Information

                                    Important Travel Information

Visa


The Visa-On-Arrival program is only available, if you fly on Myanmar Airways International from Guangzhou or Siem Reap. In case of emergency, your Myanmar travel agent can get you such visa, but this process involves much work for him and is therefore quite expensive. All other travellers must get their tourist visas from the Myanmar Embassy of their respective country. You can also try to get your visa in Bangkok but you may not get your visa on time. You can download the application documents from the webpage of the Myanmar Embassy in your country. For Germans, Swiss and Austrians:

Embassy of the Union of Myanmar, Thielallee 19, 14195 Berlin.
Phone (030) 2061570, Fax- (030) 20615720
Email: info[at]botschaft-myanmar.de
www.botschaft-myanmar.de

Apply early for your visa, but not more than 3 months before your entry. A tourist visa is valid for up to 28 days. You can overstay for not more than 90 days, but you have to pay $ 3 as well as for more than 90 days, have to pay $ 5 for every extra day. If you need to stay longer, please contact your travel agent in Yangon early. He might be able to arrange for a business visa.

Flights


For flights, please contact your domestic travel agent. You can also find reasonably priced tickets on the internet. From Bangkok, you can fly to Yangon with several airlines including Thai Airways, Air Asia, Myanmar Airways Intern. and Bangkok Airways. The flight time is only 50 minutes. You may want to spend a few days in Bangkok in order to adjust to climate and time difference. But you do not have to go through Bangkok, if you want to enter Myanmar via Yangon. There are also flights from many other cities in Asia to Yangon: Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Guangzhou, Kunming, Taipei, Kolkata, Gaya, Chiangmai, Siem Reap, Ho Chi Minh city and Hanoi. Sometimes it is cheaper to choose Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and not Bangkok as a stopover from Europe or from the US on your way to Yangon. The newest connections are an Air Bagan flight between Chiangmai and Yangon, MAI from Bangkok to Mandalay, Air Asia from Bangkok to Mandalay, Air India, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa from Germany to Yangon, Qatar Air and Nippon Air etc., At the moment, there are also flights between Mandalay and Kunming by China Eastern Airline.
Myanmar time is 6 ½ hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Money


There are only two currencies for you in Myanmar: the US Dollar (cash) and the local currency called Kyat (pronounced chutt). Traveller cheques and credit cards are now accepted in a few leading hotels. You may also get Kyat at the ATM machines with your credit card. The Euro is gaining more acceptances, but only in the tourist centers; please ask your travel agent, if he will accept Euro. So bring enough US Dollar cash, in new and undamaged $100 bills. Bring some smaller dollar bills for change.
The exchange rates for smaller bills are lower than for the Dollar 100 bill or the Euro 500 bill.
Some official exchange bureaus, which accept US Dollar, Euro and Singapore Dollar, have recently been opened by local private banks at the following locations:

–    Yangon International Airport, Private Banks and at Thein Phyu Road
–    Mandalay International Airport and Private Banks in the city

–    Bagan Nyaung Oo Airport

–    Heho (Inle Lake) Airport

Exchange rates on November 19, 2012 are shown below:
1USD:  844 Ks, 1EUR: 1076, 1SGD:  687 Ks.
Black market exchange offices still exist. They may offer a slightly higher rate.
You need Kyat, if you eat at local restaurants or shop in the markets for souvenirs and handicraft.

Insurance


We strongly recommend travel insurance (German: Reiseversicherung und Reiseruecktrittsversicherung) from your country in order to be insured against illness, accident, repatriation, travel cancellation, and lost baggage.

Customs Regulations


Myanmar Customs is polite and cooperative. All visitors must fill out a Customs Declaration Form, which they receive on the airplane. Local currency cannot be imported. Foreign currency in excess of US$ 10.000 has to be declared. This declaration, however, is not checked or asked for when you leave the country. Officially you cannot bring any mobile phone into the country, however some tourist do. They can borrow a local SIM/UIM card with which they can call home at a reasonable price. They can also make local phone calls with the SIM/UIM card. Laptops you can bring in. Buddha images, antiques and gemstones cannot be taken out of the country without an official receipt by a licensed dealer. For US citizens it is important to know that they cannot import gemstone-items from Myanmar into the US, however, you can claim that they were made and bought in Thailand.

