Myanmar

Often described as a ‘golden land’ Myanmar is situated at the crossroads of the great civilisations of India and China and looks out onto the vast Indian Ocean next to Thailand. 

Although it has only recently emerged as South East Asia’s most enticing destination to visit, it is one of the region’s largest and most culturally diverse countries. From the sparkling islands of the Andaman Sea in the south, right up into the Eastern Himalayan mountain range, Myanmar covers a mesmerising spectrum of geographic and cultural settings.

No wonder Rudyard Kipling once described it as ‘quite unlike any land you will ever know.’

As this ancient nation undergoes a much longed for social, political and economic transformation, its many mysteries can once again be re-discovered and enjoyed. Rich in archaeological sites, glittering pagodas, colourful festivals and breath-taking art work, Myanmar is also blessed with an awe-inspiring range of lush fertile plains, vast virgin jungles, majestic snow-capped mountains, pristine beaches alongside crystal clear waters, fresh, fragrant pine trees and sunflowers twisting with joy in the abundant sunshine.

Despite these riches however, as the country opens up to the world it is its wonderfully gracious and hospitable people that often leave the most lasting impression.

During this unique stage in its history, it is hard to think of another country in the world that merits a visit quite as much as golden Myanmar.

Click any city on the map to view city's information and attraction highlights

Capital city

The capital city of Myanmar is Naypyidaw.

Size

Inland area: 678,500 Km2

Myanmar is the largest country in South-East Asia.

Geographical Situation

Myanmar is located in the Gulf Of Bengal, bordered by Thailand to the west, Laos and China to the northeast and India and Bangladesh to the northwest.

The southern part of the country is flat, fed by many rivers including the largest one - the Irrawaddy - which rises in the Himalayas, flows through spectacular gorges, tropical jungles and terraced paddy fields and finally to the Ocean.

The Irrawaddy is the heartbeat of Myanmar and is the most viable means of access to many of the country’s attractions.

Population

Myanmar has 48 million inhabitants with an average density of 70,7 inhabitants/km2. 68% of the population is Burmese, 9% Shan, 7% Karen, 4% Rakhine, 3% Chinese, 2% Mon and 2% Indian. Ethnic minorities make up the rest of the population of Myanmar.

Language

There are more than 100 ethnic groups in Myanmar, all with their own language or dialect, tradition and culture. The majority of the population speak Burmese/Myanmar, the official language. English is widely spoken. However, communication and the understanding of local traditions can be a challenge beyond the major cities. The presence of a guide able to speak several languages is therefore highly recommended.

Currency

The official currency is the Kyat (MMK) but US dollars are accepted everywhere. Current notes are: ks 1000, 5000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 bank notes.

At the time of writing the exchange rate is US$ 1 = 1290 Kyat (September 2015, please note that this can change significantly on a daily basis).

Please be aware that our team will be able to help you to change your money at a proper rate.

Due to financial sanctions, credit cards and Travellers cheques are not accepted.

We therefore recommend all tourists visiting Myanmar to bring cash in US dollars as it is currently the only accepted foreign currency. Bank notes must be new, not folded and with no

Climate

The best time of year to visit Myanmar is from mid-October to the beginning of March. At this time, the climate is mild and dry. Temperatures can however be very low at high altitude and especially at night. This is the case around Inle Lake for example.

The hottest time of year is from March to mid-May and the rainy season lasts from mid-May to the beginning of October. We would suggest you avoid the months of May and June, which are hot and humid. In July, August and September, the humidity is generally high in Yangon. It is less so in the northern regions (Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake).

 

 

Local time

Myanmar is 6 hours 30 minutes ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time.

Electricity

In Myanmar the «standard» electrical current is 220V, but sockets are not always standard. It is highly recommended that you take an international adapter with you.

Due to its limited power supply, the country suffers from frequent power cuts - and voltage surges, but most hotels and restaurants in the major cities have their own generators.

