MYANMAR TRAVEL GUIDE
Land of golden pagodas; of ancient kingdoms and capitals; of temples and ruins. Land of green forests, plateaus and mountains; of miles and miles of coastline; of the Rivers Ayeyarwady, Salween and Mekong. Land of a people yearning and striving for democracy. The largest country in South East Asia, Myanmar, or Burma, as it was once called and as many people still prefer, is a culturally rich country, one that remains largely unexplored by tourists.
Whether or not you should visit Myanmar depends on your personal circumstances and travel preferences. The country has a rich culture and history, and many tourists enjoy visiting its temples and pagodas. However, Myanmar has been facing political and economic turmoil in recent years and there are safety concerns in some parts of the country, particularly in areas affected by ongoing conflict. It's always best to stay informed and check the latest travel advisories before planning any trip.
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MYANMAR QUICK FACTS
- Capital: Naypyidaw
- Currency: kyat (MMK)
- Area: 678,500 km²
- Population: 53,71 million (2018)
- Language: Burmese (official), English, Shan dialects, Kayin, Mon, Chinese dialects (Hokkien, Cantonese), Hindi, Tamil
- Religion:Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2% (mostly Hindu)
- Electricity: 220V/50Hz (American and/or Central Europe plug)
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MYANMAR PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 4 January, Independence Day
- 12 February, Union Day
- 2 March, Peasants’ Day
- 27 March, Armed Forces Day
- 13–16 April, Thingyan (New Year)
- 1 May, Labor Day
- 19 July, Martyrs’ Day
Also, the full moon dates according to the Buddhist calendar of Tabaung, Kasone (Buddha Day), Waso (beginning of Buddhist Lent), Thadingyut (end of Buddhist Lent), and Tazaungmon (Festival of Lights), as well as National Day on the tenth waning moon of Tazaungmone.
FESTIVALS IN MYANMAR
BEST TIME TO VISIT MYANMAR
Myanmar has three main seasons:
- The Hot Season (March to May): The temperatures in Myanmar can get quite hot during this time, with temperatures often reaching over 35°C (95°F). This is also the time when the country starts to experience the monsoon season, which brings heavy rain and humidity to many parts of the country.
- The Rainy Season (June to October): The rainy season is characterized by heavy rainfall and high humidity. This is the time when the countryside is at its greenest, and many waterfalls and rivers are at their fullest. It can also be quite challenging to travel during this time, as the rain can make some roads impassable and make it harder to see the sights.
- The Cool Season (November to February): This is the best time to visit Myanmar as the weather is pleasant, with comfortable temperatures and less chance of rain. The skies are also generally clearer during this time, making it easier to see the country's many temples and pagodas.
It is important to note that Myanmar is a large country with varied climates, and the seasons can vary depending on the region.
The best time to visit Myanmar depends on what you want to see and do during your trip.
- For those looking to explore the country's temples and pagodas, the best time to visit is during the cool and dry season from November to February when temperatures are comfortable and there is less chance of rain.
- If you want to see the famous Bagan hot air balloons, the best time to visit is from October to April.
- For those looking to explore the natural beauty of Myanmar, the best time to visit is during the rainy season from June to October when the countryside is lush and green, and waterfalls are at their fullest.
It is also important to note that Myanmar is a large country with varied climates. Some parts of the country can get quite hot, while others can be quite cool and damp.
MYANMAR WEATHER SYNOPSIS
Myanmar can be divided into three main agro-ecological zones: i) Central Dry; ii) Coastal; and iii) Hilly. Myanmar has a tropical to subtropical monsoon climate with three seasons: i) hot, dry inter-monsoonal (mid-February to mid-May); ii) rainy southwest monsoon (mid-May to late October); and iii) cool relatively dry northeast monsoon (late October to mid-February). Mean annual rainfall is the lowest in the Central Dry Zone (500-1,000 mm), increases in the Eastern and Northern Hilly regions, and is the highest in the Southern and Rakhine Coastal regions (2,500-5,500 mm). Seasonal temperatures generally vary greatly throughout most of Myanmar, except in the south. Mean temperature ranges from 32°C in the coastal and delta areas to 21°C in the northern lowlands. In the Central Dry Zone, temperatures range from a maximum of 40-43°C in the hot/dry season to 10-15°C in the cool/relatively dry season and decrease to -1°C or 0°C at times in the highlands. Myanmar’s west coast is subject to frequent tropical storms and cyclones during October to December with a secondary peak in April to May.
