Why Myanmar (Burma)?

Home to one of Southeast Asia’s oldest and most culturally sophisticated civilizations, Myanmar is full of wondrous historic monuments – from gigantic gilded stupas to vast temple complexes sprawling over thousands of acres. It also holds a wealth of enthralling landscapes: forested mountains in the north, huge river deltas in the middle, serene lakes cradled by the hills of the Shan Plateau in the east and pristine tropical islands in the far south. Moreover, despite having only recently emerged from decades of enforced isolation from the Asian mainstream, Myanmar’s predominantly Buddhist population is evidently delighted to be able to share their culture with foreign visitors again. A perfect blend of old-world charm and rapidly evolving modernity, this is one country where travel still feels like discovery.

Mandalay in Myanmar

Myanmar Journeys

Myanmar, formerly Burma, is one of the most physically diverse and beautiful countries in the region. From its sublime landscapes, rich history, serene people and deeply Buddhist culture, it is a destination like no other and a remarkable country to visit. Myanmar offers a wealth of wonders that are not beset by hordes of tourists and many return praising the cheerful, kind, hospitable people of this country and their fortitude.

Until recently, only the most intrepid travellers ventured into Myanmar, but there is an increasing sense of optimism and now may be the best time to explore this fascinating country and encourage democratic change –before the multi-national conglomerates roll into town. Myanmar is brimming with treasured sights: from sunset over the Shwedagon Pagoda in the capital, Yangon, to dawn breaking over the stupas and temples of Bagan, and cruising along the Ayeryarwady or Chindwin rivers. If Bagan is the historic heart, Inle Lake is the spiritual magnet, and of course Mandalay, forever immortalised in Kipling’s evocative stanzas. Head a little further into Southeast Asia and you’ll discover this quietly proud country, unfolding into a patchwork of stunning landscapes and unforgettable views.

Tourist Map of Myanmar
Capital : Naypyidaw
Time zone : UTC+6.5 hours
Airports : Yangon (RGN)
: Mandalay (MDL)
: Bagan (NYU)
Tourist visa : Pre-Arrangment
Best time to travel
: November to February (Cool & Dry season)
: View Weather Chart
Currency (KIP)
: Kyat (1USD=1,300 Kyat)
Health issues
: CDC Information

HIGHLIGHTS OF MYANMAR (BURMA)

Shwedagon in Rangoon, Myanmar

YANGON (RANGOON) | With its wide colonial streets lined by parks and Victorian-Edwardian buildings, the city of Yangon still retains a faded British feel – while the shimmering Shwedagon Pagoda recalls its ancient Buddhist roots.

Bagan, Myanmar

BAGAN | Occupying a site the size of downtown Manhattan, around 4,400 Buddhist temples and stupas rise from the plain lining a bend in the Ayeyarwady River at Bagan – one of Asia’s most magical vistas.

Inle Lake, Myanmar

INLE LAKE | Encircled by rugged hills, magical Inle Lake sustains a constellation of small stilt villages inhabited by the resourceful Intha people, best known for their one legged rowing style.

Myanmar Kyaitko Goldener Felsen

GOLDEN ROCK PAGODA, KYAIKTIYO | Join the crowds of pilgrims who stream south from Yangon between October and March to marvel at this massive, gravity defying golden boulder, seemingly about to plunge from a cliff edge.

Mandalay, Myanmar

MANDALAY | Myanmar’s second city, on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, was the country’s capital before the British took over and retains a bumper crop of famous pagodas, monasteries and vestiges of splendid royal palaces.

Ballooning in Bagan,Myanmar

BAGAN BALLOONING | A balloon flight at dawn is hard to top. The experience of drifting hundreds of feet above the famous temples as the first rays of daylight illuminate their gilded finials is one you’re unlikely to forget.

MOUNT POPA, Myanmar

MOUNT POPA | This important religious site soars high above the dry alluvial plain beyond Bagan, a surreal natural spectacle considered the abode of powerful nature spirits.

