Myanmar has plenty of fascinating things to see and do, as well as exotic food to taste, but travelling in this country isn't the easiest. Tourists are likely to encounter obstacles like the less than desirable transportation infrastructure, and also the language.
Let's take a look at a few useful things to know before starting the Myanmar travel:
When travelling in Myanmar you want to wear modest clothing to adhere to the local conservative culture. This rule is certain to apply when visiting a religious building, such as a Buddhist pagoda or temple where it is necessary to remove shoes, while short shorts, spaghetti straps, or similar clothing is not permitted. In times of intense heat, it may be tempting the wear crop tops, but this isn't a practical option and is importable to abide by the local culture.
Avoid tap water
Similar to other SE Asian countries, it is advised that travellers avoid drinking the local tap water. Bottled water is readily available to buy throughout the country, and is cheap at less than $0.50. Also, many of the hostels and hotels give guests free access to purified water.
Organise a visa
The majority of travellers to Myanmar will need to organise a visa before travelling to this fascinating country – although there are citizens from a few countries (Brunei, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Laos, Indonesia, and Cambodia) that can enjoy short-term visa free travel.
Read more: Visa to Myanmar
Hotels are expensive
The increase in tourism to Myanmar is seeing a great demand on hotels and other accommodation. However, the country is unable to expand fast enough to meet the needs of tourists, so this means the prices are rising. For instance, a stay in a hotel in 2012 would cost about $25 per night, but today, the cost is likely to be in the region of $100 more (even with no extra features). The shortage of hotels is likely to remain for the next 5-10 years. So, for travellers planning the Myanmar customised tours, it makes sense to book your accommodation well in advance.
Plan your travel schedule
Make sure to schedule enough time to get around from point A to point B. Myanmar is not fitted out with the best transport infrastructure, so it may take a little longer than expected to reach your intended destination. Also, the overnight bus isn't able to give the smooth and comfortable journey. Instead, they can be a cold, bumpy and quite noisy. Plus, there is likely to be plenty of stops on the travel route. If you do plan to travel by overnight bus, you may need some time the next day to fully recharge and relax.
Also, it is important to be flexible with your travel plans because the bus or train isn't always likely to arrive on time, so try to avoid a tight schedule and travel with an open mind for the most enriching experience.
WI-FI isn't reliable
The internet setup in Myanmar is still quite underdeveloped with slow speeds – although you may find the good WI-FI reception in high-end restaurants, cafes and expensive hotels. Because of the slow internet connection, you may want to print out any booking confirmations, maps, travel routes or other information before arriving in the country.
Haggle for taxis
Myanmar's taxis are not yet regulated. So, the process of booking a taxi from the airport to the city centre isn't as straightforward as you may hope. Often there is the risk of being overcharged. But, this issue is often avoided if able to haggle with the driver and agree on price before starting the journey. A typical fee to travel in a major city like Yangon is about $1.50/$3.50, while travelling to or from the airport can cost $6/$7.50.
Know when to go
Similar to other countries in SE Asia, the climate is split between several seasons, which include the dry season, the wet season, and the seasons in between. The most favoured time to take the Myanmar travel is November to February. At this time of year, the weather is warm and pleasant for sightseeing and takes place before the intense heat arrives in April, which is later followed by the monsoon conditions in May.
Restricted tourism parts
Myanmar still has certain parts of the country that are restricted to tourism. Certain regions will require a tour guide and a government permit in order to get around. If you are planning a solo or independent tour of the country, it is essential to check your travel route is fully acceptable before starting your journey.
Learn a few words of the local language
Even though it is not easy to learn the Myanmar language, you may find that learning a few of the key phrases can help your travels around the country. A few common words include je zu bah (thank you) and mingalarbar (common greeting). Simply learning the most basic phrases can make interacting with the local people a possibility and will gain you lots of smiles.
Also, smiling is a universal and positive body language sign. The local people are extremely friendly, especially in the rural areas, and certain to respond that much more positively when greeted with a smile. Also, there are still many parts of Myanmar where foreign travellers are a rare sight, so you should always try to smile to give the warm and pleasant exchange.
Travel with hand sanitizer
This is a useful tip whenever travelling and doesn't apply to just Myanmar. You will certainly be travelling and touching many things while on public transport (taxis, trains, buses, etc.) and other places. A hand-washing station or bathroom area isn't likely to be easy to come by on your travels. Similarly, it can benefit to carry tissues. Many of the toilets in the country are squat style and may not have a supply of toilet paper.
Read more: Reasons to visit Myanmar