MYANMAR TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN MYANMAR
HIKING & CYCLING IN MYANMAR
The best time for outdoor activities in Myanmar is from October to April. You will still find snow on the higher summits over this period.
BEACH OPTIONS IN MYANMAR
The best time Myanmar's beautiful beaches is from November to April, with the peak season from December to February. May to October is the monsoon season and beaches close. Some of the best beaches are: Ngapali Beach, Mergui Archipelago, Ngwe Saung, Chaung Tha Beach, Kanthaya Beach, Nabule Beach, Pa Nyit Beach, Po Po Kyauk Beach, Teyzit Beach, Kabyar Wa Beach, Kanthaya Beach and Nabule Beach.
SURFING IN MYANMAR
The most consistent surf swells in Myanmar are from mid May to late September, however, these reliable waves also bring with them a pretty steady supply of rain, since it is the monsoon season. The best time to venture out for a surf is either towards the beginning or end of the season, when you can enjoy the waves without the rain.
KITESURF IN MYANMAR
Kitesurfing spot details and weather
HEALTH RISKS IN MYANMAR
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
MYANMAR TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to Myanmar can vary depending on your travel style and the length of your trip. Some estimates for a budget trip to Myanmar include:
- Accommodation: Budget-friendly options such as guesthouses and hostels can cost around $10-$20 per night. Mid-range options such as hotels can cost around $30-$60 per night.
- Food: Local street food and market food can be very cheap, with prices ranging from $1-$3 per meal. Eating at restaurants can cost around $5-$15 per meal.
- Transportation: Local buses and trains are very cheap and can cost around $1-$5 per journey. Taxis and private cars are also available but are more expensive.
- Entrance fees: Many of the temples and pagodas in Myanmar have entrance fees, which can range from $1-$10 per site.
- Activities: Visiting markets, temples, pagodas, and other cultural sites are free in Myanmar. However, activities such as hot air balloon ride, trekking, and boat rides can be quite expensive, with prices ranging from $50-$200.
It's worth noting that prices are subject to change and may fluctuate depending on the time of year and the current economic climate.
Here is a sample budget for a one-week trip to Myanmar, assuming a budget-friendly travel style:
- Accommodation: $140 for 7 nights in budget-friendly guesthouses or hostels
- Food: $70 for 7 days, eating mostly street food and market food
- Transportation: $50 for local buses and trains to get around
- Entrance fees: $50 for visiting temples and pagodas
- Activities: $0 (not including any activities)
- Miscellaneous expenses: $50 for incidentals such as souvenirs, laundry, and other small expenses.
Total cost: $360
It's important to note that this is just a rough estimate and your actual costs may vary depending on your specific travel plans and preferences. Also, prices are subject to change and may fluctuate depending on the time of year and the current economic climate. It's always best to check current prices and budget accordingly.
MYANMAR TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some travel tips for Myanmar:
- Respect the culture: Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, and it's important to be respectful of local customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting temples and pagodas, and remove your shoes before entering.
- Be prepared for power outages: Power outages are common in Myanmar, so it's a good idea to bring a power bank to charge your devices.
- Bring cash: Credit cards are not widely accepted in Myanmar, so it's best to have cash on hand for expenses.
- Learn a few basic words in Burmese: Knowing a few basic words in the local language can be helpful when communicating with locals.
- Be flexible with your itinerary: Myanmar is a developing country and infrastructure can be limited. Be prepared for delays and unexpected changes to your plans.
- Get a SIM card: It is recommended to get a local SIM card for internet access as it will be needed for transportation and booking accommodation.
- Be mindful of the political situation: Myanmar has been facing political and economic turmoil in recent years, and there are safety concerns in some parts of the country. Stay informed and check the latest travel advisories before planning any trip.
- Do your research: Myanmar is a large country with many different regions and ethnic groups, each with its own unique culture and history. Doing some research beforehand can help you make the most of your trip.