Health, Vaccinations and Medications


No vaccinations are presently required for Myanmar. Please consult with your physician. It is usually recommended that you be immunized against polio, typhoid, tetanus, and hepatitis A. Some doctors recommend vaccination for Japanese encephalitis. Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Lake Inle are not designated as malaria areas. Malarone is recommended, if you intend to enter malaria areas. Bring lots of mosquito repellent and use it in the evening. Sun lotion will be useful. Bring Imodium. Almost all other medicine is available in Myanmar, but please refrain from buying medications that were produced in China or other neighbouring countries; they may not be safe. Should you get seriously ill in Myanmar, we recommend that you take the next plane to Bangkok (50 minutes) and check into a private hospital like Bumrungrad.

Electricity


Electric current is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles.
Do not forget to bring or buy in Myanmar a strong flashlight, because the streets are dark at night and sidewalks have many holes. Please use your flashlight whenever you go out after dark.

Climate and Clothes


The seasons are:
Dry and warm – End of October to middle of March
Dry and hot – Middle of March to middle of May
Rainy Season – Middle of May to middle of October
Best time to travel: End of October to end of February.
For daytime: light clothes. Shorts are not popular, long pants are more appropriate. Cap or hat. Sun glasses, flip-flops or sandals because you have to take off your footwear when you visit temples or monasteries. Small bag or backpack for daily trips. For the evening especially in the mountains and near the lake, you need warm clothes: windbreaker, sweater, warm pants, socks, shoes or sneakers.

Food and Beverages


Burmese food is not so spicy. Chinese food is available in most cities and towns. Western food is available mainly in the big cities and in hotels. The hotels and restaurants that you will be visiting are quite safe, except for the tap water. Please drink enough bottled water (or other liquids) every day; 2 litters a day are recommended.

Lunch and Dinner


The meals at your hotels may be expensive. Ask your guide for good local restaurants. They are cheaper and more fun. There are many good local restaurants not only in major cities (Yangon, Mandalay, Pathein, Mawlamyine, Bagan, Myitkyina, etc.) but also in towns that are frequented by foreign tourists like Nyaungshwe (Lake Inle), Mrauk-U, Ngwe Saung Beach, Nga Pali Beach and Chaungtha Beach. Try some of the local dishes like Shan noodles.

Internet, Email, International Telephone Calls


Internet/Wi-Fi (and access to your email provider) is also available in almost all hotels and in internet cafés in Yangon, Mandalay and in many other towns. International phone calls from hotels are very expensive and very complicated.

SIM/UIM Cards


Since 25 January 2012, two kinds of SIM cards are again available in the market; the GSM SIM (at the price of USD 20 with one month validity) and the other card called UIM (at the price of USD 50 with two months validity).
Most of the travelers may have their own GSM handsets for which they only need to buy SIM card. Your GSM handy will not be working with CDMA 450 system for UIM card. You may need to buy a new suitable handset for this system.
Unfortunately, the Myanmar Telecoms does not provide a way to refill prepaid SIM/UIM card. You have to buy a new card, with a new phone number.
A note about the rate of the prepaid SIM/UIM card: for outgoing call – US$ 0.30 per minute; for incoming call US$ 0.05 per minute.
Since end of December 2011 mobile phones from Japan and 10 ASEAN countries can use roaming service in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw.


Guidebooks and Maps


Bring a guidebook. Maps are available in Yangon.
Museums are closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and public holidays. The Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott Market) in Yangon is closed every Monday and on public holidays.

