Visiting Myanmar (Burma) was one of our most fulfilling travel experiences, but it wasn’t without its hardships. The 30 hours in transit from Kyaikto to Inle Lake was definitely a difficult journey. We transferred from bus, to van, to the back of a truck to a taxi. It was hot, it was crowded, it was long. But the people were so friendly. Not many could speak English, but it didn’t stop them from practicing with us every chance that they got. When we talked to the people on the street, they welcomed us. They were happy that we were not staying in the big resorts run by the government and that we hired local guides, took local transit and stayed in small guest houses. The situation in Myanmar may break our hearts, but we think that if more people visit, opting to travel locally, maybe one day the doors will open up. This Myanmar travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Myanmar Travel Guide (Burma): Fast Facts
- Myanmar power voltage is 230 V 50 Hz; Power sockets C, D, F, & G
- The local currency is the Myanmar Kyat (MMK) and is around 1,000 MMK o 1 USD
- Water is not potable in Myanmar. Avoid water that is not boiled or bottled. Avoid raw vegetables and pre-cut fruit as much as possible.
- As of early 2014, functional ATMs have started to pop up around tourist areas and airports that take Visa/MasterCard as well as debit cards with Plus logos. Visa is more common than MasterCard while travellers cheques are still not accepted in Myanmar. It is also recommended the travellers bring cash in another major currency (preferably in US dollars or Euros) just in case. Only crisp, uncreased, unfolded, unmarked bills without any tears will be accepted. They must also be a 2009 series or later so make sure to double check the issue date of the bills.
- Photography and videography restrictions may apply in certain areas along with “shooting” fees. Some museums restrict photography while taking photographs in airports, railway stations and near any military installation is forbidden.
Top Packing Tips
Myanmar has two distinct seasons: wet (May/June – October) and dry (October – May). At the peak of the wet season some areas become inaccessible or even close down altogether in preparation of high winds and heavy rainfall. Myanmar is also known for its high temperatures (which can surpass 40°C) from March – June while the colder months follow the end of the rains (October – January). Altitude also effects temperatures and as a result, hill stations, lakes and Himalayan foothills are cooler than the southern lowland and coastal regions.
- Insect Repellent – Along with natural beauty and hot weather, Myanmar is known for its pretty vicious mosquitos. Travellers are advised to bring a mosquito net, insect spray or a mosquito headnet, as these products are hard to find outside of Yangon.
- Flashlight – The power is not that great in Myanmar and the streets are dark at night, so make sure to have a flashlight or head torch handy at all times.
- Female Sanitary Products – tampons are harder to come by than sanitary pads, so make sure to bring your preferred brand form home if you use the former.
- Modesty is key. Myanmar is still considered a conservative country. Travellers are recommended to wear appropriate clothing: women should ideally wear long pants or skirts to cover their knees and avoid deep V necks or sleeveless tops, while men should try to keep their shoulders and legs covered.
- Warm clothes – it does cool off at night, so make sure to pack a light-weight sweater, cardigan or a pashmina to keep you warm on those chilly nights.
- Refillable water bottle – as mentioned above, the water is not potable in Myanmar. Consider taking a portable water bottle on your trip.
Myanmar Travel Guide (Burma): Top Things to do
- Visit Myanmar’s Golden Rock – it is a sacred monument balancing on the side of mount Kyaiktiyo. This giant boulder perched on the side of a mountain, threatens to plunge into the valley below. A pagoda is built on its top and it is covered in solid gold leaves that people leave as an offering to the Gods.
- Visit the Incredible Temples of Bagan – Built between 1000 and 1300 AD, Bagan has to be one of the least visited temple complexes in South East Asia, and yet it is hands down, one of the most beautiful.
- Explore Inle Lake – Known for it’s one legged rowers and handmade craft shops, we spent days exploring the villages that line the second largest lake in the country formerly known as Burma.