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Myanmar

Why going to Myanmar?

 

 

Myanmar is one of the last remaining places on earth that has not given in to the tourist trade and, as a result, is still genuine and untouched by the hands of Western influence. The country as you see it today remains much the way it was centuries ago.

Quick facts

Neighboring Countries: bordered on the north-east by China, on the east by Laos and Thailand, on the south-west by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal and on the north-west by Bangladesh and India.

Area: 676,578 km²

Population (2016): 54,460,640

Capital: Nay Pyi Daw

Religion: Buddhism (89.2%), Christianity (5.0%), Islam (3.8%), Hinduism (0.5%), Spiritualism (1.2%) and others (0.2%) Language: Burmese

Currency: Myanmar Kyat (1 US Dollar = 1,290 Myanmar Kyat – November 2016). At present the following kyat banknotes were in use: K 1, K 5, K 20, K 50, K 100, K 500 and K 1000. A sum of 100,000 is called “thein” in Burmese, so K 100,000 is thein kyat.

National Day: 24 November

Visa & travel permissions

TOURIST VISA ARRANGED IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY

For the vast majority of travellers to Myanmar, the easiest visa to obtain is a tourist visa. A tourist visa can be applied directly at the Myanmar Embassy of your home country. A tourist visa costs 40 USD (as of December 2016). Travellers will be required to submit the following when applying for a visa:

 

E-VISA SERVICE

The electronic visa system is the most efficient way to obtain a 28-day tourist visa. The process takes 3 business days and costs 50 USD which must be paid in advance by credit or debit card. It is currently (as of January 2015) available for citizens of 100 countries but more countries are being added on a regular basis. The visa is valid for arrival at Yangon International Airport, Mandalay International Airport and Nay Pyi Taw International Airport.

From 01/09/2016, eVisa can be used to enter Myanmar from the following three land border checkpoints, between Myanmar and Thailand:
– Tachileik
– Myawaddy
– Kawthaung

The application process and policies remain the same, and is applicable to both tourist and business eVisa types. However, except from the mentioned entrances above, the entrance will be not valid for others land border with a e-visa.

Please be aware of the following information for any visa application:

– Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months at the time of departure from Myanmar
– You must provide a photograph (4cmx6cm) taken within 3 months from the date of the visa application and the return airline ticket
– The maximum stay in Myanmar is 28 days
– The application fee of 50 USD per person can be paid by credit card (Visa, Master) and will not be refunded if visa application is rejected
– A confirmation email will be sent to you within one hour after submitting your application
– The average processing time for each application is 5 days
– The e-visa is valid for a period of 90 days after the date of issue.

 

EXTENSIONS & OVERSTAYING YOUR VISA

Travelers to Myanmar are not permitted to extend their tourist visas, but overstaying is a possible option for those who may exceed their 28 days within the Union. A fine of $3 per day plus a $3 “registration fee” is charged. There is no exact regulation, but travelers should not exceed this by over two weeks. Overstayers are advised to have exact change ready at the immigration department at the airport (as they are not likely to change $100 bills and they won’t take Kyat). Note, overstaying your visa may lead to difficulties with airport immigration if you’re planning domestic flights, particularly in far-flung airports (like Sittwe or Myitkyina). It’s wise to stick with land routes.

 

PASSPORTS

All visitors to Myanmar are required to carry a valid passport and a Myanmar visa. The passports must be valid for six months beyond the intended stay.

 

TRAVEL PERMISSIONS

Several regions in Myanmar require special permission for travel. In order to secure this approval we may ask for a scanned copy of your passport in advance. For specific areas, we need this scanned copy at least 3-4 weeks in advance in order to assure the paperwork completion.

From time to time, due to varying issues, places are closed without prior notice. In this case we will do our best to propose and alternate plan after consulting with the clients.

