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How to Shop on Wish
Wish offers discounted goods from wholesalers China, Myanmar and elsewhere, and its prices on clothing and goods are hard to beat. However, its website can be disorienting if you’re not used to it. These tips will help you get started shopping in no time.
Collect Rewards When You Join
The best way to start your Wish journey is to make an account — just go to Wish.com, choose how you’d like to join and follow the prompts on screen. You can save all your favorite items and easily browse through your favorite sellers. You also earn rewards for making purchases, reviewing items and including pictures with reviews. You can then cash them in for five, ten or 15 percent discounts on purchases. Find all your current rewards under the Redeem tab.
Take Time to Read Reviews
Before you make a purchase, it’s always good to check reviews. For clothing, you’ll want to know what sizes items come in, as the seller may only have stock in Asian or European sizes, meaning you’ll need to do a conversion. Reviews also let you know how reliable the seller is when it comes to shipping the right items on schedule. You should also check to see if the seller resolves disputes well. And if a price seems too good to be true or the reviews are bad, don’t buy — it could be a scam.
Save Money With Other Shoppers
You can use the Group Buy option to save even more money on your purchase. Look for a blue box. If another shopper already made the purchase, you’ll be able to immediately get a better rate on the item due to more of them being sold at once. Even if you’re the first shopper to purchase the item, however, you can still get a rebate later if other shoppers join on — they have a few days after you make your purchase to make theirs.
Get More Information
Product photos aren’t everything. The product description can give you more information about a product, such as the material, style, components, package content and anything else that’s relevant. This will help you make a decision and see if the product is right for you.
Be Aware of Shipping Prices
Wish makes shipping easy with its express shipping option, but it does add a lot to your purchase. Shipping prices usually range anywhere from $2 to $9, so if you use express shipping on an item that’s $1, you might end up paying much more than that. Regular shipping can also take several weeks. Be aware as well that shipping can sometimes be significantly more than the cost of the item itself.
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Travel Guide Myanmar (Burma)
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A beautiful and culturally rich country cursed for decades with a brutally oppressive regime, Myanmar (Burma) has in recent years been making headlines for its tentative steps towards democracy. Following the softening and then removal of a fifteen-year tourism boycott led by the National League for Democracy – Myanmar’s leading political opposition party – tourist numbers have swollen but the infrastructure has not yet grown to accommodate them all. Although this means that finding a cheap bed is harder than before, it does make this a fascinating time to discover Myanmar’s glittering golden stupas, bountiful rice fields, enigmatic ruined temples and picturesque mountain paths. Most memorable of all, though, are the encounters with people eager to introduce foreigners to their country and their culture. What remains to be seen is whether today’s modest political reforms translate into lasting change.
Where to go in Myanmar (Burma)
The ethics of visiting myanmar.
Although there are now affordable flights from Bangkok to Mandalay, most people still start their visit in Yangon (Rangoon). This former capital makes a great introduction to the country, with evocative colonial-era buildings, some of the country’s best restaurants and the unmissable Shwedagon Paya – the holiest Buddhist site in the country. Relatively few tourists head southeast from Yangon, other than to the precariously balanced Golden Rock at Kyaiktiyo, but Mawlamyine and Hpa-an are great places to hang out, whether you’re exploring caves full of Buddhist art, sleeping at a mountain-top monastery or visiting home-based workshops.
West of Yangon are a handful of beaches, with Ngapali the most highly regarded, but Chaung Tha and Ngwe Saung much more affordable. Most travellers instead hasten north to Mandalay, the hub for ‘Upper Burma’ and the base for visiting the remains of several former capital cities, or to Bagan further west for its stunning temple-strewn plains. East of Mandalay is Kalaw, the starting point for some great walks. A trek from Kalaw is one way to reach the magnificent Inle Lake, with its stilt villages and famous leg-rowing fishermen. If time allows, a trip on the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River around Katha and Bhamo offers a great chance to meet locals, as do the hiking routes around Hsipaw in Shan State, which pass through ethnic minority villages.
Discover more places in Myanmar Burma
- Southeastern Myanmar Travel Guide
- Yangon (Rangoon) Travel Guide
- Mandalay and around Travel Guide
The question of whether to visit Myanmar – and if so, how to minimize any negative impact of that decision – has long been a complicated one. For many years, the official position of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the opposition political party of which Aung San Suu Kyi is the Chairperson and General Secretary, was to urge foreigners not to visit the country as it put money directly into the pockets of the regime. Still, some tourists did visit each year, arguing that the majority of their money was actually going to individuals and private businesses. Similarly, many people within Myanmar felt it was important that foreigners visited to see the truth of what was happening. In 2010, the NLD softened its stance, saying that it only opposed package and cruise tourism. Then, in May 2012, in the wake of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging an easing of international sanctions against Myanmar, the NLD dropped the boycott entirely.
Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to think that the ethical dilemma has completely gone away. Although the new government is nominally civilian, in reality the same military figures are still largely in charge. In addition the prominent business leaders commonly described as cronies – who became rich through dealing with the regime, and in some cases allegedly through trading in arms or drugs – still own many of the country’s largest businesses, including hotel groups, banks and airlines. And although the government is praised internationally for reforms such as the release of some (but not all) political prisoners and a reduction in censorship (so that NLD posters are now a common sight), some people within the country see these as surface changes intended to please foreigners – particularly the US, which hopes to lure Myanmar away from its main trading partner, China – rather than anything more fundamental.
Furthermore, it should be remembered that the suppression of dissent and suspension of the democratic process were not the military junta’s only crimes. It was also fighting what has been described as the world’s longest-running civil war , with policies that amounted to ethnic cleansing and – in the eyes of some observers – attempted genocide. Although ceasefires have been signed with some of the ethnic militias, vast swathes of the country – particularly in northern Kachin State – remain off-limits to tourists while the new government continues to fight with rebel armies (some of which, it must be admitted, are motivated as much by profit from the drug trade as they are by a thirst for democracy). If free and fair elections are held in 2015 then the NLD is expected to win a landslide victory, but it remains to be seen how they propose to keep the peace with ethnic minority groups who consider the NLD to represent only the Bamar majority – particularly if the military’s stranglehold is weakened as democracy takes root. Already the NLD has been accused of becoming too close to the generals and their cronies as it seeks their political support and funding for social projects. Some compromise is inevitable, not least because the military can veto a proposed change to the constitution to allow Aung San Suu Kyi (as someone who married a foreign national) to run for President.
Bearing all this in mind, travellers should consider limiting the amount of their money that makes it to the government and its associates. Some expenses are unavoidable, including visa fees, while others are hard to avoid if you want to see some of the main tourist attractions, such as the $10 multi-site fee in Mandalay. It can also be difficult to know exactly which businesses in Myanmar are affiliated with the government or its cronies. On the other hand, by staying in budget accommodation your money is already more likely to be going to ordinary individuals or small family businesses than to companies with strong government links (and in this guide we have tried to avoid recommending such places). The same goes for services such as vehicle hire or trekking guides – there are plenty of opportunities to use small companies and freelancers, which often leads to a better experience anyway. Some visitors also consider avoiding planes and even trains (which are operated by the government).
For more information, see
Population 55 million
Language Burmese (Myanmar)
Currency Kyat (K)
Capital Nay Pyi Taw
International phone code +95
Time zone GMT + 6hr 30min
Top image: Mount Popa © Boyloso/Shutterstock
Travel advice for Myanmar (Burma)
From travel safety to visa requirements, discover the best tips for traveling to Myanmar (Burma)
- Travel Tips Myanmar (Burma) for planning and on the go
- Culture and Etiquette in Myanmar (Burma)
- Eating and drinking in Myanmar (Burma)
- Getting around Myanmar (Burma): Transportation Tips
- How to get to Myanmar (Burma)
- Sports and Outdoor activities in Myanmar (Burma)
- Best time to visit Myanmar (Burma)
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Myanmar (Burma) travel guide
Myanmar (Burma) opened up to tourists again in 2011, and the appeal of seeing what lies beyond the borders of this once closed-off nation is still strong. Travel is still not straightforward, however, although it is extremely rewarding, with friendly people, phenomenal architecture and beautifully preserved landscapes. Our Myanmar travel guide helps you plan your trip here safely, smoothly - and in a way that respects and supports this wonderful culture.
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Myanmar travel guide
Once a pariah state, Myanmar – previously known as Burma – is fast becoming the must-see destination in Southeast Asia, helped by an incredible array of tourist sights: golden stupas as tall as skyscrapers, ancient ruins, fascinating hill tribes, unexplored jungles, peaceful beach resorts, legions of monks, and mesmerising cities made legendary by writers like Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell.
Ruled by a secretive military junta, Burma was closed for decades to the outside world. When it finally opened, travellers were initially restricted to a handful of locations: the magnificent temples of Bagan, the floating villages of Inle Lake, the monasteries of Mandalay, and Yangon, the former capital, with its colonial relics and towering pagodas.
That was then. With the end of the travel boycott called by Aung San Suu Kyi, travellers are queuing up to visit Myanmar, captivated by the idea of seeing what Asia was like before the tourists arrived. Nevertheless, the government still controls where visitors can go and what they can see, and many people have qualms that their tourist dollars help fund the military, which stands accused of widespread abuses.
Those who do visit discover a fascinating, and famously friendly culture on the threshold between tradition and modernity. Monasteries are the foundation of Burmese society and even in rapidly expanding Yangon life is focused on Buddhist rituals. The sense of devotion is tangible at the awe-inspiring Shwedagon Paya, which towers over Yangon like an enormous golden pillar.
As Myanmar has opened up to the outside world, travellers have pushed beyond the Bagan-Inle-Mandalay triangle, visiting peaceful outposts like Kalaw, Hsipaw and Kengtung and trekking to remote tribal villages. Smaller numbers make it to the jungles of northern Myanmar or the rain-drenched ports of the far south and west. Myanmar even has its own patch of the Himalaya, accessed from remote Putao in the far north.
Through it all, the mighty Irrawaddy River snakes like a twisting Burmese python, offering some of the most atmospheric river journeys in Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, Myanmar remains a controversial destination, promising significant challenges as well as rewarding experiences.
676,578 sq km (261,227 sq miles).
54,363,426 (UN estimate 2016).
83.2 per sq km.
Nay Pyi Taw.
Acting President Myint Swe since 2021, transferred all authority to Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.
The foreign, commonwealth and development office ( fcdo ) advises against all travel to:.
- Sagaing and Magway regions
- Northern Rakhine State
- Tanintharyi Region excluding Myeik township, the archipelago and townships south of Tanintharyi Township
- Shan State North
- North Mandalay Region; the townships north of Mandalay City and Pyin Oo Lwin
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office ( FCDO ) advises against all but essential travel to:
- Shan State South and East
- Mandalay and Southern Tanintharyi Regions
- Central Rakhine State including Sittwe District
The security situation in Myanmar is unpredictable and liable to change without notice.
Across Myanmar there have been significant numbers of violent attacks, including shootings and IEDs since a coup in February 2021. Attacks, including in Yangon and Naypyitaw, primarily continue to target military or regime-affiliated locations such as government buildings and checkpoints, and military-owned businesses. However, attacks may impact civilian bystanders, including in areas regularly frequented by foreign nationals, such as hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and serviced accommodation complexes.
Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Myanmar’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See FCDO guidance on foreign travel insurance .
There is conflict and significant violence across much of Myanmar, involving air strikes, artillery bombardments, landmines and armed clashes. While normal daily life has resumed in many urban centres, armed groups are likely to try to carry out attacks. Shootings and explosions are common, particularly around times of increased political tension. There have been attacks against military personnel, state infrastructure (e.g. police stations, traffic police huts, ward administration centres and electricity company offices), and businesses perceived as affiliated with the military. Areas frequented by foreigners (e.g. lodging/hotels, shopping areas and restaurants) could also be targeted.
There are increasing reports of attacks on the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway and National Highway 1 linking Yangon to Mandalay. For more information see Yangon-Mandalay Expressway .
If you are in Yangon, Naypyitaw, Bago, Ayarwaddy or Southern Rakhine, remain vigilant, exercise caution and seek local advice. You should ensure you are aware of local rules, norms, and restrictions, especially if travelling to townships under martial law. You should seek advice from local tour operators before travelling.
In Yangon, the townships currently under martial law are Hlaing Thayar, Shwe Pyithar, North Okkalapa, North Dagon, South Dagon and Dagon Seakkan, but these are subject to change. See the ‘Safety and security’ page for more details.
There is a small risk to foreigners of arbitrary arrest and detention, though this is much higher for journalists and activists. The criminal justice process followed in such cases falls below international standards. Minor infractions of the law can provide grounds for arrest. Myanmar does not recognise dual nationality.
The authorities in Myanmar are particularly sensitive to all forms of independent reporting and journalistic activity.
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Myanmar. You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities. See Terrorism
The banking sector has seen widespread disruption with many banks closed and some ATMs empty. While higher-end hotels and restaurants do tend to accept card payment, foreign cards are increasingly being declined. Check with your hotel or restaurant that they accept a foreign card. See Money
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission . You should not assume that the FCDO will be able to provide assistance to leave the country in the event of serious unrest or crisis. If you’re arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the British Embassy immediately.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Myanmar on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic .
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Myanmar.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Myanmar
A limited schedule of domestic flights is operating, though the rules for access is subject to regular change. You should contact individual airlines for details. You should comply with overnight curfews, and minimise movement during the day, avoiding crowds. If you attempt to travel domestically, you are likely to encounter police or military checkpoints on your journey.
Due to extra COVID-19 checks, it is advisable that foreigners carry:
- Form C (immigration document)
- Foreigner’s Registration Certificate
- Myanmar Driver’s Licence (if you own a car)
- a copy of your passport information page
- a copy of your Myanmar visa
- a copy of your immigration stamp showing when you last entered Myanmar
- COVID-19 documentation e.g. proof of vaccination
There have been reports that some local authorities are carrying out checks to make sure all foreign visitors are staying in registered hotels and guesthouses, and not in private apartments. Due to COVID-19, this is a requirement under Myanmar law and is a condition of your visa.
Some hotels have reopened but many tourist resorts remain closed. You should make sure you have you accommodation booked before travelling.
Public places and services
COVID-19 restrictions remain in place. You must wear a face mask in public places. Failure to wear a mask may result in a fine.
COVID-19 restrictions and policies may change without notice. You are advised to follow local media for updates or check locally within the township where you are.
If you’re currently in Myanmar and are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, you should consult your healthcare provider. There are a small number of private hospitals in Yangon that are equipped to manage patients with severe symptoms.
If you test positive for the virus, you may be transferred to a government quarantine hospital until you have recovered. These vary in quality. Patients in government hospitals are expected to make their own arrangements for bringing in food and other essential supplies. Lone travellers will not be allowed out of isolation to buy food.
It may be difficult for you to travel to a neighbouring country for medical attention if you have COVID-19. You should check your personal arrangements with your healthcare provider.
Prescriptions from the UK are not accepted in Myanmar. Most hospitals, both government and private, have their own pharmacies. A government hospital will provide a prescription for collection at their pharmacy once a patient has been assessed. To attend a private hospital or clinic you must first register, following an assessment any prescription can be collected at the pharmacy on their premises. If you are on regular medication, bring sufficient supplies with you, or is able to have their medication couriered from the UK.
For contact details for English-speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers .
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health
View Health for further details on healthcare in Myanmar.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance .
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate . All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Myanmar held national elections on 8 November 2020, in which the National League of Democracy Party won a majority. The military subsequently alleged fraud in the elections and demanded a review. On 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military declared a state of emergency and assumed control by force. There has been widespread political violence involving the deaths of hundreds of ordinary people, as well as a major rise in active clashes between armed actors.
There is a higher likelihood of opposition attacks and an increased presence of security forces on occasions of national significance, such as:
- Myanmar National Day (4 January)
- the anniversary of the 2021 coup (1 February)
- Union Day (12 February)
- Peasants Day (2 March)
- Armed Forces Day (27 March)
- Martyrs’ Day (19 July)
- the anniversary of the execution of political prisoners (23-25 July)
- the lapsing of the state of emergency (1 August)
- the 8888 uprising (8 August)
Some areas in Myanmar are under a state of martial law, others may have curfews or ‘stay at home’ orders, for example, in Yangon, a number of townships have a curfew from 1AM-3AM. You should ensure you are aware of local rules and restrictions before you arrive in an area.
Opposition activists regularly detonate small-scale improvised explosive devices across the country. Military and government buildings; police stations; and businesses, hotels and restaurants affiliated to the military (or perceived to be) are the main targets, but there have also been attacks on schools and hospitals. While small-scale, these devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated and the attacks more deadly.
Following the execution of high-profile political prisoners on 25 July 2022, there has been an increase in tensions across the country and the number of explosions in public places. Visitors to Myanmar should be extra vigilant.
You should remain cautious and avoid all demonstrations, large crowds and political gatherings. You should not attempt to photograph any gatherings. See Photography and drones for more information. You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
Ignoring military instructions or ignoring curfews could lead to detention and/or lengthy prison sentences. Curfews are in place nationwide. Local wards may unexpectedly change rules and curfew times and it is important to remain updated on local rules.
Whilst we no longer advise against all but essential travel to Yangon region, there is still a heightened risk. The security situation remains volatile and can change at short notice. If you are in the Yangon region, you should remain vigilant, exercise caution and seek local advice, especially if travelling to townships which are under martial law. The townships currently under martial law are Hlaing Thayar, Shwe Pyithar, North Okkalapa, North Dagon, South Dagon and Dagon Seakkan, but this is subject to change.
Security incidents in Yangon, like in the rest of Myanmar, continue to primarily target military regime-affiliated locations and personnel but may impact civilians and bystanders, including in areas regularly frequented by foreign nationals. This may include hotels, restaurants and accommodation complexes. Military installations, such as checkpoints, are also targets. If you encounter a threatening or intimidating situation, don’t try to make your way through it. Turn around and move to safety.
There are reports of an increasing number of attacks on the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway and National Highway 1 linking Yangon to Mandalay. These have included the use of landmines and improvised explosive devices. There is an increased risk of attacks after dark, and an unofficial curfew is in place. You should exercise vigilance and use these roads during daylight only.
There are no accurate official statistics on violent crime or robbery against foreigners. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cases are low, although the economic pressure may cause an increase. The most common crimes are non-violent crimes of opportunity (pickpocketing, theft of unattended possessions in public places or hotel rooms, bag snatching, gem/confidence scams). Thieves often attempt to distract a victim by asking questions, begging for money, selling items, or bumping/jostling. You should take extra care of your belongings and take sensible security precautions at all times. You should be vigilant at all times, even if staying with friends, employers or hosts.
Myanmar is largely a cash society. Make sure you have access to cash, but avoid displaying cash or other valuables in public.
Beware of merchants offering to sell gems, gold or semi-precious stones. This could result in a substantial loss of money and/or a violation of local laws. Do not buy gems or minerals from an unlicensed source.
Be aware of job offers that appear “too good to be true” in Myanmar and neighbouring countries. There is a growing number of cyber scam centres operating in eastern Myanmar – particularly the Myawaddy district in eastern Kayin and Tachileik township in eastern Shan. Victims are trafficked into undertaking online scamming, held in poor living conditions, and subjected to severe mistreatment. Some victims have had their passports confiscated, and been held to ransom.
We are aware of fraudulent emails being sent by individuals claiming to work for British firms seeking loans to advance their business interests in Myanmar. These have falsely stated they are acting on advice of the British Embassy. See our pages on fraud and financial scams for further guidance.
The UK advises against all travel to Northern Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni and Mon States, Sagaing Region and Tanintharyi Region excluding Myeik township, the archipelago and townships south of Tanintharyi Township. The UK advises against all but essential travel to Shan State and Southern Taninthartharyi Region.
Myanmar has suffered from prolonged internal conflicts, involving a number of Ethnic Armed Organisations in Myanmar’s border areas.
Violence is severe and the situation is unpredictable in most ethnic states and border areas. The Myanmar authorities restrict travel to most border areas. There are active military operations involving the use of air strikes, artillery bombardments and ground troops.
In October 2023, Ethnic Armed Organisations launched a military offensive in Shan State North. Travellers on the Mandalay-Lashio road should remain vigilant and exercise caution due to a heightened risk of attacks – particularly after dark.
As a result of decades of conflict, the threat of landmines in rural areas is high - particularly in northern and central Rakhine, northern Shan and Kachin States. There is evidence of landmine use having spread to other areas since the coup. Some areas with known mines are marked by signage, but this practice is not widespread. Visitors should exercise extreme caution if travelling off main roads in these areas.
The FCDO cannot offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe. A list of recent incidents and accidents is available on the website of the Aviation Safety Network . A Myanmar National Airlines plane was shot at in Kayah in October 2022.
Airlines routinely share flight codes, meaning that airlines sometimes use aircraft from outside their own fleet. Passengers aren’t always advised in advance where this is the case.
Local flight schedules are subject to change without warning. Leave sufficient time in your travel itinerary to accommodate this.
Railway safety standards are significantly below those in the UK.
Overland travel can be hazardous, particularly in the rainy season (May to October). Roads can become impassable and bridges can be damaged. Travel by road between many areas outside the key destinations of Yangon, Mandalay, Bago and Irrawaddy regions is restricted.
Road safety standards are significantly lower than in the UK. Serious road accidents are common. Under Myanmar law, the driver of a car involved in an accident with a pedestrian is always at fault. Many vehicles, including taxis and buses, are in a poor condition. Although driving is on the right in Myanmar, the majority of cars are right hand drive.
Sea and river travel
Seek local advice about where it is safe to swim or dive. River transport may not meet internationally recognised safety standards, and search and rescue facilities may be limited.
Passenger ferries in Rakhine State have been subject to attacks.
During the monsoon season (May to October), heavy rains can cause flooding. Make sure life jackets are available and check local weather conditions before undertaking any river journey. All travellers should avoid wading, swimming or bathing in freshwater to prevent catching schistosomiasis. See Health
Mobile phones and Internet
The Myanmar authorities periodically cut off access to the Internet and have blocked several websites.
Myanmar’s technological infrastructure has improved. International GSM roaming is now available in Myanmar and all local networks offer 3G and 4G. If roaming is enabled, some UK SIM cards will work and coverage is fairly reliable in the main cities. UK mobile service providers may charge especially high prices for roaming in Myanmar.
Many visitors travel with a spare mobile phone and buy a SIM card for a nominal fee when they arrive. This can then be topped up as needed.
Terrorist attacks in Myanmar cannot be ruled out.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners: official buildings, commercial premises, transport hubs, festivals, hotels and cinemas. You should take sensible precautions and follow local advice.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad .
There is a risk of arbitrary detention and arrest, particularly for journalists and human rights activists. The criminal justice process followed in such cases falls below international standards. Myanmar does not recognise dual nationality.
If you’re arrested and convicted of a crime in Myanmar you can expect a long prison sentence. Conditions in detention are extremely poor. Pre-trial detention can last many months.
The legal process in Myanmar is unpredictable, lacks transparency and is open to interference from powerful political and business interests. The investigation and trial process falls far below the standard expected in the UK. British nationals in Myanmar should be aware that there are limits to the assistance the British Embassy can offer to those with concerns about the fairness of their trial as we are unable to interfere in the legal processes of a host country.
Sexual abuse against children is a serious crime. Those who commit sex offences against children abroad can also be prosecuted in the UK.
Penalties for drug trafficking range from a minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment to the death penalty.
Myanmar’s defamation laws give broad scope for individuals to bring potentially arbitrary charges which could result in criminal penalties, including a prison sentence. Foreigners have been subject to criminal investigations for acts such as posting a critical review of a hotel online.
Respect religious customs when visiting Buddhist religious sites. Shorts and sleeveless tops will cause offence. You should remove shoes and socks before entering a pagoda or monastery.
Under Myanmar law, insulting religion is a prosecutable offence. Insulting religion is a broad term, and can include any disrespectful depiction or image (including tattoos) of Buddha or other religious representation.
Photography and drones
Do not take photographs or videos of the police, any demonstrations, military installations or military personnel.
Importing unmanned aerial systems (drones) without prior government permission and flying them in sensitive areas such as government buildings, famous tourist sites, and religious buildings can result in criminal penalties, including jail time and the permanent confiscation of the drone. As it is rarely clear what constitutes a sensitive area, all recreational use of drones is inadvisable. If you wish to bring a drone to Myanmar, you’re strongly advised to seek official permission from the Myanmar authorities.
Myanmar is party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) . Over 800 species of animals and plants are banned from international trade and a further 30,000 are strictly controlled by CITES and EU legislation. You should consider the restrictions on the export of endangered species under CITES when deciding whether to buy exotic souvenirs, including those made from turtles.
Homosexuality is illegal in Myanmar, although in practice these laws are not consistently enforced. These laws can carry punishments of up to life imprisonment and apply equally to men and women. There have been reports of police using threats of prosecution to extort bribes, and allegations of arbitrary arrest and detention.
Public attitudes towards LGBT+ people can be mixed. Up until recently, there have been increasingly large Pride festivals and growing visibility of the LGBT+ community, including gay bars and clubs. Public displays of affection, whether heterosexual or LGBT+, are frowned upon in Myanmar culture.
See our information and advice page for the LGBT+ community before you travel.
This page has information on travelling to Myanmar.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Myanmar set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Myanmar’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate .
On arrival in Myanmar, foreign travellers are required to present printed proof of travel insurance that covers COVID-19. You will also need to submit a health declaration form, which will typically have been given to you during your flight.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
Before travel, we advise that all visitors check with their nearest Myanmar Embassy or Consulate to confirm your current visa will allow you entry, or the criteria for obtaining or renewing a visa.
British nationals must apply for a visa to enter Myanmar. If you have any queries about visas or entry requirements you should check with your nearest Myanmar embassy. If you overstay your visa you will be liable to pay a fine, and could possibly face detention.