Water

As in many countries, it is not advisable to drink water from the tap unless it has been boiled beforehand.

Telecommunications

International phone call charges from Myanmar are very expensive (from 5 to 10 USD per minute). If you need to call from a hotel, it is advisable to have the price confirmed before making the call to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Mobile phones do not always work in Myanmar.

Access to the internet/e-mail is limited.

Health & medical facilities

No vaccination is required, but visitors are advised to receive inoculations against hepatitis A & B, typhoid and tetanus.

Burmese hospitals are currently very basic. For serious injuries or medical situations it is therefore advisable to be evacuated to Bangkok or Singapore. In the main cities you can find private clinics staffed with foreign medical personnel but prices are very expensive. We therefore strongly recommend medical travel insurance.

Transportation

There are two international airports in Myanmar:

-        The International airport of Yangon is located in Mingaladon, 20 minutes from the town centre.

-        The International airport of Mandalay is 45 km (1h transfer) from the center of the town.

The road network has improved but still undeveloped in some areas. To cover a distance, it is reasonable to count an average speed of 50 km / hour.

Driving

In Myanmar, vehicles drive on the right.

Apart from citizens of Myanmar, only foreigners with a business visa or those with an International Driving licence are authorised to drive in Myanmar. We strongly recommend to only call upon the services of drivers recommended by your hotel or tour operator and to agree on a price before you get in the car.

It is possible to hire a motorbike with an International Driving licence.

Cooking

Traditional Burmese cuisine varies from Mohinga or On-no-Khaukswe, assorted delicacies fried or baked in the oven to a wide range of curries. Chinese and Indian dishes are also widely available in the major towns and cities.

Shopping

Artisan craft is rich and varied: lacquer ware, embroidered cottons, silks, wood carvings, as well as precious stones and many other manufactured products.

Prices displayed are usually fixed, but bargaining remains and is frequently used in villages and markets.

Most shops are open from 9h to 18h from Monday to Saturday but this can vary according by region.

Small local shops are usually open every day. It is easy to pay for your purchases in US dollars.

Tipping

Tips, although appreciated, are by no means mandatory.

 

Access

Please find below a list of carriers offering services into Myanmar:

-       Air China
-       Biman Airlines
-       China Eastern Airlines
-       Druk Air
-       Eva Air
-       Indian Airlines
-       Malaysia Airlines
-       Mandarin Airlines
-       Myanmar Airways International
-       Phuket Airlines
-       Silk Air
-       Thai Airways
-       Vietnam Airlines

Please note that travellers coming from Europe or America will have to transit via Bangkok and Singapore in most cases.

Visa And Passport

A visa is compulsory to enter Myanmar. To obtain a visa, you must first ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your return date.

There are currently only 2 options for obtaining a visa to Myanmar: 

-       Visas can be acquired directly at the Myanmar Embassies and Consulates abroad.

-        If you do not have Myanmar Embassy at your home country or you are not able to apply Myanmar visa in advance, you can obtain a pre-arranged visa on arrival at the Yangon and Mandalay International airports on your arrival. We need detailed information one month prior to arrival.

Please note that tourist visas are currently valid for 28 days.

Before going

If you are travelling in the northern areas from November to February, warm clothes are recommended.

Likewise in the Inle Lake area nights can be cold (10 to 15 °C) all year round.

In most other areas, light clothing is perfectly suitable. 

Please note that: shorts, miniskirts, revealing outfits (shoulders have to be covered) ripped jeans, sheer tops... are prohibited when visiting places of worship. If you do wear shorts for your excursions, take a pair of trousers or a dress to change into for a visit to a pagoda. Everywhere else, relaxed but respectful attire is acceptable. 

Take care when preparing footwear for your trip: you will need to take off your shoes when visiting pagodas, temples and monasteries so they should be easy to remove and put on again. Beware also of blisters, which can ruin a days a walking. 

