About Myanmar

About Myanmar

 

Our country is a new and emerging tourist destination in South East Asia, MYANMAR offers a magical visitor experience. Myanmar is widely known as “The Golden Land”.

Myanmar is scattered with dazzling pagodas, shrines and stupas, a legacy of it Buddhist traditions. The country’s ethnic diversity makes for a rich cultural life, cuisine and people are warm and welcoming.

Myanmar is a great place to visit at any time of the year. The seasons come and go, but Myanmar’s multifarious attractions endure throughout the year and are growing in popularity.

Myanmar offers along lasting memories with a lot of fun.

Location

Myanmar is located in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north and northeast; Laos and Thailand to the east and southeast, the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to the south, Bangladesh and India to the west Myanmar shares a total of 5858 km of international borders with Bangladesh and India on the North-West, China on the North-East, Laos on the East and Thailand on the South-East. It has a total length of 2832 km of coastlines. The country stretches 2090 km from North to South and 925 km from East to West at its widest points. The official name is the Union of Myanmar.

Climate

Myanmar is an all year round destination. Myanmar has a tropical climate with three general seasons, the rainy season June to September, the cool season October to February and the hot season March to May. Hilly regions in the north and northeast enjoy cool temperate weather. Rainfall is also very low in central regions the rainy season.

Ethnic

There are 135 distinct ethnic groups in Myanmar. The 8 major national races are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. The country’s population is estimated to be over 60 million and most of the people live in Yangon, the old capital of Myanmar, with a population of over four million.

Local Traditions

Occasionally, according to the Buddhist lunar calendar and traditions, recitation of monks at monasteries or pagodas occur all over the country. Especially, during the 3 months Buddhist lent (June to October), Patthana recitation of monks can be heard non-stop, day and night for a week. These recitations usually are broadcast with loud speakers in order to spread to every direction. People believe that reciting the Patthana, or hearing its recitation will impart certain blessings such as warding off dangers & spirits, curing illness, attaining prosperity or success, or being guarded by angels. The loud noise from monasteries can be a disturbance during the night for the hotels nearby especially in Bagan and Inle Lake and Golden Rock. The Pagoda festivals are also very common in Myanmar. They are usually held during the full moon days and can last from one to three weeks. Evening entertainments, music, dances and night markets until midnight take place with many people enjoying the festivities. It is advisable to carry ear plugs as some hotels which are nearby these festivities are disturbed by the noise.

Low Markets

During your tour through Myanmar you will find many markets of various interests (weekly markets, night markets, fish and vegetable markets, the 5 day rotating market around Lake Inle etc. etc.), shopping centers. Your guide will assure that you will be able to visit as many as possible. Do mention your special interest to your guide.

Mobile Phone

The Myanmar SIM cards can be purchased at Yangon International airport  and are also available at some shops. Please check with hotel reception or your tour guide for assistance. These SIM cards can be used for both International and domestic calls, one month validity and can be refilled. However you need to check if your hand set will be compatible to the card. You might need to rent a local hand set (available at Yangon International airport). WIFI is available in certain hotels and restaurants.

Food

There are many good restaurants in Yangon, which serve quality food at reasonable prices. There are restaurants offering Thai, Chinese, European, Italian, Indian and Burmese cuisine. Eating at the street restaurants can be a wonderful Asian experience but is not recommended unless an experienced guide has recommended the restaurant. Throughout upcountry Myanmar, the choice of food is limited to Burmese and Chinese. In Yangon and Mandalay there are now many noodle and coffee shops and Yangon has a good choice of fine dining experiences. As a general comment Burmese Food is a meeting point between the spicy Thai cuisine and the Indian spice ‘curry’ base. Rice and noodles are the stable dishes usually served with a variety of side dishes ranging from meat or fish, salads, vegetables and a lentil soup. Myanmar food often is served at room temperature (never hot).

Handicrafts

Myanmar is particularly renowned for precious stones and jewelry and its lacquer ware. Lacquer ware is available most notably in Bagan but also in Mandalay and Yangon. Precious stones and jewelry can be purchased from any of the approved shops and government shops that populate Yangon, Mandalay and all other major towns and cities. The silk weavers, tapestry maker, carvers of wood, ivory and stone, silversmiths and bronze-casters are largely based in Mandalay. Gold & Silver Smith,Black Smith, Silk weaving, local style Umbrella workshops with Shan paper in Pindaya.

