Myanmar Expert Travel and Tours : Travel Tips

Currency and credit cards

The local currency is the Kyat (Pronounce “Chat”). Current exchange rate is around Kyats 850 for USD 1. The notes in circulation are Kyats 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10000.
Money changer counters are located at the International Airport, Scott Market (close on Mondays) and few other ones in the city center.
Banks have recently installed ATM machines but not available for International Credit Cards. Only few hotels accept payment by credit cards.
Make sure to bring enough cash in Myanmar. USD notes should be in perfect condition. Please make sure your notes are not torn, fold or with any stain or mark. Money changers or some International hotels to accept payment in USD currency may refuse bank notes which do not fit with above conditions.

 

Clothing

Light cotton clothes are generally recommended. Decent clothes should be ware in religious monuments as temples, pagodas, monasteries. Shorts skirts or trousers should be avoided. Kneels and shoulders should be covered. Since shoes need to be often taken out at religious places, it is advised to wear flip flop or slippers, easy to remove. If you plan a trek, make sure to wear good running shoes.
Sunglasses, Hat and sun cream are highly recommended. Evenings at winter time in the mountains area can be cold with temperatures close to 0 degrees in the Shan Plateau, Mrauk Oo, Putao and we suggest wearing a warm jacket. In other places like Mandalay or Yangon for outside dinners, a shawl or light jacket would be useful during chilly evenings.

 

Customs regulations

Valuable items as jewelry, electrical goods should be declared on arrival as well as antiques bought in another country with a certificate of origin. A limit of USD 2 000 per person is allowed to bring without declaration to items
Gems, jewelry or antique objects should be purchased with an official receipt from the shop dealer. Export of Buddha Images and archeological items is strictly prohibited. A limit of 200 cigarettes and 1 liter of wine or spirit purchased at duty free is allowed. All luggage is going through X-Ray on arrival and departure.  

Passport and Visa

Passport must have a minimum of 6 months validity to remain at the traveling date. All foreign visitors need a visa on arrival. A 28 days Tourist Visa is provided by Myanmar Embassies or Consulates. Time to proceed is generally between one and two weeks. Some embassies may ask a confirmation letter to mention details of the pre arranged package in Myanmar that Myanmar Expert Travel and Tours can provide.

Pre arranged visa

For those with no Myanmar Embassy in their country, a pre arranged visa can be obtained on arrival at Yangon or Mandalay International Airports. Full information needs to be sent a month before arrival. Once the visa approved by the local authorities, we will send you an approval letter for your visa to be issued on arrival. It is important to show this letter at the airline check in counter. Without the letter, they will refuse you to board. You will need to bring 2 passport photos and pay USD 40 per person on arrival once getting your visa at Yangon Airport Immigration counter.

Border crossing

According to Myanmar regulations, tourists have to enter and depart from Yangon or Mandalay International airports only.
An entry or exit via a Myanmar border needs a special permit from the local authorities. All necessary details need to be proceeded a month in advance the traveling date in order for Myanmar Expert Travel and Tours to apply and obtain the special permit. This permit is not a Visa. Visa needs to be applied by the applicant to a Myanmar Embassy and to specify in details the entry and exit points in Myanmar.
Three border check points are currently open

Myanmar-Chinese Border
Muse (Myanmar) – Ruli (China)
Note that a special permission is also requested to driver overland from Lashio to Muse

Myanmar – Thai Border
South East of Myanmar
Kawthaung (Myanmar) – Ranong (Thailand)
Please note that visting Mergui Archipelago requires special permit and is subject to zone fees according to the length of stay.

North East of Myanmar
Tatchilek (Myanmar) – Mae Sai (Thailand)

Handling fees to obtain border crossing permits will be applied. Regulations on border crossing can change at anytime within short notice.

Telecommunications, mobile phones and Internet access

Telephone and fax facilities are now available in most of the hotels. Oversea phone calls remain expansive, between USD 5 and USD 8 per minute.
Local GSM network is not accessible with hand phones from other countries in Myanmar. It is now possible to rent mobile phones and SIM cards at Yangon International airport. Connection is normally good in Yangon and Mandalay but not consistent in the rest of the country.
Internet is now widely available in most of the hotels. Some hotels, mostly in Yangon and Mandalay propose the wi-fi connection. The connection is however very slow and might not be always available in areas as Bagan, Inle or Ngapali.

Health

There is no vaccination required before coming to Myanmar. It is however recommended to take some precaution against malaria in some out of beaten tracks areas and to seek for your doctor advised. We strongly advise not to drink water from the tap but only bottled water as well as to bring mosquito repellent and skin cream. In case of heavy medication to bring we recommend to get a letter from your doctor to prove the medication is for own use. Myanmar medical services are far below the International standards specially in remote areas.  A Yangon clinic with reliable services at following contacts can be recommended in Yangon:

Myanmar International SOS Clinic
37, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road
Tel: 01 667 871, 01 667 877, 01 667 879, 01 667 897
Yangon

Insurance

It is essential to purchase a medical insurance before to travel to Myanmar. In case of serious illness or injuries, an immediate evacuation to Bangkok or Singapore will be needed. The cost for an evacuation is extremely costly and the insurance should include a medical evacuation coverage.

Business Hours

Opening Hours depends of the business field. Shops are mostly open from 9 till 1800 7 days a week. Department stores are often later till 1000pm. The famous Bogyoke market (Scott Market) opens from 10am to 5pm and is close on Mondays and public holidays.
Banks are open on Monday to Friday from 1000 to 1400 and Government Offices from 0930 to 1630

Voltage

Voltage in the country is 220-230 volts AC. The 2 and 3 pin sockets can be find in Myanmar but given the different possible configurations, it is advised to bring a multiple adapter. Please be also aware that the voltage is not consistent and it could result severe damage to your electrical goods as cameras, computers. Despite recent improvement, Myanmar still suffers from power shortage and electricity cuts. Most of the hotels are equipped with generators and provide 24 hours electricity. It is recommended to bring a torch light when staying in some remote areas.

Weather

Myanmar has 3 seasons. March to May are generally the hottest months of the year followed by the monsoon season from June to October. November to February is considered as the Winter season, dried with cool temperatures, the best time to visit Myanmar. The raining season can however be recommendable to travel. Yangon generally experiences heavy rains while the upper part of Myanmar receives less water.

Rules on the Road

At the opposite of the practice in Western countries, cars, buses and trucks rank first priority and pedestrian must be alert before crossing streets mostly in cities with busy traffic as Yangon and Mandalay. Most of the cars have right hand steering wheel while the traffic drive rule is also on the right hand side.

International airlines

Yangon has direct flights from Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Min City, Siem Reap, Chain Mai, Kunming, Kolkata.

International and domestic airports in Yangon are located next to each other but not connected. It takes only few minutes by car to connect the two airports or 10 minutes by walking distance.

Gratuities & Tipping

No one should feel obligated, but it is common to tip drivers, guides, waiters at local restaurants and also usually hotel porters for good service.

Public Holidays

The festivals are a central part of Buddhism in Burma and most coincide with full moons of the lunar calendar. The majority of festivals take place in central Burma during March , July-September, December and during Buddhist lent. They usually either start or finish on the full moon day.