Myanmar is a relatively late entry to tourism, which means there are still plenty of challenges to travelling and navigating the region. But, with the right planning, it is a very pleasant to explore this country on the Myanmar holiday and see the many highlights and undiscovered spots.
Here is a short Myanmar travel guide to help plan your trip to this magnificent country:
Decide when to go
Myanmar has a tropical climate that is very warm year-round, but there is a rainy season that lasts for several months (May-October). The climate will vary within the country and is based on the landscape's topography; the lowlands are warmer than the higher mountainous regions.
A major city like Yangon gets plenty of rain throughout the rainy season, but this shouldn't be a reason to stop sightseeing if well prepared. Also, in Lake Inle and Bagan, tourists can expect a mix of sunshine and short showers. However, there are certain regions that essentially close down at this time, such as a place like Ngapali beach.
Also, the rainy season will have an influence on boat travel, with the trips on the Irrawaddy River best experienced shortly after the last of the rain to appreciate the high waters and lush landscape.
For travellers on the Myanmar travel packages outside the rainy season, the month of April is the hottest and it is wise to travel with sun cream, fans and wide-brimmed hats.
Plan your travel itinerary
After the time of year is decided, you want to plan your travel itinerary to know where you will travel in Myanmar. There are plenty of things to see and do in Myanmar so the process of deciding on the must-see sights can be a difficult process. Plus, it is useful to consider the size of the country because it may be necessary to take a few interesting river journeys or internal flights to get to every location.
On a first visit to Myanmar, a tour of the world-famous Bagan is certain to be an appealing prospect. This city has over 2000 Buddhist temples dating from the 9th to 13th centuries and widely spaced out across the dry plains. One of the most important is the Shwedagon Pagoda with its gold plated stupa. Elsewhere, a trip to the central regions of the country offers the freshwater Lake Inle, while Mandalay is appreciated for its stunning U Bein footbridge. A great place to relax is the country's beautiful coastline, including Ngabali beach.
How to get around
The travel route to Myanmar is quite simple, but does lack direct flights, so it is necessary to connect via Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore or Bangkok. A typical way to include Myanmar on the travel plans is to make it part of an Indochina tour that takes in neighbouring countries like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
A large percentage of Myanmar is relatively remote which can make travel a little more difficult than other countries. For this reason, the ability to get around in the country is often by internal flights. Most of the flights are quick and it also gives the very scenic views.
Alternatively, there is the option to get around by train. The longest journeys such as those between Yangon and Mandalay are completed on an overnight sleeper, while there also plenty of other shorter rides to be found to nearby destinations.
One of the most scenic ways to travel is by boat with plenty of short and long distance trips taking place on the Irrawaddy River. Also, the Mergui Archipelago can be explored on a live-aboard boat or yacht. The degree of luxury will vary with the different tour packages.
An easy option to get around in large towns and cities is the vintage taxis and tuk-tuks – although it is best to agree the fare before getting in the vehicle to avoid the high tourist prices. Also, the main cities like Mandalay and Yangon have a public bus service which is quite slow and overcrowded. On many occasions, the option to hire a private vehicle for the day is certain to give the safe, clean and fast journey.
Decide on the accommodation
Tourists on the Myanmar tours have plenty of standout and beautiful places to stay, such as the Governor’s Residence, which is perfect for travellers based in Yangon. This colonial mansion is located in the Embassy Quarter and dates to the early 1920s, but is fitted out with the latest modern facilities.
For travellers looking to explore Bagan, a great place to stay is the Bagan Lodge with its tented-like properties that make it really convenient to visit the nearby temples.
Also, for travellers looking to relax on a beach holiday, a stay at Myanmar's fascinating Ngapali Beach is most appreciated when a booking is made at the Ngapali Bay Villas. This is a great place to unwind and kickback with a very pleasant beach location and comfortable and spacious rooms.
Invest in a local guide
On certain parts of the Myanmar travel, it benefits to use the services of an English-speaking guide. They have the ability to give invaluable guidance on both practical matters and telling stories of the country's history and culture. It is important to pick a local guide who is well vetted and properly trained.
Organise local currency
The local currency is Myanmar is the Kyat (pronounced ‘chat’) - although the US Dollar is accepted in many places and makes a great alternative option. Also, the condition of the dollar bills must be virtually pristine to be accepted. Any Euros or US Dollar notes can be exchanged into the local Kyat currency at banks or major airports in larger cities. The best conversion rates are likely to be in places like Yangon and Mandalay. Also, the Myanmar currency does not include coins, so it helps to travel with a useful supply of 1,000 Kyat notes for small purchases and tipping. Credit card options are limited, but accepted at the high-end hotels and restaurants in a main city like Yangon and other popular destinations around the country.