Myanmar is the largest country in the South East Asian Peninsula stretching 2,000km from north to south & over 900km from east to west covering an area size of Great Britain and francs combined. Three quarters of the mountains and the jungle cover Myanmar and there are no less than 135 ethnic groups living the country. Flat plains and wide rivers characterize the geography of the center of the country while mountain ranges run along the Thai border up to the Himalayas in the east. The southern coast of the country borders the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Myanmar’s main is 2,000km long Ayeyawady River, formerly known as the Irrawarddy, around which most of the country’s best farmland is found.
All visitors must complete an arrival card. This should be submitted together with passport and visa to the Immigration Department officials, as well as the Customs officers. The Exit portion will be torn off and returned to the visitor, who should retain this for presentation upon departure.
An international airport tax of 10 USD per person is payable cash in USD or FEC (Foreign Exchange Certificates) when departing on an international flight. Departure tax is not charged on domestic flights.
Business Hours & Local Time
Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 09:30H until 16:00H. Most shops are open every day; an exception is Bogyoke Market (Scott Market), which is closed on Monday, but more and more shops are starting to open on Monday as well. The Local time is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus seven hours
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Myanmar. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat and umbrella are a good idea in the rainy season and the umbrella can also offer useful shade from the sun. Evenings in the hill stations and Inle Lake can quite chilly so bring a sweater or other warm clothing if visiting these areas. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting pagodas and monasteries and shoes must be removed before entering any religious building or private home.
Do NOT change money at the booth just behind immigration at the airport. In Dec 05 the USD rate was around 450 kyats while you could get 900 kts in town.
US Dollars are accepted for change everywhere and the EURO is getting more and more popular, especially in Yangon. The exchange rate in Yangon is generally better than upcountry.
Most hotels and better restaurants also accept payments directly in USD.
Credit Cards & Traveller Cheques
Credit cards and Traveller Cheques are currently NOT accepted in Myanmar as per 01 April 05. Please make sure that you would bring enough cash (USD or EUROS) for your purchases and payments. Most hotels accept USD as payment.
Myanmar uses 220V, power-cuts are quite common but most hotels have their own generator.
There is not much in the way of western style entertainment in Myanmar but Yangon has some good western restaurants and there are a few bars and nightclubs, notably in the city's international hotels. In the rest of the country entertainment is mainly confined to some good Chinese and Burmese restaurants and the ubiquitous teashops.
The staples of Burmese cuisine are rice, rice noodles, and curries. The main ingredient of the meal is usually rice and the curries tend not to be as spicy as those from India or Thailand. A clear soup called hingyo accompanies most meals and a fermented fish sauce or paste called ngapiye is usually served to add to the flavour. Chinese, Indian and European food is served in restaurants at most tourist places
No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in and it is advisable to take precautions especially if travelling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are rather limited in (only in Yangonthere are good clinics) and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before travelling in case evacuation is needed. Please visit our Travel Insurancefor details.
Hours of Business
Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 09:30H until 16:00H. Most shops are open every day; an exception is Bogyoke Market (Scott Market), which is closed on Monday, but more and more shops are starting to open on Monday as well.
The national language of Myanmar is Burmese, of which there are over 80 different dialects spoken. The written language uses an amazing looking script based on ancient Indian characters. In the cities many of the older generation still speak very good English and it is also becoming popular again with the younger generation.
The currency in Myanmar is the Kyat (pronounced 'chat'). As in many countries of the area the US Dollar is the most useful currency to carry and it can be exchanged into local currency. However there is no need to change big amounts into the local currency as most of the places catering to tourists also accept payment in US Dollar bills. Furthermore the biggest kyat bill is 1000 kyats equivalent roughly to 1 USD Dollar so you will carry a big stack of notes.
Banks are open Monday to Friday between 10:00H and 14:00H.
Traveller’s cheques can currently NOT be used or exchanged in Myanmar. The same applies to Credit cards!
It is absolutely necessary to bring enough cash in USD or EURO. Other foreign currencies are difficult to change.
There is not anymore required to change 200 US Dollars into 200 FEC (Foreign Exchange Certificates) upon arrival at the airport.
There is a parallel official currency the FEC (Foreign Exchange certificate), which can be used (as you use cash US Dollars) to pay hotels, flight- train tickets, souvenirs, meals etc. It is at par (1:1) with the US Dollar but make sure to spend it before leaving Myanmar as it is valid only in Myanmar.
