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Myanmar Travel Tips

Republic of the Union of Myanmar


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Population
:
55.2 million
Capital City:
Naypyidaw (Pop: 925.000)
Ethnicity:
Bamar 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
Language:
Myanmar (Bamar)
Currency:
Kyat (MMK)
Time Zone:
GMT + 6:30 Hours
International Dialing Code:
+95

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Myanmar is situated in Southeast Asia. Surrounded by India, Bangladesh, China, Thailand and Laos, it is a country possessing many cultural, religious and natural treasures. As it had been closed off from the outside world for many years, it is surrounded by an air of mystery and adventure. In recent years the country has opened up and is rapidly developing itself. Many of its treasures such as the ancient temple ruins of Bagan, the Colonial history of Yangon; the unique local life style on floating houses on Inle Lake and the magnificent beaches along the Bay of Bengal are being re-discovered by travelers.

General Information


History
Myanmar’s amazingly friendly people, beautiful cultural and historical heritage is being discovered by more and more people. The country once known as “The Golden Land”, long closed off to the world, is now starting to show its shine.

The first people to settle in what is now known as Myanmar were the Mons. They brought Buddhism to the region, but it wasn’t long before many other people followed. Around the 9th century the Bamar people were the first to establish a Burmese Empire. The wealth of natural resources attracted many Ethnic groups from all over the region to create what is today Myanmar, a country rich in culture.

Not only did it attract attention regionally, the British were quick to move in and colonize Myanmar. Myanmar fought for its independence from foreign rule and attained it in 1948 led by the revolutionary Aung San, father of Aung San Sun Kyu, who was subsequently assassinated as a result of internal conflict after which a military dictatorship was installed. After years of impoverishment and hardship Myanmar is finally showing signs of positive development and opening up to show the world just why this beautiful country has been coveted by so many.

Passport and Visa
A passport with at least 6 months validity from the date of entry into Myanmar is required.  We recommend you make a photocopy of your passport and keep it somewhere separate, or scan your passport and keep the scan in an accessible email account.

A visa is required for all nationalities and should be arranged prior to arrival in Myanmar. A valid visa can be issued by relevant Myanmar Embassies. A Tourist Visa may take up to 1 month to obtain and is valid for 28 Days. The fee is between US$65 – 80 depending on how fast the visa is issued (same day service being most expensive). A valid passport + copy, completed visa application form and two passport-sized photographs are also required. A copy of additional travel documents may be requested.

Currency
The official currency is Kyat. However, US dollars are also widely accepted and on some occasions yield slightly lower prices. It is recommended that you always carry cash in small notes with you. These notes should be clean, and free from rips and tears. USD especially must be newly printed and in pristine condition. Local people can’t accept USD notes with small heads, Note issued before the year 1997, as any note that bears a CB serial number and/or is dirty or worn out due to heavy usage.

ATMs that accepted VISA and Master Card are now widely available in Yangon, Bagan, and Mandalay. They distribute Kyat. There are almost no ATMs outside of the major cities, so precautions should be taken. Note that many of the ATMs are not working and it may take some time to find one that dispenses banknotes.

Phones and Internet Service
Myanmar International postal services mostly route through Singapore, Bangkok and Seoul and deliver word wide. DHL is also available for express deliveries.

Telephone connections to the rest of the world are widely available but may be expensive. International roaming of foreign mobile phones does not work in Myanmar. Local Sim cards are available to foreigners, but are prohibitively expensive (official price: USD 250).

Internet access is available in most major tourist places such as hotels and restaurants. Connections are relatively slow for western standards and are unstable from time to time.

Transportation
Yangon and Mandalay
Taxi are the main form of transportation in the major cities. A fare within city limits range from K1000 – K4000. There are not any metered taxis in Myanmar, so a price needs to be agreed upon with the driver before getting on the taxi.

Weather
Myanmar has a tropical Monsoon climate with 3 seasons, hot, rainy and cool. The coastal regions have an average temperature of 32 °C and northern region, considered the coolest an average temperature of 21 °C. The central areas are the driest, while the coastal areas receive most rain during the monsoon season.
Mar – May: Hot Season (hot, humid)
Jun – Sep: Rainy Season (cloudy)
Oct – Feb: Cool Season (less rainy, mild)
Please note: The weather can be unpredictable and it may be a good idea to carry an umbrella or raincoat with you. You can purchase raincoats cheaply from supermarkets and general stores.

Public holidays
There are many public holidays most of which are related to religious festivals. For each of the 12 months there is at least one festival observed. The biggest festival is Thingyan and precedes the Myanmar New Year. The 5 day celebration takes place during the middle of April according to the lunar calendar. Water dousing and throwing may be observed during the first 4 days of the festival.
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