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Travel Tips

Clothing

Cool, comfortable cotton is the most suitable fabric for Myanmar's warm, humid climate. Locallymade cotton is available at most destinations. Travellers heading to high altitude destinations such as Inle Lake and Kyaik-hti-yo ' Golden Rock ' Pagoda are advised to take a sweater or jacket as the temperature can be chilly at night.

Electricity

Big hotels have electricity around the clock, with generators to ensure back-up supply. The current is run at 220 volts, 50 hertz AC.

Documentation

All visitors to Myanmar are required to carry a valid passport and a Myanmar visa. The passports must be valid for six months beyond the intended stay. Visa applications may be made at any Myanmar embassy or consulate. Tourist visas valid for three months are issued to independent or group tour travellers. Single-entry tourist visas are also available. Multiple entry visas valid for up to one year are available to foreigners working for companies with long-established operations in Myanmar. Children aged over seven are required to apply for separate visas even if they are travelling on a parents' passport. The fee for a single-entry tourist visa is about $20; other visa fees vary according to the nationality of the applicant. Fees for stay extensions range from about $36 for up to three months, and $90 for between three months and a year and visitors must apply before their visa expires.

Health

Bottled water is recommended. It is not advisable to buy food or fruit from street vendors unless you have a strong stomach. It is also advisable to avoid shrimps, saltwater fish and shellfish during the hot season. Visitors are strongly advised to use a sunscreen as a protection against sunburn. There are pharmacies in all major cities but visitors with a pre-existing condition are advised to bring their own medication. Use insect repellent when necessary.

Money

The national currency is called Kyat ( pronounced 'chat' ) and K5000, K1000, K500, K200, K100, K50, K20, K10, K5 and K1 denomination banknotes are in use. The Central Bank of Myanmar also issues K100, K50, K10, K5 and K1 coins though they are not widely used.

Foreign Exchange Certificates

( FEC ) are also in use in denominations equivalent to $20, $10,$5 and $1 and are widely used by visitors. They are accepted by hotels, airlines, travel agencies, taxies, restaurants and as entrance fees to pagodas, museums and parks. It is advisable to bring sufficient US dollars in cash as credit cards are not accepted apart from some outlets in major cities. Travellers' cheques are not widely used.

Communications

Telephone

Calls to Myanmar

Dial the international access code followed by the Myanmar country code, 95, the area code and the subscriber's number.

Calls in Myanmar

Telephone services are available in all tourist destinations. International roaming for mobile phones is not yet available. Travellers can buy Sim-Card with FEC 20 ( or ) US $ 20 at Myanmar Post & Telecommunication offices and the registered private mobile phone shops.

Internet and e-mail

Hotels in major destinations offer internet services. Number of internet cafes increases rapidly and there are more than 800 internet cafes, most of which are in Yangon with a few others in such cities as Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, Bago, Pathein and Taunggyi. Service charges in internet cafes are reasonable though browsing speeds are sometimes slow.

Local time

( UTC ( GMT ) + 6.5 hours )

Insurance

All tourists are recommended to take out medical and accident cover before arriving in Myanmar.

Myanma Insurance offers cover for those who wish to take out insurance after arriving in the country.

Myanma Insurance is at 627/635 Merchant Street, Yangon. Its email addresses are

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Business hours

Opening times

Government offices are open from 9:30 am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. Banks operate from 9:30am to 3pm on weekdays. Shops and shopping centre's are open from about 9am to 9pm daily, including holidays.

School holidays

The academic year for government primary, middle and high schools is from June to February and March. Schools close on public holidays.

Immigrations and customs

Entry

A passport with a valid visa and a completed disembarkation card must be presented to the immigration desks at international airports.

Foreign currency exceeding $2000, jewellery, cameras and electronic goods must be declared on the customs forms issued to each arriving visitor.

The duty free allowance for each visitor is two bottles of liquor, two cartons of cigarettes or 100 cigars, 1.5lbs of tobacco and a pint of perfume of eau de cologne.

Departure The departure tax at airports is $10. A passport and completed embarkation card are to be shown at the immigration desks. Export permit vouchers must be shown at customs for any gems or jewellery bought in Myanmar. The export of antiques and archaeologically valuable items is prohibited.

Literature and print media Myanmar has a thriving literary scene and there are many literary awards, both State and private. There are magazines devoted to serious literature as well as glossy monthlies about beauty and fashion. A variety of weekly publications specialize in such subjects are international news, crime, the internet, computers, business, shopping, football, fashion and astrology. Many book lending stalls operate in cities, towns and villages.

Yangon International Airport

About 9 miles ( 15 km ) from downtown Yangon, the airport underwent a recent upgrade and now boasts attractively-designed arrival and departure terminals. The airport is well-equipped with services and facilities.

