What do I need to do before travelling?
We suggest that all our customers review foreign office advice for Myanmar before travelling. Click here for the latest information from the foreign office.
What are the visa requirements?
A visa is COMPULSORY to enter Myanmar. A 28-day tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors. This visa is issued by a Myanmar Embassy or Consulate in your home country. An invitation letter is not mandatory, and it usually takes 3-5 working days to issue this visa.
What is the currency in Myanmar?
The Kyat is Myanmar’s official currency. US dollars are widely accepted, but we recommend for travellers to exchange some money into kyat. In many local restaurants and shops, kyat is the only method of payment allowed.
International credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are NOT widely accepted and ATMs are in extremely short supply. It is advisable for you to take enough cash (USD or Euros) for purchases and payments, but only clean bank notes from 2006 onwards are acceptable. However, it is to be hoped that all this will change with the economic liberalisation and political reform process that began in 2011.
There are currently three 'official' exchange counters offering a better rate than the black market. We recommend changing your currency here as you are issued a receipt, the service is monitored and there is no chance of being ripped off. Your guide can assist to direct you to any of these places and it is expected more will open in the near future. Two of these counters are open at the Yangon International Airport in the arrival lounge. Note that the airport counters frequently run out of money by 3pm so this service currently is best for morning arrivals only. There is also one centre downtown on Thein Byu Road which is open seven days a week until 4pm. All three locations accept US Dollars, Euros and Singapore Dollars.
What is the language in Myanmar?
Myanmar's national language is Burmese, also known as Bamar. In the cities many of the older generation still speak very good English and it is also becoming popular again with the younger generation. Chinese is also widely spoken in urban areas and Thai is quite well understood in Eastern Myanmar.
Will my mobile phone work?
Your mobile phone will NOT work in Myanmar as Myanmar currently has no roaming agreement with any country. Prepaid cards are available for purchase within the country. The USD/FEC 50 card is maximum 90 days validity after activated. These prepaid mobile phone cards are aimed at tourists visiting Myanmar who wish to keep in touch with friends and family.
What is the cuisine like?
Rice and noodles are the staple diet for most Burmese. Local specialities include curries, a variety of soups, and traditional beef, pork and poultry dishes. Fresh seafood is also available and is especially popular with visitors travelling to the coast. Chinese, Indian and Shan cuisine are also common in Myanmar, as is a variety of western cuisine which can be found in abundance in Yangon and Mandalay.
It is not advisable to drink tap water but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. All hotels provide a complimentary bottle of local mineral water per person in the room. Ice cubes in drinks is generally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas.
Are there any customs I should be aware of?
Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting pagodas and monasteries. Shoes (and socks!) must be removed before entering any religious building or private home. Refrain from photographing monks when they are around temples or in alms giving ceremonies
When it comes to shopping, bargaining is possible in markets and with street sellers where no fixed prices are displayed.
What evening entertainment can I expect?
There is not much in the way of western style entertainment in Myanmar but Yangon has a few bars and nightclubs. In the rest of the country, entertainment is mostly confined to the hotels and tourist-orientated restaurants. For those seeking a taste of the local culture in the evenings, head to tea shop, beer hall or night market where the locals gather to relax and socialize.
Will I need to bring an adaptor?
All urban areas have minimum electricity (230 volts). Many places are equipped with private power generators. Most sockets found in hotels are French-style two-pin or British style three-pin. Power outages are quite common but most hotels have their own generator.
Is Myanmar safe?
Myanmar is a safe country to visit. Occasions of street crimes against tourists are rare as punishments are high (hard labour). Instances of scams and touts are minimal compared with other Asian destinations. Be wary when buying gems and precious stones.
It's worth noting that talking politics with a local can land both you and them in trouble.