Myanmar is a distinctive travel destination in Asia. Its seduction does not come from world-class cities like Bangkok or Singapore but the timeless charm boasting from thousands of golden pagodas, untouched Himalayan mountain and pristine beaches by the Andaman Ocean.
Between exploring famous Myanmar tourist attractions and going off the beaten track, these are some useful information you should know about before visiting Myanmar.
- Is Myanmar Safe to Travel?
- Best Time to Visit Myanmar
- Applying for Myanmar Tourist Visa
- Places To Visit in Myanmar
- What to Pack for Myanmar
- Where to Stay in Myanmar
- Getting Around Myanmar
- Myanmar Budget Travel Tips
Is Myanmar Safe to Travel?
Myanmar is a safe country to visit. Sure, there are certain no-go zones like the remote areas of Rakhine state, and there are also areas that needs visiting permit like Loikaw, Putao, but in general, foreign visitors are really welcome.
Best Time to Visit Myanmar
Like many tropical countries in Southeast Asia, Myanmar has 2 clear seasons: dry season from November to April and rainy season from May to October.
The main tourism season naturally occurs during the dry season. During this time, the weather is cooler and without rain.
While the rainy season causes some difficulties when travelling, it is the time for you to get the best bang for your buck while exploring the places of interest in Myanmar.
Applying for Myanmar Tourist Visa
Basically, if you live in a country where a Myanmar Embassy is present, you can apply for a Myanmar tourist visa through the Embassy – which is often the cheapest method.
When you are travelling or have no time to go to the Embassy, online application is also available. This procedure takes from 1 to 3 working days. The online visa allows you to get an E-visa, which means you will receive a visa approval letter and get a visa stamp at the airport.
The official website for applying for an e-visa online is here.
Places To Visit in Myanmar
Whether you are looking for something to define your authentic Asia trip or an adventure of a lifetime, Myanmar has something to offer you.
As Myanmar reveals more and more tourist attractions, it is a challenge to list all the highlights in a short article. We have shortlisted some of these must-sees to help you figure out where to go in Myanmar.
1. Vibrant Yangon
The city Yangon is a beautiful convergence for not only the past and present, but also the east and the west. It is home to Indian, Chinese and Burmese from all regions.
This is the reason why visitors can easily opt for a delicious Shan noodle on one street while a few streets away, there is an abundance of Chinese BBQ shops.
The contrasts of Yangon is also shown through the wondrous Shwedagon Pagoda, faded British colonial architecture and shining skyscrapers rising over the new part of Yangon.
2. Enchanting Bagan
Lying by the mighty Irrawaddy River, Bagan’s cultural wealth comes mainly from its 2,500 pagodas and temples built from the 11th century.
No Myanmar tour is complete without exploring this timeless plain, observing its traditional workshop or simply enjoying a morning market hopping in Nyang Oo town.
3. Laidback Inle Lake
Inle is the main tourist draw in Shan State. It showcases the ethnic diversity where the Pa-o, Padaung and Inther hill tribes share the single living space in harmony.
The most common way to uncover the uniqueness of Inle is to hire a boat from Nyang Shwe town, and navigating through floating garden, stilt villages and traditional workshops with an oar.
Inle is a perfect getaway for those who want to enjoy relaxing moments.
4. Fascinating Mandalay
This is a very chaotic city. What impressed me very much is the blend of Chinese and Burmese characters reflecting through the streets.
The sheer number of Royal Places, including the main one in the city center, Mingun and Inwa, is impressive.
Mandalay is probably the best place for cheap eats and abundant hostels, with easy commuting by scooter at reasonable prices.
5. Dawei Peninsula
Located in south Myanmar, Dawei is really a place for the sea and the sun though it can be pretty warm at certain times of the year. The whole area still seems out of the tourism radar, which will give you a chance to experience the authentic life of locals.
Dawei is not so rich with attractions unlike Yangon or Mandalay, but it is a place full of natural wonders, from pristine coast lines to dense jungle. There are only few tour operators who organize day trips out to the ocean with good prices in town.
Staying at bungalows near Sin Htauk Beach is a good choice to enjoy a very own beach in Dawei.
What to Pack for Myanmar
The best part about Southeast Asia is that it’s summer all year round.
The best principle is to pack light but sufficiently. You do not need to carry tons of clothes. Some pants, swimsuit, hat and some cream to protect yourself from the mosquitos and the sun.
The most important things to pack are basic medicine for diarrhoea, food poisoning, fever and other common ailments, since Myanmar is very backward in terms of healthcare.
You can find my go-to summer packing list in this post.
Where to Stay in Myanmar
It is evident that there are more and more options for budget accommodation.
However, at the moment backpacker hostels are more common in big cities or famous tourist places like Yangon or Mandalay than smaller ones.
For the same amount of money, the hostels in Myanmar are of lower standards than in Cambodia or Thailand.
The good news is you can compare and book your stay online through many booking websites.
Getting Around Myanmar
Public transportation is really not recommended due to the low quality and the maddening local crowd.
To travel to the inner cities, it is recommended to share a taxi.
To travel from one city to another – for example from Yangon to Bagan – an overnight bus is the best option. Sleeping berths with air conditioning can save you some money instead of opting for the more expensive air travel.
Myanmar Budget Travel Tips
1. Free tours
There are certain free tours that only Yangon offers.
Yangon Heritage Trust offers free guided walk to the downtown of Yangon. A volunteer will introduce you to the highlights of the British impacts on Myanmar, together with the remains of the British buildings in the city.
Authentic Asia Tours is one company that offers free customizable Yangon tours.
2. Travel off-peak
The very first advice is to choose the shoulder season to travel, which is between April to May. At this time, it does not rain much and everything is usually cheaper than you might expect.
3. Budget airlines
Use Air Asia for a low-cost flight, and plan your trip by flying to Yangon and flying out from Mandalay. This will save you at least USD 50.
4. Find a travel buddy
If you travel alone, try to find a travel mate to share the cost of accommodation and transportation.
5. Local trekking tours
I would highly recommend trying some trekking tours. They are still not yet expensive and they allow you to learn more about local life. Take a walk in Kalaw or Hsipaw to marvel the spectacular sights you deserve.
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