Airlines operating at the airport include Myanmar Airway International, Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, Thai Airways International, Thai Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, Silk Air, Indian Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Air China, China Southern Airlines.

Mandalay International Airport

About 21 miles ( 35 km ) south of downtown Mandalay, the country's second international airport has similar services and facilities to those available at Yangon International Airport.

China Eastern Airlines operates regular flights between Mandalay and Kunming and the airport is also served by domestic carriers.

Nay Pyi Taw Airport

Nay Pyi Taw Airport opened in early 2006 and is about 30 minutes from the administrative capital, Nay Pyi Taw. All domestic carriers operate from Nay Pyi Taw to the commercial city, Yangon, and the cultural city, Mandalay, as well as to other destinations, such as Sittwe and Heho.

Overland entry

Overland entry is permitted to Thai, Chinese and Indian tourists with border passes and to third party tourists with visa at designated checkpoints along Myanmar's borders with Thailand, China and India.

Prior permission is required for tourists entering the country through border checkpoints.

Air

Air travel often is the best form of transport as it saves time. Domestic carriersĀ  Myanmar Airways, Air Mandalay and Air Bagan fly to more than 32 destinations throughout the country. It can be cheaper to book through travel agents than directly with the airlines.

Express trains

Though a more leisurely and comfortable forms of transport, international travellers mainly use the route between Yangon and Mandalay. Myanma Railways' long-distance trains offer first and economy - class compartments, sleeping berths and reclining seats. Tickets are available at railway stations and it is recommended to buy them one day in advance.

Express coaches

It is possible to travel in air-conditioned coaches to most of the tourist attractions throughout the country. Two highway bus terminals in the new capital, Nay Pyi Taw provide transprotation services to major cities including Yangon and Mandalay. Serveral highway bus services in Yangon operate to destinations throughout the country including Golden Rock, Bagan and Nyaung Oo, Inle Lake, Mrauk- U, Chaungtha and Ngwe Saung Beaches near Pathein, and Ngapali Beach near Thandwe.

There are two highway bus terminals in the cultural capital of Mandalay, offering services to destinations in central, upper and eastern Myanmar.

River cruises

Myanmar has many navigable waterways and river boats provide one of most important and cheaper ways of transporting people and cargo. The Inland Water Transport Board is a major operator with a huge fleet of double and triple-decker boats making regular runs to river ports.

There are also private operators providing some regular services, with more leisurely trips provided mostly between Mandalay and Bagan and other destinations along the Ayeyawady and Chindwin Rivers. There is also a cruise service to the delta town of Pathein by a private company.

Intra-city transprotations

Taxies are widely available in Yangon. The majority of taxies is metered and charges a rate of K150 a kilometer, plus an extra K500. For taxies with no meter, it is best to bargain the cost of the fare in advance of any trip.

Public buses are available in major cities such as Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. Inter-city buses also operate throughout the country.

Trishaws and hourse carts are also used as transport. Trishaws are common in Yangon and horse carts operate at Pyin Oo Lwin, Bagan and some other destinations in upper Myanmar.

Many visitors to Yangon enjoy trips on the city circular railway, which links the down-town area with outlying suburbs.

Myanmar Round-up

How to get

There are three air accesses to Myanmar; Yangon-the capital, Mandalay-the second capital & Bagan-the Ancient Culture Heritage Site.

Yangon Gateway

Myanmar Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways International, Thai Air Asia, Silk Air, Malaysia Airlines, China Airlines, Indian Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air China, Air Bagan, Vietnum Airlines & China Eastern Airlines.

Mandalay Gateway

China Eastern Airlines.

Bagan Gateway

We can arrange the charter flights on request for entering to Bagan directly.

Border-passes

As Myanmar is sharing the borders with China, Laos, Thailand, India & Bangladesh, some fo the borders are open to foreign visitors. Please check the following. The rest of the borders are closed at the time of writing this manual.

From China ( Ruili-Muse & Tar Law'-Kyaing Tong )

Originally built to supply the Chinese forces in its struggle against the Japanese, the famous " Myanmar Road " runs from Kunming in China's Yunnan province to the city of Lashio. Nowadays the road is open to travelers carrying permits, from the Chinese side ( Ruili ) into Myanmar via Muse.

Three hours drive ( 90 km ) from Kyaing Tong is another Myanmar-China border, Mine Lar. This access will bring us to China-Xishaungbanna province. The permit has to be asked at both sides, Myanmar and China.

The permits from Myanmar can easily be arranged but only if the travelers book the whole arrangements with local tour operators and travel agents in Myanmar.

