If traveling to Myanmar for the first time, well, you have many reasons to get excited about it. Myanmar is the second-largest country in Southeast Asia and is enjoying an increased tourist tide every year. That shows that Myanmar is definitely a trendy destination for most tourists.
It is indeed a great place to visit with loads of picturesque spots and more than a hundred ethnic groups. The land-locked country borders with China, Bangladesh, and Thailand and boasts of hundreds of islands and an impressive coastline.
Myanmar is a leading destination for thousands of Buddhist temples and the temples of Bagan. The capital of Myanmar boasts of amazing colonial architecture and authentic, lively markets. There are plenty of opportunities for boat rides and biking tours. Although the country may not be as developed as other countries, Myanmar should be on the bucket list of every avid traveler as a trip here indeed offers a unique experience and an amazing trip.
Visa and Permits
Check the visa requirements and get essential details beforehand for your nationality. The fee for a visa to Myanmar costs around USD 50. People of Brunei, Laos, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand nationalities carry the right to visa exemption for 14 days but can enter the country only from Yangon and Mandalay international airports.
For citizens of other countries, they can apply for a visa online or from the Myanmar embassy. As many areas in Myanmar are restricted, it is essential to take a government permit to visit and enter those areas. The travel agent can arrange for the permits but will charge a fee.
Here are some useful and practical tips for first-time visitors to Myanmar:
- The visa to visit Myanmar can be done online, and you can get the e-visas for the fee is of 50 dollars in just a couple of hours.
- Although many travel books mention problems with roads and accessibility, most of the roads are just fine. All you need to be careful about is pickling a reputed online booking platform for transportation within Myanmar, such as Bookaway.
- Kyat (MMK) is the currency used in Myanmar, and you can withdraw around 300,000 Kyats from the ATMs in Myanmar.
- Do carry USDs in various denominations as locals prefer the currency, and USDs are easy to exchange almost everywhere. However, avoid carrying old dollars as you may be refused by the locals who prefer currency in good condition.
- One of the best times to see and explore Myanmar is during the monsoon season from June to October. Moreover, the costs of travel and holidaying go down!
- It is highly recommended that you book your hotel beforehand as there is limited accommodation in tourist areas and most sell out months in advance. This is essential for those looking for budget accommodation and cheaper rooms.
- It is easy to explore Myanmar as taxis are easily accessible and affordable. Renting a car is the most convenient way to travel to certain areas while the train journey is considered to be adventurous and romantic. There are long-distance buses available, but the journeys can be tiring.
- Do visit Ngapali Beach, which is one of the most beautiful beaches and famous for its white sands and crystal-clear waters and local seafood restaurants.
- Dress modestly as Myanmar people are religious and live in a conservative society. Cover your shoulders and knees when you visit the Buddhist temples and remove your shoes.
- Pay attention to drinking water, and avoid consuming uncooked fruits and vegetables. Always keep some water handy to stay well hydrated during the trip.
- Although most hotels and restaurants have wifi, the internet speed is slow. One can buy data packages that are cheap here and buy a SIM card at the airport or other tourist destinations.
- There is no need to carry toiletries unless you have specific needs, as most hostels and hotels provide toothpaste, clean towels, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, etc. Moreover, shopping for the basic toiletries from the supermarkets in Myanmar is easy and affordable.
- Myanmar food, when compared to Thai food, is not particularly special and is bland to taste. However, it looks colorful and carries influences by all the neighboring countries such as China and India.
- It is a good idea to get inoculated against Typhoid, Tetanus, Hepatitis, and Polio. Be wary as some rural areas of Myanmar carry a possibility of malaria, so take medical advice as and when needed.
- As most people cannot speak English, do learn some basic Burmese sentences and carry a translation app to communicate with local people.
- Carry bottled water and, if possible, stay away from street food, even if you are crazy for Indian and Thai food. Although you will love street food, you can fall sick if your stomach is not used to the street food.
- Myanmar, with the Rohingya crisis going on, does raise concerns about safety, and one should keep away from some of the areas of the country that may not be ideal for the tourists.
- Communicate with the locals who are always friendly and hospitable. You will f love their warm and selfless side willing to help tourists at all times, and those sincere smiles are sure to remain with you for a long time, and their genuine side will touch you.
- While it is perfectly safe to travel to the big cities in Myanmar, one should avoid remote areas or areas with political turmoil such as Shan, Rakhine, and Kachin states.
- It is a good idea to take a knowledgeable guide with you and make the most of your trip here. Those well-trained guides will add to your knowledge and understanding of Myanmar history and culture.
- Travel costs in Myanmar are mostly about hotels, transportation, and guides. You can easily spend at least spend USD90 for a 4-star hotel, and the prices can rise during the peak season. Car and chauffeur rental can significantly affect your bill, while the local buses, trains, and ferries are a cheaper option.