Travel Tips For Myanmar
International Flights/Travel insurance
Travel Tips For Myanmar: When paying for international flights, if you use a credit card it may include travel insurance (which includes cover in the countries you visit), not all credit cards include travel insurance, and the credit card companies do not advertise this service. Please check with your credit card company to see if they include travel insurance, it is well worth the additional cost of around 2% using your credit card, as the cost of travel insurance will be much more.
Myanmar has not been open to tourism as long as other Asian countries and as a consequence, the infrastructure is in its infancy, even with the best travel itineraries available, you can expect delays. If you feel you may want to say a few words to the Burmese in their local dialect, you can purchase a pocket-size Lonely Planet Burmese phrasebook from most good book stores, you can practice and memorize a few words prior to your arrival.
Taking a taxi in Myanmar is relatively inexpensive but it is recommended that you negotiate the fare before you accept the lift, in places like Yangon where it is always humid, they may ask if you want air/con, if you say yes they may ask for an extra 1000 Kyat in addition to the fare (roughly 1US Dollar).
When arriving at your hotel it is a good idea to ask for an insect spray to be sent to your room, so when you are going out, turn off the air/con and spray the room for mozzies and later when you return to your hotel room, there will be no mozzies to worry about during the night. It is also a good idea to ask the hotel for one of their business cards in the unlikely event you get lost or show the taxi driver where you want to go. Most of the bigger hotels have a safe in the room, they are handy for keeping your passport and other important items in rather than carrying them around with you if not required.
The internet in Myanmar is quite slow compared to most western countries, Wi-Fi is available in most hotels and restaurants, you will normally require a password to access it, the Wi-Fi password is normally available at the reception in hotels or asks the waiter at a restaurant or bar. In some parts of Myanmar, access to the internet is best described as sporadic; this is the case especially in the more remote areas, notably on weekends and in particular Sundays, when it seems everyone is using their phone Wi-Fi.
I have been traveling to Myanmar for ten years and as far as I am aware there are no requirements for specific inoculations, however, it is best you check with your GP well before your departure, in case they recommend any course of injections that may take several visits.
The months between November through February are the ideal months to visit Myanmar, as they are the winter months and tend to be cooler and dry; this makes it easier to travel around by air, road, and rail. The downside to this is traveling by boat. As it gets toward the end of January/February the water levels in the rivers drop to the point of being un-navigable and in some cases need a change to the method of transport to keep your itinerary on time.
What to bring
Bring 40+ sunscreen and Mosquito repellent, also it is recommended you bring a warm jacket or other clothing as it can get cold at night, especially in places such as Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin) and Inle with a cool breeze when you are traveling by boat on the lake. A basic first aid kit is also useful to bring along some band-aids for blisters etc. and Panadol.
The money they use in Myanmar is called the “Kyat” pronounced (Chat), ask the bank to give you 5,000 Kyat notes instead of 1,000 kyat notes, you will find it easier to carry around the larger notes rather than a wad of smaller notes. Tipping is not compulsory in Myanmar, but I usually give a 1000 Kyat note when they bring my suitcases to the room, and also the taxi driver if it has been an especially long ride. At this point in time, the only foreign currency accepted in Myanmar is US Dollars, to avoid taking large amounts of cash with you; an alternative is to withdraw cash from ATMs. There are ATMs available in major cities, some of the bigger hotels, and banks in most towns. Ensure that if you use a credit card to withdraw Myanmar money,” Kyats” pronounced (Chats) you use a savings or cheque account card at an ATM which displays the Symbol: “Cirrus” or “Plus”. If you use a Master Card or Visa card to withdraw money, you may be charged a “Cash advance fee” by your bank which can be a considerable amount. You should enquire at your bank at least two weeks prior to going overseas about bank charges and arrange for a savings/cheque account card to use for cash withdrawals while overseas. It is advised to take with you at least US$500.00 or US$1000.00 in US100 Dollar notes, as when you change notes for Kyats the larger the notes the higher the exchange rate. You can bring more if you think you might purchase expensive souvenirs, who knows, you may see something that you particularly like and if you don’t, you can take what you don’t spend back home and convert it back to your own currency. If you purchase expensive items you will get a certificate of authenticity from reputable companies. The exchange rate in January 2016 is around 1250Kyat, for one US Dollar, but you should check with any of the Myanmar banks as the rates change daily.
Points to note:
- * Purchase US$100 notes to bring to Myanmar, the larger the note will ensure the best exchange rate.
- * Only exchange US Dollars at a Bank, money changers may offer a slightly higher rate, but there is an element of risk and the difference in the exchange rate they offer is minimal.
- * Only use personal savings or cheque account credit card to withdraw Kyats from ATMs.
- * Ensure you receive a certificate of authenticity for expensive purchases such as gold, Jade, or any other precious stones.
Visa Application Requirements
A valid visa is essential for entry into Burma (Myanmar) and it is up to individuals to ensure they have a valid visa covering the dates of the holiday.
Burma Travel Australia can obtain a valid visa on your behalf; you must provide us with the following information:
- A valid passport with one page for the visa and a minimum of 6 months validity remaining, on the date of return to Australia.
- 2 passport size and quality recent color photos.
- Application forms must be printed on white A4 paper, using black or blue pen only.
- Application forms must be completed and signed.
- All details must be exactly as they appear on your passport.
- Only use the passport application form provided by Burma Travel Australia or the Myanmar Embassy.
- If you have travel arrangements not booked through Burma Travel Australia that will affect your visa, please provide a detailed travel itinerary issued by your travel agent who is booking your International flights, which includes your full name, dates, and places of entry and exit and the mode of transport used.
If you wish to make visa applications independently, click on the link on the website called “ Visa Applications” which will take you to the Burmese Embassy in Australia: mecanberra.com.au and download and submit a “Tourist visa” pdf form valid for up to 28 days stay in Burma (Myanmar). The cost is $35.00 plus postage and handling, per person and is valid for 3 months from the date of issue. If you stay longer than 28 days you will have to pay 3 US Dollars for every day over the 28 days. Please ensure you complete the visa form exactly as per the instructions on the Burmese (Myanmar website) and have been signed. Please ensure you include a, return self-addressed registered mail envelope.
If making visa applications independently, International Flights must be confirmed & submitted to the Burmese Embassy along with the application for a Visa, a minimum of four weeks before departure. Please read the checklist accompanying the visa application on the Consulate website at: mecanberra.com.au to ensure you provide all information needed to meet the visa requirements.