Travelling in Myanmar
Moving further afield across Myanmar is easy as the main tourist areas are well serviced by air, road and often rail. There is a choice of service for everyone depending on time and budget.
Air travel is the most efficient way of moving within Myanmar based on limited schedule of flights. There are daily flights to most towns; charter flights are also available. Approximate Flight Times from Yangon to Mandalay is 2 hours 10 minutes; to Bagan is 1 hour 30 minutes; and to Heho is 1 hours.
The best way of seeing Myanmar is by boat, particularly between Bhamo–Mandalay and Mandalay–Bagan. Trips can only be arranged as part of an organized tour group.
The train system in Myanmar is old and slow but also cheap and great to meet the local people. There are 2 classes: high and ordinary with respectively soft and hard benches.
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Traffic drives on the right. There has been some modernization of Myanmar’s once antiquated vehicles. Roads are poorly maintained and can become impassable in the rainy season, from May to October.
Bus: Owing to the ongoing privatization program of the transport industry, a fleet of privately operated buses is also available. The main lines are from Yangon to Pyay, Mandalay, Beaches areas and Taunggyi. Private buses are air conditioned and accept payment in Kyat, US Dollars or FECs.
Where to go in Myanmar?
That depends how long you've got, what you want to see and what you want to do? Hopefully the guide below will help you make those decisions. If you want to really discover Myanmar, you should set aside a couple of weeks to travel, meet the people and gain an understanding of this beautiful and fascinating country. Our shortest tours are half day excursions and while the longer you've got the more you can see. At Global Travel & Tours we pride ourselves on being able to fill everybody's travel plans with just the right mix. It will be our pleasure to make the suggestion and arrangements to allow you to make the most of your precious leisure time. After all, our team of local and western travel enthusiasts work, live and travel all over the country and we would be happy to share our new discoveries with you.
When to Travel?
The weather in Myanmar can vary greatly. There are however three distinct seasons:
Cool Season: October through February with average temperatures 20-24 C
Hot Season: March through May with average temperatures 30-35 C
Wet Season: June through September with average temperatures 25-30 C
The ideal time to visit Myanmar is during the cool season. However, even during the wet season, Yangon normally receives morning and afternoon showers while rainfall in Bagan and Mandalay is very low. As you travel further north, the ground level rises and the humidity decreases, thus the weather in Yangon may be vastly different to the weather in Inle Lake
Some Information on Myanmar
MINGALABA. This word of welcome is also a wish for good fortune and best signifies the warm welcoming nature of the people in Myanmar. Myanmar today remains one of the most mystical and magical countries on earth; a land of breathtaking beauty stretching from snow capped peaks (Mt Kahkaborazi is 5881m) and dense jungles of the Himalayas to the pristine beaches of the Bay of Bengal and rice fields of the Delta; in-between lie the glittering pagoda filled plains, ancient capitals and running throughout all, the mighty 2000 km long Ayeyawaddy River. The population of 50 million live mainly in villages and 100 different national groups are found within the country's borders; the Bamar are the majority group inhabiting the central zone whilst the Shan, Kayin, Kachin, Chin, Rakhine and Mon live in the mountainous areas or along the coast. Intrinsic to the country is Buddhism and daily life revolves around the family, worship at pagodas and festivals. Myanmar not only has a rich cultural heritage but also an incredibly varied fauna and flora; all this combined with an enchanting population make it one of the most fascinating and as yet undiscovered destinations in the world.
Myanmar still has very traditional customs and it is not appropriate to wear shorts, Bermudas or miniskirts. Since shoes and socks have to be removed for all visits to pagodas and temples, we recommend wearing sandals or other slip-on shoes which are easy to put on and take off. When visiting temples or other religious monuments, visitors should be modestly dressed - it is very important that knees and shoulders are covered and ladies should not wear shorts or bra-less T-shirts in such places. Hats and sunglasses are strongly recommended. Formal style clothes i.e. jacket and tie are not required. A sarong with its multi uses is a very useful item to bring. If travelling to Inle Lake or the Shan Hills particularly during the winter season the nights can be chilly due to altitude hence it is advisable to bring a warm layer for the evenings.
