I still cant believe our Myanmar adventure was already over. To be honest, I almost decided not to pursue visiting Burma due to some previous travel arrangements but the love for adventure made me decide to join 8 other travelers in exploring one of Asia’s exotic wonder. I’m currently writing articles about our adventure in Burma but for now, here are the things you need to know before visiting Myanmar.
Monks in Kabar Aye Pagoda in Yangon
Along with several holiday destinations in the world which leaves a fascinating memory in the heart of the travelers, Myanmar is one such place which enlivens the divine beauty and blends ethnic traditions. Myanmar, also known as the Golden land (because of the availability of Gold in plenty) holds the pride of hosting the world’s largest and finest monuments; best teak wood, living mummies and mesmerizing islands.
Temples and Pagodas in Bagan
The culture of Myanmar is highly influenced by the Indian and Chinese traditions. Myanmar formerly known as Burma is a sovereign nation situated in the south east of Asia surrounded by China, Thailand, India, Laos, and Bangladesh which remains as a perfect and exotic destination for tourists.
Burmese Kid in New Bagan
Burma has unlimited mineral agricultural and energy resources. The country used to be the largest rice exporter in the world back in 1950’s Burma but has since been reduced and became one of the most underdeveloped country in Asia. Myanmar is now considered as one of most promising tourist destination in Asia. With the increase of tourist arrivals, few luxury hotels and limited standard accommodation are currently filled to capacity.
Places of interest
Myanmar has the world’s largest ShweDagon Pagoda a oldest golden monument which is 2500 years old , Shwethalyaung a statue of the reclining Buddha(181 feet[55m]long) and the largest ringing bell – Mingun Bell weighing 90.55 metric tones and 26ft high. The world’s largest man made book (Buddhist Bible) can also be seen .This book was created with seven hundred and twenty nine white marble stones protected by small white temples are also a real attraction for the tourists.
On my future visit to Myanmar, I will definitely checkout the Worlds largest man Made caves and Living Mummies covered in Gold. I will also visit other monuments and historical places, walk in the amazing floating islands and try scuba diving in the corals of the southern Myanmar.
What to eat
Myanmar cuisine is a blend of many regional traditions. Since, it is situated in the coastline, seafood remains as the most common food.
Food and Beverage in Myanmar
The mouth- watering Myanmar and Thai delicacies like Mohinga, Onnokauswe, Laphet thote, Nan Gyi thoke , Shan food , and Curry also makes the trip refreshing and remarkable . Although I found most of their dish very oily, each dish is very unique and is made to satisfy the tastes of different people with different flavors.
Street Food Vendor
What to Wear
Myanmar is a conservative country and ladies are expected to wear long skirts. Yes even men’s are wearing skirts in Burma and these skirts are called longyi.
Pinoy Travel Bloggers wearing Longyi in Shwedagon Temple (photo by Dong Ho)
The weather is pretty weird so make sure to bring a jacket because its pretty cold in the morning and light clothing for the humid afternoon. Wear slippers while roaming around town, it’s more convenient to remove slippers than shoes when entering temples.
Ron and Monette of FlipTravels.com in Silhouette
Myanmar Visa application takes 3 business days if you will be applying your Myanmar in Manila Philippines. Travelers holding Tourist Myanmar Visa is allowed to stay for 4 weeks/28 days. The Myanmar Visa visa fee is US$ 20. Tourist Myanmar Visa On Arrival (VOA) applications from all countries over the world are accepted & process.
Visa on Arrival in Yangon International Airport
Foreign Exchange and Banking
The official currency of Myanmar is called Kyat (pronounced as “CHAT”). Travelers cannot exchange US Dollars to Kyat outside of Myanmar so make sure to bring enough US Dollar when traveling to Myanmar. US Dollars is the primary currency being accepted by most hotels, car rental, trains, boats and tour operators. Currency Exchange shops only accepts crisp US Dollar Bills without any creases, tears, pen-marks, stamps, folds and it should be not printed before 2006. And as always, $100 bills will get you a better exchange rate than smaller bills.
Kyat – Myanmar’s Legal Tender
ATM Machines in Yangon International Airport
ATM Machines are now available in the airport and in some areas of Yangon but always bring enough cash just to be on the safe side.
What to Buy
Myanmar has always remained as a shopping paradise for the tourists to buy puppets, lacquerware (which is made into bowls, cups, vases and various items) exotic souvenir’s in the form of wall hangings, genuine jade jewelry at a very low cost and various colorful artifacts.
Jade Accessories in Bogyoke Aung San Market
There are no Shopping Malls as big as Mall of Asia and Vivo City in Yangon but you will find a lot of interesting things in Bogyoke Aung San Market – a major bazaar located in Pabedan township in central Yangon. Bogyoke Aung San Market (near Traders Hotel) has many licensed shops which is a safe place to buy the precious stones like Jade, rubies and sapphire.
Bogyoke Aung San Market
Myanmar is also famous for their tapestries which are decorated with gold and silver thread usually depicting the Buddhist scriptures. One of the most popular antiques is the old Raj coins. You may also want to buy textiles in Myanmar like their traditional long gyia sarong worn by both men and women.
Best time to visit Myanmar
The best time or rather the peak season to visit Myanmar is during November to February when the climate is very cool and cozy. Overall the trip to Myanmar, the Golden Land will open a new insight for every visitor and will give divine peace through rejuvenation of body, mind and soul.
Novice Monks in Bagan
Transportation in and around Myanmar
There are no direct flights to Yangon from Manila. Most foreign visitors arrive in Yangon, which offers direct flights from most major cities in Asia but the nearest is Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Local flights and tour packages can be arranged with local travel agents and tour operators. (Contact – Exotic Myanmar Travel and Tour Services – [email protected] www.exoticmyanmartravel.com)
Japanese Bicycles in Bagan
Public Transport in Myanmar
Horse Carts in New Bagan
Myanmar offers Rail Transport but there are currently no rail links to adjacent countries. Local transport in Yangon is usually by Bus, Taxi, horse carts and bikes that you can rent in the nearest hotel or hostel near you. Taxi in Yangon are not metered, you are free to negotiate the rates before you hop in the cab and head across town. Its best if you ask locals about the going rates to avoid paying too much for the ride. Motorcycles are not allowed in Yangon.
This post is just about general info and travel tips to Myanmar, I will post more destination and attraction focused blog posts soon:)