MYANMAR TRAVEL TIPS: How to plan a trip to Myanmar
Myanmar is a hidden gem nestled on the edge of Southeast Asia. In 2015, after years of isolation, the country opened its doors to tourism. Therefore, this mysterious country is a fascinating sight. If you want to visit an elusive and stunning country, these Myanmar travel tips will come in handy: find out how to plan a trip to Myanmar, why you should visit the country, the best time to visit, some essential travel tips, what to eat in Myanmar and the best things to do.
Why visit Myanmar
Why should you visit Myanmar? Myanmar offers diverse landscapes and incredible cultural experiences. From the Himalayan foothills to thousands of desert islands and ancient temples. Often underestimated – imagine Thailand rewound by 50 years.
Therefore, there are few tourists and affordable prices. Above all, there’s something new and spectacular around every corner for each visitor to enjoy. Travelers from all corners of the world can relish in the rich tradition and delicious food Myanmar has to offer.
Essential Myanmar travel tips
LANGUAGE: The main language spoken in Myanmar is Burmese. Because tourists have only recently been able to explore the country, not many people speak English.
MONEY/ATM: Get some Burmese Kyat before you go. A fun and peculiar fact about Myanmar is that official banks and money exchanges only accept brand new dollar bills. They won’t change old and used notes. You can find questionable establishments (a guy on the street) that will accept used notes but you will get a considerably worst exchange rate. ATMs are NOT widely available and will have steep withdrawal fees.
ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES: Find a universal travel adaptor before you leave. Plugs and sockets are all types C, D, F, and G.
VISA: Allow three days for visa approval ($50). However, if you want to specifically visit the city of Bagan, you have to buy an archaeological visa. It lasts for 3 to 5 days and costs around $18. There are checkpoints on the way to Bagan where you can pay in cash, dollars, or kyat. more information
Best time to visit Myanmar
Generally speaking, you can visit all year round. However, the best time to visit is between December and February, temperatures are high and there is very little rain. Although, if you are planning to visit the north of the country, bring extra layers because temperatures drop significantly at night.
On the other hand, June to September are the worst months due to tropical storms. Monsoon season means you might end up facing flooding, torrential rain, and extreme heatwaves. Best to avoid this if possible!
How much is a trip to Myanmar?
Note that these costs are very general as the travel industry is developing, so prices are quickly changing. This country is relatively more expensive than its neighbors Thailand and Cambodia. Myanmar on a budget it’s possible if you are willing to avoid luxury resorts.
Like most locations, luxuriousness will depend on the amount you’re willing to spend. You can find a budget hostel from as little as $10 if you need your money to stretch. A B&B can be around $20, a fancy/luxury hotel can start from $70.
The street food available is fascinating (we’ll get to that later) and so cheap. Snacks can be from $0.30 up to $3. A meal with a drink at a mid-range restaurant will range from $4 to $7. Meanwhile, a fancier option will cost you $20 or more.
Although self-guided tours and highly recommended, a guide can show you around and share inside scoops and local knowledge. Most activities are free or very cheap. For example, visiting temples and pagodas is free unless you want a private guided tour. Uncharted Horizons offers a wide selection of tours and activities.
What to eat in Myanmar
Burmese food is a perfect blend of Thai and Indian food. Imagine the spicy richness of curries from India, met with colorful salads and bright soups from Thailand with a splash of garlicky sweetness from China. There are plenty of popular and traditional dishes from Myanmar, therefore the real question is: what to eat in Myanmar when you have a limited amount of time available?
Myanmar Tea and tea houses are a good place to meet locals. They prepare tea in large quantities and mix it with condensed milk so the result is a very sweet drink served with deep-fried savory snacks. Customers enjoy this treat on plastic tables and stools, some are open 24 hours.
Tea Leaf Salad:
Drinking tea isn’t enough for the Burmese – they love to eat it, too! The tea leaf salad is a colourful mix of flavours and textures. Cabbage, garlic, chilli, peanuts and sometimes dried shrimp. Once the tea leaves are picked, it’s a long fermentation process before they can be added to the salad to get the desired savoury richness.
Mohinga is a famous breakfast dish consisting of rice noodles in a strong fish broth with lime juice, dried chili, and an egg. This is a must-have breakfast, it’s available across the country but each region prepares it differently. As an essential part of Burmese cuisine, you should try one in each location you visit.
The noodle salad is a very famous cold dish with rice noodles, nuts, vegetables, and a wide range of spices and seasonings. It makes a great snack or light meal. Ingredients usually come separately and the fun of it is that you mix it together yourself. Then, you can eat traditionally by digging in with your hands.
