How to Travel in MyanmarTraveling in Myanmar
Includes typical prices, best sights and other useful travel tips.
There are 16 things you should know before you travel to Myanmar
Do you plan to visit Myanmar in the near term or are you interested in this mystical land that has recently opened up to tourists? I would like to part with you 16 things I have learnt and lived in Myanmar. There are some that make the land special, others are pure tourist logistic, which you should know beforehand.
The Myanmar embassy in Bangkok gave me my visas about a weeks before my trip to Myanmar. So if you can spend some quality in Bangkok before going to Myanmar, I suggest you do so. This is one of the simplest and fastest places to get your visas, and you do not need to provide evidence of your continued journey when submitting your application (unlike most other US embassies).
This article explains how to get your Bangkok visas. In the last 5 years the tourist industry has grown exponential. Unfortunately, Myanmar has not taken the same line in the development of its tourist infrastructures to cope with this greater flow of migrants. Even today, if you want to leave the well-trodden paths in Myanmar, you have to be careful in planning or spend a great deal of transport effort because the restricted net is not well networked and reliable.
With increasing tourist activity, the number of hotels is also increasing. Unfortunately, the land is not evolving quickly enough to satisfy this need, so its response is to increase the cost. Obviously, I was expecting Wi-Fi to be quite poor, but in most cases it had slower velocities that I wouldn't wish for my biggest foe or that just didn't work.
Youtube and Gmail were jammed until 2012. However, you may still find some celestially good Wi-Fi places; mostly in high-priced hotel (though not guaranteed), and upscale cafés and diners. It is a self-contained monetary system, so the Kyat cannot be bought outside Myanmar.
If they bring bucks, they should be new, crunchy and neat. The reason for this is that the company will not be able to swap it with the US dollar, so that in the end they will have "worthless" USdollar. Theoretically, you only have to change about half your budgets.
Passengers can use US dollar to buy train, boat, hotel and airfare. Please note: US Dollar must be published after 2000, preferable after 2003. Many years before, when banking was not available everywhere and cash machines no longer existed, the exchange on the back markets was a good thing, but no more. Most of the coin change men on the streets (outside the formal market) will try to cheat you by not letting you counted or by quickly counted the coins so that you cannot do so.
This is to either give you less cash or to give you fake invoices. So if you still choose the subprime option, don't give away your US dollar until you have checked and counted each invoice. There were no cash machines in the land a few years ago, but today they can be found everywhere in the most important places.
However, I suggest you to use two credit card as not all major banking institutions allow cash to be withdrawn from multiple Myanmar cash machines. However, you must still transfer US dollars to Myanmar, as many of your shopping is still done in this language. Burma is one of the most costly South East Asia I have ever been to, but I still made less than $45 a daily.
As a matter of fact, $38.67 a days on an avarage budgeted itinerary. So in general I did everything I wanted and still had a low price. Accomodation is pricey, but eating and public transport are quite inexpensive. Attractions are also inexpensive, so if you want to see a bit, you won't be out of your money.
It' fun that everyone in Myanmar likes to grin, but their teeths are purple or decaying. It is better to travel the land on your own so that you have the liberty to go where you want and to remain as long as you want (within your visas, of course).
However, remember that there are still areas in the far northern part of the countryside that are still limited to the tourist industry. This requires a governmental approval and the use of a travel guidebook from Myanmar Travel & Tours. Burma is very sectarian. Many years ago most of the funds went to the federal administration (which prevented many visitors from coming because they did not want to help ), but today most companies work alone without having to do so.
However, if you go to Bagan and Inle Lake (among other places), you will have to foot a royalty to get into the town. It' s (almost) unavoidable to "support" the goverment on its travels, whether you like it or not. Security, don't be afraid, it's not about your security (the land is quite safe), but about good understanding to do things securely.