MYANMAR

Welcome to Myanmar

Weather & climate

Best time to visit:

Myanmar has a monsoon climate with three main seasons. The hottest period is between February and May, with little or no rain. Rainy season is generally from May to October, with dry, cooler weather from October to February.

Required clothing:

Lightweight cottons and linens are required throughout most of the year. A light raincoat or umbrella is needed during the rainy season. Warmer clothes are advised for cooler season and some evenings.

Geography

Myanmar is a diamond-shaped country extending 925km (575 miles) from east to west and 2,100km (1,300 miles) from north to south. It is bounded by China, Laos and Thailand in the east, by Bangladesh and India in the north and by the Indian Ocean in the west and south. The Irrawaddy River runs through the centre of the country and fans out to form a delta on the south coast; Yangon stands beside one of its many mouths.
North of the delta lies the Irrawaddy basin and central Myanmar, which is protected by a horseshoe of mountains rising to over 3,000m (10,000ft), creating profound climatic effects. To the west are the Arakan, Chin and Naga mountains and the Patkai Hills; the Kachin Hills are to the north; to the east lies the Shan Plateau, which extends to the Tenasserim coastal ranges. Intensive irrigated farming is practised throughout central Myanmar, and fruit, vegetables and citrus crops thrive on the Shan Plateau, but much of the land and mountains are covered by subtropical forest.
Shopping and nightlife in Myanmar

Souvenirs include handicrafts and jewellery. In Yangon, a good place to shop is Bogyoke Aung San Market, which sells luxury items, handicrafts, food stuffs, clothing, jewellery and consumer goods. It is open from 0800-1800 (except Sunday and public holidays) but the best time to visit is around 1000. Mandalay is a good place for traditional handicrafts which can be purchased at Zegyo Market. Phatahe Bazaar sells Buddhist articles of worship.

Shopping hours:
Mon-Sun 0800-2200.

Nightlife in Myanmar

Western-style nightlife is almost non-existent, although there are occasional performances in Yangon's theatres as well as a number of rock and pop groups gaining in popularity. Cinemas are popular and some regularly show English-language films.

Food and Drink in Myanmar

The regional food is hot and spicy. Fish, rice, noodles and vegetables spiced with onions, ginger, garlic and chillies are the common local ingredients. Chinese and Indian cuisine is offered in many hotels and restaurants.

Specialities:

  • Lethok son (a sort of spicy vegetarian rice salad).
  • Mohinga (fish soup with noodles).
  • Oh-no khauk swe (rice noodles, chicken and coconut milk).
  • The avocados by Inle Lake are excellent.
  • Delicious fruits are available in the markets and food stalls appear on the corners of most large towns.

Tipping:

It is usual to give 5 to 10% on hotel and restaurant bills.

Regional drinks:

Tea is a popular drink; the spices that are added to it can make the tongue turn bright red.
Locally produced beer, rum, whisky and gin are generally available.

Myanmar travel advice

The FCO has lifted all travel restrictions in Myanmar. However travellers are urged to be cautious, especially around the border areas with Thailand, Laos or China. Visitors should continue to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, and avoid taking photographs or video of the military, the police or demonstrations as doing so could be interpreted as provocative. Visitors should keep themselves informed of developments.
There is a general threat from terrorism in Myanmar.
Typhoons occasionally occur in Myanmar between April and October.
Dengue Fever is endemic in Myanmar and can occur throughout the year, particularly during the rainy season (December to April). There is no vaccination or immunisation. Since the beginning of 2007, reports have indicated a significant increase in the number of Dengue Fever cases. The authorities are taking measures to combat the disease.
Travellers should bring enough US Dollars to fund their stay. Credit cards and travellers' cheques are unlikely to be accepted and there are no ATMs in Myanmar.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisations for the latest travel advice:

Myanmar: visa and passport requirements

Passports:

To enter Myanmar, a passport valid for at least six months beyond date of intended departure is required by all nationals.

Visas:

Visas for Myanmar are required by all nationals except transit passengers continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft, providing they hold valid onward or return documentation and do not leave the airport.
Visas must be available before arrival.
A separate visa is required for each child over seven years of age, even if travelling on their parent's passport.
Validity:
Visas are valid for three months from the date of issue for stays of 28 days in Myanmar.