January 4 Independence Day
February 12 Union Day
March 2 Farmer's Day
March 27 Armed Forces Day
April 13-17 Water Festival and New Year (variable)
May 1 International Labor Day
July 19 Martyr's Day
November 25 National Day
December 25 Christmas Day
Variable holidays are also the start and end of Buddhist Lent (mid-july-mid-October) and Full moon days (Warso, Tabaung, Kason, Thadyingut)
Mobile telephones and laptop computers with modems are officially not allowed into the country but the rule is not enforced and they can be brought in. However mobile phones will not work in Myanmar, as the country does not have any roaming agreements.
Items of jewellery, cameras and foreign currency must be declared at customs on entry and also on a currency declaration form. Export of Buddha images and antiques or articles of archaeological importance is prohibited. Gemstones can only be bought from government-controlled outlets and the buyer must receive a certificate.
Post and Telecommunication
Most hotels in Yangon Bagan, Inle Lake and Mandalay now have IDD phones in rooms and it is possible to send faxes from hotels and post offices, although be warned these services are EXPENSIVE. Phone calls can be charged at a minimum rate even if no connection is established! It is difficult to make a phone call abroad from other areas in Myanmar.
Post cards can be bought at all the main tourist sites and stamps are available from post offices and some hotel reception desks.
Mobile phones brought in from abroad will NOT work in Myanmar as there are no roaming agreements.
Most of the hotels have now internet terminals but free mail servers like Yahoo or Hotmail can NOT be accessed in Myanmar
Buddhism is the dominant religion in Myanmar and over 85% of the population follow the religion. The monastery is the traditional focal point of village life in Myanmar and monks rely on villagers for donations of both money and food. Every boy in Myanmar is expected to spend sometime as a monk. The remainder of the population are Christians, Muslims and animists.
Things to look out for in Myanmar include lacquerware, especially in Bagan, woodcarvings, stone carvings, bronze work, rattan, silver jewellery, silk longgyis and hand-woven textiles.
Travel insurance is not included in all of our tours/service. We highly recommend you purchase your own one including air evacuation in your country before traveling.
Tipping for good service is appreciated in a country where the average annual income is only around 300 USD. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped.
All visitors are required to have a valid visa to enter Myanmar. A 28-day tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors. The current regulations for entering Myanmar are as following:
Visa on arrival
If the country you are living in doesn’t have a Myanmar Embassy you can either send your application to the closest country with a Myanmar Embassy or ask Viet Legend Travel to arrange a visa upon arrival.
For a pre-arranged visa on arrival, please provide us the full names, Passport No, Issuance/Expiry date, Nationality, Sex, Flight sin/out. Then we will apply for a visa on arrival. This process takes 7 working days. After getting the approval letter from the authorities concerned, we will send you a copy of this authorization by fax or scanned e-mail attachment. Upon arrival you will get your visa stamped in your passport and you pay a visa fee of USD20/pax as at now. Do not forget to bring 3 passport size pictures. Please be aware that we need at least 7 working days for visa on arrival arrangements and this service is only available for citizens of countries where there is no Myanmar Embassy.
A new way to obtain your Myanmar Visa is via the internet. Log in to www.visa.gov.mm, and follow the instructions on the site. The completing of the Visa application form is quite easy and the applicant is only requested to give name, address, passport number and other basic details. The approved applications are returned via E-mail. Travelers will have to show a print-out of the approved application form at the airline check-in counter before flying to Myanmar and at the Immigration counter upon their arrival in Myanmar. The fees are detailed on the page and applicants can pay the charges directly to the Immigration officers upon arrival. Should you encounter problems with this online method please revert to one of the other options.
It is not advisable to drink tap water but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. Ice in drinks is generally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas
The climate of Myanmar is roughly divided into three seasons: The highest temperature in Summer is in March and April, when it reaches to above 43 Celsius degree in the center. While in the North, it is about 36 Celsius degree. The rainy season is from May to end of October with annual rain fall of less than 10 inches in the center and about 200 inches in the coastal region of Rakhine and Tanintharyi. The Winter, which starts from November to end of February with temperature in hilly areas with an elevation of over 3000 feet drops below 0 Celsius degree. As a whole, the location and topography of the country generate a diversity of climate conditions. During the rainy season, lower Myanmar and coastal areas enjoy heavy rainshowers but it is dry and pleasant in central regions.The average temperature is 30-35 Celsius degree in summer and 20-24 Celsius degree in winter.
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