaeological or biological treasures from sites
  • Bring your own fabric bag, washable straw, refillable water bottle or coffee mug, cutlery and reusable food container to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics; look for water refill stations at #RefillMyBottle or #RefillNotLandfill
  • Share your responsible travel tips and help spread the word about best practices in sustainable travel
  • Explore more and continue learning about other fascinating places to visit

 

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