Traveling to Myanmar is for many reasons special and the information provided below will help you prepare for the trip. Please take special note of the chapters marked with an asterisk.
We use the following 4 domestic airlines: Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, Asian Wings and Air Cambawza. All these airlines fly French-Italian ATR turboprop planes (Avions de Transports Régionaux), a type of plane well suited for the local conditions, airports, and distances.
The configuration is either 40 seats (ATR-42) or 70-seats (ATR 72) in rows of 4 seats with a middle aisle. Entry-exit is at the back of the plane. Standard One-class configuration.
Air Bagan operates 1 Fokker-100 Dutch-made jet aircraft with 95 seats, 12 of which are business class seats (Lotus Class – 3 rows of 4 with middle aisle). Economy class configuration is: 2 seats –aisle- 3 seats. Entry/exit is at the front of the plane.
We do not use Myanma Airways (domestic) flights (not to be confused with Myanmar Airways International). If passengers insist on flying Myanma Airways (if for example no other airline is flying to that destination), passengers will be asked to sign a Liability waiver.
The following airlines currently fly into Myanmar: Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Myanmar Airways International, Malaysia Airlines, Silk Air, Air China, China Eastern, Mandarin Airlines, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Indian Airlines and Vietnam Airlines.
An international airport tax of 10 USD per person is payable cash in USD or FEC (Foreign Exchange Certificates) when departing Myanmar on an international flight. Departure tax is not charged for domestic flights.
Queue up at the immigration counters with a filled out arrival card and your passport with your visa stamped inside. After passing immigration, collect your luggage from the luggage belt and proceed to the customs counter. Hand over your filled-out customs form.
Note that items of value and currency in excess of 2000 USD are supposed to be declared and taken again on departure, but in practice things are made quite easy for tourists. Also note that mobile phones and laptops are no longer kept in storage on arrival as is still claimed in some guidebooks.
There is no compulsory exchange of money anymore at the airport even for individual and independent travelers. Please DO NOT CHANGE money at the booth just behind immigration at the airport. The rate is much lower (50% less) than what you get in town.
US DOLLARS are accepted for change everywhere and the EURO is getting more and more popular, especially in Yangon. The exchange rate in Yangon is generally better than upcountry.
If possible bring new series US Dollar bills (“big heads” instead of “small heads”) and with series numbers not starting with CB as these are not accepted in Myanmar due to rumors of these series being counterfeit.
Generally notes should be in very good condition and not torn, dirty or washed out as these will not be accepted in Myanmar, even in many hotels! Most hotels and better restaurants accept payment in USD
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for traveling in Myanmar. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects.
A lightweight raincoat and umbrella are a good idea in the rainy season and the umbrella can also offer useful shade from the sun.
Evenings in the hill stations and on Inle Lake can be quite chilly so bring a sweater or other warm clothing if visiting these areas. This applies especially for the winter months November-February for treks and the Inle lake area where early morning boat rides can be quite cold. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting pagodas and monasteries.
Shoes (and socks!) must be removed before entering any religious building or private home. It is therefore useful to wear shoes without too many laces and which can easily be taken off. We provide small towels to clean your feet before putting back on your shoes.
CREDIT CARDS & TRAVELERS CHECKS
Credit cards and Travelers Checks are currently mostly NOT ACCEPTED in Myanmar. Only some upscale restaurants and some hotels do accept credit cards with a surcharge (minimum 3.5%).
As charging these cards requires going through the Internet, some delays can be experienced if the Internet connection is not working or slow (see chapter internet).Please make sure to bring enough cash (USD or EUROS) for your purchases and payments.
Most hotels accept US Dollars as payment. Please bring new series US Dollar bills (“big heads” instead of “small heads”) and with series numbers not starting with CB as these are not accepted in Myanmar due to rumors of these series being counterfeit. Bank notes should be in very good condition and not torn, dirty or washed out.
Some roads in Myanmar are not in the best shape and most of the vehicles are also a bit older. For elderly people or those with health and back problems especially, we recommend avoiding longer road trips like Bagan to Kalaw or Inle Lake to Mandalay.
In some places like Monywa-Po Win Taung, some jeep rides are planned. Please let us know in advance of people with back problems or who need special attention are traveling in order for us to make necessary arrangements.
Myanmar uses 220V, and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round 2-pin or 3 pin plugs. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor. Power outages are quite common but most hotels have their own generator.
There is not much in the way of western style entertainment in Myanmar but Yangon has some good restaurants and there are a few bars and nightclubs, notably in the city’s international hotels. In the rest of the country, entertainment is mainly confined to the hotels, mainly tourist-orientated restaurants and the ubiquitous Burmese teashops.
The staples of Burmese cuisine are rice, rice noodles, and curries. The main ingredient of the meal is usually rice and the curries tend to be not as spicy as those from India or Thailand.
A clear soup called hingyo accompanies most meals and a fermented fish sauce or paste called ngapiye is usually served to add to the flavor. Chinese, Indian and European food is served in restaurants at most tourist places.
Wait and see our part 2 soon…
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