Myanmar health care and vaccinations

Vaccination identifier Special precautions
Diphtheria

Yes

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

Sometimes

Rabies

Sometimes

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Yes

Yellow Fever

No*

* A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required by travellers arriving within 10 days from infected areas.

 

Health insurance is strongly recommended. There are hospitals and clinics in cities and larger towns, and regional health centres in outlying areas. It is advisable to carry a remedy against minor enteric upsets.

Food and drink

All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised. Avoid dairy products which are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

Other risks

Vaccinations against Japanese B encephalitis, tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended.

Money & duty free for Myanmar

Kyat (MMK; symbol K) = 100 pyas. Notes are in denominations of K1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1. Kyat is pronounced like the English word 'chat'. To combat the black market and limit the financial power of dissident groups, currency denominations are occasionally declared invalid without prior notice. Limited refunds are usually allowed for certain sectors of the population.

Note: The import and export of local currency is prohibited.

Credit cards:

It is unlikely that credit or debit cards will be accepted; it is best to check with your card company prior to travel. There are no ATMs.

ATM:

There are no ATMs.

Travellers cheques:

Not currently accepted, although this may change. Check with your tour agency prior to travel, and bring plenty of US Dollars in cash.

Banking hours:
Mon-Fri 1000-1400.

Currency restriction:

The import and export of local currency is prohibited. There are no import limits on foreign currencies, but any amounts must be declared on arrival and must be converted within one month of arrival and the declaration certificate kept for departure. There are no limits on the export of foreign currency for visits up to six months, up to the amount imported and declared. For visits longer than six months, there are no restrictions up to the equivalent of K50,000.

Currency exchange:

FECs are Myanmar's second legal currency and are issued by the Bank of Myanmar specifically for visiting tourists. They come in denominations equivalent to US$20, 10, 5 and 1. Payment for FECs is only accepted in US Dollars. One US Dollar equals one FEC. FECs can be exchanged into Kyats at officially authorised banks, bureaux de change, hotels and Myanmar Travel and Tour offices and can be spent anywhere in the country. Cash payments can also be made in US Dollars, but only at establishments (eg hotels, railway stations, airlines) that have an official licence allowing them to accept dollars. Wherever possible, it is advisable to change US Dollars into Kyats rather than FECs, as FECs usually have a poorer exchange rate than Kyats. It is also recommended to carry small change as large notes may be difficult to change. Euros are now also accepted in banks, but exchange can be time consuming. Be aware that concerns over counterfeit money mean that some US Dollar bills with serial numbers beginning with AB or BC may not be accepted.

Myanmar duty free

The following goods may be taken into Myanmar by persons over 17 years of age without incurring customs duty:

  • 400 cigarettes or 250g tobacco.
  • 2L of alcohol.
  • 159ml of perfume or eau de cologne.
  • Electrical and electronic not more than US$500, and portable video camera and one spare battery set.

Note: Jewellery, electrical goods and cameras must be declared; failure to do so may result in visitors being refused permission to export it on departure. Video cameras will be held in safe custody at the airport and will be returned on departure.

Banned imports:

Playing cards, gambling equipment, antiques, archaeological items and pornography are prohibited.

Banned exports:

All gems, jewellery and silverware purchased from authorised shops can be taken out of the country.

There could be no better time than now to explore “Mystical Myanmar,” a country which has only recently reappeared on the tourist map after being off-limits for years. In January 2012 the New York Times ranked the country third in its list of 45 top destinations, commenting that because of its long isolation, Myanmar “resonates with a strong sense of place, undiluted by mass tourism and warmed by genuine hospitality.” Travelling with us, you can experience this hospitality for yourself, as you set out on a fascinating journey of discovery. Promenade with the locals around the majestic golden spire of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in the capital city of Yangon. Visit the royal capital of Mandalay and the 4,000 stupas of the famous Bagan World Heritage Site. Trek through the beautiful scenery of the Shan Plateau and enjoy the hospitality of a homestay on the beautiful Inle Lake. Or simply relax on one of the many unspoiled beaches, which line the west coast.