You will need a visa to enter or travel through Myanmar as a visitor. You can apply for a tourist visa online .
Applicants for business e-visas need to be sponsored by a registered Myanmar company or a registered Chamber of Commerce Association.
Proof of invitation must be submitted with the visa application in the form of a letter personally addressed to the applicant, along with a copy of the company registration certificate. The letter must state the purpose and timeframe of the visit. The registration status of a company can be found online at Myanmar Companies Online . NGOs and INGOs are not eligible to sponsor visas.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Myanmar.
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website .
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website .
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines . For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
The strikes in the medical sector in response to the coup have placed a severe strain on the Myanmar public health sector. Private medical facilities continue to operate. In areas where an overnight curfew is in place, such as Yangon, you may struggle to access emergency healthcare during the night.
Many pharmaceutical products for sale in Myanmar are believed to be counterfeit.
Competent medical advice and treatment may not be available outside Yangon and Mandalay, and any services provided will not be to the standard of those in the UK. You may need expensive medical evacuation costing up to tens of thousands of pounds. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Avoid intrusive examinations, including emergency dental work, due to irregular hygiene standards and the danger of infection, particularly by hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS. Psychological and psychiatric services are also limited.
Cash payment is often needed prior to receiving medical treatment in Myanmar. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and/or repatriation. The UK government can not pay for medical expenses overseas.
The worldwide coronavirus outbreak is expected to put significant pressure on Myanmar’s medical facilities. They may not be able to offer routine care. See Coronavirus
Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus and Chikunguya are present in Myanmar. You should take appropriate precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitos. For further advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website .
Cases of schistosomiasis , a parasitic infection, have been reported in Myanmar. There is no vaccine or medication to prevent schistosomiasis. You should avoid wading, swimming or bathing in freshwater. As the infection may cause no symptoms, all travellers who may have been exposed to schistosomiasis should have a medical assessment.
Myanmar has faced challenges with outbreaks of Vaccine Derived Polio Viruses (VDPV), particularly in remote areas. All travellers should check the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) pages for specific advice on polio vaccinations
Air pollution can affect major urban areas. This may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. You can check real-time air-quality data for Yangon on the World Air Quality Index website .
Myanmar is subject to frequent earthquakes and tremors of varying magnitude.
To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency .
Myanmar normally experiences cyclones between mid-April and mid-May, and during October and November. You can monitor the progress of tropical cyclones on the website of the World Meteorological Organisation. Floods and landslides may occur. Check local weather reports before travelling, particularly in coastal areas.
See our tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.
There is significant disruption to banking services. You may find that some ATMs are not working. Some bank branches may be closed and some banks have imposed limits on daily withdrawals. Electronic payments and transfers are working but many commercial outlets will only accept cash.
You should expect to rely on cash for most of your stay (preferably US dollars in pristine condition and high denomination). Visitors bringing in excess of $10,000 (or equivalent) in foreign currency should declare this to Customs on arrival or risk facing imprisonment.
Dollars will be required when you leave the country for visa fines or to pay for excess baggage.
Once in country it can be difficult finding a money changer to exchange US dollars into kyats. Due to concerns over counterfeit money, dollars with the letters AB and CB at the start of the serial number (top left-hand corner of the note) aren’t always accepted. Notes with pen marks, folds or tears are also not accepted.
If you intend to pay for hotels or restaurants with a credit or debit card, you should phone ahead and confirm that this will be possible. Many vendors will charge a high service fee for paying by card.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission . If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on +44 (0)20 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can not provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice .
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can not offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website . For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority . For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service .
Registering your travel details with us
We are no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website . Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can not find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request .
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry , or contact us on Twitter or Facebook . We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.
Top 5: Ancient Buddhist temples to visit
Buddhism has been one of the most popular religions in Asia for over 2,500 years and here are the five most beautiful and fascinating ancient Buddhist temples to visit
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Known as the “Golden Land,” Myanmar is an alluring tourist destination. Cut off from the rest of the world during an extended period of self-imposed isolation, the country formerly known as Burma rarely fails to weave its spell on modern-day visitors. After being cocooned for much of the 20th century, things are changing rapidly now. Luxury tourism, in particular, has a secure foothold in such popular destinations as temple-rich Bagan and tranquil Inle Lake, as well as in some less well-known places. With a democratically elected government now steering the nation, further progress seems assured. Nevertheless, with its kaleidoscopic mix of ethnicities and enduring traditions, Myanmar so far remains endearingly unchanged when compared with neighbouring countries in the region. Even the biggest city, Yangon, with its condos and growing selection of bars, retains an old world allure. With Myanmar continuing to open up to visitors, now is the perfect time to sample its heady and distinctive offerings.
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Photo By Visual Intermezzo/Shutterstock
When’s the best time to go to Myanmar?
Picking the optimum time to travel is vital in Myanmar, which tends to have more extreme weather than other countries in the region. The southwest monsoon brings rain from May to October and roads can become impassable during this period. The post-monsoon window between November and February is dry and cool-ish and is the best time to visit most of Myanmar. From March to May, the country becomes extremely hot and travel can be highly uncomfortable.
How to get around Myanmar
Although there are now several open land borders between Thailand and Myanmar, the vast majority of visitors enter the country by air at either Yangon or Mandalay. There is also an international airport in Nay Pyi Daw, but the capital is of limited interest to tourists. The cheapest way to reach Myanmar from outside the region is to fly to a regional hub such as Bangkok or Singapore and then hop on a connecting flight to Yangon or Mandalay.
With much of the country still off-limits to foreign visitors due to ongoing ethnic conflict, forward planning is necessary when visiting Myanmar. Check the list on the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism website for the latest news on restricted areas. For major destinations in the country, the best option is usually to fly domestically. If you are on a budget, buses are faster and cheaper than trains, but don’t expect much in the way of comfort. Taxis are cheap and plentiful in Yangon, but be warned: The city’s traffic is reliably appalling and short journeys can take a long time, especially during peak hours.
Food and drink to try in Myanmar
Drawing on techniques from neighboring countries such as India, Thailand, China, and Bangladesh, Myanmar’s cuisine is a mélange of influences that varies wildly from region to region. In the west, Rakhine State specializes in spicy curries while the food in Shan State is very similar to that of northern Thailand. Salads are a feature of Myanmar cuisine. Known as athouq , they include maji-yweq thouq , made with young tamarind leaves, and leq-p’eq , better known as tea-leaf salad. The best places to sample the delights of Myanmar cuisine are in tourist centers like Yangon and Inle Lake where upscale venues rub shoulders with more humble, but still desirable, options.
Culture in Myanmar
Myanmar’s cultural highlights are very much intertwined with the country’s rich spiritual fabric. Buddhism is practiced by an estimated 89% of the population and the country is scattered with ornate pagodas and stunning temple complexes. The apex of this spirituality can be found at Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda and also at leading attractions like Bagan and the archeologically rich site of Mrauk U in Rakhine State. The country is well-known for its arts and crafts, which are also heavily influenced by Buddhism. Artisanal traditions include woodcarving, stone carving, turnery, painting, and lacquerware. The best place to sample contemporary Myanmar culture is in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, which has a smattering of modern art galleries, museums, and venues for live music and DJs.
Myanmar’s colorful and lively festivals are based on the lunar calendar and can really enhance your trip if it happens to coincide with one. The most popular festival in the calendar is Thingyan, the annual water festival where locals take to the streets with water pistols and buckets of water as the temperatures soar. November is the date for the Fire Balloon Festival at Taunggyi, east of Inle Lake. At night, balloons are released with fireworks strapped underneath them—with predictably explosive consequences. Also worth catching are the New Year celebrations in Shan State, one of the country’s most ethnically diverse regions. Expect live bands, traditional dancing, and—on New Year’s Eve itself—fireworks and a party vibe.
Local travel tips for Myanmar
Don’t expect super-fast internet. Coverage in the country (especially outside Yangon and Mandalay) is still limited and speeds are notoriously spotty and slow, even in the big population centers. There are now plenty of ATMs in Yangon and other major population centers so access to cash is not as much of an issue as it was previously. If you are carrying U.S. dollars to exchange, try to make sure they are in mint condition as there’s a distinct possibility they won’t be accepted otherwise. Try to book a hotel well in advance of your trip. Hotels remain in short supply in the country and can be expensive for what they are. If you don’t book your preferred choice ahead of time you might be forced to pay over the odds for something substandard.
Duncan Forgan After arriving on something of a whim, Duncan Forgan has been living and working in Bangkok since 2013. In a previous life he was a features writer for the national newspapers in his native Scotland, an editor of various travel guides in the Middle East, and a long-term freelancer in Vietnam. Now he prefers to discover new street food and to drive his motorbike around the sois. When he’s not comparing venues for Isaan food, he writes and broadcasts for a variety of outlets worldwide on Asian travel, culture, and cuisine.
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Things to Know Before Traveling to Myanmar (Burma)
Updated on September 11th, 2023
What's it like to travel or go backpacking in Myanmar (Burma)? Here's what to know for how to prepare for a trip to Myanmar with our travel tips, itineraries and ideas for what to pack.
Posted in Myanmar (Burma)
Table of contents
- What are some common scams in Myanmar?
- What are the 1-week and 2-week itineraries for Myanmar?
- Which Bug Spray to Use in Myanmar
- Can I get local SIM data on my phone in Myanmar?
- Food in Myanmar
- Will I have any issues using credit cards in Myanmar?
- What should women pack for traveling in Myanmar?
- Problems with Car Volume and Traffic in Myanmar
- Sunscreen and hats: protection from the sun
- When is High Season in Myanmar?
- What is Grab (the Southeast Asian Uber)?
- How to get around Myanmar: Night Bus vs. Flying
- Should I take trains in Myanmar?
- Is traveling in Myanmar dangerous or safe?
- Is there tipping in Myanmar?
- Are there foreigner prices (the “foreigner tax”)?
- What is the currency in Myanmar?
- ATM Fees and Withdrawals in Myanmar
- Which plugs and outlets does Myanmar use?
- Is there ethnic diversity in Myanmar?
- What are the religions in Myanmar?
- What are the Burmese people’s attitudes toward travelers?
- How much English is used in Myanmar?
- Drinking the Water in Myanmar
- Do I need a travel visa for Myanmar?
- How fast is the WiFi in Myanmar?
- Can you work remotely in Myanmar?
- Is there public WiFi in Myanmar?
- Is there alcohol in Myanmar?
- How can you eat vegetarian in Myanmar?
- What is the street food in Myanmar?
- Renting scooters, e-Bikes and motos in Myanmar
- Renting bicycles in Myanmar
- Renting mountain bikes
- What’s the time zone in Myanmar?
- Should you buy gems (rubies, sapphires) and gold in Myanmar?
- Animals (pets, strays, monastery cats) in Myanmar
- Where to stay in Myanmar
- Hostels in Myanmar
2023 update: Myanmar is still going through a period of civil unrest, according to the US State Dept. at travel.state.gov. Travelers are asked to “reconsider traveling to Myanmar (Burma) due to armed conflict and the risk of wrongful detention of foreigners. The Travel Advisory for Myanmar (Burma) was renewed on July 24, 2023, as “Level 4: Do Not Travel.” For more information on this topic as well as developments, please visit the US Dept. of State website .
Is it easy to travel in Myanmar (Burma)?
In our minds, we pictured travel in Myanmar to be like travel in other parts of Southeast Asia, but a bit less developed. After two weeks in the country, we were surprised at the current tourism infrastructure, which allowed us to travel freely and conveniently around the major traveler hot spots, and with ample amounts of English along the way.
As we like avoiding over-tourism , we were pleased with the amount of places in Myanmar that still felt empty, and we went to the most popular places on the most popular route!
We also felt Myanmar was an affordable destination , where our daily budget was $35 each, per day. With this budget, we took first-class “VIP” overnight buses, stayed in private rooms and even enjoyed some cocktails at bars.
A few tips for traveling in Myanmar
Pack like a minimalist — it’s best to travel light in Southeast Asia. Also, remember to discuss with your travel partner about flexibility, budget and the extent to which you’ll plan your activities. Leave room for changes and unexpected availability of transport.
Here’s what you need to know before starting your travel or backpacking trip through Myanmar.
What are some common scams in Myanmar?
Although Myanmar is exceedingly safe as far as traveling for travelers goes, there are several ways that scammers try to get more money out of you. Please note that none of these scams are dangerous; rather, these are ways people may try to trick you to pay a bit more or try to swindle you for a service you did not ask for.
Are there any scams in Bagan?
While in Bagan , we had rented an E-bike (motorized scooter) and were searching for sunrise spots at dawn one morning. A man on a motorbike saw us, and in English, offered to take us to a spot he knew of. We accepted, and followed him.
He brought us to a truly secret spot we never would have found, and we found two other foreign couples sitting atop a pagoda. When we asked them how they had found the place, they said the same guy who brought us had brought them the day before, and for the other couple, the day before that. They said after leaving, he’ll have waited for us and will try to sell us paintings out of his bag.
