At 678,033 square kilometers (261,789 square miles), Myanmar is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. It extends 2100 kilometers (1300 miles) from the snow-capped Himalayas in the north to the pristine Myeik Archipelago to the south. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand, as well as by the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. Running through the centre of the country is the 2000-kilometre (1240-mile) Ayeyarwady River, an important avenue of transportation.
The national language is Burmese. And there are more than 100 different dialects spoken in different parts of the country. English is used widely in urban areas and popular tourist sites.
HELLO: Mingalar bar
THANK YOU: Je zuh bar
Visas and passport
It is advisable that all travellers to Myanmar must have a visa and a passport with at least 6 months validity. Visa must be arranged prior to travelling to Myanmar. Pre-arranged Visa on Arrival is available for all travellers but must be applied for at least 1 month in advance through Myanmar Wonders and cannot be 100% guaranteed. Specific advice on up-to-date requirements should be obtained from Myanmar embassies or the consulate offices in your country.
The national currency of Myanmar is the kyat (pronounced “chat”). US dollars are accepted in most hotels and some tourist shops and restaurants. And it is advisable to bring new dollars, as many vendors will not accept damaged, torn and dirty notes and it is also recommended to carry kyats for other purchases, local restaurants and tipping.
International roaming service is not available in Myanmar for mobile phones brought from outside the country. Prepaid GSM cards are available at Yangon International Airport. Most hotels have IDD lines but charges can vary widely so it is advisable to check rates before making calls. Internet is available at some hotels and cafes in some cities but you would encounter with slow connections in general so be ready to try it with patience.
DAILING CODE: +95
Myanmar uses 220V, and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round 2-pin or 3-pin plugs. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor. Power outages are quite common but most hotels have their own generator.
GMT/ UTC +6.5
Myanmar has three distinct seasons.
The dry, cool winter season lasts from November to February.
Temperatures start climbing in March with average temperatures in the 30s (Celsius), reaching their peak during May with occasionally over 40C.
The rainy season “Monsoon” lasts from May until October with frequent short rainstorms and humidity. Most resorts in the beaches areas close down entirely and the flight schedule is severely limited.
Private Offices are open from 9:00 am to 17:00pm (Monday – Friday). Shops are generally open every day. Bogyoke Market (Scott Market) is close on Mondays and Public Holidays. Markets in Inle Lake region are rotating every 5 days.
Most of the holidays are religious based. The biggest celebration is Thingyan (The Buddhist New Year). It occurs in mid April and lasts for several days. Almost all businesses are closed during this period.
It is best to ask permission before making portraits; especially the ethnic groups could be superstitious about it. Photographing of military and government facilities such as bridges, army compounds, police stations, government offices are forbidden.
If you are happy with the service provided, a small tip is always welcome. A service charge and government tax is added to the bill at most restaurants and hotels. Tipping to tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour is customary. The amount remains at your sole discretion and at your appreciation to their services.
What to bring
- Extra passport photos
- Photocopy of your passport (first two pages and page with Myanmar visa)
- Sun block, sunglasses, hat, umbrella
- Extra pair of prescription glasses
- Small flashlight
- Personal medical kit
- Mosquito repellent
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Hygienic tampons (only sanitary napkins are widely available in Myanmar)
- A set of smart eveningwear for at least one elegant dinner, if desired
What to wear
- Lightweight, loose-fitting cotton clothes
- A light wrap
- Warm sweater or jacket, windbreaker, socks (especially for winter or highland areas)
- Sturdy sandals (easily removable, for visiting temples)
- Walking shoes and cotton socks
- Myanmar is a Buddhist country. Please dress with respect, especially when visiting temples and religious sites;
- Wearing shorts or tank tops is considered impolite;
- Wearing swimsuits or trunks should be limited to the beach or hotel pool
- Women not wearing a bra can be very offensive;
- More formal dress codes apply for temple visits;
- There is no area in South East Asia as well as in Myanmar where nude sunbathing or swimming is appropriate and acceptable;
- Please remove shoes when entering pagodas, temples and monasteries
- Please refrain from patting children on the head, or from pointing your fingers or feet towards people or Buddha images;
- In Asia, the local people will likely ask you some questions such as “where do you come from?” “Are you married?” “How old are you?” “Do you have children?” and your religion. These kinds of questions might be considered personal in Western society. But as for Asian people, it is just the sign of being friendly and open. If you are uncomfortable to answer to those questions, the best way is to change the subject.
- It is always good to ask permission before taking photographs of people and please respect if they refuse.