MRAUK U (MYOHAUNG), Myanmar

MRAUK U (MYOHAUNG) | This archeological site of decaying temples is gloriously remote and atmospheric. Boat trips to the villages of the tattooed Chin minority people offer fascinating side trips.

NGAPALI BEACH, Myanmar

NGAPALI BEACH | Easily reached by air from Yangon and Heho (Inle Lake), exquisite Ngapali beach, on Myanmar’s northern coast, is a glorious expanse of white sand and crystalline water.

MYANMAR TOUR INQUIRY

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VISA

All persons wishing to enter Myanmar must have a visa and a passport with at least 6 months validity. Visas must be arranged prior to traveling to Myanmar. It is now possible for citizens of 100 countries to apply online for a tourist e-visa via Myanmar’s Ministry of Immigration and Population website (evisa.moip.gov.mm). It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration website for the latest at the time you travel.

DIALING CODE

+95

TIME ZONE

GMT/UTC +6.5 Hours

BEST TIME TO GO

Myanmar has a tropical climate with three distinct seasons: the cool season from November to February which is dry; the hot season from March to May with average temperatures in the 30s (Celsius) and occasionally over 40C; the rainy season from May to the beginning of October with frequent short rainstorms and humidity. The rains are rarely long enough to disrupt sight-seeing plans. For those heading to the beaches, the coast has two distinctive seasons: Dry and Rainy. During the rainy season (April-September), most resorts and restaurants close down entirely and the flight schedule is severely limited. The dry season is delightful with sunny skies, warm ocean breezes, and temperatures around 30-340C during the day.

HOW TO GET THERE

The main point of entry for travelers is Yangon’s Mingaladon Airport and a few flights arrive at Mandalay International Airport. There are no direct flights from America or Australia with most visitors connecting via Singapore and Bangkok.

MONEY

The local currency in Myanmar is the kyat (pronounced ‘chat’). US Dollars are accepted in most hotels and some tourist shops and restaurants, although it is recommended to carry kyat for other purchases, local restaurants and tipping. Money changers are found in the main tourist cities. KBZ and CB Bank have the most reliable ATMs – they accept both Visa and Mastercard, and charge a fee of 5000 kyat (around US$4) per transaction. It’s also possible to receive international cash transfers via Western Union.

ELECTRICITY

Myanmar uses 220V, and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round 2-pin or 3-pin plugs. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor. Power outages are quite common but most hotels have their own generator.

INTERNET

Given the lack of development in Myanmar, the availability of internet access is surprisingly widespread: you can find an internet café or hotel with wifi even in remote locations. However, internet speeds can be very slow, especially in rural areas. Prices at internet cafes are usually around K500 per hour, although they may be higher outside cities. You can find free wifi at many restaurants and bars.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

Over 85% of the Burmese population is Buddhist, so most of the holidays are religious based. The biggest celebration is Thingyan, or the Buddhist New Year, which occurs in mid-April and lasts for several days. Almost all restaurants and businesses are closed during this period, but it does not have a big effect on travel plans.

LANGUAGE

The national language is Burmese, of which there are over 80 different dialects. In the cities the majority of people speak good English with a growing number learning in more rural areas.

English / Burmese
– Hello / Mingalar bar
– Thank you / Je zuh beh

ETIQUETTE TIPS

  • Myanmar is emerging from decades of isolation, and as such it is more conservative than nearby countries. Many people still wear traditional dress – the longyi for men, the htamein for women, both sarong-like garments. You rarely see anyone expose their knees or shoulders, and you will make everyone more comfortable if you follow suit.
  • Though people are more open than in the past when discussing politics, some guardedness remains; do not instigate political conversations.
  • Money is handed over and received with the right hand, while the left hand loosely supports the right arm.
  • Never use your feet to point at a person or thing.
  • A smile always goes a long way, as does knowing a few words in Burmese.

The Nearby Destinations You May Also Like:

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Thailand - A World of Adventure
Vietnam - Country of Contrasts