That is exactly what happened. One of the couples said they flat-out said no to the trick, and the other couple said they bargained and bought one. We took the route of negotiating and buying a painting from this man, who had, after all, taken the time to bring us to a somewhat legitimate sunrise viewpoint, and we also thought the paintings were nice, but it was a trick after all.
If you want to avoid this completely, say no to strangers who offer to help you and bring you somewhere.
Are there taxi scams in Myanmar?
We found that Grab, one of the helpful travel apps we downloaded before arrival, only worked in Yangon to get a fair price. When you get off the night bus or want to take a taxi in a different smaller city, you’ll likely get quoted a higher-than-usual amount (this is also because Grab’s prices are quite low).
Check pricing quotes or share a taxi with other travelers in order to create an Uber pool situation, as this is what we did when we arrived in Bagan. We got a better price and shared a car with another traveler, as we were all going in the same direction.
You can also get a quote from your hotel before you go. A taxi from the Bagan bus station cost us 10,000 Kyat because we shared the taxi. In Inle Lake, you can walk from most parts of town to your hotel, as everything is quite central, so there is no need for a taxi.
Is it OK to leave your shoes when you visit temples?
The best type of shoes to have in Myanmar is a sturdy sandal like Birkenstocks so that you can slide them off easily when you visit temples. When taking off shoes, be careful to keep your shoes out of the designated bins. We had someone tell us that she watched our shoes while we visited the temple’s interior and that we needed to pay her.
To avoid this, we found it fine to leave them in clusters of shoes wherever locals left their shoes.
Should you pay anyone for taking photos?
At Inle Lake, people let you take their photo, and then ask for money. This applies to the dancing fishermen and tribal people who know that they look unique and authentic to tourists. We nearly expected anyone who was unique-looking enough to merit a photo to expect a tip, so we kept a few hundred Kyat handy to do so.
If you don’t want to be paying anyone for taking their photo, keep your camera hidden, as to not attract attention.
Are the fishermen of Inle Lake fake or real?
In Inle Lake, the dancing fishermen with the large nets aren’t always real fishermen. We heard that they can make more from tourist tips than from fishing for fish.
The boat drivers will slow down when they see your boat, and if you’re taking pictures, your boat driver will bring you closer. The fishermen expect to be paid for posing, so if you want a photo of this quintessential Inle Lake scene, expect to be paying the fisherman a few hundred Kyat for his time.
We were happy to tip the fishermen, because we sure can’t stand on one leg on a boat with a giant net! That’s talent!
What are the 1-week and 2-week itineraries for Myanmar?
Where to go with a few weeks in myanmar.
There are many itineraries for travel in Myanmar and there’s really no bad way to see Myanmar. We went from Yangon to Bagan to Inle Lake, and back. We recommend flying out of Mandalay if possible, so you don’t have to return to Yangon, if return flight prices allow.
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Best itinerary for 1 week in Myanmar
Fly into Yangon or Mandalay where you can spend one to two full day(s) experiencing either city, spend two full days in Bagan , two full days in Inle Lake (one day for a boat tour and one day for biking around the lake) and another one or two days in your city of departure.
For a more detailed itinerary, check out a travel guide by Lonely Planet! It helped us a lot during our trip throughout Myanmar. Get one on Amazon or Bookshop.org .
Best itinerary for 2 weeks (or 10 days) in Myanmar
With two weeks, you can allow for more flexibility with your chosen way to get around the country, whether that is with night buses (our choice, in order to travel more sustainably ) or domestic flights.
Keep in mind that taking a domestic flight will take up a morning, afternoon or evening (most will be around one hour), and that a night bus, while ‘costing’ you 8 to 12 hours, will save money, but might leave you very tired when you arrive.
In two weeks, you can allot three days for Bagan, three or four full days in Inle Lake like we did (a chance to visit Indein, and a morning-afternoon to try a cooking class) and a full two days in Yangon or Mandalay on either end.
If you choose to travel fast, you can add a stop in Ngapali Beach or jump on a 2-day Kalaw-to-Inle Trek, which also comes in a 3-day version, that you can book at most hostels.
Which Bug Spray to Use in Myanmar
Do the mosquitoes in myanmar have diseases.
Most of the country has mosquitoes and some carry diseases like malaria or dengue fever. While we did not go into our trip with any worries about malaria (a disease spread by mosquitoes in tropical regions), the threat of dengue fever (a very serious disease that travelers can contract in Southeast Asia) is real.
You can buy bug spray (or bring a reputable brand of spray) at a pharmacy when you arrive. The one that we got contains 40% DEET and is what everyone traveling in Myanmar recommends. It was also 1200 Kyat ($0.80).
This spray probably did work, but we still got bitten daily, mostly around our ankles, legs and hands.
Come prepared with a travel-sized Tiger Balm to apply to bug bites.
Can I get local SIM data on my phone in Myanmar?
You can get local data, or you can come with your own. We use Google Fi .
How to get international data with Google Fi
We used our Google Fi plan to help us get around Myanmar. We each used around 1 GB on data during our two-week trip. We don’t use too much data, typically, and we used data mostly for looking at maps, texting friends on WhatsApp and sharing the occasional photo with family.
Local SIM Card for Travelers
A lot of other travelers got a local Myanmar SIM card. You can get data much cheaper than the kind we used. We recommend this if you don’t have an international phone plan, like Google Fi or T-Mobile. You’ll be able to use your local SIM data in situations when WiFi isn’t strong.
Food in Myanmar
Burmese food is likely a cuisine you haven’t tried much if you have never been to Myanmar! We had heard some tips from friends like, ‘Try the tea leaf salad!’ and a passing mention of curry. Burmese food can be heavy on the fried stuff and the oil, so we tried to balance our daily diet with fresh fruit in order to stay healthy on the road .
What is Burmese food like?
We found the food in Myanmar to be like a mix between Indian and Thai, with some influence from Chinese food and some Western food available as well.
Most meals consist of fried noodles, with Shan Noodles getting all the fame and popularity. Shan Noodles originates from the Shan State, where Inle Lake is located.
Street food it Yangon seemed rather Indian-influenced to us, as you could pass by stands selling samosas and other fried treats. There is a plethora of fresh produce being sold on many streets in downtown Yangon, with some streets dedicated to selling fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and sausage.
Which cuisines to try in Myanmar
Throughout our time in Myanmar, we had Thai food twice (in Bagan and Yangon), sushi once (Genki Sushi in Yangon), Chinese food at a Yunnanese restaurant (Chinatown, Yangon), Indian food in Nyaung Shwe at Innlay Hut and some Western-style food at our hostels (burgers or chicken sandwiches).
In Yangon, you can find plentiful amounts of Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Thai eateries, as these are the other main Asian cuisines represented. There are a handful of Vietnamese restaurants in Yangon as well, but it’s recommended to try the Burmese cuisines like the traditional foods from Shan State (you’ll see lots of signs for ‘Shan Noodle’).
Aside from these, we saw Vietnamese, Japanese and Malaysian-Singaporean eateries around the country.
Is there Western, Foreign or Imported Food in Myanmar?
If you need foreign or imported food items while in Myanmar, you can check out City Market in the Junction City Mall in downtown Yangon. This store has the largest selection of Western goods that we came across.
Other brands we saw that were re-branded for Myanmar were foods like potato chips, Coca-Cola, several sports drinks, coffees, teas and ice cream.
Will I have any issues using credit cards in Myanmar?
We used credit cards roughly three times during our 12-day trip, only at our accommodation and at one rooftop bar that belonged to a hotel.
Myanmar is still a cash society, and credit cards will only be accepted at larger establishments. Additionally, if credit is accepted, not all types of credit cards may work. It’s best to always have enough cash on hand to get through your day and your next large purchase, like a night bus.
A pair of pants for night buses
Once you land, you’ll be glad you brought loose light-weight pants (even though it’ll be so hot most days you’ll be wearing shorts by default). Conversely, you can buy some loose ‘backpacker pants’ upon arrival at any market. For visiting temples, note that legs need to be covered and shorts are typically not allowed.
If you don’t want to rent a longyi (menswear sarong, or ankle-length sheet of cloth typically worn by men instead of pants) when visiting a temple, you can buy one for $2-3 at a local shop in Chinatown of Yangon.
Handkerchief or bandana for multiple purposes
Having a hankie or bandana handy will be great for wiping your glistening face when perspiring daily, or for covering your mouth during bike or scooter rides because it can be pretty dusty.
What should women pack for traveling in Myanmar?
Myanmar is generally a traditional and conservative society. In the tourist hot spots of Yangon, Inle Lake and Bagan, dressing as you would at home in the summer is fine; note, however, that in visiting the homes of locals or Buddhist temples and pagodas, that shoulders and legs must be covered.
Loose skirts and dresses, or loose pants
Becca found it helpful to dress for the day in a maxi dress that was sleeveless on top, and hit close to her ankles on the bottom. This way, if visiting a Buddhist temple or shrine (which is bound to be part of your day!), she only had to cover her shoulders and arms with a shawl, scarf or sarong in order to hit the dress code requirements.
Problems with Car Volume and Traffic in Myanmar
Interestingly enough, Yangon, the biggest city in the country, does not have motorbikes on the roads. There are only cars. Ironically, this creates a huge amount of traffic, and a debatable level of safety … you decide.
How bad is traffic in Myanmar?
Once we got out of Yangon, we didn’t encounter any traffic jams except for maybe a cow crossing the road in more of the rural places of the country.
Traffic in Yangon, however, should be taken very seriously(!). When our hostel staff told us to budget two hours for getting to the Yangon bus station from downtown, we didn’t believe them.
We did listen, though, and sure enough, it took us over two hours from downtown Yangon to travel 14 miles to the bus terminal in the suburbs. It was truly unbelievable. So, if you have an 8 pm bus departure with the JJ Bus, leave two and a half hours to get there.
Sunscreen and hats: protection from the sun
The sun is very strong in Myanmar, even in the fall and winter. We brought our own travel-sized sunscreen from home, in a 30 SPF and 50 SPF variation. We found that most travelers were also carrying around their own travel-sized sunscreen brought from home.
If you choose to forego sunscreen while you’re out in the sun… we’ll just say we saw some sunburned people (especially from that Kalaw trek) and we’d recommend having a trusty hat with you as well. If you didn’t bring one from home, don’t worry at all, because most markets, tourist shops and vendors will want to sell you one!
When is High Season in Myanmar?
High season for Myanmar begins in November and lasts until March. The best time to go is between December and February, when rain dies down and the temperatures drop a bit, too. We enjoy traveling in the off-season as a way to save money long-term .
We went in October, which, lucky for us, turned out to be a nice time to go! October is ‘shoulder season,’ so there is still a chance of heavy or frequent rain, but for our first ten days, we did not experience even a drop.
Low season, or off-season, is from April to September, when monsoons ensue and when some roads will flood or have a chance of mudslides. Some people prefer to travel in low season, so this is entirely up to you and when you can make the trip. Most of Southeast Asia will be rather wet between April and September.
What is Grab (the Southeast Asian Uber)?
Like in Vietnam , there is no Uber in Myanmar. Instead, use Grab! It’s what the locals do.
Where does Grab work in Myanmar?
Grab works in Yangon and does not work in Inle Lake and Bagan. We haven’t visited other cities, so don’t know much about the connectivity nationwide.
Grab is great for getting around Yangon and for getting an idea on how much a cab ride should cost. You can set up your Grab to pay with credit or cash. If you choose to pay for your ride in cash upon the completion of the drive, make sure you have a bunch of smaller change, as drivers are known for claiming to only have big bills.
How to get around Myanmar: Night Bus vs. Flying
Is it safe to take night buses in myanmar.
During our trip, we always took a night bus instead of flying. The cost was much lower to take three night buses rather than three flights around the country, and this choice saved us on accommodations for the nights we spent on buses. It was totally safe and there were other travelers.
We arrived the next day after a bus and were a bit tired, but took mid-day naps. That was fine because it’s so hot in Myanmar that you’d want to nap anyway!
Should I take trains in Myanmar?
We did not take trains in Myanmar, but we met travelers who did. Trains are known to be slow and old, and if you wish to take one, you’re signing up for an adventurous experience!
One tip we heard is that if you take a night sleeper compartment bus to avoid the top bunk, as the spiders and insects like to hang out up there, and the space between the ceiling and the bed is rather small. You could be sleeping with a good bunch of wildlife in close reach.
We did ride the Yangon city ‘circle train,’ which is the equivalent of a light rail or above-ground metro. It’s really old, and there’s no AC, no fan, no frills… but it made for a cool thing to do for a morning (until we were done with sweating) and you can see a lot of local life in the outskirts of the city.
Is traveling in Myanmar dangerous or safe?
Traveling in Myanmar is incredibly safe, even if you are traveling solo . In fact, Myanmar is probably one of the safest places we have ever been, where crime is not even a topic that travelers talk about.
We walked in Nyaung Shwe (Shan State) at 4 a.m. after being dropped off our bus there, and no one bothered us. We also were not hassled much at the airport at midnight when we arrived in Yangon. We felt perfectly safe being outside and looking for our Grab taxi.