Best time to visit

Access & Transportation

TRAVEL TO & IN MYANMAR

BY AIR
Direct flights to Myanmar are still relatively difficult to find but tend to be more and more. However, many travelers from all corners of the globe can still generally fly to Yangon or Mandalay with one stop. The country is home to three international airports situated at Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw.

BY LAND
Fees for the border crossing sometimes apply and special permissions by the ministry of tourism and immigration are needed for most borders.
Four border entry/exit points along Myanmar-Thai border have been upgraded to International Gateways; meaning we don’t need any permission for Entry/Departure:(a) Tachilek – Maisai;
(b) Myawaddy – Mesok;
(c) Htee Kee – Phunaron; and
(d) Kawthoung – Ranong.For the border to China and India, we currently still need to apply permission for Entry/Departure at Muse (China) and at Tamu (India) border checkpoint.A Friendship Bridge has been opened in May 2015 along the Myanmar-Laos border. This border-point has not yet been designated as International Gateway and still requires a permit for any arrival or departure.There is currently no entry/exit checkpoint along Myanmar-Bangladesh border.

Please contact your sales consultant for further details and up to date information.

 

TRAVEL IN MYANAR
Travel within the country is pretty much unrestricted in the for tourists accessible areas. You may travel freely without being questioned. Some remote areas are however restricted to foreigners and need permission to be arranged a few weeks before arrival. Some areas such as Putao or Mrauk U have recently been reopened to tourists. Please be aware that the situation might still change according to the political situation.

Some methods of local transport are still powered directly by people such as the trishaw or horses, although there are many places to rent a bicycle if you would prefer that. Taxis and other modes of travel are available for long journeys within Myanmar.

Easia Travel recommends traveling by air, some public buses, riverboat or private vehicle for long distances. Domestic flights are arranged only with Myanmar’s privately owned airlines that are very well regulated. All cars used on tours are air-conditioned (except forsome remote rural areas). Other vehicles such as jeeps, vans, coaches and buses are available upon request. There will also be the opportunity for you to charter a ferry and/or a cruise ship.

BUSES
Tourist buses in Myanmar are roomy and are air-conditioned making travel on them comfortable. Taking a local non-tourist bus can be a fun experience for a short period but be aware that they tend to be very full, unsafe and uncomfortable. Some VIP night coaches between Yangon-Mandalay, Yangon – Shwe Nyaung (Inlelake) and Bagan – Shwe Nyaung (Inle lake) are very comfortable with reclining seats, good service and toilets on board. Furthermore, the cost of traveling by local bus in Myanmar is very affordable in comparison to flights.

TRAINS
Myanmar’s railway network comprises 2900 miles of railway track and 550 train stations. Traveling by train in Myanmar can be very enjoyable and scenic, especially if you are a fan of trains. However the ride on trains in Myanmar can be on the other hand very bumpy due to bad but steadily improving rail conditions at times and be prepared for delays caused by any number of reasons.

– The Yangon – Mandalay line has the least problems of staying on schedule of any train.
– The Hsipaw-Mandalay (150 km) is very popular and offers some of the most stunning views ever. (Paul Theroux managed to do this back when foreigners weren’t supposed to, in his book The Great Railway Bazaar).
– Kalaw – Shwe Nyaung (Inle) offers beautiful views over the mountainous landscapes of the Shan State.
– Most of the other lines are slower and are less comfortable and are not desirable to travel on.

Trains that travel long distances have dining cars that are accessible to passengers traveling by first, upper and sleeper class. It is also possible to order food from your seat and have it brought to you but food quality is very poor. There is also the opportunity to buy food from vendors on the platforms when the train stops which happens quite frequently.

CARS
This is by far the most convenient and scenic way to travel in Myanmar except walking. The cost of renting a car however might be more expensive than one would think due to a shortage in gasoline and car parts in Myanmar. The cost of renting a car for drive between cities is between $100 and $190 US dollars. Bear in mind that you cannot drive a car in Myanmar and if you do so it could cause some problems with local authorities. Easia Travel can propose a vast array of automobiles available for you to choose from for your drive. These vehicles are in good condition and have air conditioning.