From Thailand ( Mae Sai-Thachileik )

The bridge spans the Sai River between Myanmar's Thachileik & Thailand's Mae Sai. The border check-point opens from 6 am to 6 pm, weekdays and from 6 am to 9 pm weekends and holidays. We just have to cross the bridge on foot for five minutes then, the border check-points of both Myanmar & Thailand sit in each side.

From Thailand ( Sangkhlaburi-Three-pagodas pass, Payathonezu )

This is one of the most interesting and accessible of the border crossing points. Now there is also legal trade going on at Three Pagodas Pass-Payathonezu. Travellers have been allowed to go inside the country but the road is quite bad.

From Thailand ( Mae Sot-Myawaddy )

This crossing begins a route from Myawaddy to Mawlamyine via Kawkareik along a rough road.

The following details are required at one month in advance for border-pass.

Full Name
Date of Birth
Passport numbers with issued & expire dates
Nationality
Occupation
Sex

Airport Departure Tax

There is a departure tax of 10 USD per person payable on international departures only. There are no taxes for domestic flights.

Passports & Visas

A valid passport and as entry visa

Customs

Foreign currencies, jewelries, electrical goods and video cameras must be declared at the airport.

Duty free allowance: Two bottles of liquor; tow cartons of cigarettes; 100 cigar; 1.5 lb of tobacco; one pint bottle of perfume or eau de cologne.

Pre-Departure Preparations

A travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a wise idea.

Aspirin or Panadol ( for pain or fever ), Antibiotics, Calamine lotion ( to ease irritation from bites or stings ), Bismuth preparation ( Pepto-Bismol ), Imodium or Lomoti ( for stomach upsets and diarrhea), Bandages ( for minor injuries ), Insect repellent, sunscreen, suntan lotion, chap stick and water purification tablets are recommended to carry.

Ideally antibiotics should be administered only under medical supervision and should never be taken indiscriminately.

Vaccines

No vaccinations are presently required. The classical routes are not the malaria zones such as Yangon, Bagan , Mandalay & Inle Lake. There is malaria only in the extreme northern part and some parts of very high mountains and forestry. So, actually it is not really essential to take any anti-malaria pills but malaria prophylaxis is often recommended by travelers' personal phsicians.

Water

Please don't drink the water and that includes ice as well as tap water. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if water may have been added. Milk should be treated with suspicion, as it is often unpasterised. Boiled milk is fine if it is kept hygienically and yoghurt is always good. Tea or coffee should be OK since the water is boiled. In general, the juices, the milk, the water, the tea and coffee offered at the hotels and the restaurants we recommend, are safe. Bottled water and mineral water are obtainable at any shops in most places.

What to wear

Throughout the year, it is advisable to wear summer clothing: thin cloths in light color. In December and January, warm clothes are recommended for visits to northern provinces.

In rainy season ( July to September ), it is advisable to bring umbrellas or raincoats.

Seasons to visit Myanmar

Generally speaking, Myanmar is well access in all year round. Even though it has the affect of monsoon in July, August & September, it is not rainy the whole country. Only the parts, which are closed to the sea, such as Yangon and coastal regions have sometimes heavy rains but it does not happen in all three months. Since Mandalay & Bagan are dry-zones, even in monsoon period, there is very little rain. Since Inle Lake is hilly region, sometimes it rains and sometimes it does not. Nevertheless, the rains do not disturb our visits and sightseeing.

The best period to come to Myanmar is from October to end of March. April and May are the hottest months in Myanmar but no rain.

Things to buy

Shopping in Myanmar is better than ever now. Bartering is also quiet acceptable. In larger towns and cities the best bargains are usually found in the public markets. Each place has its own particular such as lacquerware in Bagan, textiles such as silk, cottons, etc., in Mandalay & Inle Lake ( Shan bags can be found as well ), wood carving, tapesties, marionette in Mandalay are main souvenirs from Myanmar.

The rubies and jades are also famous but be aware before purchasing. Simulated antiques, fine ceramics and copies of famous paintings are also possible to buy.

Most of the souvenirs shops in the main towns accept the American Dollars or FEC ( Foreign Exchange Certificate). Very few shops accept Euros but not favorable. The most convenient currency to pay is in Kyats-local currency in all over Myanmar.

Export Restrictions

The following items cannot legally be taken out of the country:

Prehistoric implements and artifacts, fossils, old coins, bronze or brass weights, bronze or clay pipes, kammawas or parabaiks, inscribed stones, inscribed gold or silver, hishorical documents, all religious images including of Buddha.

Electricity

Myanmar has a great potential for producing hydroelectricity; about 50% of its electricity is from hydroelectric plants. The remainder of Myanmar's electricity is produced by thermal plants using natural gas, diesel fuel, or coal. The voltage is 230 volt, AC 50 HZ. Most of the hotels and places have three-pin plugs. For those who have brought video camera, adapter is highly recommended.

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