In Yangon, we did not experience any pickpockets, but we do suggest keeping your bag close to your body and not flashing lots of money in public spaces. Much of the population in Myanmar is poor and as we mentioned in common scams, above, there are people who want to make some money off of innocent travelers.
The only dangerous areas in Myanmar are the off-limits areas, which have already been closed by the government to tourists. These are the conflict areas, but luckily they do not overlap at all with places of interest like Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake.
Is there tipping in Myanmar?
Similar to traveling in other Asian countries, tipping is not inherently part of the culture.
Do people tip in Myanmar?
Tipping isn’t required in Myanmar, but it is encouraged when you’re happy with your service. It’s more expected in places that give one of those black booklets when you receive your check. Sometimes, you’ll see that tips are included at a Western-style establishment (upscale or at a hotel) and it’s typically 5%-10%.
Is tipping expected in Myanmar?
We gave tips when the person giving the service least expected it, and it sometimes made their day. You can do this simply by rounding up your bill to the nearest thousand, or handing off a few thousand to your server or hairdresser (in our case) upon leaving.
Should you tip the Inle Lake boat people?
At each stop during a standard Inle Lake boat tour, locals who work for the establishment will help you off your boat so that you don’t fall. We found that most of the time, no one asked for tips, but during our second boat tour, we were asked for tips by a small boy who helped us on and off.
You are welcome to tip these individuals, as a few hundred Kyat is small change to us, and they may appreciate it.
Are there foreigner prices (the “foreigner tax”)?
At times, there is a blatant different price for tourists versus price for locals. This happens often at large religious or national sites.
While it’s frustrating, the logic is that the average Burmese person does not have a lot of money, and in this way, the establishment can make a profit off of tourism and at the same time, allow nationals to be able to access religious and cultural landmarks.
In the case of a famed place like Shwedagon pagoda, this is a religious place where people go daily or weekly, or to which they may make a pilgrimage from far away, and the price should not be a deterrent.
When buying food or items in markets, you will probably be charged the foreigner price, and this is also because the vendor knows you can afford more than the average local — after all, you already traveled from far away to their country! It’s not fair, but if you are already on vacation, chances are you are coming from the luxury of being able to leave your home nation.
What is the currency in Myanmar?
We recommend that you do your research on traveling with foreign currencies before you leave. The currency in Myanmar is the Burmese Kyat/Myanmar Kyat. The currency recently devalued steadily in the past few years, making Myanmar a very affordable place to spend a while.
What are the little stickers on receipts?
We noticed that we received little stickers on receipts. These are for declaring taxes, if you wanted a small refund when you exit Myanmar. We don’t typically collect these taxes unless we make a big purchase. If you spent over $500 at retail stores, you might be eligible to get $50 or so back, when you depart for your next country.
What is the largest bill in Burmese Kyat?
The largest bill in the Kyat is the 10,000-Kyat note, equivalent of $6.54. When going to an ATM, you’ll need to withdraw 200,000 Kyat to have $130.
ATM Fees and Withdrawals in Myanmar
Make sure you have the appropriate credit and debit cards for your trip before you land and use an ATM.
What is the largest withdrawal from an ATM in Myanmar?
The largest withdrawal is 300,000 Kyat from an ATM.
What is the ATM fee in Myanmar?
The bank fee will also amount to fee of 6000 Kyat. Plan accordingly if you plan to pay for everything in cash (night buses, accommodation), and keep this in mind when withdrawing.
Which plugs and outlets does Myanmar use?
While we brought an international converter . Luckily, the hostels at which we stayed during our trip had the standard US outlet we are accustomed to. The voltage in Myanmar is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. We also saw sockets of type C, which is common in Europe. We recommend bringing a converter in case you need one.
Is there ethnic diversity in Myanmar?
While on the surface, people in Myanmar people may seem or look “Burmese,” what’s truly incredible about this country is the ethnic diversity. In addition to Burmese, there are at least 50 ethnic dialects spoken from north to south, along with languages from other countries like Chinese.
In Yangon alone, we noticed people of Indian descent and Chinese descent, in addition to the ethnic Burmese population. This ethnic diversity leads to more diversity in food, language and religion.
What is the Burmese language like?
Before we left, Becca downloaded a Burmese language app to get a preview of what the language is like. If you want to preview the language of where you’ll be traveling, read our tips for learning a new language for travel .
What are the religions in Myanmar?
Religious diversity in Myanmar is incredible to see, especially in downtown Yangon and Yangon’s Chinatown. Here, for example, the density of the population has created city blocks that have both a Buddhist temple and a Hindu temple, and neighboring blocks that have a Jewish synagogue and a Muslim mosque.
There are also several Christian churches of several varieties. Around Myanmar, there are tribes and ethnic groups that have animistic beliefs, meaning a belief in spirits (called ‘nats’).
What are the Burmese people’s attitudes toward travelers?
We got the vibe that people wanted to talk with us to practice their English, thank us for visiting their country or to say hi. In one case, one local showed us around to all of his friends at a market and gave us bananas and watermelons, asking nothing in return!
Are locals safe in Myanmar?
We mostly had great experiences as foreign travelers in Myanmar. We were shown an incredible amount of hospitality, with nothing to ask for in return, when interacting with locals.
In being invited by locals to their homes or villages, we do suggest taking some sort of precaution, such as having cellular data in case something is to happen to you or your safety. In our own personal experiences, we were shown nothing but generosity.
How much English is used in Myanmar?
We were pleasantly surprised and somewhat amazed with the widespread use of English in Myanmar. Given, we interacted mostly with individuals working in tourism — hostel staff, bus staff, bar servers and tourism hosts at workshops or stores.
Not everyone speaks English, though, and one thing to keep in mind is that, similar to people in much of Asia, Burmese people will avoid saying ‘no’ or admitting that they don’t understand you at all.
As an alternative, they will answer as best they can, even if a language barrier causes them to miss your question or your point completely. This is to ‘save face,’ and you will encounter this in much of Asia.
Drinking the Water in Myanmar
Can you brush your teeth with the water in myanmar.
We did, and we typically brush our teeth with the water anywhere, but we never swallow any of it. If you have concerns, you can brush your teeth with purified water.
Can you drink the water in Myanmar?
No. The water source from the tap is not clean in the entire country. There are several options of bottled water that have different treatments for drinking. We didn’t have any issues with the bottled water.
In restaurants and hotels, you can usually find a source to fill a water bottle; in fact, jugs of drinking water are pretty common to see, even in markets.
We had most hostels and night buses provide bottles of drinking water to us upon boarding, or on the nightstands in the room when we arrived.
Travel ‘greenly,’ and re-purpose these bottles by filling them up from large jugs, as to avoid buying new bottles and wasting plastic.
Do I need a travel visa for Myanmar?
Yes, you do need a visa! Be sure to check visa requirements before you travel to anywhere in Asia.
In fact, all travelers from Western countries require a visa. The countries that have their visas waived are mostly within Southeast Asia (Singapore and Thailand, for example) or East Asia.
To get the Myanmar travel visa, apply online and pay the $50 USD fee at the Myanmar tourist visa website .
How fast is the WiFi in Myanmar?
Myanmar does not have such fast WiFi, when compared with other places we’ve been. Of all the cities, Yangon had the average fastest WiFi by far, and Nyaung Shwe had the slowest, but after all, you’re not traveling all the way to Myanmar for the WiFi! Internet in Nyaung Shwe was around 7 Mbps.
Can you work remotely in Myanmar?
Becca tried working remotely in Myanmar, and the best luck was in Yangon in our hostel lobby. We would not confidently recommend Myanmar as a destination for a fast connection to WiFi in order to get work done. There are also sometimes power outages.
If you do choose to get some work done in Myanmar, keep in mind that the time zone is on the half-hour, as it may affect your appointments or calendars. You can also use our remote work tips .
Is there public WiFi in Myanmar?
There isn’t that much public WiFi in Myanmar. You might find WiFi at a mall in Yangon, but it is still less than common in general.
In the hotels that we visited and the hostels that we stayed at, the fastest WiFi that we saw in the country was 15 Mbps. We had some proximity connection issues throughout our hostels. We were always able to connect when we wanted to, but didn’t feel like it was a place that we could work reliably for an extended period of time.
Is there alcohol in Myanmar?
While Burmese people do not have an extensive bar culture, it is possible to drink in Western-style establishments like dive bars, pubs and rooftop bars throughout Yangon. Many hostels will have their own bar as well.
Myanmar has two local brands of beer, which are Dagon and Myanmar Beer. Depending on the bar, you can get imported beers, imported liquors and imported wine.
We did enjoy a visit to Red Mountain Winery to try Burmese wine, which was a treat (especially with the view).
Cocktails are popular, especially those made with rum. Before you leave Myanmar, try a Mandalay sour, made with Mandalay rum and lime.
How can you eat vegetarian in Myanmar?
Our best luck with vegetarianism was with hostel breakfasts! Usually, a breakfast consisted of eggs, fruit, toast, potatoes and fried rice or fried noodles.
We had great luck in eating vegetarian (or vegan, in Becca’s case) with Indian cuisines, especially when we could express in English that we needed dishes free of butter for lactose intolerance.
While we did not delve into any street food, mostly because we don’t consume too much fried food in general, we found that veggie-friendly Burmese dishes were all of the yummy salads, which are often dressed with chickpeas, peanuts, soy sauce and ginger. You can also typically find egg fried rice or egg fried noodles anywhere.
What is the street food in Myanmar?
As mentioned, street food is pretty oily, greasy and fried in Myanmar. Street food in Yangon had a bit of an Indian vibe, right down to the fried samosas or breads we saw being sold on the street. Some street food was completely new to us as well, but we delighted in seeing Asian pears, tiny mandarins, apples, coconuts and watermelons for sale.
Renting scooters, e-Bikes and motos in Myanmar
Renting motorized bikes and scooters was rather easy in Myanmar, and when renting in Bagan, we weren’t even asked for monetary collateral (this was because the rental shop was across from the hostel and instead asked for our room number — honors system — so that we could be tracked down in a worst case if we did not return the scooter).
Most rentals were by the hour or half day, but can be bargained for. We paid 4000 Kyat for three hours, or less, around 3000 Kyat, for taking an e-Bike out for two hours. You can agree on a return time with the shop owner.
Before setting out on a scooter or moto, make sure you have some practice under your belt, as that’s the safe thing to do. As in the rest of Southeast Asia, the local ‘tattoo’ is surely the battle wounds of a fall.
Want to stay insured in case of injury? Get some travel insurance, with World Nomads or SafetyWing before you go.
Renting bicycles in Myanmar
Most hostels or hotels in Bagan and Inle Lake (outside major cities) will have rental bicycles of their own, and these will likely be for free for a very low cost. While it’s very nice that they come as a perk during your stay, the fact is that these bikes are not of the best quality and don’t enjoy such great up-keeping.
We walked around Nyaung Shwe to try to find a better bike situation, and our first experience was trying old slightly beat-up mountain bikes at a shop near Ostello Bello Hostel .
While the price was going to be super low for our day of biking around the lake, the bikes did not seem sturdy and so we forwent this option.
Renting mountain bikes
Our best bike rental experience was at a shop called KKO Mountain Bike Rental on the main road of Nyaung Shwe (Youne Gyi Road).
Here, we bargained a 6-hour rental for two bikes for a total 10,000 Kyat. This seems steep, considering the cost of other things, but we were able to take out new mountain bikes with gears and breaks working properly and even had the luxury of padded gel seats.
What’s the time zone in Myanmar?
Myanmar uses a unique time zone of GMT+6:30, which is EDT+10.5 hours or EST+11.5 hours for daylight savings time in the US.
Myanmar is 30 minutes behind Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and 1.5 hours behind China, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Having trouble figuring it out? Check out one of our favorite tools for doing the time zone math easily.
Should you buy gems (rubies, sapphires) and gold in Myanmar?
If you spend even a few hours in Yangon, you’ll see that there are many shops and vendors selling gold and precious stones. You’ll also see this in the silversmithing tourist shops of Inle Lake during your boat tour of the lake villages.
There are lots of other great things to do in Yangon. Learn about all of the best things to do in Yangon !
Some of the prices for stones are very affordable by Western standards, but the catch is that you’ll probably never know the grade or class of the stone you’re getting, if it’s a ‘real’ sapphire or ruby (and not glass or a less-precious softer stone) and if the gold or silver is real.
We looked at the gold and stones for fun, but did not buy anything, for this concern mentioned above. If you are serious about buying gold and gems, we suggest doing your research to work with a reputable agent or a verified wholesaler.
Animals (pets, strays, monastery cats) in Myanmar
Stray dogs and cats.
You’ll find lots of dogs and cats all over Myanmar. Be careful, as some dogs and cats might have fleas or ticks and a very select few may be harmful. We noticed a lot of young puppies and kittens and we couldn’t get enough of the cuteness, but decided not to pet them.
Danger of snakes in Myanmar
Myanmar has a lot of snakes and some can be venomous. Be careful when going off-road in Bagan and in other rural areas. Luckily, we didn’t see any, but heard a lot of stories of people getting close to them or seeing snakes in the road. Yikes!