Among the most popular and reliable rental cars in the country are second-hand, reconditioned Toyota Corona hatchbacks imported from Japan from 1988. Cars that are slightly more up to date are Toyota Chasers (from 1990 to 1992).Myanmar also produces its own Mazda jeeps – MJs – 80% local parts. These jeeps are great for off-roading.

BOAT
A cruise on the Ayeyarwaddy River is often on the ‘wish list’ of visitors. These range from multi-day luxury cruises to simple one-day trips. Some of the key routes include:

– Mandalay to Bagan – on IWT (Government ferries) or privately-owned boats such as Malikha or RV Shwe Keinnery. Charter boats are also available for rent such as MS Hintha or RV Yandabo.
– Myitkyina to Mandalay via Bhamo – Operated by a number of privately owned speed boasts and IWT ferries.
– Mawlamyine to Hpa-An – Small private boats of IWT ferries
– Sittwe to Mrauk U – Small private boats of IWT ferries

In addition to river cruising, the southern Mergui Archipelago is an increasingly popular place for live-aboard cruising with the option of adding scuba diving around the islands.

LUXURY BOATS
For more affluent travel on newer vessels, some luxury boats operate in the upper and lower regions of the Ayeyarwaddy River. We offer cruises of between one and 14 nights along the river between the cities of Yangon and Mandalay. Please check with your sales consultant about the latest programs.

Dos or don'ts

When visiting Myanmar, there are some customs and beliefs that travelers should be aware of before coming to the country in order to avoid offending any of the locals.

Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind whilst visiting:

–  Never wear shoes and socks inside a pagoda or monastery, as they are not allowed, although some monasteries allow footwear in the grounds. When visiting someone’s home, shoes should always be left at the door. You should also remember that carpets, mats and other kinds of floor covering are meant to be sat upon, so should avoid walking on them especially with your shoes on.
–  Myanmar dress is conservative; therefore visitors should avoid wearing anything alluring in public. In a pagoda, men and women should avoid wearing sleeveless shirts or revealing clothing.
–  Do not step over the body of anyone else. But if you must, always ask to be excused first.
–  When you offer something to a monk or nun or an elderly person, use both hands. With others, apart from casual transactions at shops or food stalls use your right hand or both hands in order to be polite in the case of giving or receiving gifts, etc.
–  Monks and nuns should not be touched. Women should be careful not to let any part of their body touch a monk’s robes.
–  Do not lose your temper. Furthermore, touching someone older than you on the head may also be interpreted as an act of aggression and should be avoided.
–  Please ask before taking photos of people, particularly monks
–  Avoid posing or sitting with Buddhist images
–  Don’t point your feet at anybody or anything. As well, be sure not to sit with your feet pointed at a Buddha image (sit cross-legged or with your legs tucked behind you)
–  Learn a few words of the Myanmar language. It is always greatly appreciated!
–  Do not show affection in public.
–  Do not give money directly to a monk.
–  Do not step voluntarily on a monk’s shadow.
–  Do not accept any kinds of drugs here. Penalties for drug-trafficking range from five years’ imprisonment to a death sentence.
– Having a Buddha tattoo is considered as offensive for most of the Buddhists if located on certain parts of your body (feet, legs, calf). Please do cover this part of your body during your stay in Myanmar should you have any Buddha tattoo.
– For more information: http://www.dosanddontsfortourists.com/