Tipping


Waiters and hotel employees receive a very, very small monthly salary. You may want to give a tip in restaurants or hotels, but generally Myanmar is not a country of tipping. If a Burmese tour guide accompanies you during your trip in Myanmar, you may want to present him with a more generous tip at the end of the tour (if she or he served you well)

LOCATION
Sharing the borders with Bangladesh & India in west and north-west, China, Laos & Thailand in east, north-east & south-east. The Andaman Sea & Bay of Bengal also surround the Myanmar costal region.
The total area of Myanmar is 676,577 sq km and it is the largest country in the South East Asia peninsula, it is divided into seven States and seven Divisions, containing snow-capped mountains ranges, rise to 5881 meters atop Hkakaborazi, the highest peak in South East Asia, high plateaus, fertile central plains of rice fields along the artery of Ayeyarwaddy River (the biggest river with the length of 2000 km), islands, beaches and many others more.CLIMATE
The climate of Myanmar and other countries in Southeast Asia follows a monsoon pattern. During the half of the year that the sun’s rays strike directly above the equator, the landmass of Asia is heated more than in the Indian Ocean. This draws moist hot air from over the ocean onto the land, bringing the rains southwest monsoon. When the tilt of the earth brings the direct sunrays south of the equator, the heating of the Indian Ocean draws the cooler dry air of the northeast monsoon from the highlands of Asia across the countries of South and Southeast Asia. As a result, Myanmar has three seasons: the hot season, the rainy season and the cold season. The hot season runs from late February to end of May. At the end of this season, the average monthly temperature reaches over 35°C in many pars of Myanmar. The rainy season starts from the beginning of June to the early of October. By July rains have brought the average temperature down to 29°C in Mandalay and 27°C in Yangon. The cold season is from the middle of October to middle of February.Average annual rainfall varies from about 5000 mm on the coastal region to about 760 mm at Mandalay.POPULATION
A census taken in 1983 counted 34 millions; as of today’s population is estimated to be over 54 millions with an annual growth rate of around 2.1%. Approximately 74% live in rural areas. The largest cities, in declining order, are Yangon, Mandalay, Pathein, Mawlamyine, Taunggyi and Sittwe. Yangon appears to have 5 millions, Mandalay around 1 million, the remainder 800,000 or fewer.

THE PEOPLE
The population of Myanmar is over 54 millions. The overall population density is about 67 persons per sq km, one of the lowest in East Asia. The population is more than 75% rural, with almost half of the urban population found in the three largest cities: Yangon (about five millions), Mandalay (about one million) and Mawlamyine (about five hundred thousands).
More than 69% of the population is Myanmar, ethnically to the Tibetan and the Chinese. In addition, several minorities with their own languages and cultures inhabit the country. They are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine & Shan.LANGUAGE & RELIGION
Most of the linguistic groups of Myanmar are monosyllabic and polytonal, similar to those of Tibet and China. The official Myanmar language is spoken by the majority of the population, including many of the ethnic minorities. About 15% of the population speaks Shan & Kayin. English is spoken among the educated and the country contains a sizable number of speakers of Chinese.
More than 86% of the people of Myanmar are Buddhists; most of them adhere to the school of Buddhism, as Buddhists in neighboring Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. The everyday practice of Buddhism is a well-developed culture of animism, the worship of spirits known as nats. This culture provides a basis for many nat festivals and for much of traditional medical practice. Christians (mostly Baptists) have also long formed a part of the population (about 15%) and there are a significant number of Muslims as well.CULTURE
The major population of Myanmar migrated into the Ayeyarwaddy River Valley from the north, bringing their spoken languages, their gender roles, and several varieties of food and medicine. From India on the west came the institutions of religion and government, but without the Indian caste system of social hierarchy. India was also the source of Pali, the sacred language, and of the Devanagari script in which the popular language is written, along with astrology and some kinds of food. The firm grounding of Buddhism in Myanmar culture contributed over the years to the building of many pagodas, which stand proudly to prove the grandeur role of Myanmar culture.