Large insects and bugs
We found some gigantic crickets and cockroaches (some dead, some alive) — like seriously, these were out of Jurassic Park. They’re seemingly harmless, but keep in mind that big bugs exist and you might see a few here and there.
Where to stay in Myanmar
Accommodation ranges from the basic guesthouse to the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel in Yangon. We chose our accommodation to be the middle of the road: new hostels with modern amenities.
In Yangon, Bagan and Inle Lake, there are heaps of places to stay. Interestingly enough, this was not the case even ten years ago in Myanmar, when there was a shortage of accommodations due to the newly-opened tourism in the country.
Hostels in Myanmar
Hostels in Myanmar are a fun and social place to be. We recommend checking ratings and prices on Hostelworld before booking. Some hostels may hike up pricing on weekends or in high season, so if you see a jump in price from one month to the next, that could be why.
What are hostels like in Myanmar?
Hostels had amenities such as WiFi, free included breakfast, hot water (most of the time), helpful 24-hour front desk staff, an “early check-in” room at Baobabed Nyaung Shwe/Inle Lake for guests who arrive in the early hours of the morning from a night bus, daily snack tastings, free flow coffee and tea, pool tables, rooftop pools, a cafe or restaurant and daily happy hour. Hostels in Myanmar are an awesome place to be!
When we hostel, we always opt for a private room, ideally with a private bath for convenience. We find that this is a happy medium between having peace and quiet and the benefit of being able to meet and socialize with other travelers, which is always a great thing to do in a new country where everyone can exchange tips, advice and recommendations.
Cheers! If you’re curious about what to bring and what to expect for a long trip, check out guide for how to prepare for a trip abroad !
Here are some items that made our trip seamless:
- The Priority Pass airport lounge membership helped us relax during our layover in Beijing and before our return flight in the Yangon airport.
- Birkenstock sandals were great for sliding on and off when visiting Buddhist religious sites.
- noise-canceling headphones were crucial for the 13-hour trans-Pacific flight to Beijing.
- Our Cabeau travel pillow let us fall asleep on flights and on night buses — those tiny flat pillows don’t make the cut!
- Travel insurance is valuable if you plan on E-Biking or motorcycling because you never know what can happen.
- The Lonely Planet guidebook (get one on Amazon or Bookshop.org ) was great for reading up on history, culture, language and food of Myanmar.
- Our backpack locks with keys ensured our backpacks were secure during those overnight journeys.
- Our quick-dry towels are small and mighty, and came in handy because they dry pretty fast.
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Ethical Myanmar Travel Guide: What To Know Before You Go
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Thinking of going to Myanmar? You can’t right now. Myanmar is in Crisis. Avoid all Travel to Myanmar.
Military Coup – February 2021
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A country shrouded in constant turmoil, the events of 2021 sent Myanmar back on a dark path.
As of 1st February 2021, Myanmar’s military staged a coup d’etat after the National League for Democracy (NLD) party won the election for the second time. Senior members of the party, including Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, were detained in the capital, Naypyidaw. Tanks are on the streets, and lines of communication across the country are down. Civilians are being murdered every day.
In September 2021, Myanmar’s shadow government called for a “people’s defensive war” against the country’s military.
This is not the time to travel to Myanmar when the country is in a state of emergency with civil unrest and armed conflict.
Other ways to keep up to date on the situation:
- The live news feed on Al Jazeera.
- BBC World News detailed coverage and background to the events.
- On the ground updates can be found on Myanmar News .
This ethical Myanmar travel guide references only former trip insights. I hope one day the people of Myanmar can find peace under democracy once again.
Is it Ethical to Travel to Myanmar?
Prior to the military coup, the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar posed a difficult moral choice about whether it was ethical to visit Myanmar at a time where over half a million Rohingya refugees had to flee the country because of violence.
- The guardian has extensive coverage and articles about the genocide.
Choosing to travel there at this time was, of course, a personal decision since other regions in Myanmar remained separate from this conflict. Still, it is good to be well-informed about the situation, political tensions and the Myanmar government’s actions, which are not reflective of its people overall.
Travel to Myanmar (or travel to Burma, if referring to its former name) is hot on the Southeast Asia travel trail now. Yet, as a country that has only recently opened its doors to tourism over the past decade, travelling here means facing many challenges that you do not necessarily encounter on the same scale as other countries in the region.
Infrastructure is only just beginning to spring into life, and the art of the tourist trade is still in the developing process, yet every second of the long journey times, the energy expended in the daily frustrations. The patience and sign language needed to cross the language barrier is worth it for the rewarding experience you will have travelling in Myanmar.
Be prepared for the different kind of travel you will encounter in Myanmar, and don’t believe the scaremongering about the ridiculous expense and immense difficulties that are putting many people off travelling here.
Myanmar Travel Guide – A Different Way of Travelling in Southeast Asia
The beauty of being in Myanmar is in not knowing what will happen and in the understanding that both you as a traveller, alongside the local people are helping to bring about a new beginning. Tourism in Myanmar is a new lifeline, providing it does not eventually ruin the country, which is a current concern.
Here you will find a comprehensive Myanmar Guide that I pulled together after travelling through the country for one month. A resource which I hope is useful, before you jump headfirst into a place which Kipling described as, “unlike any land you know about”.
Is Myanmar Safe Now?
Right now, ALL TRAVEL TO MYANMAR SHOULD BE AVOIDED.
Before the Military coup , a trip to Myanmar was considered safe with no tourist-related violence having been reported in the known traveller circuit of Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake, Hsipaw, Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay and the Mergui Archipelago.
I never encountered any issues, and the only time I felt a little uncomfortable was when some of us were travelling to a recently opened part of the country. We were clearly under some surveillance (more so at bus checkpoints) being new in town. I never once felt in danger, and nor did I feel in danger despite the curfews in some places.
I was always advised to avoid any protests and demonstrations and be more cautious should there be a military event, celebration or rally. In short, don’t get involved.
Tourists are safe in Myanmar and looked out for
While no foreign office or state departments are placing high warnings or statements suggesting avoiding travel to Myanmar unless necessary, there is updated advice. Since the end of 2017 does show a warning for significant risk of violence in the Rakhine state and the northwestern region of the country.
Like with any political situation, it is wise to stay up to date with developments and the advice of your foreign office in case of a Myanmar travel warning. The UK Foreign Office, for example, advises being more vigilant on the anniversary of the attacks in Rakhine on 25th August 2017.
It is further advised (including the official land border crossings) to avoid the border areas, especially those with Thailand, Laos and China (but also India and Bangladesh). This avoidance is due to drug smuggling activity and military and ethic militia activity where regular armed clashes take place.
Internal conflicts still plague Myanmar, and while many of the areas where these take place are entirely off-limits to tourists without a permit anyway, it is good to stay aware of exactly where you shouldn’t be visiting. Here is an overview of what the UK Foreign Office state in their travel advice:
Burmese people are the most genuine, friendly, warm-hearted and amazingly beautiful people I have ever met.
Not one will turn you away when you need help, and hardly anyone will try to short change you or be cheeky in a transaction.
They are so fascinated by the presence of outsiders, that you can see the sheer excitement on their faces. Smile and say hello, shake hands, hug, exchange e-mail addresses and revel in the great reaction you get back.
You are never without Burmese friends.
The country formally known as Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces. Still, it wasn’t until 1989 that the ruling military junta (that retains majority power today), changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Myanmar vs Burma – is it the same? Politically no. In tourism, yes.
Politically, the name Burma was seen as a relic of the country’s former British colonial past, and Myanmar as more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the country. Other names were also changed, which is why you will see Rangoon now referred to as Yangon.
For tourism, to travel Burma is to travel Myanmar. Same same, as they say in Southeast Asia.
Both Burma and Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground and the world stage. This article breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and the question: does it even matter?
Visas for Myanmar can be obtained online from the official governmental eVisa website and costs $50 (or $56 for an express service).
Flights to Myanmar are the usual option for travellers as the first mode of entry, with regularly scheduled services from Bangkok. But, considering where Myanmar is located – bordered by China to the North and Northeast, Thailand and Laos to the east and India and Bangladesh to its west – there are multiple avenues for land entry. However, not all of them are advised due to safety.
Regardless, you must specify a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes how you will be getting to Myanmar. You will be given a list of options, from which you will need to choose one of the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports :
- Mandalay (located right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Crossing at Land Border Checkpoints :
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the border to northern Thailand)
- Myawaddy (in the Kayin State of southeastern Myanmar on the border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the southernmost part of Myanmar, Tanintharyi Region on the border of the Thai Peninsula and the cluster of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Region of northwestern Myanmar on the border to northeastern India)
- Rih Khaw Dar (a six-hour drive from the border village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India)
In reality, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry”, but it is best to stick to the one you originally stated if possible to prevent any hold up in the processing of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports and Land Border Checkpoints since your exit point does not need to be stated up-front. Additionally, you may leave at the Htikee Land Border Checkpoint, although entry from here is not possible.
While a month of travelling is not possible for everyone if you can make the most of your 28-day visa for a Myanmar trip, do. This country is not one to be seen in a few days or a week, much like you can do the key highlights in the more easily navigable Cambodia and Vietnam. Myanmar is a vast country and travel times are long, plus it takes times to get to grips with how things work here and understanding the people, the culture and the political climate. Spend at least two weeks here if you can – skimming this incredible landscape is an absolute waste.
Best Time to Visit Myanmar
There are typically three seasons in which you can visit Myanmar:
- October to March: Dry, winter season
- March to May: Hot, summer season
- May to October: Wet, rainy season
Taking into account the climate and tourism footfall, I recommend the following seasonal breakdowns.
Downside: Lots of tourists
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather is warm but not stifling, and attracts the most significant number of visitors.
This season, in turn, makes the limited accommodation options tricky to secure and will mean trying to book ahead or face paying out for the more expensive options left over.
Downside: It’s stifling hot
March to May is the time when the temperature rises in Myanmar and impending rains are due. I choose to travel in May, as the monsoon season typically starts in June .
I wanted to arrive just before the rains, where there was a limited number of tourists, and I could walk into a guesthouse and get a room without any problems. The only downside to this time of the year is that it is incredibly hot and I mean disgustingly, sweaty hot.
No matter what time of the year you visit Myanmar, you are rewarded with incredible views.
The Best of Myanmar – Where to Go and Things to Do
You won’t be short on options about where to go in Myanmar, and a traveller path has been lightly trodden. The loop between Yangon and Mandalay is both easily accessible and well established for a good reason, so don’t be put off by those Myanmar destinations listed as tourist spots. What to see in Myanmar depends entirely on your own desired ration of culture and adventure, since the country is filled with everything from city exploration, multi-day hikes, cycling tours and river journeys. And with Myanmar’s location next to the Andaman Sea (and the Bay of Bengal), beach time and diving are also on the list.
Carve your path.
While no longer the capital of Myanmar, Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is not short on sights. A city of British colonial architecture and modern developments mixed with the gleaming Buddhist temples and pagodas, you might be surprised how long you want to stay. Highlights include the Shwedagon Pagoda, the colonial-era Kandawgyi Lake, the Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple showcasing one of the country’s largest reclining Buddha statues.
READ MORE: Riding the Yangon Circular Train in Myanmar
Bagan is a city filled with over 2,000 temples built between the 9th and 13th centuries. Hire a bike for the day and visit as many as you can, and clamber temple heights for sunrise and sunset. Many travellers stay for two days to cover the temple grounds and have adequate rest from doing so in the heat.
READ MORE: Exploring Bagan – The Vast Temple Town of Myanmar
The second largest lake in Myanmar is located in the northern Shan State and is a vast basin, snaking off into tiny canals with small hand-built dams and floating gardens. People come here to see the fisherman using traditional fisherman methods, by operating the oar using one leg.
READ MORE: Reflections on Inle Lake: Myanmar’s Biggest Tourist Attraction
Hsipaw is known for its hiking trails, where I took on a three-day trek through this rural region of Myanmar towards Kalaw. Following that, the three-hour train journey from Hsipaw to the former colonial summer hideaway of Pyin Oo Lwin, across the Goteik Viaduct is a heart-racing journey and an unforgettable experience in Myanmar.
READ MORE: Riding the Highest Railway Bridge in Myanmar – Crossing The Goteik Viaduct
A bustling, dusty city in a river valley landscape surrounded by mountainous plains and rice paddy fields, Mandalay is a perfect combination of city exploration and countryside adventure.
READ MORE: Cycling in Mandalay – Finding Kipling’s Rural Myanmar
For those looking to get off the well-established Bagan – Inle Lake – Yangon golden triangle, consider the long journey to Mrauk U in the western Rakhine State to see untouched temples and learn about the tattooed women of the Chin tribal village.
READ MORE: Mrauk U Myanmar – The Temples & Tribal Tattooed Women of Western Myanmar
This Archipelago, off the far south coast of the long peninsula mainland of Myanmar, has hundreds of islands. While many come here for pristine beaches, its coral reefs attract divers to the region because it is unspoilt. The Archipelago used to require a government permit for a visit, but do double-check which areas are now open and which may still be subject to permission.
