What is the best time to come visit Myanmar?
In general, the best time to visit Myanmar will be when the average temperatures are at a comfortable level (between 20°C and 30°C on average) which is during months November through March. In the months of April and May the weather can be extremely hot and humid with temperatures running between 30°C and 40°C on average with the exception of the highlands in the north where they are more bearable. From June to end of October lower Myanmar gets monsoon with intermittent rain showers and thunderstorms especially in the southern part of Myanmar.
Vaccination certifcates are generally not required for entry to Myanmar. However we advise our guests to consult their doctor to discuss travel vaccinations, ideally 4-6 weeks before embarking on their journey. We also suggest that you speak with your doctor if you have any other health concerns, are pregnant, or would like further information about health-related travel matters.
What to bring
Lightweight and easy-to-dry clothes that cover your body properly not only against the strong sun but so as not to offend the locals when visiting pagodas – T-shirts covering shoulders and pants below knees are fne. For “cool season travels”, some warm clothing will be needed especially for the northern part of the country.
- Broad-brimmed hat with a strap, sunglasses, sun screen.
- Foot-wears easy to put on and off when visiting pagodas and good shoes if trekking/ hiking is involved.
- Insect repellent with DEET recommended as suffcient for daily use in the evening – not necessary during the day unless you go into dense jungles.
- Extra passport photos
- Extra name tags
- Torchlight and alarm clock with extra batteries and bulbs.
- Enough cash with notes in “mint conditions”.
- Personal toiletries and sanitary items.
- Prescription medicines, and also those guarding against minor illnesses such as cold, cough, upset tummies etc.
- Some rehydration tablets may be useful.
- Small gifts
- Foldable umbrellas and raincoats if coming in raining season.
Getting to Myanmar
There are a number of airlines operating to Myanmar and the list is expanding with the country opening itself up. Although it is possible to enter Myanmar overland via a few checkpoints on the borders most visitors fy into the country due to irregularities and other limitations with overland options.
Yangon, the main point of entry for the time being has direct air-links with Bangkok, Singapore, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Calcutta, Dhaka, New Dehli, Chiang Mai, Sien Reap, Hanoi and Kumming. The Myanmar Airways International, Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Qatar Airways, Silk Air, BimanBangladash, Malaysia Airline, Indian Airlines and Air China operate scheduled fights in and out of Yangon.
How can I get Myanmar (Burma) Visa?
As of now all visitors to Myanmar require a visa and a valid passport for at least 6 months from the date of entry. Tourist visas are issued for a period of 28 days.
Myanmar Currency and Exchange
Myanmar currency unit is the Kyat (pronounced chat).
- Money exchange counter at Yangon airport arrival lounge
- Large Money exchange counter in downtown Yangon on Theinbyu Road, lower block, Botataung Tsp., near Monsoon restaurant. Closed on Saturday & Sunday.
- Money exchange counters at KBZ banks.
- Many other money exchange counters on Aung San Bogyoke market and in the bank’s branches throughout the city.
- Money exchange counter at Bagan airport arrival lounge (operating during morning & afternoon fight arrival & departure times, daily)
- Money exchange counter at Mandalay airport arrival lounge
- Exchange counter at some banks in Mandalay city, but not as smooth as airport. MDL Airport is the best place for this service.
- -Money exchange counter at Heho airport arrival lounge. Closed on Saturday & Sunday.
As everything is changing in Myanmar, our guides will give you the up-to-date information when you arrive.
Please note that Myanmar has notoriety for being extremely particular about the conditions of bank notes especially US bills. Please be advised, therefore, to bring all your bank notes in “mint conditions” and also that 100 dollar notes fetch slightly better rates than others.
Credit Card Information
Up to now there are only a few places such as international hotels and jewelry shops where credit cards can be used and travelers check can only be cashed at Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank after a long wait and complicated procedure. But again like everything else this situation is likely to change soon.
DOMESTIC AIRLINES & FLIGHTS
Now there are a number of private airlines in Myanmar operating to major domestic destinations. These airlines have a baggage limit of 20 kilo per passenger and extra fees may be applicable in case of excess baggage.
If you are travelling on cross-country tours with much baggage, you could separate what you need for your trip upcountry and leave other items in Yangon and collect them upon your return.
CAR & COACHES
Mai Hsoong uses air-conditioned vehicles for our guests in every region.
Depending on your request, nature of the journey and availability, the type of vessel will vary from simple local wooden boats to luxury cruise ships.
