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MYANMAR TRAVEL TIPS

Time Zone

GMT +6 hours 30 minutes

Language

The official language of Myanmar is Burmese. There are also several minority languages and dialects, with approximately one hundred languages spoken across the country. Although English is taught as a secondary language in schools, fluency in English conversation is not prevalent. Therefore, it is recommended to remember a few basic words to develop a good rapport with the locals.

Currency

The national currency is Burmese Kyat (pronounced chat). US dollars are accepted in some shops and restaurants. 

Religion

Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country. Please be respectful when visiting temples and religious sites and dress appropriately. When visiting these sacred places, you will be expected to remove your shoes and socks before entering. You will also be required to cover your shoulders and knees, so a long skirt or trousers and long-sleeved shirts are recommended. Please avoid any see-through clothing. 

Weather

For full details on climate, please see Best Time to Go.

Arrival and Departure Formalities

To enter Myanmar, you must obtain an appropriate visa prior to departure from your point of origin. Nationals of 100 countries can now obtain an e-visa online at evisa.moip.gov.mm. All other nationalities must submit an application at their nearest Myanmar embassy or consulate.

Visitors traveling with an e-visa must enter the country within 90 days of receiving the e-visa approval letter and are only permitted to enter via one of the following ports: Yangon, Mandalay or Naypyidaw International Airports, or Tachileik, Myawaddy and Kawthaung Land Border Checkpoints. The e-visa requires a fee of USD 50 and is valid for a maximum stay of 28 days from date of entry.

Visa-free stays of up to 14 days are permitted for nationals of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Singaporean nationals may stay visa-free for up to 30 days.

Money Matters

US dollars are generally accepted at most shops and restaurants, however it is recommended that you have some cash in local currency on hand. Apart from a few high-end hotels and restaurants, credit cards are not widely accepted in Myanmar. Those that do accept credit cards will usually accept Visa or MasterCard only and may add a surcharge. Traveler's checks are generally not accepted in Myanmar. Normal banking hours are: Monday - Friday 09:00 – 16:00. ATMs can be found in most major cities. 

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory in Myanmar, however small gratuities are always appreciated. Some restaurants may add a service charge to your bill. Tipping is discretionary and entirely up to you. However, as a guideline, we recommend US $3-8 per person per day for the guide and US $2-4 per person per day for the driver. For hotel porters, a gratuity of US $0.50 per bag is acceptable. You are not expected to tip restaurant waiters and taxi drivers. 

Clothing

Lightweight clothing, such as pure cotton, is recommended as Myanmar is a hot country almost all year round. When traveling between November and February, we suggest to also pack a lightweight jacket as temperatures can dip.

Blouses/shirts with long sleeves will help protect you from the sun and cotton t-shirts and tops will keep you cool.  A fleece jacket or jumper and long trousers would be suitable for the cooler mornings and evenings. Regular sun protection is recommended, such as a hat, sunglasses and sunblock.

If you are planning to visit temples and shrines, it is recommended to bring along long skirts or trousers that cover the knees as well as shirts with long sleeves to cover the arms and shoulders. You may also be required to remove footwear, so sandals may be more convenient.

Electricity

The voltage supply in Myanmar is 220v 50Hz. Sockets are fit for two or three round prongs. Please bring a power adapter with you as they may not be readily available in Myanmar. A torch or flashlight is highly recommended in the event of power cuts.

Health

Please consult your doctor for the most up to date information on recommended vaccinations specific to your needs. Medicines are very limited in Myanmar, so please bring adequate supplies. We also recommend that you carry a small medical kit. 

It is advisable to be immunized against cholera, hepatitis A and B, tetanus, typhoid and tuberculosis and Japanese encephalitis. Malaria is present in Myanmar, although visitors to major cities and typical tourist areas are at low risk. Please consult your doctor as to the best anti-malarial medication for you.

Dengue can be transmitted by mosquitoes in Myanmar. Although there are no vaccinations for dengue, you can reduce the risk of mosquito bites by keeping your arms and legs covered as much as possible and by using insect repellent with the active ingredient DEET. Avoid perfumes, hairspray and other scented products.

Do not drink tap water in Myanmar and avoid ice in your drinks unless it is made from mineral water. We also recommend brushing your teeth with bottled water. Exercise caution when eating and drinking outside reputable hotels and restaurants.

The hot weather in Myanmar can be exhausting, even after just a few hours of sightseeing. Remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, especially while traveling to Bagan and Mandalay which are relatively dry zones.

Photography

Camera etiquette requires that you ask permission before photographing local people, unless you are shooting a crowded public scene. This applies especially to small children. Please be considerate of a desire not to be photographed. Photography is not permitted at some designated locations, which may include some museums, art galleries and private houses, for example. These areas are usually clearly marked. In general, avoid taking photographs of government buildings or installations, and military or police personnel. If in doubt, please ask your guide.

Local Handicrafts

Various local handicrafts can be found in different regions of the country. Bagan is the major center of lacquerware, while in Mandalay, silk and cotton weaving are popular. Products of the various ethnic minorities can be found at Inle Lake such as Shan-style paper, umbrellas, fans, shoulder bags and handmade jewelry.

Whatever you are looking for, you are most likely to find it at Bogyoke Aung San Market in Yangon (formerly known as Scott Market), a vibrant scene with over 2,000 stalls selling everything from precious jewelry, silverware, arts and crafts, paintings, food products and local clothes. Bargaining is encouraged at local markets. 

Local Food

Food in Myanmar is characterized by a variety of tastes with influences from India, Thailand and China due to its geographic location. The diversity of Myanmar's cuisine is also attributed to the various ethnic minorities that each have their own flavors and cooking styles. Seafood is common in coastal regions such as Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, Mawlamyaing, Myeik and Dawei, while meat and poultry are more popular in landlocked cities such as Mandalay.

Mohinga is perhaps the most popular Myanmar dish, usually enjoyed for breakfast. It consists of rice vermicelli served in a fish broth with onions, garlic, ginger, lemon grass and sliced tender core of banana-stem, served with boiled eggs, fried fishcake and deep-fried gourd.

A typical Myanmar meal includes steamed rice as a staple and a curry of meat or fish. This is usually accompanied with side dishes such as fried vegetables, dips and a light soup. Salads, or thoke, made of either noodle, vermicelli or potato are also popular. The central ingredient is mixed with baked eggplant, ginger, tomato or pickled tea leaves, garlic oil, peanuts, coriander, and dried shrimp.

Drinks are usually not served during the meal. Instead, the meal is accompanied with a light broth served from a communal bowl. Outside of meal times, light green tea or still water are popular beverages.

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