Myanmar

10 Things you need to know before Traveling to Myanmar

Myanmar or Formerly known as Burma is located in South East Asia with its neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Thailand, Laos and China. Labelled as one of the poorest country in Southeast Asia with a population of 54 Million, this country is definitely one of a kind. From the noisy and raw ambiance of Yangon, the majestic landscapes of Bagan and the Laidback atmosphere of Inle Lake, will surely captivate any Nomadic travelers interest.

Depending on your taste this country will either be a hit or a miss once you get there. A country of over 100 ethnic tribes, it is a melting pot of culture, religion and history. Myanmar’s Tourism industry is still untapped, underrated, and has major potential as a top travel destination not only is southeast asia but also around the world.

So before heading out for your adventure, here are the 10 things you need to know before Traveling to Myanmar.

1. TEMPLES! Everywhere

Beautiful Temples are much visible in almost every corner in every city everywhere, I mean everywhere! Let’s not even start talking about the ancient city “Bagan” the Land of a Thousand Temples.

The Number of temples in Bagan alone is estimated to be around 2,200. Make sure you remove your shoes when entering these Temples to not offed anyone. Burmese keep these temples clean and they don’t need dirty tourists feet inside their Temples.

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2. BUDDHISM and Monks 

Buddhism being predominantly the most practiced religion by the Burmese. This is why Buddhist Temples are everywhere.

There are over 500 thousand Buddhist monks of all ages, it’s almost impossible not to see one during your travel to Myanmar. Most of them are used to being photographed by tourist, but it doesn’t hurt to ask their permission if possible.

3. EUROPE? No you’re definitely not in Europe!

Colonial Buildings are also one of the main attractions of Myanmar, in Yangon the former city Capital could be easily mistaken to be anywhere in Europe for its European Architecture evident to almost every building in the city.

These  British Colonial buildings are now converted into Government offices, Museums, Hotels and Restaurants. The mix of buddhist temples and colonial buildings though out the city makes it more appealing to travelers.

4. TRANSPORTATION? They Got it All

Old Railway System dating back to 1877, which is still a daily mode of transportation to the burmese up to this day. Old Schools taxis which some, don’t have AC will get really hot during summer plus the Traffic.

You might have to consider paying a bit extra for air conditioned taxis. Pedicabs and motorbikes are also popular to get around the city. But nothing beats the horse and cattle carriages which is the most fun of it all when you visit the countryside.

5. SAFE? Is it safe for tourist?

Yes! for the vast majority of the country it is very safe for tourist to travel in Myanmar, there is plenty of police visibility in tourist areas but not to the point where it is overwhelming.

There are parts of Myanmar that are off limits to tourist for some local conflicts among tribes. But generally the whole country is Peaceful and Safe for Tourist.

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6. MONEY! Kyat Vs Dollar

Kyat is the Local currency in the country. The exchange rate varies from time to time but usually $1 is = K 1,500 Burmese Kyat. Not all the establishments accept debit or credit cards, so cash is needed most of the time. For small transactions Burmese kyat is a better option and for bigger transactions such as plane tickets, hotels, shopping etc. use $.

Crisp and Clean Dollar Bills is almost a must, Burmese are very particular about the $ bill quality. There’s also not a lot of ATM machines so whenever possible make sure you’re able to get the cash you need for your trip.

Burmese Kyat and US Dollar

7. SLOW Internet.

We have to always be connected during our travel, right? Pretty cheap prepaid sim cards are available for tourists in kiosk, at the airport and in shops to get internet connection to your Smartphone whenever outside the hotel. They range from $2 to $5 USD depending on the data allocation.

But mind you that signal is not the best and you can’t really expect 4g speeds because even in Hotels internet speed is crappy at times. The main thing is there is internet, you just have to be patient with it.

Internet Connection Myanmar

8. FOOD is Cheap, Spicy and Fresh. But Be Careful!

It’s a common knowledge that food in asia is cheap. If you’re up for some street food, a dollar or two can get you a decent meal. Burmese people, just like their neighbour country Thailand, like it spicy. Most of the meals contain plenty of chillis and other spices on them, so make sure to ask the cook to tone it down if you’re not into setting your bowels on fire.

Fresh produce are sold on local Markets, the smell and color of fruits and vegetables is a tourist attraction on its own. Myanmar is a developing country and sometimes food handling and sanitation is the reason why there’s a lot of food poisoning cases on tourist.

If you’re buying food on the streets make sure the food is still hot or stick to restaurant food to avoid the risk of catching anything. Nonetheless Myanmar is definitely a heaven for all the adventurous foodies out there.

9. WEATHER! Best time to Travel to Myanmar

January and February are great months to visit Myanmar because of its dry weather across the country where temperatures are just rather nice and not too hot.

March and April is where Temperatures get noticeably high, especially in the central parts of the country like Yangon.

May, June, July and August is mostly where all the rain is happening, because of the monsoon season, these months are a little less popular dates to travel to Myanmar.

November and December is the Best time to visit Myanmar, however  at these months hotels are busy and fully book so if possible, make sure to make reservations.

Burmese Woman with Thanaka of her Face Yangon Myanmar
Burmese Lady with Thanaka on her Face to Protect the Skin from Harsh Sunlight during Hot Summer Season

10. TOURIST Spots

There’s a lot of amazing tourist attractions and places to visit in Myanmar but three of the most interesting places to visit are, Yangon the former capital city, Inle Lake the floating city of Myanmar and Bagan home of the thousand temples, each of these tourist destinations are unique in their own way and very different to one another. Any traveler will surely enjoy the adventure that this country has to offer.

With Myanmar’s tourism growing over the past years, there’s still a lot to improve in that area. The country is definitely on its way to becoming one of the top destinations in southeast asia or even globally. Travelers who are interested in experiencing the unspoiled flavor of this one of a kind country, before commercialism changes it irreversibly, go NOW! Before its too late.

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