Myanmar can be visited all year around regardless of the weather. Its climate can be described as tropical monsoon climate with three distinct seasons: hot, rainy and cold. The hot season from March to May with average temperatures above 30 degrees, sometimes even up to 40 degrees Celsius. The southwest monsoon beginning in June until early October with frequent short rainstorms and humidity. The cold season from November to February with average temperature 20-28 degree Celsius provides travellers with comfortable travel opportunities.
About 87% of the people of Myanmar are Buddhist, but Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and other religions are also practiced among the minorities.
The local currency is the Kyat (MMK). We recommend visitors to bring sufficient amount of US Dollars in cash. US Dollars are widely accepted throughout Myanmar and are easily exchangeable for Kyats in most of the hotels, shops and department stores with exchange licenses US dollars. However, the exchange rates and rate of commission on foreign transactions may vary. Any unused Kyats can easily be changed back again. Euro, Singaporean Dollar, Thai Baht, and Malaysian Ringgit among other currencies are slowly accepted in many places as well.
Please note that bills in crisp condition with marks, stains or folds are not accepted in Myanmar. Visitors must be aware that the acceptance of traveller’s checks and/or credit cards is limited in Myanmar. But ATMs in the major tourist destinations now widely accept International Master Card, Visa or Union Pay. Our Myanmar tour guides are happy to offer further tips and suggestions.
ELECTRICITY & POWER
Myanmar uses 220-230 Volts AC and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round 2-pin or 3-pin plugs. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor. Areas outside of the major cities may experience power outages but most of hotels have their own generator. In more remote areas, 24-hour electricity might not always be available.
Foreign SIM cards will not work in Myanmar. At present SIM cards sold by the MPT (Myanmar Post & Telecommunications), Telenor, Mytel and Ooredoo networks are now generally available at a cheap price. SIM cards are 3G mobile data enabled (although speeds can be slow) and cards work on a top-up basis. International calls to western mobile network numbers are now working in Myanmar, except in remote areas.
International calls can also be made from the hotel reception desks and most rooms. It is advised to check the charges before making a call since they can be very expensive and usually connection charges are already calculated.
Internet access (Wi-Fi) is now available free of charge at many hotels and local businesses throughout Myanmar but speed can usually be slow and unreliable, especially outside of major cities.
VACCINATION AND HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS
When entering Myanmar from Europe, vaccinations are presently not required. Except northern part and some part of very high mountains, the cities on the classical tours are free from Malaria however vaccinations against hepatitis, polio, diphtheria, tetanus and typhoid are recommended. Usually stand-by-medication is sufficient, but in the more remote trekking areas visitors are advised to use appropriate mosquito repellent and prepare accordingly. Please check with a physician or a Tropical Medicine Institute before travelling. Travellers should only drink sealed bottled water and be careful when eating
from street food.
PASSPORT AND VISA REQUIREMENT
A visa and a passport with at least six-month validity is required in advance to travel to Myanmar. A tourist visa valid for 28 days can be applied and obtained from a diplomatic representation of Myanmar. In addition to getting visas at embassies and consulates around the world, Myanmar has an online e-visa system for both tourist and business traveller. Travellers from 108 countries can now apply online for an e-visa at the Ministry of Immigration and Population in Yangon International Airport through http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/.
It is strongly recommended that travel insurance covering health, trip cancellation, lost and damage baggage etc. be purchased.
IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS FORMALITIES
Your valuables such as jewelry, cameras, electronic equipment, etc. should be declared on your customs declaration form upon arrival so that you can officially claim of your lost or theft during your trip although it hardly happens. Receipt of purchase and an export permit voucher for locally bought goods such as gems and jewelry may be required upon departure. Antiques items (pre-historic artifacts, religious, cultural implements etc.), fossils, historical documents, frescoes and precious stones are not legally allowed to take out of the country.
GRATUITIES AND TIPPING
Myanmar people are genuinely happy to help foreign visitors without expecting anything in return. However, when your guide, driver or any other person during your trip was especially kind or helpful a gratuity would be a generous gesture and greatly appreciated.
Myanmar is still a very traditional country. Please pay respect in pagodas and temples and wear clothes which cover your shoulders and legs. As you can enter pagodas and temples only barefoot (without shoes and socks), we recommend you to wear a slipper/sandal. The people of Myanmar are very friendly and will thank you with appropriate respect and a smile.
Typical Myanmar products are: silver items, lacquer-ware, silk, wood carvings, embroidery. The export of antiques and archaeological finds, older than 75 years, is forbidden, as is the export of Buddha statues. Bagan has a thriving production of lacquer-ware. All other souvenirs and articles can also be found in Yangon at the Scott Market (now officially called “Bogyoke Aung San Market”).
Please always remember that like everywhere else, visitors are always guests in a country and therefore should adapt to the local customs and habits, as strange and special these may seem.
Please make sure that when sitting to never point with your feet at other people or a Buddha statue. Enter houses, temples, monasteries, etc., always without shoes and socks.
Theravada Buddhists have a strong “anti-flesh” attitude. So be aware of appropriate clothing, especially in temples and monasteries. It would be better to avoid wearing mini-skirts, shorts and beach wardrobes.
Especially in the cities and among the most visited tourist attractions, it is possible that children will try to sell you souvenirs and postcards. Please do not buy anything, no matter how cheap it seems or how your feelings towards children are. Children should be at home or in school, but not on the road!