Money & budget

MONEY
Myanmar’s currency is called the Kyat, pronounced “chat” and the coins are called pya. Bills that represent Kyat are broken down into 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000 Kyat denominations. Please be aware that the Kyat is a non-convertible currency and cannot officially be exchanged abroad. The official exchange rate in Myanmar is around 1319 Kyat = 1 USD and 1418 Kyat = 1 Euro (as of December 2016).Tourists are able to exchange money (US Dollars, Singapore Dollars, Thai Baht and Euros) at the current market rate at the airport or at any licensed moneychanger on presentation of your passport. Please ask your tour guide for assistance. Note: in smaller towns (Kyaing Tong, Monywa, Kyauk Me), exchange may not be open on weekends. ATMs, which distribute kyats, are found throughout the country. However the functionality is not consistent so we suggest bringing foreign currency for exchange.The Central Bank of Myanmar has withdrawn all foreign currency exchange license for businesses including Hotels, Restaurants, Airlines and Souvenir Shops. Starting from 01 November 2015, it is not legally allowed to accept payments in US dollars however some places still accept USD payment despite this law. It is still recommended to exchange money as kyats are accepted throughout the country.USD
All USD brought into Myanmar must be in pristine condition (new or nearly new bills).Make sure that paper notes are not marked or stamped IN ANY WAY. Pencil marks can be removed but any permanent marks will adversely impact a note’s value or cause it to be rejected altogether. Do not have any creases or fold lines as this will also decrease a note’s value. Make sure that your bills are current US currency; none of the older variations such as those depicting smaller images of presidents. Make sure that if you are carrying $100 bills that their serial numbers do not begin with CB as this will possibly result in the bill’s rejection. $100 bills yield the best exchange rate while smaller denominations are slightly more expensive to exchange.

 

EURO
The Euro is rarely used in Myanmar, even at major hotels, and thus visitors travelling with Euro will need to convert their cash to Myanmar Kyats. There is no problem to exchange Euros into Kyat in big tourist destinations such as Yangon or Mandalay. We suggest to exchange your Euros into Kyat upon arrival in Myanmar or exchange Euros for USD before you enter the country.

 

CREDIT CARDS AND ATMS
The network of ATM machines covers the most visited cities in Myanmar by tourists and business travelers. Maximum amount per withdrawal is MMK 300,000 and daily maximum amount of withdrawal is MMK 1,000,000 subject to the limit set up by the issuing bank. The ATMs charge a small fee of MMK 5000 or equivalent for each transaction. Some visa cards are restricted by the issuing bank for oversea usage and therefore, customers may require seeking the approval of the issuing bank in order to do so.

Credit Cards are accepted by a few vendors- usually high-end hotels or shops. However they usually entail a 5-10% surcharge and do not always work.
Please note that the banking system is still developing and the ATMs and Credit Cards should not be relied upon as the sole source of cash for your holiday.

 

TRAVELLER CHECKS
Traveller checks are not accepted in Myanmar.

 

FOREIGN EXCHANGE CERTIFICATES (FECS)
These certificates are no longer in use in Myanmar and were abolished as of March 2013. Some guidebooks may still carry wrong information.

 

BARGAINING
In Myanmar you are expected to bargain. Do so freely but respectfully. Keep a smile on your face, be realistic about the expected discount and if the vendor does not reach your final price do not push him or her too hard.

 

TIPPING
Tipping is a part of the local culture. It is customary in Burmese culture to offer a small tip for those in the service industry. For suggested amounts, please refer to our ‘Myanmar Tipping Guidelines’ Tipping policy.

Health

If you travel to Myanmar prepared your chances of becoming ill are very low. Make sure that you have that all of your vaccinations are current and that you are vaccinated for Tetanus, Polio and Diphtheria. Other vaccines recommended include Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B (if you are in-country for over 3 months), Typhus and Tuberculosis, vaccinations against rabies and Japanese encephalitis are also advised. Officially there are no vaccinations required to enter Myanmar. However, any travels from West Africa, Central Africa, Central America or South America need to present vaccinations records against Yellow Fever upon arrival but this is often overlooked by the authorities.

