Tips before to Travel
Currency and credit cards
The local currency is the Kyat (Pronounce “Chat”). Current exchange rate is around Kyats 1400 for USD 1 or Kyats 1550 for €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 other ones in the city center.
Banks have recently installed ATM machines and it is now possible to withdraw cash in CB banks only with Master cards. The limit amount is 300 000 Kyats (equivalent to USD 200) per day. Fees to withdraw money from ATM machines are 5000 Kyats per time. Most of the hotels accept payment by credit cards with additional fees of 4%.
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 these conditions.
Light cotton clothes are generally recommended. Decent clothes should be worn 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.
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 10000 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 Think Asia Travel and Tours can provide.
E-Visa is now possible to apply online for many nationalities through official website: http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/. Visa fee is USD 50 and it takes 3 working days to get the approval letter for visa on arrival.
According to Myanmar regulations, tourists have to enter and depart from Yangon, or Naypyidaw Mandalay International airports only. But since recently E-visa also allows entering or exiting Myanmar through 3 land border check-points as below stated:
South East of Myanmar
Kawthaung (Myanmar) – Ranong (Thailand)
Please note that visiting Mergui Archipelago requires special permit and is subject to zone fees according to the length of stay.
Tatchilek (Myanmar) – Mae Sai (Thailand)
Myawaddy (Myanmar) – Mae Sot
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 always accessible with hand phones from other countries in Myanmar. It is however now possible to buy local SIM cards to make local phone calls. A SIM card costs around 2000 to 5000 Kyats and a Top Up credit 5000 or 10000 Kyats. Connection is normally good in Yangon and Mandalay but not consistent in the rest of the country. Local Phone Operators in Myanmar are MPT (Myanmar Post and Telecommunications), Telenor, Oredoo, and MyTel
Wifi Internet connection is now widely available in most of the hotels. The connection can be however slow in areas outside of Yangon and Mandalay.
TThere 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 advice. 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 especially in remote areas. A Yangon clinic with reliable services at following contacts can be recommended in Yangon:
Myanmar International SOS Clinic, Yangon
37, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road
Tel: 01 667 871, 01 667 877, 01 667 879, 01 667 897
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 medical evacuation coverage.
Opening Hours depends of the business field. Shops are mostly open from 09:00 till 18:00 7 days a week. Department stores are often later till 10:00pm. The famous Bogyoke market (Scott Market) opens from 10:00am to 05:00pm and is close on Mondays and public holidays. Banks are open on Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 15:00 and Government Offices from 09:30 to 16:30.
Voltage in the country is 220-230 volts AC. The 2 and 3 pin sockets can be found 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.
Myanmar has 3 seasons. March to May is generally the hottest period 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.
Yangon has direct flights from Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Min City, Phnom Penh, Doha, Soul, Tokyo, Chang 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.
Time to reach both airports from Yangon city center is almost 45 minutes to one hour.
Gratuities & Tipping
No one should feel obliged, but it is common to tip drivers, guides, waiters at local restaurants and also usually hotel porters for good service.
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. Myanmar New Year is usually on 13-17 April which are public holidays.
Please note that museums are closed on Mondays.