The staple for most people in Myanmar is steamed rice eaten with a variety of cuisine including one dish of meat/ chicken/ fsh curry, a soup, some sautéed vegetables with some condiments such as fsh sauce spiced with chili and garlic accompanied by an assortment of raw or boiled vegetables. In the northern part of the country rice noodles are also staples. Rich ethnicity in Myanmar means rich variety of cuisine representing different parts of the country. Chinese, Thai, and Indian foods are also widely available at most major tourist destinations, and Western and International foods at major hotels.
There are also a wide variety of local snacks and delicacies. Mouk-hin-kha (thin rice noodles served with fsh gravy and onion soup) and Ohn-noh-khauk-swe (noodles served with chicken and coconut gravy) are the most popular in Myanmar. Shan food is another delicacy. Shan style of cooking neither belongs to Myanmar nor Chinese nor Thai cuisine but is unique and very tasty.
Although Myanmar is not known as a shopping paradise, most visitors to Myanmar cannot resist buying many handicrafts such as lacquer wares, woodcarvings, puppets, tapestries, silverwares, silk and cotton fabrics just to name a few.
Offcially all gems and jewelry purchased in Myanmar have to be declared to the customs together with a voucher upon departure.
Bargaining is very common and actually you are expected to do so. Price reductions of up to 70% are not uncommon.
Import and Export Regulations
Offcially if you bring in more than USD 2000.00 or equivalent, you are obliged to declare it to the Myanmar Customs although many people ignore it. Likewise, you are required to declare gems and jewelry that you are wearing upon arrival in Myanmar so that you won’t have to pay export duty on your own stuff that the offcials could assume to have been purchased in Myanmar. Allowed items to bring in to Myanmar without having to declare include: two bottles of liquor, a bottle of perfume, 2 cartons of cigarettes, 100 cigars.
We will be happy to provide you with the up-to-date information on the above when we come to the appropriate stage of the process.
Restricted items include:
- Myanmar currency
- Foreign currency in excess of USD 2000.00 or equivalent unless you declared it upon arrival. You may depart with as much foreign currency as you like as long as you declared it upon arrival.
- Antiquities - old coins/ fossils/ inscribed stones. (Antiques and antique-looking items especially of large size must be accompanied by a certifcate by Archeological Department that they are not antique! We suggest you consult with your guide before purchasing such an item.
International calls from Myanmar are prohibitively expensive though local calls are rated relatively reasonably. As of now international roaming is not available in Myanmar. This may change soon.
Electricity and adaptors
We get 230V or 50Hz AC when it’s available – there is a chronic shortage of power in Myanmar and people are used to getting electricity on a rotation basis especially after raining season. Blackouts are very common. All the hotels that we use supply electricity 24 hours. In case of blackouts frommain grid they run their backup generators.Universal power adaptors with a surge protector are recommended.
It is highly advisable to purchase travel insurance in your own country. If possible, please choose a reputable insurance company who has an agent in Myanmar and advise us of their contact details in advance.
It takes a very long time to arrive at the addressed destination if it arrives at all though we do hear from our guests who actually did receive their own postcards. It is very inexpensive to post in Myanmar till now. For important items that you want to post, we recommend using DHL.
Myanmar Standard Time
GMT + 6 1/2 hours
Although it is not obligatory people working in service industry do appreciate being recognized for the extra miles that they naturally go.
There are some poisonous snakes in Myanmar though you are unlikely to encounter them at places where people frequent. Do be careful though when walking along paths or trails that are not often used and also avoid walking through bushes.
Only purifed bottled water is drinkable and readily available at most places. Hotels provide complimentary bottles. Two bottles of water per person are provided on sightseeing tours with Mai Hsoong compliment.
Etiquette and Behaviors
Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country. People are generally devout and conservative. Public display of overly intimate affection or kissing is totally inappropriate and to be avoided. Shaking hands is getting more and more common, and generally accepted except with monks and nuns. Women should always keep a respectful distance from monks and should not touch them.
Shoes and socks must be taken off before entering pagoda precincts, monasteries or shrines. Wearing socks inside private homes is okay but not shoes.
Also do not touch the head of anyone regardless of age as heads are considered to be the holiest part of the body. Do not point to anything with your feet either nor sit with your feet stretching toward someone or the shrines.
People in Myanmar generally do not mind being photographed. Some would even be happy and pose for you. However it is highly advisable to ask for permissions frst.
Avoid taking photos of military installations, soldiers and bridges.