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 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.
Budget – If you are looking to stay in a low budget hotel room in Myanmar, it will cost around $25. If you are good with a bed in a hostel dorm, it will cost about $10 per night. Most will come with a hot shower, free wifi, and breakfast.
Mid Range – Mid-range hotels in Myanmar usually cost between $40 – $60 per night. At this budget, the hotel rooms will have private bathrooms, amenities like air conditioning and free wifi, offer breakfast services, and have a fitness center.
High End – Staying at a high-end hotel in Myanmar can cost anywhere between $100 – $350. These expensive residences are usually elegantly designed, their rooms come with flat-screen television sets, their bathrooms come with jacuzzis, and there is generally at least one outdoor pool.
Tea leaf salad – Tea leaf salad is the most popular food in Myanmar. It is made hand-mixing sour leaves with shreds of cabbage, slices of tomatoes, as well as nuts and peas.
Shan-style rice – This fish-based rice is served at most eating houses in Myanmar. It is made by mixing cooked rice with turmeric and then topping it with fresh fish and garlic oil.
Curry – Myanmar curry is delicious and is best served with fish, shrimp, mutton, or pork.
Tea Shop Meals – The people of Myanmar value their tea shops, and you can go there to enjoy delicious tea and Myanmar snacks like deep-fried bread served alongside a potato curry.
Shan-style Noodles – This delicious dish includes a thick porridge cooked with chickpea flour. This porridge is served over a bed of rice noodles and chicken or pork and then topped with chili oil.
Flights: Yangon International and Mandalay International Airports have flights coming in from dozens of other countries in Asia.
You can check for the best flights to Myanmar on Skyscanner.
Buses: There are many bus services in Myanmar. Depending on where you are going, you can get on a public city bus, an overnight sleeper bus, or a long-distance day bus for relatively cheap.
Taxis/Uber: Most taxi services in Myanmar involve sharing with other passengers. However, if you want a private taxi, you can call an Uber.
Car Rental: If you want to rent a car, you will be able to do so in Myanmar. However, this is rather expensive, and car rentals cost about $75 per day on average.
You can also compare prices here.
Places to Stay
30th Corner Boutique Hostel – This clean hostel is located in the heart of downtown Yangon. The beds are comfortable, the rooms are spacious and well furnished. This is an excellent way to save money while exploring the city.
Best Western Chinatown Hotel – Best Western Chinatown Hotel is a superb mid-range hotel that gives excellent quality at an affordable price. Their private rooms are tastefully furnished and come with airconditioning, satellite TV, and wifi.
The Strand Yangon – The Strand Yangon is a classic hotel that was built in 1901 and refurbished in 2016. This elegant hotel rocks her guests in the lap of luxury with modern-day comforts and a colonial feel.
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 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.
See our packing tips: packing tips
When to Go
Myanmar can get pretty hot during the year, and so most people prefer to visit between November to February when it is winter. However, this is also a peak period in Myanmar, so it is advisable to visit during Myanmar’s rainy season from May to October.
Things to Do
- Go Diving – Myanmar has lots of places where you can go diving and snorkeling. For example, the Myeik Archipelago has many unexplored corals and aquatic life waiting to be seen.
- Take a Ride in a Hot Air Balloon – If you like to go high into the sky, then a ride in a hot air balloon may be just the thing for you. They aren’t cheap, but if you can afford them, take a ride over Inle Lake.
- 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.
- Walk on U Bein Bridge – U Bein Bridge is the oldest and longest bridge in the world. Although it was built in 1850, it still carries all the tourists that walk across its 1.2-kilometer length every year.
- 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.
- Take a Walking Tour – Myanmar is a beautiful country, and lovers of the outdoors will enjoy just walking around and learning about the nation’s history. Try taking a guided walking tour of Yangon.
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies.
We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It is usually the has the cheapest prices, not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation.
Air BnB: Airbnb is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs. I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
World Nomads Insurance: When traveling you should always have travel insurance. We do.