Clothing

Myanmar still has very traditional customs and it is not appropriate to wear shorts, Bermuda or miniskirts. Since shoes and socks have to be removed for all visits to pagodas and temples, we recommend wearing sandals or other slip-on shoes which are easy to put on and take off. When visiting temples or other religious monuments, visitors should be modestly dressed - it is very important that knees and shoulders are covered and ladies should not wear shorts or bra-less, T-shirts in such places. Hats and sunglasses are strongly recommended. Formal style clothes i.e. jacket and tie are not required. A sarong with its multi uses is a very useful item to bring. If travelling to Inle Lake, the Shan Hills, Rakhine State and Putao particularly during the Winter season the nights can be chilly due to altitude hence it is advisable to bring a warm layer for the evenings.We recommend bringing light loose fitting cotton clothes with pale colors as they tend to be cooler.

Religion

The great majority of Burmese are Theravada Buddhists. Buddhism still has great influence on the daily lives of Myanmar. Close family ties, respect for elders, reverence for Buddhism and simple native dress are common values practiced by most. 89% of the population are Buddhists with the remainder being made up of Christians (5%), Muslims (3%), Hindus (1%), Animists and other (2%). Myanmar accepts full freedom of worship for followers of other religion.

Economy

Myanmar is rich in natural resources such as natural gas, petroleum, timber, jade, gems and jewelries and so the economy mainly relies on agricultural products, oil and gas, gemstones and tourism.

History

Myanmar has a long history and its greatness dates back to the early 11th Century when King Anawrahta unified the country and founded the First Myanmar Empire in Bagan more than 20 years before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The Bagan Empire encompassed the areas of the present day Myanmar and the entire Menam Valley in Thailand and lasted two centuries. The Second Myanmar Empire was founded in 16th Century by King Bayinnaung styled Branginoco by the Portuguese. King Alaungpaya founded the last Myanmar Dynasty in 1752 and it was during the zenith of this Empire that the British moved into Myanmar Wars in 1825. During The Second World War, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 till the return of the Allied Forces in 1945. Myanmar becomes a sovereign independent state in January 1948 after more than 100 years of colonial administration.

Business Hours

Business Hours is usually from 9am to 5pm for private companies and 9:30-4:30 for government offices.  

Tourist Information

Climate and Weather

Cool Season -October to February with average temperatures 20-24 C
Hot Season -March to May with average temperatures 30-35 C
Wet Season-June to September with average temperatures 25-30C

During the wet season, Yangon normally receives morning and afternoon showers while rainfall in Bagan and is very low. The weather around Inle Lake and in Shan State is quite pleasant all year round but very cold at night from December to February.

Airport tax

Any passengers departing Myanmar on international flights will need to pay USD 10 per person the prevailing rate.

Credit Cards

Credit Cards can be used in Myanmar. Now both visa card and master card. There is ATM machine at the airport where you can withdraw money in Kyats. Hotels, airlines, some international shops and restaurants accept credit cards. Banks are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and all public holidays.

Domestic Airlines & Flights

Privately operated airlines flying throughout Myanmar are Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways, Asian Wings, Air Bagan,Mann Yandanarpon Airline and Air Kanbawza. .One person can only bring 20 kilo for baggage and excess baggage fees may be charged.

Immigration and Customs Formalities

Your precious materials (jewelry, cameras, electronic equipment, etc.) should be declared on your customs declaration form when arrival. Receipt of purchase and an export permit voucher for locally bought goods such as gems and jewelry may be required upon departure.

Language

The majority of the people speak Myanmar (Burmese) and English is widely used.

Telecommunications

Most of the hotels offer telephones & fax facilities but charges are quite expensive. WI-Fi Service is now available at almost all the hotels throughout the country.

Voltage

The voltage in Myanmar is 220-230 Volts AC. Most of the international hotels have their own generators. Other places may experience power cuts and voltage fluctuation which can damage equipment like computers. Please travel with the required protection for your electrical items.

Travellerscheques

TravellerCheques are not accepted at present.

Visa Requirements

A visa is required in advance. A tourist visa for Myanmar can be obtained from any Myanmar Embassy or Consulate world-wide orapply e-visa (link: http:// evisa.moip.gov.mm/noticetotourists.aspx) Visas are valid for 28 days. Tourist who will be travelling to Myanmar on a Package Tour should present a copy of their confirmation of travel arrangements when applying for the visa

Things for Bringing

Sun hat, sun glasses, sun protection for your face and body, prescription medicines, insect repellent and an umbrella April to October (rain or shine). An antibiotic cream for minor cuts and scratches, extra pair of prescription glasses, a small flashlight, extra passport photos, decaffeinated coffee (if you require).

Suitable Cloth to Wear

Shorts, short skirts or revealing clothing are not appropriate especially when visiting temples or any religious site. Myanmar is a conservative Buddhist culture and improper dress can be offensive. Please dress with respect for the local culture. Lightweight, easy to care clothes of cotton and cool fabrics are ideal all year round. A winter sweater or jacket and socks may be needed in the cool season when visiting up country especially around Inle Lake and Kalaw when the weather can drop to near freezing during the night. Wear sensible walking shoes which can be easily removed when required. Sandals, thongs or flip-flops (available locally) are very convenient footwear.

