Travel Tips to Know Before you Go to Myanmar
Thanks to the country's long season in the cold, the present Myanmar travel experience feels less pre-packaged and more authentic than higher-profile Southeast Asia destinations like Thailand and Vietnam. There’s many things about Myanmar that may surprise you. A country of over 100 ethnic tribes and a culture of quiet, Thanaka and Longyi-wearing people, the Burmese go through their hard-working lives rather simply. If you're a first-time traveler to Myanmar, before you go, here’s some travel tips to smooth out your trip.
Transportation to Myanmar's top tourist destinations is easier than you'd think. Most travelers fly in via one of Myanmar's international airports; Yangon and Mandalay airports.
In between, you can fly through Myanmar's regional airports; take overnight bus rides from city to city; ride on a creaky train from Yangon to Mandalay; or take a cruise up the mighty Irrawaddy River. Meanwhile, the VIP buses in Myanmar can surpass buses in all of Southeast Asia, with luxuries, such as recliner chairs, blankets, food service, plug outlets and an individual monitor with touch screens.
When to Visit
The dry but cool weather between October and February makes Myanmar a positive pleasure to visit. From March to May, temperatures start climbing. The monsoon season between June to September brings down torrential rains and typhoons, particularly in the south; life-threatening floods are not uncommon.
The written and spoken language is Burmese.
Some Burmese can speak English. But the thing to note is that numbers in Myanmar are not Roman numerical, but Burmese. If you’re planning to use local bus or long-distance overnight buses to get around, this will affect you, when you look for your bus. Always carry a hotel business card with you to show to your taxi driver, or have a local person write the address for you in Burmese to show if you get lost.
Dos and Don't
Myanmar is a developing country, with close cultural connections to neighboring countries Thailand and China. Like Thailand, Myanmar has an abundance of temples; they also follow similar rules of etiquette, and the Buddha in Myanmar displaces the King in Thailand as the one figure of authority one must never disrespect.
Don't risk bill shock when you fly home; avoid phone roaming using your old network when traveling through Myanmar. You can use Myanmar's telecommunications network by buying a SIM card at the airport upon your arrival.
The Myanmar currency is the kyat, which can be easily exchanged in many tourist towns. Use your dollars for large purchases like the long distance bus and your hotel bill. Use the kyat for smaller local transactions like admission fees, shopping, food, etc.
It's relatively safe to travel alone, even at night. The locals are friendly as long as you respect their culture and religion. Follow the safety tips to make sure you stay on the locals' good side. As for a woman, dress code is conservative, so it’s smart to wear sleeved shirts and nothing inappropriate or revealing.