We recommend visitors to Myanmar bring US Dollars cash (small denomination notes). The US$ is accepted, and in many cases preferred, throughout Myanmar. The local currency in Myanmar is the Kyat (pronounced CHAT). The exchange rate fluctuates between 800–1000 Kyats per US$1. Dollars can be changed into Kyats easily throughout the country.
Visa, Amex, Diners Club, & MasterCard are banned and rarely accepted in Myanmar at present until further notice (Travelers checks are also not acceptable). Some major Hotels, Restaurants and Souvenirs Stores accept it with supplement service charges 5% to 10%. Visitors must bring cash for their expenses (US dollars in cash are best). Banks are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and all public holidays.
Customs Regulations & Formalities on Arrival
The basic principle of customs policy in Myanmar is that visitors should exit the country with the same goods and personal possessions that they brought in. Expensive Jewellery or electrical goods must be declared to Customs at the airport. Exports of antique and archaeologically valuable items are prohibited. To avoid any confiscation of goods not purchased in Myanmar, visitors must be sure they appear on their customs declaration form on arrival. Particular note should be taken of antiques purchased in other countries in the region which might possible be deemed of Myanmar origin. Also extra should be taken to declare lose gemstones and jewellery. Duty free allowance is 200 cigarettes and one liter of wine or spirits. Note that export of antiques, Buddha images and gems without an official dealer's receipt, is strictly prohibited.
Officially an amount of cash currency of more than USD 2000 should be declared; however in practice this seems not to be stringently complied with by tourists or locals.
Baggage may be X-rayed or inspected before departure.
If an airport arrival transfer has been pre-arranged with us, a Global Travel representative or guide will meet travellers on arrival after airport immigration and customs control points have been passed. In the arrival hall our representative will display a sign and names of guests or their group for easy recognition.
Flavours of Myanmar
Myanmar people have a long tradition of preparing food in their own way and the history of traditional food may be as old as the culture and arts of its people. Myanmar is an agriculture country with rice as the principal crop.
Myanmar Cuisine uses rice or noodles as staple dishes, usually served with a variety of side dishes such as curries with meat or fish, vegetables, salads, soup and condiments.
The itinerary of a visiting traveler to Myanmar will never be deemed complete if he or she has not tasted the Myanmar “Hta Min” (main rice) and “Hin” (curry) to satisfy the sweet tooth.
A Myanmar meal is an interesting area to explore and it is what constitutes the theme of presentation. A typical Myanmar meal is a simple fare, adequate, sustaining, balanced, and nourishing by any calorie count, simple to prepare and partake.
There are also a wide variety of local snacks and delicacies. Mouk-Hin-Kha (thin rice noodles served with fish gravy) and Ohn-noh-khauk-swe (noodles served with chicken chunks and coconut gravy) are the most popular.
IDD telephones and fax facilities are available in most hotels in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake but charges may be expensive. E-mail facilities are now available at many hotels and local businesses in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.
Gratuities and Tipping
Myanmar’s people are genuinely happy to help foreign visitors and don’t expect anything in return. However if your guide or any other person during your trip were especially kind or helpful, a gratuity would be a generous gesture and greatly appreciated.
To have the most benefit, see a health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it. Even if you have less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines, anti-malaria drugs and other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling. Your doctor or health-care provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities.
No inoculations or vaccinations are currently required for visiting Myanmar, unless coming from or passing through an infected area. Please contact us if you would like detailed information on emergency health services available.
The people in Myanmar are extremely friendly and polite. So for the tourist, it is a very safe country. Robberies and thefts are extremely uncommon. But like always, use your common sense and take care of your valuables in crowded places and don’t expose your wealth when changing money. Cities and famous cultural sites are perfectly safe even for Free Independent Travelers without guides. There are certain remote areas like Putao, MraukOo, Kyaing Tong, etc. where only guided Package Tours arranged with a Tour Agency are allowed, and by adhering to such regulations, visitors can enjoy safety, comfort and satisfaction.
All visitors to Myanmar require a visa to enter the country.
There are two ways to obtain a Myanmar visa:
Case 1: Collect your visa before departure from your nearest Myanmar embassy or consulate.
Case 2: Visa on Arrival (VOA). This must be pre-arranged and advance approval for the VOA must be obtained by Myanmar’s Immigration authorities.
Global Travel & Tours is able to assist with the pre-arrangements and obtaining the necessary advance approval. This permission takes at least/minimum 30 days to obtain.