The social ideal for most Myanmar citizens-no matter what their ethnic background may be-is a standard of behavior commonly termed “Myanmar-ness”.The degree to which a Myanmar can conform to these ideals matches the degree of respect he or she will receive from associates. Although high rank will exempt certain individuals from chastisement by inferiors, it doesn’t exempt them from the way they are perceived by other Myanmar. This goes for foreigners as well, even though most first time visitors can hardly be expected to speak idiomatic Myanmar or recite Buddhist scripture.DRESS
The Myanmar people wear simple and elegant. It is a unique country in South East Asia where the majority of the people maintains the traditional costume. Due to the hot climate, both men and women wear longyis, except for those in the military, who wear trousers. The longyi is a loom woven length of cloth draped around the lower body and legs and tied at the waist. Male and female longyis also differ in the patterns printed or woven into them. On top men wear a light shirt, covered by a typical jacket on formal occasions. On the head, wear a gaungbaung, which for a farmer can be a simple length of cloth twisted around the head like a turban, while a government official at a formal event will have one made of silk and stretched over a light wicker frame. Women wear a long or short-sleeved blouse. Because of the hot weather and rains, sandals are worn rather than shoes. Umbrellas are carried throughout the year to keep off either sun or rain.CULINARY
The core of the Myanmar diet is boiled rice, combined with a little spicy meat or fish and some vegetables. Also popular for breakfast is a hot noodle soup flavored with coconut. A favorite sauce is ngapi, which is made from fermented fish or prawns and gives off a pungent odor. Several varieties of bananas along with coconut are the main fruits, while a wide, variety of more exotic fruits are also enjoyed, such as the mangosteen, the custard apple and the durian. The common drink is weak green tea, which is taken tepid throughout the day in small cups. There are many good restaurants throughout the country,mainly in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle and their surroundings, which serve quality food at reasonable prices. Thai, Chinese, European, Indian & Myanmar cuisines are available. Eating at the street restaurants can be wonderful Asian experience but it is not recommended unless the restaurant has been recommended by experienced guides.SAFETY
Myanmar is a very friendly and safe country. You can go around the cities, towns and villages without any worry even in the night time. But basically, there is nothing on the road apart from 22:00 in the big cities and in the small towns or villages everybody goes to bed at about 20:00 or 21:00. Myanmar can be said ONE OF THE SAFETIEST COUNTRIES in the world.

CURRENCY & BANKING
The unit of currency is the kyat, which is divided into 100 pyas. The banknotes are of kyats 1000, 500, 200, 100, 90, 50, 45, 20, 15, 10, 5, 01 & 50 pyas (very rare). The coins are not widely used and the latest issues are of kyats 100, 50, 20, 10 & 5, but they are almost found nowhere.
A dual currency system allows Foreign Exchange Certificate (FEC), to be used for some transactions. It is not presently required to change FEC upon arrival at the airport for any type of visa, FIT or Package (subject to change without prior notice). Any credit card is not acceptable except JCB (in the time of preparing this book). The travelers cheques are available at big hotels with high commission.ELECTRICITY
Myanmar has a great potential for producing hydroelectricity; about 50% of its electricity is from hydroelectric plants. The remainder of Myanmar’s electricity is produced by thermal plants using natural gas, diesel fuel, or coal. The voltage is 230 volt, AC 50 HZ. Most of the hotels and places have three-pin plugs. For those who have brought video camera, adapter is highly recommended.

CURRENCY & BANKING
The unit of currency is the kyat, which is divided into 100 pyas. The banknotes are of kyats 1000, 500, 200, 100, 90, 50, 45, 20, 15, 10, 5, 01 & 50 pyas (very rare). The coins are not widely used and the latest issues are of kyats 100, 50, 20, 10 & 5, but they are almost found nowhere.
A dual currency system allows Foreign Exchange Certificate (FEC), to be used for some transactions. It is not presently required to change FEC upon arrival at the airport for any type of visa, FIT or Package (subject to change without prior notice). Any credit card is not acceptable except JCB (in the time of preparing this book). The travelers cheques are available at big hotels with high commission.ELECTRICITY
Myanmar has a great potential for producing hydroelectricity; about 50% of its electricity is from hydroelectric plants. The remainder of Myanmar’s electricity is produced by thermal plants using natural gas, diesel fuel, or coal. The voltage is 230 volt, AC 50 HZ. Most of the hotels and places have three-pin plugs. For those who have brought video camera, adapter is highly recommended.