Top tips and handy hints for travel in Myanmar

Zoe Tucker

Myanmar, still widely known as Burma, is located within South East Asia. Unlike neighbouring countries: India, Thailand and Laos, Myanmar is not (yet) part of the well explored and trodden trail. Tourists have only been able to visit Myanmar in the last 5 years, making this mysterious country a desirable destination to visit. We have put together some of our top travel tips and advice to help you make the most out of your authentic adventure to these undiscovered lands. Please also see our helpful Guide and Travel Advice for more information.

When should I go?

You can travel to Myanmar anytime, but similarly to other parts of South East Asia, Myanmar has three main seasons. The monsoon season greets the country towards the end of May and carries right on through until the end of September. Southern Myanmar is mainly affected by this type of weather and you can expect humid mornings and heavy downpours in the afternoon and evenings. The rest of the country is noticeably drier in particular central areas such as Bagan and Mandalay. October through to March offers gentle temperatures, sunny days and little to no rainfall, making it our recommended time to travel. As it’s a popular time to visit, make sure to book in advance to avoid any disappointment as accommodation fills up quickly during this period. Temperatures rise to around 35 degrees from March to May, just ahead of the forthcoming monsoon season.

 

SS Myanmar u bein bridge dupe

Visa Information and Passport requirements

Make sure you check the validity of your passport in the planning stages of your trip, as you’ll need to make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from your intended return date. Not only is this to be able to enter the country, but also to apply for a visa. UK citizens require a visa to enter Myanmar and there are two ways in which you can obtain one.

Visa option 1

Arrange the visa three months in advance of your arrival through the Myanmar Embassy located in London. Please click through to the embassy’s website here, for up to date and accurate information about ways in which you can apply for your visa and processing times. A single entry visa that lasts 28 days will cost you $25.

Visa option 2

Use the new online eVisa service that was introduced in September 2014 to replace the previous visa-on-arrival service. This option is pricier than obtaining a visa through the embassy and will cost you $50. This service is only available for arrivals into Mandalay, Yangon and Naypyidaw International Airports. At present you are unable to use this service if you are arriving into Myanmar overland. You can obtain an eVisa via the following link: http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/

Money Matters

The Burmese Kyat, pronounced chat, is the national currency of Myanmar. It only comes in note format and is abbreviated as ‘K’ or ‘MMK’. It is better to take cash with you to Myanmar to exchange, as although ATM’s are more available in most large cities and international airports, they are often unreliable. The US Dollar is widely used as an alternative currency, and we recommend taking US Dollars with you instead of Stirling as you will get a better exchange rate when you are in Myanmar. It is very important you take a variety of note denomination (with plenty of $1 and $5 for tipping) and that they are in PERFECT CONDITION! Any notes with blemishes, rips, marks or folds will not be exchanged. Traveller’s cheques are not generally accepted in Myanmar.

Travel Responsibly

We recommend consulting the FCO Foreign Travel Advice website for up to date information about travelling to Myanmar. Burmese people are friendly, welcoming and kind. It is important that you familiarise yourself with the local customs so as not to accidentally insult any local laws, traditions or religions. If, when you travel to Myanmar, you feel you want to give back to the country in some way, the best way to ensure your money reaches the local people, is to support the local communities. You can do this by tipping your guide (if you feel you have had a good service) and by purchasing local products. We also recommend eating where the locals eat, because not only will you be putting your money directly into the pockets of a local family, you will most likely encounter the best meals of your holiday!

Inspiration

Due to many places in Myanmar still being off limits to tourists, it does mean you have some limitations to where you can travel to. We have put together our own Burma - The Golden Land holiday that suggests an authentic journey that enables you to experience the unique wonders that Myanmar has to offer.

 

**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**