 

HEALTH ADVICE
Drink plenty of fluids during the day (2 liters)
Do not drink tap water in Myanmar. Only bottled water is drinkable
Do not eat unpeeled fruits, raw vegetables and ice
Wash your hands frequently
Most important: Trust your gut feeling. If you don’t like your food stop eating and do a double take when eating from street vendors

Emergency contacts

24 HOURS EMERGENCY NUMBERS (French speaking)
09 2541 1523 9 (from Myanmar)
+95 (0) 9 2541 1523 9 (from France)

 

CONTACT ADDRESS
Easia Travel – Myanmar
No. 8, Mahasi Thathana Yeiktha Street
Bahan Township, Yangon – Myanmar
Telephone +95-(0) 9 262 239 992
Fax +95-(0) 1 544473

 

EMERGENCY SERVICE IN MYANMAR
Your home embassy may be able to assist with advice during emergencies or serious problems. You might want to register if possible before you arrive so that the embassy staff will know where to reach you in case of emergency at home. If calling a Myanmar emergency number you may have to ask the aid of a Burmese speaker because there might not be an English-speaking operator on the line:

Ambulance:                192
Fire department:       191
Police:                         199
Red Cross:                  (01) 392029 / 30

What to prepare?

PRE-DEPARTURE TASKS
Make sure your passport is valid with at least 6 months before the expiry date and that you have the correct visas. Have a look at the visa requirements for more information.
Consider medical, baggage and trip cancellation insurances.
Check with your doctor re vaccinations and medicines needed.

 

CLOTHES
Clothing should be lightweight and of the drip dry variety. You will be in the sun a lot so long sleeves and a wide hat would be more suitable.
Underwear should be synthetic and easily washable.
Sleepwear.
Shirts should be long sleeved and light weight with lots of closed pockets.
T-shirts, short sleeved and again with pockets.
Cool evenings necessitate the need for pullovers or a light weight jacket.
A light weight vest with lots of pockets will be handy for carrying your film camera and binoculars.
Long trousers made from a lightweight, quick drying fabric should have multi pockets for day trips. Long trousers that turn into shorts are ideal.
For trekking lightweight long shorts (for modesty purposes) are acceptable.
Bathing suit should be modest so as not to offend the locals.
Hat for protection from the sun. Should have a wide brim and a strap.
A sturdy poncho or parka will help to keep you gear dry incase of rain or waterfall spray.
Footwear: You will need some sturdy comfortable boots for trekking or just walking around. They will need to support your ankle as well as having a non slip sole.
Water proof sandals for those short trips and boating.
Some smart casual clothes for the evenings and visiting restaurants.
Evenings in the hill stations and on Inle Lake can be quite chilly so bring a sweater or other warm clothing if visiting these areas. This applies especially for the winter months November-February for treks and the Inle lake area where early morning boat rides can be quite cold. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting pagodas and monasteries.

 

PHARMACY
Insect repellent with the percentage of DEET recommended by your travel medicine physician. It’s important that you bring an ample supply of good quality repellent.
Antiseptic wipes for hand washing and emergency toilet paper.
Personal First Aid Kit (bring in small amounts and in small containers)
Aspirin/ibuprofen, etc.
Cold-symptom relief tablets, antihistamine, cough drops. Adequate quantity of sweat-resistant sun screen with at least an SPF 15 rating or higher, and lip balm with sunscreen.
Antibiotics.
Prescription medicines in their original bottles. Acidophilus enzyme (available in capsules in health-food stores). This often helps your digestive system get in shape for “new” flora.
Immodium, Lomotil, or similar anti-diarrhea medicine. Pepto-Bismol tablets and/or liquid (in leak-proof bottle).

 

VACCINATIONS
If you travel to Myanmar prepared your chances of becoming ill are very low. Make sure that you have that all of your vaccinations are current and that you are vaccinated for Tetanus, Polio and Diphtheria. Other vaccines recommended include Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B (if you are in-country for over 3 months), Typhus and Tuberculosis, vaccinations against rabies and Japanese encephalitis are also advised. Officially there are no vaccinations required to enter Myanmar. However, any travels from West Africa, Central Africa, Central America or South America need to present vaccinations records against Yellow Fever upon arrival but this is often overlooked by the authorities.

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