Myanmar is not short on temples
Yup, the Southeast Asia fatigue strikes again. In Myanmar, a temple is going to greet you on every corner, or more specifically here, a golden stupa/pagoda/pyre. While beautiful, it can be lethargic stumbling upon too many as they look similar bar slight differences in height and decoration. If limiting your pagoda hopping (locals tend to love showing off the pagodas in their towns if showing you around), make a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and the unique temples complexes of Bagan, your absolute must-sees from the bunch.
Money in Myanmar – Currency Exchange and ATM’s
The need to have crisp, un-creased, unmarked, brand new US dollar bills for Myanmar remains. Since the vast majority of people fly into Myanmar from Bangkok, this seems to be a popular place to get hold of the bills. I changed my money at a currency exchanger called SuperRich in Silom, and the whole process took around an hour. If you have time, withdraw all your cash in Thai Baht, as using your card to get dollars means having to pay a 2.5% commission/ fee on top, compared to the 150 baht (approximately £3) standard ATM withdrawal fee.
When exchanging in hard cash, there is a small fee for every $10, but this still works out cheaper than the ATM and using your card fee.
You can exchange your dollars into Myanmar Kyat when you get to your hotel or guesthouse, in a local bank or at the airport – the latter not always being not as good a rate as the others. Refrain from using the money exchangers on the street who try to lure you with higher rates – it’s known that they cleverly short change you (which is easy as you get a LOT of Kyat notes for minimal Dollars). Unless you are willing to count your money three times, then it’s not worth the hassle.
The stories are real – Myanmar is equipped with a sporadic scattering of ATMs . Dishing out kyat, there are ATMs at the airports, and I found a handful of ATM’s in Yangon (including at the most famous spot in town – the Shwedagon Paya) and Mandalay city centres, as well as in Nyaung U in Bagan.
However, there are ATM fees, where you are likely to be charged a small fee of around $5 for the privilege of each withdrawal.
You might find ATM’s in the smaller towns in Myanmar, but don’t leave it this late to stock up on cash, just in case. It has been known for ATMs to stop working or run out of money in more remote areas.
Typically, dollars are used for paying for your accommodation in Myanmar and some forms of transport, such as internal flights. Everything else from food, street snacks, tuk-tuks and guides are paid for in kyat.
Should you find yourself low on dollars, most locals are happy to accept kyat instead. Still, you will be paying more – while the current exchange rate is approximately 1450 kyat to the dollar, many will round your dollar up to say 1,500 kyat.
When I was travelling, the exchange rate was around 800-900 kyat to the dollar, and they rounded the conversion to 1 dollar = 1,000 kyat. So, when a room for the night was $25, they typically asked for 25,000 kyat, rather than working to an official exchange rate. I was losing a small chunk each time.
As it currently stands, ’rounding up’ with the current exchange rate means you won’t be losing too much.
A Myanmar trip can be a budget one. On average, I spent between $30-$40 a day in Myanmar , including the cost of my accommodation and transport. I ate street-food where I could find it or ate at local restaurants.
The average cost of a budget hotel room in Myanmar is $25 and a dorm bed around $10.
Food and drink in Myanmar can fall within a reasonable $10 per day budget. A beer will set you back $2.
Internal flights will be your most expensive purchase, with prices from $100+.
Myanmar is expensive only if you choose to travel that way. For example, if you decide to stay in top-end places and eat at costly establishments (which are typically military / government-owned) not only are you spending more, but your money is not spent wisely. See the ‘Responsible Travel’ section below.
Being aware of your money and how much you are spending will ensure that you pay the same amount here as you would in any other part of Southeast Asia.
READ MORE: How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Myanmar?
If you are a luxury traveller wanting to stay in and dine at the top end, government-owned hotels, then you will not be travelling responsibly in Myanmar. Each to their own, but if you travel irresponsibly here, then you probably should not be coming at all.
Traveling Myanmar means contributing to the wave of significant change here. With locals given more rights to trade privately, we must support them rather than line the pockets of the corrupt and controlling system. While your guesthouses will not always be the cleanest or most comfortable, or your food the most delectable, remember one thing – local support is the greatest thing you can give during this exciting stage of development in Myanmar. For many, it will be time to embrace a new way of travelling.
I choose to eat and drink at local establishments and bought items from local markets and street vendors. Not only did I feel I was giving something to those who deserved it most, but it was also the ideal opportunity to meet and get to know the local people, which in itself forms one of the most incredible memories of travelling in Myanmar.
Responsible travel in Myanmar means putting your money straight into the hands of the local people.
Choosing Accommodation in Myanmar
More or less every single traveller carries a Myanmar Lonely Planet (last updated in 2018). Whether you are a fan or not, this book has been thoroughly researched and is the only time I have entirely relied on it as a bible rather than a reference point. However, given the regular increase in tourism which local businesses have capitalised on, prices have risen from those printed. All accommodation and eatery options have been researched to provide travellers with a comprehensive list of places that are not government-owned.
Hostels are not as far and wide in Myanmar, although the big cities certainly have some options to choose from now.
Hostelworld now also lists a variety of hostels or similar style properties in Yangon , Bagan , Mandalay and Kalaw .
In the more remote regions where I travelled, which were not listed anywhere, I relied on the knowledge of locals or the tuk-tuk driver who ended up taking us to the only place in town which held a ‘foreigner license’.
If you can, try to pair up with another traveller to cut costs – many guesthouses have double rooms, triples and dorms.
How to Travel in Myanmar – Transport Options
Internal Myanmar travel is cheap and slow, but in the long run, effective.
The Myanmar bus is legendary in its own right. Buses are EVERYWHERE and will be the main form of transport you take to get you to almost any part of the country (where tourists are permitted). It is the most budget option, and I paid between 5,000 Kyat to 30,000 Kyat / $3 – USD 20 for a single ticket.
Your guesthouse can help you book your ticket in advance, and usually with the most trusted and decent company in that area. However, they may charge an extra couple of dollars as a form of the admin fee.
You can also take a chance and turn up at the local station to buy your ticket there. I only did this when my hostel had a better idea of schedules or called ahead and knew there would be adequate space. Since some bus stations are outside of the centre of a town or city, it doesn’t make sense to pay the price of an expensive taxi, only to have to haggle and get back again.
Some bus tickets now include a pick up from your accommodation. Double-check if that is the case.
Bus journeys in Myanmar are incredibly long, sometimes averaging 10-12 hours.
Comfort is not a factor. Myanmar’s buses do not have toilets on board (even the ‘luxury’ offerings), and air vents pump out wildly freezing temperatures . Make the toilet stop before you get on (although once in a real emergency my travel buddy did beg the driver to stop) and bring more than one layer with you.
Get used to the Myanmar Buses. You will be using them a lot.
Night buses are not sleeper buses , even though these are the buses that bring you to your destination around 3 or 4 am. What’s more, some still play their funky local music CDs and cheesy music videos until the early hours of the morning. Pack your iPod, invest in some heavy-duty extreme earplugs or kindly ask for what was once amusing entertainment, now noise pollution, to be turned off.
Never ask a driver about the time of arrival . Due to superstitions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will arrive at a destination conjures up bad spirits and is taken seriously. The result? You won’t get an answer.
A comprehensive guide to Myanmar’s buses can be found here .
Unless necessary, avoid taking a taxi in Myanmar since it can be a wallet-draining experience. There are no metres or set prices, and you will spend a lot of time haggling a fee rather than getting to your destination on time.
The only time you need a taxi is to and from an airport , where you have to suck up the extra budget and know you are being ripped off.
The only time a taxi can cost-effective and useful is if you hire a driver for a half or full day. We did this in Yangon to get around some main sites, and the price can average from between $20 – USD 30
However, with traffic gridlock in cities or smaller towns being compact, getting around by foot is usually the best and quickest option.
Prepare for the unexpected. When my night bus to Bagan arrived in the very early hours of the morning, my only option to get to my hotel was via horse and cart. There is still a haggling process to be had (not helpful when you are sleepy), but since this is the main form of tourist transport here, it is only natural that they are waiting for new bus arrivals.
Transport in Bagan, the traditional way
Hard to Reach Places in Myanmar
Not every destination on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration.
The far northern, mountainous area of Myanmar, alongside the western Chin State and the far reaches of the southern Mon State and Tenasserim region are generally off-limits to tourists unless you have applied for a government visa in advance.
Applying for a government visa in Myanmar usually has to be completed ahead of time, and can take months. It can also be costly since particular permits are not so commonplace yet. I have heard of some people applying for a government visa at the local bureau or via a tourism agency, and it was processed and granted quickly. It can often come down to being lucky or depending on the particular area of Myanmar you wish to visit.
However, a few other travellers and I managed to get all the way south to Dawei and Myeik in the far south without a permit as we heard while in Mawlamyine that it had been open for a couple of months. It took days of long, arduous travel to get from place to place but it was a pleasure to visit areas that had never seen much tourism footfall, but which too deserved a slice of the tourism dollars.
The only downside was that restrictions were still enforced in each area where we were faced with a 7 pm curfew in Dawei and couldn’t go out on a boat in Myeik (which is known for its Archipelago of islands).
The restrictions mostly come down to the issue of safety for tourists, which locals have expressed is an absolute concern (for example, there is little in the way of insurance for the boats). However, our gut instinct was that we were also being watched a little .
Not everyone wants to travel solo, and with Myanmar being a little more tricky to navigate and less-trodden than the typical Southeast Asia circuit of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, you may want to consider joining a small group tour. A small group, two-week Myanmar tour with G Adventures takes you in a loop between Mandalay and Yangon, covering all the major highlights of the country along the way. *Currently this trip is not running*
This trip includes riding local slow trains, taking scenic boat trips and embarking on a hill-tribe trek. The cost of this trip includes accommodation, some meals, and all transportation between each destination, including the internal flight.
So not only do you get to visit the very best of Myanmar, knowing that your money is being spent at local businesses and social projects, but you’ll have other travellers to enjoy it with.
You may read that it’s important not to start political discussions while travelling in Myanmar unless they are introduced into the conversation first. While this is true, the name ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’ passes the lips of a local before you know it and in public too. Politics is no longer limited to extremely private discussions (maybe the more heated ones are). A Burmese friend privately told me that it is OK to speak out against a situation or a person if you can back up your story. I am not sure how true this is, or she is just a rebel.
I was told stories by Chinese and Indians who, although born in Myanmar, are unable to visit the land where their grandfathers and great-grandfathers come from. The government has made it difficult and expensive to obtain and visa/permit and a passport. I’ve heard terms of ‘stupid’ and ‘greedy’ used concerning the government and all without me asking.
The Burmese are always eagerly awaiting more remarkable changes and wanted us to share with them what people in our country thought about Myanmar. As one of the first Myanmar travel blogs there on the ground, things were a little different back then as locals eagerly awaited a change in the form of Aung San Suu Kyi’s Democratic Party one day being elected, and her position of power being more cemented. Locals were all too keen to know what you thought and how much you knew, pointing out ‘The Lady’ and her father out on posters, book and newspapers. My limited conversation was always along the lines of:
“Aung San Suu Kyi. You know?”
“Yes. You love Aung San Suu Kyi. We love Aung San Suu Kyi.”
However, with recent political events, the topic of Aung San Suu Kyi and her policies might once again be the subject of very sensitive discussion. Since the Rohingya Crisis, hope has faded; Aung San Suu Kyi’s respect on the world stage was stripped, and her work at resolving this crisis seen as non-existent.
This detailed article from the New Yorker provides an interesting overview of ‘What happened to Myanmar’s Human-Rights Icon?”
Learning Burmese is Helpful, Not Essential
I always stand by my word that whether you are great at picking up languages or not, the two most important words you should always learn are hello and thank you. Travelling to Myanmar is just the same and understanding these basic phrases certainly makes interaction with local Burmese people more special. Anything else you learn along the way is a bonus.
The two most important phrases you need in Myanmar are:
Thank you: Jay-zu-de-bar-dee
Not only is it polite, but it is well received. Be prepared for most locals to giggle in response – they are not mocking you; they are just not expecting it.
While English is common in Myanmar, mainly in big cities, there will be endless amounts of situations where you will find that it’s not spoken at all. Now is your chance to bring out your hidden miming skills. My best mine, after failing to find a toilet by showing a piece of toilet paper, was to act out a squatting motion. Embarrassing as it was, it did the trick as well an inciting a few giggles from the locals. I also find wordless picture books handy in these situations too!
The internet in Myanmar is either non-existent or a sign proclaiming ‘wifi’ or ‘internet café’ is like stumbling upon the gold pot at the end of the rainbow and finding it empty. It will either not work or be slow. I found this more difficult, as a writer, but if you can, try to suck up the loss of fast, reliable and consistent communication with the outside world.
In Southeast Asia, bartering is a given; a game that is often expected and enjoyed. Shopping in Myanmar will seem very different since bartering is almost unheard of. You can rarely negotiate your room rate (i.e. discount for more than one person), and I’ve had several looks of utter bewilderment in markets when I have lowered the price to start bartering. Unless the price is ridiculous, take it for what it is – you are helping out a local after all.