As a general rule, keep in mind that Myanmar remains steeped in tradition in many ways. It is recommended you adopt a respectful attitude towards traditions and the ancestral culture of this country.

Please pack mosquito repellent, a cap or a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, a raincoat and a travel first aid kit (containing antiseptic cream, aspirin or paracetamol, bandages).

Travel in Myanmar presents little risk, but it would be best to leave your valuables at home.

* Click any city image to view city's attraction highlights

YANGON

Yangon was Myanmar’s capital city up to 2005 when the government abruptly relocated the capital to Naypyidaw. With its wide, tree-lined, streets, parks and lakes Yangon has the sleepy charm of a provincial town. Crumbling British colonial mansions stand beside glittering pagodas, including one of the most remarkable religious shrines in all of Asia - the golden Shwedagon Pagoda. Much of Yangon's allure stems from its colorful street life: peddlers hawk stones on the sidewalk in the gem market; ricksaw drivers in striped longyis (sarongs) peddle lazily through tree-lined streets; and people drink endless cups of sweet, milky tea at roadside tea stalls.

BAGAN

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998, Bagan is the primary spiritual centre of ancient Burma. With temples, pagodas and stupas dating from the 9th century, the collection of 2229 monuments is considered to be one of the richest and most beautiful archaeological sites in Asia. This ancient volcano of Mount Popa, “The Mountain of Flowers” is a one-hour drive from Bagan and a steep stairway of approximately 700 steps will take you up to the top of the mount at 1,520 metres for a spectacular view of the Bagan Plain.

MANDALAY

The last royal capital of the Burmese Kingdom, Mandalay today is the religious heart of the country with some of the country’s most beautiful pagodas, including the highly revered Mahamuni Paya, home to a famous Buddha-image covered in gold leaf. Those interested in Buddhism will appreciate the Mahagandayone Monastery where more than a thousand monks and novices live and study. Mandalay is also home to the world’s largest book with 729 marble slabs of Buddhist scriptures at the Kuthodaw Pagoda. Famous for its arts and crafts, Mandalay is a good place to buy everything from traditional wooden puppets to hand-woven fabrics.

INLE LAKE

Inle Lake is about 20 km long and 8 km wide and is surrounded by a high plateau with numerous villages inhabited mainly by fishermen and farmers. The lake itself is shallow - only 2 to 3 metres deep - and covered by seaweed, a perfect environment for the wide variety of floating flower and vegetable gardens to grow in. The lake is also home to silk and lotus weaving craft shops on stilts and wide range of bird species.

PUTAO

Formally known as Fort Hertz, Putao, the most northerly town in Myanmar in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, was one of the British Empire's most remote outposts. Today, Putao remains completely cut off from the outside world by millions of acres of subtropical rainforest and jagged peaks. It is famous as a jumping-off point for trekkers who want to explore the region’s deep forests, wildlife sanctuaries, snow-capped mountains and variety of ethnic hilltribe villages.

NGAPALI BEACH

Located relatively close by to Yangon along Myanmar’s west coast, the quiet Ngapali beach resort offers palm tree-fringed golden sandy beaches which dip down into the clear green waters of the Bay of Bengal. The area is peaceful and relaxing, but there are activities like windsurfing and sailing available. Hire a bicycle or a small boat to explore the shoreline and fishing villages, and in the evening, lie back under the romantic night sky as the tropical moon moves through a sky peppered with bright stars.

NGWE SAUNG

Also on the Bay of Bengal is Ngwe Saung, an unbroken 15 km stretch of unspoiled silvery sands, clear waters and an occasionally rocky shoreline set against a backdrop of tropical rain forests and the majestic Rokhine mountain range. After opening in the year 2000, Ngwe Saung quickly established itself as one of Myanmar’s most lovely and relaxing beach resorts, offering horseback riding, boating and cycling opportunities.

Visualtraveling - Myanmar

Myanmar

Myanmar

Myanmar

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Tour duration

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