The selection of traditional spicy Burmese curries is huge. Like Mediterranean tapas, they’re all served separately in little bowls. Each curry has a staple such as fish, chicken, pork, and vegetable. These come with rice and a side of soup. These are enjoyed nationally as a comforting dish to share with a group of friends or family.
Wet That Dote Htoe:
Wet That Dote Htoe (pork on a stick) consists of pig offal on the end of a stick. It’s a true local delicacy. However, one for the bravest only. Street vendors at every corner cook the pork in light soy sauce and sell it with garlic and chili. They spare no organ ( kidney, heart, lungs, tongue, and even the skin and cartilage…)
Best things to see and do in Myanmar
Make your trip to Myanmar unforgettable! Here are the best things to do in Myanmar:
Temple hopping in Bagan
This ancient city has over 2000 scattered temples and pagodas with unique features. It is the most popular destination in Myanmar, although the Burmese Government is doing whatever it can to control the influx of tourism. Cars aren’t allowed to protect the air’s quality and keep noise levels down and you need a specific archeological visa to enter the area. Once in Bagan, you will come across picturesque landscapes, the dreamy Irrawaddy river, and distant mountains. The largest collection of Buddhist structures in the world creates an irresistible land to explore. Here you can also take a stunning hot air balloon ride over the city at sunrise. Read more at Bagan Travel Guide
Sightseeing in Yangon
Another famous international city in Myanmar, it’s easy to explore the city by yourself or otherwise. A cultural playground of tea shops, street food, and British colonial architecture make this an unmissable stop. Above all, Yangon has retained its cultural authenticity. Here you can see locals wandering barefoot, purple-robed Monks, and hidden shops. You can find organized sightseeing and cycling tours at Uncharted Horizons
This is the second-largest city and the last royal capital of Myanmar. Furthermore, it’s home to many pagodas and monasteries. The longer you spend there, the more rustic charm you will discover. Take a walk around the colorful streets or enjoy some local delicacies in one of the many tea shops. Either way, you won’t find yourself short of activities. This modest city is home to the Zegyo market (for rummaging-lovers) and pedestrian U Bein Bridge (for photography aspirers.)
The Inle lake
Placed in between a valley and two mountains, this region has many floating gardens and temples rising above the water. The local fishermen are famous for their unique one leg-rowing fishing techniques. Early birds will adore cruising the lake, or cycling around the countryside into surrounding villages and hills. Due to its beauty, Inle Lake has been increasing in popularity. However, you can still find untouched corners of lakes with markets and villages poking through.
Visit Hpa An
Another picturesque town surrounded by mountains and caves. Mt.Zwegabin is the highest limestone mountain, and climbable in a couple of hours, offering incredible sunrise and sunset views. It sits 270 kilometers east of Yangon, on the eastern bank of the Thanlwin river. This location is simply inexplicable, with its caves and mountains asking to be explored. A lot of travel blogs about “Myanmar travel tips” will suggest you spend the night sleeping in the monastery but, unfortunately, this isn’t allowed anymore!
Located in Southern Myanmar, it has more than 800 islands. Locals are a distinct ethnic minority called Moken or Sea Gypsies. This name developed through their nomadic, sea-based life. This area has incredible diving and snorkeling spots but you need a special permit to visit the archipelago. The best way to travel across these islands is with a Burmese or Thai cruise. Usually, the price will include the special permit but it can take up to 30 days to be completed. Hike through tropical valleys, kayak, jump into the water from your boat or relax along peaceful white sand beaches.
Ngwe Saung beach
This is the closest beach to Yangon, only a 4 to 6-hour drive. In this sleepy fishing village are luxury hotels, water sports, and restaurants. This makes the perfect spot to relax on the sunshine-filled shore. The 9km long beach has nearby restaurants to indulge in for a small cost.
It’s a stretch of 7 kilometers of white sand, here you can find the most famous seaside resorts in Myanmar. The tourism industry has developed the area with hotels, snorkeling, scuba diving, and golf club facilities. However, it does mean this area is one of the more expensive in the country.
Go trekking and hiking in the Himalaya foothills
Myanmar is quickly becoming a popular destination for these activities. Some of the most popular locations are Inle lake and Kawal, Putao and the Himalaya foothills, Lashio, and Chin State. You can find yourself in thick jungles and stumble upon remote villages with hidden waterfalls. For more information regarding trekking and hiking in Myanmar, you can visit Putao trekking, Chin state trekking, and Myanmar trekking tours
If these dreamy images, this spectacular scenery, and charmingly spiritual cities haven’t enticed you for a visit, I don’t know what will! If you found these Myanmar travel tips useful, leave a comment below.