Visa

A Tourist visa, valid for 28 days, is needed to enter the country. Visas are issued by one of Myanmar's embassies abroad, however, since the 1st September 2014 citizens of several countries can now apply online for a pre-approved Tourist Visa, please see http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/index.aspx. It is a very straightforward process and works well on arrival, but is at the moment only possible when arriving by plane to Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw international airports.

Money

There are now ATM machines in Yangon and Mandalay where you can draw local currency with VISA and/or Master card. However, payment with VISA or other credit cards is only possible in some hotels and tourist shops, and then only at an extra charge. Therefore, it is still advisable to bring most of your travel budget in cash to cover your expenses while in Myanmar. The US Dollar is the most convenient currency to bring, as prices for tourist related services are usually quoted in dollars and it is also the most widely accepted currency to exchange into the local currency Kyat. It is important that the dollar notes you bring do not look "old" and worn out, have scratches and marks on them or have serial numbers that start with the letters CB or AB (apparently there have at one time been fake dollar bills in circulation with these letter combinations). A crisp 100 dollar note usually carries a little higher exchange rate than two 50 dollar notes. Money can be changed at some banks and in private shops at the BogyokeAung San market in Yangon and otherwise where your guide directs you. You should not change money with people approaching you on the street.

Health and medicine

It is always difficult to give advice on malaria prophylaxis. The usual places where tourists go are not considered malaria infested areas, but it is best to follow the medical advice of your doctor. The other recommended vaccines for Southeast Asia should be kept up to date. Please bring along your necessary medications in your hand luggage. There are some qualified medical doctors, but hospital care is far below Western standards, with medical equipment either in poor condition or completely missing. There is a SOS clinic in Yangon with a Western physician in charge. You should ensure that you have a good travel insurance, and that you have the policy number and the emergency number of the insurance company among your travel documents. The transition to a new bacterial flora and a warm climate offers an increased risk of stomach upset and diarrhea. It will usually go away in a day or two. Drink a lot of water while you are here, but never directly from the tap. Bottled water is inexpensive and can be bought everywhere. In most hotels bottled water is offered complementary in your room.

Clothing and equipment

Most Myanmar people, both women and men wear a blouse / shirt and a sarong-like piece of cloth that goes down to the ankles and is called longyi. On their feet they wear simple sandals which are very practical when you constantly have to remove your footwear before entering private homes as well as temples, pagodas, monasteries and other sacred grounds. It is appreciated that tourists follow a dress code at and near religious sites: T-shirts, blouses and shirts should have (short) sleeves and trousers and skirts should go below the knees. Adults should in general avoid walking around in public in very short or singlet. Otherwise, the need for clothing is as usual in the tropics: Pants and Tops in cotton, a sweater for cool mornings and evenings in the highlands (in December and January even maybe a jacket), and good shoes. Comfortable and inexpensive sandals can be bought at every market. A hat or cap is good to wear against the midday sun, and you should also bring sunscreen, insect repellent and a flashlight.

Security

When it comes to crime, Myanmar is one of the safest countries in the world to travel in. There are very few stories about tourists being robbed or otherwise assaulted while here. On the contrary, you will more often learn that no efforts are spared to return lost wallets and valuables to the rightful owners. You should still exercise normal caution though, lock your suitcase or bag before you check it in at the airport and if you leave money in your room at least put it in your locked suitcase. There are no restrictions when it comes to contact between foreigners and locals, but tourists are not allowed to stay overnight in private homes or guesthouses that do not have a tourist license.

Etiquette

Burmese people generally treat each other in a friendly, polite and respectful manner. It is “loss of face” to show irritation or anger and to talk loudly to someone. Sarcasm and irony are not understood. You should avoid putting your feet up, point with your feet or pat anyone on the head, and a woman should avoid touching a Buddhist monk or his robe. Apart from this foreigners are granted wide tolerance. Any time of the day you will be greeted with a smile and "Min-ga-la-ba" which stands for good morning, good evening, hello, hi and you can safely answer in the same manner. “Thank you” is "che-zu-be" or a little less casual "che-zu tin-ba-deh".

Communication home

Your cell phone will probably only work with a local SIM card, but roaming service with international providers are slowly being introduced. Local and inexpensive SIM cards are now available in the major cities, but may not yet be working in all parts of the country. Hotels have IDD, but it is expensive to call abroad. The easiest method of communication at the moment is via internet and email. Many hotels have WiFi or other kind of internet access (though maybe slow) and there are private internet cafes also in remote locations.

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