- Be prepared for the heat: Myanmar can get very hot, especially during the hot season, so make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water.
- Be prepared for the rainy season: Be prepared for heavy rainfall, high humidity and muddy roads during the rainy season, bring a good rain jacket and comfortable shoes.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF MYANMAR
Myanmar is a large country with many different regions, each with its own unique culture and history. Some of the main regions of Myanmar and their highlights include:
- Yangon: Yangon is the largest city in Myanmar and the former capital. Highlights of Yangon include the Shwedagon Pagoda, the largest and most sacred pagoda in Myanmar, and the Sule Pagoda, which is over 2,000 years old. The city also has a number of colonial-era buildings and a lively street food scene.
- Bagan: Bagan is an ancient city located in central Myanmar and is known for its thousands of temples and pagodas. Highlights of Bagan include visiting the many temples and pagodas, such as the Ananda Temple, the Shwezigon Pagoda, and the Dhammayangyi Temple. Visitors can also take a hot air balloon ride over the temples or a sunset boat ride on the Irrawaddy River.
- Inle Lake: Inle Lake is a large freshwater lake located in the Shan Hills of eastern Myanmar. The lake is known for its floating gardens and stilt houses, as well as its unique leg-rowing fishermen. Visitors can also explore the many temples and monasteries located around the lake, such as the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the Indein Pagoda complex and the Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery.
- Mandalay: Mandalay is the second-largest city in Myanmar and the former royal capital. Highlights of Mandalay include the Mandalay Palace, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, and the Mahamuni Pagoda, which houses a Buddha statue covered in gold leaf. Visitors can also take a day trip to the nearby ancient city of Amarapura, home of the U Bein Bridge, which is the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world.
- Kyaing Tong: Kyaing Tong is a remote town in the east of Myanmar and is known for its many ethnic minority villages and traditional cultures. Visitors can explore the many hill tribes and their traditional ways of life, such as the Akha, Lahu, and Lisu tribes. Kyaing Tong is also home to the Golden Triangle, a scenic area with a beautiful waterfall and the confluence of three rivers.
- Rakhine state: Rakhine state is located in the west of Myanmar, and it is known for its beautiful beaches, traditional fishing villages and ancient cities. Visitors can explore the Mrauk U, an ancient city that was once the capital of the Rakhine Kingdom, as well as visit local traditional fishing village.
- Chin state: Chin state is located in the northwest of Myanmar and is known for its traditional Chin villages and stunning landscapes. Visitors can explore the many traditional Chin villages, where they can see traditional Chin tattoos and houses made of bamboo.
These are just some examples of the many regions of Myanmar and their highlights, there are many more places to discover and explore in this beautiful country.
Myanmar is a country rich in culture, history, and natural beauty, and there are many things to see and do when visiting. Some of the best things to see and do in Myanmar include:
- Explore the temples and pagodas: Myanmar is home to thousands of temples and pagodas, many of which are ancient and steeped in history. Some of the most notable temples and pagodas to visit include the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the Bagan Temples in Bagan, and the Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay.
- Take a boat trip on Inle Lake: Inle Lake is a beautiful freshwater lake located in the Shan Hills of eastern Myanmar, known for its floating gardens and stilt houses. Visitors can take a boat trip on the lake to explore the local villages, temples, and monasteries, as well as see the unique leg-rowing fishermen.
- Visit the Golden Rock: The Golden Rock, also known as Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, is a famous pilgrimage site located in the Mon State of Myanmar. The pagoda is perched on top of a granite boulder covered in gold leaf and is said to be held in place by a single strand of the Buddha's hair.
- Explore the ancient cities: Myanmar has many ancient cities that are worth visiting, such as Bagan, which is home to thousands of temples and pagodas, and Mrauk U, which was once the capital of the Rakhine Kingdom.
- Visit the hill tribes: Myanmar is home to many ethnic minority groups, each with their own unique culture and traditions. Visitors can explore the hill tribes and their traditional ways of life, such as the Akha, Lahu, and Lisu tribes in Kyaing Tong.
- Take a scenic drive: Myanmar has many beautiful scenic drives, such as the journey from Bagan to Mandalay, which takes you through the picturesque countryside of central Myanmar.
