Myanmar | Travel Guide
After years of closed doors to tourism, Myanmar (former Burma) is nowadays a country with (semi) open doors. Its people is one of the friendliest and warmest I have ever met, still very curious about these new visitors that suddenly start “Invading” their country and discovering their fascinating culture, amazing sceneries and thousand year old History. It’s definitely a country to visit as soon as possible, while it’s still off the tourist track.
It’s located in Southeast Asia and borders China, Laos, India, Bangladesh and Thailand.
Myanmar’s capital city is, since 2006, Naypyidaw.
- e-Visa: As an alternative to getting your visa through a Myanmar Consulate or Embassy, you can get it online through the website evisa.moip.gov.mm. But have in mind that the e-visa only applies to entries through the main international entry points such as Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw’s airports. If you’re planning to enter by land you have to get your visa previously through a Myanmar Consulate or Embassy. Visa on arrival is no longer available for tourists.
- Fees: The e-visa has a $50 fee. The visa acquired through Myanmar’s Embassy or Consulate in Thailand (Bangkok or Chiang Mai) has a 800 Baht fee and is delivered within 3 working days.
- Validity: It’s valid for stays up to 28 days and you can use it within a 90 day deadline.
- Visa Extension: It’s possible to extend your visa up to a maximum of 14 days at the Immigration Office in Yangon.
- Necessary Documents: Passport valid for a minimum of 6 months + passport photocopy + recent photo (2 in case you’re getting your visa through an embassy or consulate)
The official currency is Kyat (MMK).
You can check the exchange rate here.
Climate / When to go to Myanmar
Myanmar has a humid tropical climate, with 3 seasons throughout the year:
- The rainy season, known for its monsoons, starts in June and ends late October, although it is stronger from June to August. Temperatures may vary between 29ºC and 24ºC.
- The cold season, with a milder climate, cleaner air and less humidity is also the high season in terms of tourism. It goes from November to February. Temperatures may vary between 31ºC and 19ºC.
- The hot season is known for its hot and dusty air and high temperatures that can go up to 40ºC. It goes from March to May.
You can go around Myanmar by air or by land. There are a few bus companies that connect the main cities within the country. You can book bus tickets online through the website Myanmar Bus Ticket or through the company’s Facebook pages.
- Heho (to Inle Lake)
- Nyaung U (to Bagan)
- Thandwe (to Ngapali)
Main Bus Companies
How to get to Myanmar
The main international entry point in Myanmar is Yangon International Airport. You can check flights here: Flights Myanmar.
If you’re used to travelling around Southeast Asia you’ll probably find Myanmar’s accommodation prices a bit higher than its neighbouring countries. Most of the time, in order to get an accommodation with the same conditions you would get in Thailand for example for $20/night, you will have to pay twice as much. You’ll find it difficult to get a dorm bed in a Hostel for less than $12 per night, while in Thailand you could probably get it por $7. This is definitely one of the most heavy elements in the budget.
Check out the various accommodation options at some of Myanmar’s main destinations:
- Accommodation at Yangon
- Accommodation at Mandalay
- Accommodation at Bagan
- Accommodation at Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe)
- Accommodation at Kalaw
- Accommodation at Naypyidaw
What to do in Myanmar
Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city and was, up to 2006, the country’s capital. This is the main entry point for visitors arriving by air and where they first come in contact with the burmese culture and way of life. It’s a city where smells, colours and an incessant movement of cars and people prepares you for one of the best experiences in your life. Take a look at the link below for more travel tips on Yangon:
Bagan, the ancient capital of Bagan’s Kingdom, is one of the must-go-to places in Myanmar. It’s the home of over 2200 temples dating back to the 9th century, scattered over a wide area that can be visited on a rented e-bike or e-bycicle. It’s very common to see hot air balloons flying over Bagan. A great experience if you have the budget for it (about $300) but also great for photography lovers who will be able to frame them in their sunrise pictures.
Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar, extending over an area of 116 Km2. You have probably already come across with some of those wonderful pictures of fishermen standing on a paddle on a small fishing boat. They are taken here at Inle Lake. A boat ride through the lake at sunrise is something you cannot miss. The nearest village is called Nyaung Shwe, and this is where you’ll be able to find accommodation, restaurants and acquire lake tours at low prices.
Mandalay is Myanmar’s second largest city. Unlike Yangon, motorbikes are allowed inside the city, making it appear more busy. In the centre of Myanmar you’ll find the Royal Palace, surrounded by military facilities partially forbidden to tourists. A visit to Mingun, only 1 hour boat ride away, and to U Bein Bridge, about 20 minutes away from the city centre, is mandatory!
Trekking lovers can not miss a visit to Kalaw, a few kms away from Inle Lake. This former colonial town, about 1200mt above sea level, offers a milder climate and the ideal conditions and scenery for a day of trekking all the way to Inle Lake or Pindaya.
About 270km east from Yangon, Hpa An is a city with a relaxed atmosphere, surrounded by mountains. Inside these mountains there are several caves which have been decorated along the years with buddhist statues by the local population. You can go all the way up to the top of Mount Zwegabin to enjoy the view, visit the Pagoda and the Monastery or go to Kan Thar Yar Lake to enjoy the sunset.
Myanmar is not particularly known for its beaches, but the truth is that there are beaches and they’re quite nice and interesting. Ngapali is one of the main beach destinations in Myanmar and it’s located about 380 km west from Yangon. You can access Ngapali by air (Thandwe Airport) or by land. Besides relaxing in white sand beaches decorated with palm trees, you can also do some snorkelling, diving, kayaking…
Ngwe Saung (beach)
Ngwe Saung is also a good alternative to Ngapali beach. Only 5 hours away from Yangon (by bus), Ngwe Saung has a relaxed and quiet atmosphere, perfect for surf lovers, especially between May and October (rain season)
Safe travels! 🙂