Good luck haggling in Myanmar!
Unusual Things About Myanmar
It’s those little cultural nuances that can make a place so fascinating, or which we could initially take offence to if we don’t know their meaning. Myanmar is no exception to such sights and encounters.
WHAT time is it in Myanmar? Why is there a 30-minute difference? Myanmar Standard Time is a little different. You see, while the rest of the world is plus or minus time ON the hour, Myanmar does it differently with half-hour time zones.
So don’t be baffled when you hear that Myanmar is 6.5 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and that the country does not also observe daylight savings time. No clocks changes here.
The kissing noise in Myanmar is in no way a derogatory sound aimed at you, but the Burmese way of calling attention. It’s fascinating, and you realise, when trying to practice yourself (yes, I did), that you can’t quite do it as loudly and precisely as them.
The majority of Burmese locals chew on leaves containing a mixture of tobacco and betel nut which turns their mouth and teeth red. They are neither bleeding nor spitting out blood.
Part of this snacking process involves the regular need to spit out the juices – anywhere and everywhere – so dodge the red spit showers and don’t scour in disgust. This cultural trait emerges on all Myanmar trips. While pavements and walls are stained with it, you don’t want to be.
Any plagiarism of this Myanmar travel blog or travel any of its descriptions used on other sites and blogs without attribution is not information authorised by myself for use. Know your source.
Becki Enright is a British Travel Press Award-winning writer whose work focuses on changing perceptions about misunderstood aspects of destinations. Her writing combines storytelling with insight into the social, historical, political and economic factors that shape the country or place in relation to tourism. Becki has appeared live on Sky News and CNN and has contributed to high profile media including National Geographic, Time.com, Guardian online, New York Times, Grazia and Buzzfeed.
11 December 2019 at 5:23 am
Did you do the Bagan Balloon ride?
11 December 2019 at 4:26 pm
Sadly not, as I was on more of a budget then. However, I have friends who did it and had a wonderful time.
31 July 2019 at 10:38 am
Marcy: Getting sick when someone is spitting out smth that looks like blood is a completley normal human reaction and nothing that is in one’s control (just like getting anxious when having blood drawn). Some can just switch it off better than others and I couldn’t, so being in large crowds really wasn’t nice (imagine feeling sick ALL the time).
Also, it is completley alright to travel somewhere and realize that for oneself it is not the best place to be. If I had known how sick it made me I wouldn’t have gone there, I only know now- as it is the only way of knowing it. That has nothing to do with open-mindedness: I had no problem with anything else – getting sick is a bodily reaction out of my control. Oh, and it is not just a habit, but a huge problem there – oral cavity cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer in Myanmar.
8 August 2019 at 8:48 pm
I agree that betel chewing is a problem in Myanmar, even the government there acknowledges it. I myself dislike it intensely. However, if you can overlook (and overstep) this minor cultural trait – not everybody does it, Myanmar is a wonderful country and the people are one of the friendliest in the world.
30 July 2019 at 8:18 am
We came back from Myanmar two weeks ago – and wow I wish I knew how bad the betel spitting was … it made me sick to the stomach! It is the most disgusting thing and it is literally everywhere…I jst wanted to get away from the humans and out into nature…for the trekking tour to inle lake we even asked for someone who does not chew on that stuff as I just couldn’t get used to it..the smell, the looks of it…partially ruined the experience for me…
30 July 2019 at 8:21 am
It’s quite the thing to get used to, for sure. Such are cultural traits though – what we find untoward is normal elsewhere. Dodging it on the street is hard though.
31 July 2019 at 7:29 am
Jeannine: if you are not open minded enough to accept other cultures habits, dont travel, stay in your country and your own comfort. The world doesn’t need your judgement.
16 May 2019 at 3:46 am
Thanks for sharing Becki! Many useful and practical tips for visiting Myanmar.
Agree with the safety situation as well about avoiding Rakhine state as well as land borders (more specifically areas bordering China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh and India).
If this helps fellow travellers, do also watch out for shoe guardian scams. E.g. you take off your shoes before entering a temple. After coming out, a stall vendor holds your shoes hostage, claiming to have looked after it while you were away and that you have to buy something from him to get it back. One way to prevent this is to bring a plastic bag along to carry your shoes in.
16 May 2019 at 8:11 am
Good tip, although I recommend carrying a reusable tote/cotton bags to avoid using plastic, that only ends up in landfill.
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Myanmar Itinerary: A Travel Guide from Temples to Beaches
Myanmar (Burma) opened its borders in 2012 and revealed an Asian country in its purest form. Every single local gives his/her best smile; there’s no other country where you will feel more welcome than Myanmar . The country is huge, bigger than Thailand , but is a little hard to get around, so it is recommended to at least take 2 weeks to see all the highlights. Discover the perfect 3-week Myanmar Travel Guide to see all the highlights in the country.
Myanmar 3-week Itinerary
There are so many things to do in Myanmar that a 3-week trip would be the ideal amount of time to fully experience the country. Myanmar is full of highlights like the temples in Bagan , the floating villages of Inle Lake , and one of Asia’s most beautiful beaches . Discover all the best things to do in this complete Myanmar travel guide.
Please keep in mind that traveling through Myanmar is incredible but slow. This Myanmar Travel Guide includes some extra time, which is meant for travel days.
Day 1 – 2: Experience Yangon (Rangoon)
Myanmar’s largest city, the most developed and former capital, Yangon, is the perfect place to start your trip. Flying here is the cheapest option. Visit one of the city’s highlights named Shwedagon Pagoda, or have a great local food experience at one of the many great restaurants.
Join a sightseeing tour in Yangon
Day 3 – 6: Limestone Mountains and Rice Fields in Hpa An
Hpa An is off the usual Myanmar travel guide and, sadly, often skipped by travelers. Do a hike to the top of a limestone mountain, explore caves or the beautiful lush rice paddies. Getting from Yangon to Hpa An takes about 8 hours (with Mi Ba Gone Express) but is 100% worth the trip.
Read about : Hpa-An, little-hidden Treasure of Myanmar
Where to Stay in Hpa An
Hpa-An is still new to tourism and offers only a small selection of hotels, with most found on Agoda.com.
Here are all your hotel options in Hpa An.
Day 7 – 10: Hot Air Balloons & Endless Pagodas in Bagan
Bagan is one of those places that will make your travel heart go faster. Get up in the early morning to experience one of the best sunrises in your life, looking out over the 2200+ temples while hot air balloons float in between. These are the best temples in Bagan to visit.
Read more: Ultimate Travel Guide to Bagan
Getting to Bagan from Hpa An
Getting from Hpa An to Bagan takes about 10 hours (again, 100% worth the ride). The roads are new, and if you use the JJ Express Bus from Yangon to Bagan, it’s as comfortable as it can be. Flying is also possible but will take a big scoop out of your Myanmar budget as a 1-hour flight is about 100 USD.
Where to Stay in Bagan
There are 3 main villages in Bagan: Nyaung-U, Old Bagan, and New Bagan. They all surround the temple area, with Old Bagan being the closest, and make a great place to stay for a few nights.
Hotels in Bagan 😴
Day 11 – 12: Beautiful Temples in Mandalay
From Bagan, move to Mandalay to visit the second largest city of Myanmar. This city is all about sightseeing, with some of the most beautiful temples in the country! Bagan to Mandalay is a 4-hour drive. This is the city where there is a visible difference in wealth; you’ll quickly notice this when you pass the outskirts of Mandalay.
Browse bus times and tickets to Mandalay online
Rubbish in Myanmar is a big problem. The majority of people throw everything on the street simply because they don’t know better. Kids are getting educated about this problem, but this is going to take a generation or two.
Read about: Things to do in Mandalay
Where to Stay in Mandalay
Mandalay offers accommodations for every kind of budget, from comfortable hotels in the center of the region to great hostels perfect for meeting other travelers.
Hotels in Mandalay 😴
Day 13 – 15: Back in time on Inle Lake
Here, villages stand on the lake, completely made of wood and bamboo. See how the local people work in the floating gardens or on their fishing boats. Besides the lake, it is also great to bike in and around the nearby ‘backpacker’ town. Mandalay to Inle Lake is a 6-hour drive.
Read about: Things to do at Inle Lake
Where to Stay at Inle Lake
When you are planning a visit to Inle Lake, there are two areas where you can stay. Most of the travelers stay in Nyuang-Shwe town, which is about 5 km from Inle Lake. You can also stay on Inle Lake, which is more expensive than staying in town.
Hotels in Inle Lake 😴
Day 16 – 19: Relax at Ngapali
From Inle Lake, take the airplane (~$100 USD) from Heho Airport to one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia, Ngapali Beach . Fully relax at the beach from all the traveling of the last two weeks.
The route would have been easier to fly from Bagan, but direct flights from Bagan to Ngapali weren’t available at the time of writing this.
Read more: Ngapali Beach, One of Asia’s Most Beautiful Beaches
Where to Stay in Ngapali
As it’s such a beautiful location, hotels and guesthouses in Ngapali are not the cheapest in Myanmar. Guesthouses are anywhere from $15 to $30 per night, and luxury hotels range from $100 to $250 a night.
Hotels in Ngapali 😴
Day 20 – 21: Yangon (Rangoon)
On the day before leaving, fly back to Yangon and treat yourself a little with a fine dinner at LinkAge Restaurant or Rangoon Tea House.
Myanmar Travel Guide: Off the Beaten Path
If you are a fast traveler or just have more time available, there are a few more places you could add to your trip:
- Kalaw (3-day hike to Inle Lake)
- Mrauk-u (mini Bagan)
- Hsipaw (famous for the train ride crossing Gokteik Viaduct)
Is Myanmar Safe?
Yes, Myanmar is safe to travel. The question is, is it ok to travel in a country with such a bad human rights history? The answer is probably no, but why do we travel to countries where this history goes a little further (and probably forgotten), like China or Israel?
Our personal feeling is that we have to support the local people who benefit from our visit. Try to spend your money at local businesses so those people will stay positive and can live their normal daily lives. We haven’t felt unsafe for a single second! We shouldn’t forget that the locals and government are not the same people.
Recommendation: Check with your local authorities about the latest developments.
Best Time to visit Myanmar
The best time to visit Myanmar (Burma) is during the winter, which runs from November to February. The nights can get quite cool (10 degrees) whereas the daytime is dry and a comfortable 28 degrees.
You need a Myanmar visa to be allowed into the country. Visa on Arrival is not available in Myanmar, but getting a Visa Online is not difficult at all. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months before traveling.
Online Visa Myanmar
Your only option is to apply for a Myanmar visa online. Apply at least three days before your arrival. Usually, the application is approved within a few hours, and you will receive your ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) in your email. A 28-day visa will cost you 50 USD and can only be paid by credit card.
Order your Visa for Myanmar online
Myanmar Travel Guide: Budget
The Myanmar currency is Kyat. One dollar is about 1350 Kyat. You have to budget about 1000 USD for this 3-week Myanmar Route. A balloon flight in Bagan is not included.
Costs of Traveling in Myanmar
Travel on a budget in Myanmar, from $130 − $210 USD weekly per person, mid-range $210 − $620 USD, and high-end from $610 − $940 USD. However, costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. We did not include flights. Check flight prices here
- Hotels: $10 − $60 USD Check available hotels
- Hostels: $5 − $20 USD Check available hostels
- Transport: $5 − $10 USD Book public transport
- Car Rental: $20 − $50 USD Book a rental car
- Food: $3 − $10 USD
- Activities: $2 − $5 USD See tickets & tours
- Sim: $1 − $3 USD Get an eSIM or SIM here
- Travel Insurance: $2 − $6 USD Get Travel Insurance
Costs of transportation
Getting around in Myanmar is well-arranged, but it takes quite a long while to get to your destination. A luxury 9-hour bus ‘JJ Express’ ride (620 km) costs about 12 USD.
Flying the same distance costs about 110 USD per flight.
Sim card in Myanmar
Most of the restaurants in Myanmar don’t have WiFi. The same goes for most of the hotels and guesthouses, often lacking good WiFi. If you want to stay connected, we recommend you get a Telenor SIM card. The card costs $1, and a top-up of 2.5GB is only $3.
When you purchase something through our links we earn a small fee. However, you still pay the same. Win-win!
- Find Hotels via Booking.com
- Find a Rental Car via Sunny Cars
- Find Flights to Myanmar via Skyscanner
- Get a Travel Insurance via Heymondo
- Book Tours & Attractions via Viator
- Book a Bus/Train/Transfer via 12Go
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Hpa-An, little hidden Treasure of Myanmar
9 Things to do in Mandalay, Myanmar
Looking for more travel information? Plan a chat with us for personalised travel advice or get an answer from the Salt in our Hair Travel Community on Facebook.
Great post!! I absolutely loved reading your blog, pretty much everything I was asking about travelling to Myanmar are all answered here :) Definitely keeping hold of this for when I end up going there
yay so glad you found the answers to everything you needed ? Hopefully you’ll get to go soon, or at least start planning ?
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