Myanmar Travel Tips
Tourists from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are not obliged to hold a visa. The eVisa system has been put into practice since September 2014. An e-visa is allows tourists to stay for 28 days to 70 days. Tourists may also enter Myanmar with a visa on arrival.
The currency in Myanmar is Kyat (K) and tourists can exchange the local currency in the banks at airports. Currency exchange is not available in banks at weekends, but tourists can do it in money changers, which open from 8am to 9:30pm with better exchange rate than banks. Tourists can either pay by U.S. dollar or Kyat in common cases. Hotels and tourist attractions prefer brand new U.S. dollars without any crease or scrawl, while car rental shops, stores, and restaurants tend to receive Kyat.
Credit cards are not universalized in the country so few hotels accept payment by credit card with an extra 7% charge. Tipping is not obligatory while it is a custom to pay 5% as the consumption tax or 10% for the service.
In general, the consumption level is relatively low. A bottle of water (1L) is about 180 to 400 Kyats and the price of the best restaurant in Mandalay is about 30,000 Kyats.
Accommodation can be quite a large part owing to its high price. A double room in a common guesthouse costs about 30 to 60 U.S. dollars and a five star hotel like Araum Hotel requires about 150 to 400 U.S. Dollars with various facilities such as garden and swimming pool.
Due to the diversity of ethnic groups in the country, its cuisines appear to be diverse, especially under the influence of Shans, Chinese and Indian food.
Tourists never want to miss the top ten foods in the country: fermented tea salad, which is hailed as the national dish, rice in Shan style, Myanmar curry, nangyi thoke, moun, fried snacks, hto-hpu nwe, seafood rice noodles, Shan noodles, and food in tea houses. Besides, Myanmar rice dumplings are famous which are made of glutinous rice, and adopt bananas and coconut as the stuffing.
The buffet in Golden Myanmar II of Bagan is recommended. The cost is about 3,000 Kyats per person, without limitations of supply. Shan food and grilled fish around Inle Lake are worth tasting, especially grilled fish in Amazing Hotel which charges about 1,200 Kyats. Karaweik Palace in Yangon offers buffet along with performances, charging 15 U.S dollars per person, but the types of food are limited.
Myanmar is well-known for its jewelries and jades with superior quality and tourists can purchase the products in any traditional market or shopping mall. Woodcarving handicrafts made of teakwood, dark wood and rosewood are favorable souvenirs. Lacquer wares with various styles and exquisite workmanship are unique artistic works. Thanakha is made from ground thanakha branches, and local people mix it with water and apply it on face. It is said to be effective for moisturizing skin and blocking the sun and it is about 500 Kyats a bottle. Cigar is one of the presents with local features. Spices such as palm sugar, lilac, cinnamon and tamarind are mixed into the tobacco leaves, and the cigarette is wrapped by paper made of leaves without synthetic agents. In addition, unique clothes and sand painting replete with local characteristics are good choices.
The water-splashing festival with a history of 700 years can be counted as the grandest festival. It is celebrated in the middle of April and lasts 4 days. In this period, people splash water to each other. The wetter one gets, the happier he or she is, for water stands for blessing.
In the last ten days of April, followers of Buddhism water the banyans, which are regarded as the incarnation of the Buddha. This festival intends to disseminate Buddhism.
Shwedagon Pagoda Festival
This festival is held between February and March and is also the most important and grandest Buddhist festival. Monks will chant and worship, temples may provide visitors with free fruits and vegetarian meals while locals come to worship, present a bouquet, light the lanterns and make a donation.
Do's and Don'ts
Tourists had better take off shoes and socks before entering temples and pagodas. Women should dress properly because those who are scantily clad are prohibited by temples. Tourists should hold a sincere respect towards monks and give alms with both hands. Besides, Burmese deem oxen as sacred animals, so pedestrians and vehicles should make a way for oxen in the market.
The left hand is considered filthy so eating with the left hand is impolite. Money is also supposed to be passed by the right hand. For the high status of monks, tourists should never sit higher than a monk nor take alcohol to temples. Besides, it is unfavorable for a man and a woman to hold hands in the street. Don't talk about politics with local people and don't touch anyone's head.
The voltage is 220V-230V. Most plugs are with double round pins, and some are with three flat pins or round pins, so adapters may be necessary.
Internet and Telephone
Myanmar provides tourists with cheap SIM cards with the function of surfing the internet and the commonly seen operators include MPT, OOREDOO and TELENOR. The price of MPT card is 2,500 Kyats with the best signal that covers the whole country. The other two can only be used in Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw with a cost of 1,500 kyats. Tourists should show passport photocopy when buying the cards. Besides, a majority of hotels provide paid calling services. Generally speaking, calling within the country is about 50 Kyats per minute and international call costs about 3,000 Kyats per minute.
A lot of restaurants and hotels provide free wifi, but the internet speed is slow.
Calling code: +0095
Emergency medical aid: 192
Things to Do in Myanmar Myanmar Transportation