- Relax on the beaches: Myanmar has some beautiful beaches, such as Ngapali beach and Chaungtha beach, where visitors can relax, swim and enjoy the sun.
- Visit the local markets: Myanmar has many local markets where visitors can see the local produce and purchase traditional handicrafts.
- Take a hot air balloon ride: A hot air balloon ride over Bagan's temples and pagodas is an unforgettable experience for visitors, as it offers a bird's-eye view of the ancient city.
- Attend a traditional performance: Myanmar has a rich tradition of dance and music, and visitors can attend a traditional performance such as a puppet show or a traditional dance performance.
These are just a few examples of the many things to see and do in Myanmar. The country is full of surprises and it's a journey of discovery.
WHAT TO EAT IN MYANMAR
Myanmar's cuisine is a unique blend of Indian, Chinese, and Thai influences, and there are many delicious dishes to try when visiting the country. Some of the most popular and traditional dishes in Myanmar include:
- Mohinga: This is considered the national dish of Myanmar and is a rice noodle and fish soup that is often served for breakfast.
- Lahpet thoke: This is a traditional Burmese salad made with fermented tea leaves and mixed with peanuts, sesame, dried shrimp, and other ingredients.
- Curry: Myanmar has a variety of curries, such as chicken curry and fish curry, which are often served with rice or noodles.
- Samosas: These are deep-fried or baked pastries filled with meat or vegetables and are a popular snack in Myanmar.
- Shan noodles: These are a type of thin rice noodles that are often served in a spicy broth with various toppings, such as chicken or shrimp.
- Mango salad: This is a popular dish made with ripe mangoes, chili, and fish sauce.
- Nan gyi thoke: This is a Burmese dish made from flat rice noodles and served with chicken or beef curry.
- Fried rice: This dish is a popular in Myanmar, and it's usually served with chicken or seafood.
- Roti: This is a type of Indian-style flatbread that is often served as a side dish with curry.
- Burmese desserts: Myanmar has a variety of sweet treats, such as Burmese-style ice cream, sweet glutinous rice cakes, and traditional Burmese desserts made with coconut milk and jaggery.
When eating in Myanmar, it's important to note that many restaurants and street vendors may not have high hygiene standards, so it's best to be cautious about where you eat and what you eat. Also, it's better to avoid raw food, such as salads and fresh fruits, as the water used to clean them might not be potable.
LGBTQ IN MYANMAR
WHERE TO STAY IN MYANMAR
When visiting Myanmar for the first time, there are several popular destinations and regions to consider staying in:
- Yangon: Yangon is the largest city in Myanmar and a popular starting point for many visitors. It is home to many historical and cultural sites, including the Shwedagon Pagoda, which is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the country. There are also many colonial-era buildings, temples, and markets to explore. Yangon is also famous for street food and night market.
- Bagan: Bagan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Myanmar. It is home to thousands of ancient temples and pagodas, many of which can be visited and explored. The best way to explore Bagan is by bike or e-bike, and also hot-air balloon.
- Inle Lake: Inle Lake is located in the Shan Hills and is known for its floating villages, markets, and stilt houses. Visitors can take boat tours to explore the lake and visit the local communities and markets, and also can have a chance to see the famous leg-rowing Intha people.
- Mandalay: Mandalay is the second-largest city in Myanmar and is known for its rich cultural and historical heritage. Visitors can explore many temples, pagodas, and monasteries, including the famous Mahamuni Pagoda and the Kuthodaw Pagoda, which is known as the world's largest book. Mandalay is also a great place to see traditional Burmese performing arts.
- Ngapali beach: Ngapali beach is located on the Bay of Bengal coast and is known for its beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal-clear water, and laid-back atmosphere. It's a great place to relax and enjoy some of the best sunsets in the country.
- Hsipaw: Located in the Shan Hills, Hsipaw is a charming town with a laid-back atmosphere and a great base for exploring the surrounding hills and villages. Visitors can take a trek to the local hill tribe villages, visit the local markets and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
When choosing where to stay, it's important to consider your travel itinerary and what you want to see and do in Myanmar. It's also recommended to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist season, as some of the more popular destinations can fill up quickly.
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