Myanmar Travel Tips

This information is provided to ensure that tour and vacation package guests enjoy a smooth travel experience in Myanmar.

The information covers: passports and visas, customs regulations, health issues, currency and exchange procedures and advice on what to pack.

Please spend a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the following information before you begin your Myanmar travel experience.


Passports & Visas

Passports must be valid for six months from the date of arrival and contain the relevant visa.

Individual (FIT) Visa
Entry visas may be obtained by lodging an application form at Myanmar embassies or consulates and can take up to five days to process. Allow extra time if the visa application is made by post. Individual visas are valid for 28 days and may be extended for an extra 14 days.

Package Tour Visa
Applications for package tour visas must include a letter of invitation (LOI) from Vision Travel Ltd., which will outline the confirmed package tour arrangements. The LOI must be submitted with a visa application form, which in many countries are available online. These visas are issued by Myanmar embassies or consulates and take up to five days to process. Allow extra time if the visa application is made by post.


Visa on Arrival

If there is no Myanmar embassy in your home country, a visa on arrival (VOA) can be arranged by Vision Travel Ltd., and will attract a service fee.

You will need to provide Vision Travel Ltd., with the following information: full name as listed in your passport, gender, father’s name, nationality, religion, passport number and its date of issue and date of expiry, date and place of birth, occupation, home address, flight arrival and departure information and a scanned passport photo.

Once permission for a VOA is granted by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, an approval letter will be sent to you either by fax or scanned e-mail attachment. The approval letter must be presented at the airline check-in counter or you will be denied permission to board the flight. On arrival in Myanmar you will be required to provide two passport photos and pay a VOA fee of US$30 a person to the airport immigration officer.

Please be advised that Vision Travel Ltd., will not be held liable for any cost or inconvenience caused by the rejection and/or delayed approval for a visa on arrival.

Cross Border Entry
Myanmar may be entered by land at some border checkpoints. In addition to a valid entry visa, special permission is required which will take at least one month to process. The special permission can be arranged by any licensed travel agent subject to the inbound travel package being arranged by the travel agent.

The following three border checkpoints are currently open for tourists: Muse~Ruli (Yunnan, China); Tachilek~Mae Sai (northern Thailand); and Kawthaung~Ranong (southern Thailand).

Entry by land or by sea from Bangladesh, India and Laos is not permitted. Regulations for crossing overland borders are subject to change at short notice.

Further information is available at the following websites: the Union of Myanmar Travel Association (http://www.umtanet.org) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (http://www.mofa.gov.mm.)


Customs & Formalities

A Customs declaration form must be presented on arrival and must record foreign currency (in excess of US$2,000), jewellery, electrical goods, cameras, etc.

There is a duty free allowance of 200 cigarettes and one litre of wine or spirits.

Myanmar currency may not be imported or exported. The export of Buddha images, antiques and archaeologically valuable items is prohibited. Official dealer's receipts/certificates are required to be presented for quality handicrafts, jewellery, precious stones and gems. Baggage may be X-rayed or inspected before departure.

If an airport transfer or package tour has been pre-arranged with Vision Travel Ltd., a company representative or a guide will welcome travellers with a name-board in the arrivals hall and will provide assistance with baggage claims and customs inspection procedures.


Money & Currency Exchange

Please note that there are no ATM machines in Myanmar and neither is it possible to use international credit cards or travellers’ cheques. Only US dollars in cash are acceptable for payment and they must be in good condition. US dollar notes which are torn, defaced or damaged in any way will not be accepted.

The Myanmar currency is the kyat (pronounced 'chat'). The notes in circulation are for K5,000, K1,000, K500, K200 and K100.

Travellers will need to exchange US dollars into kyat for use in most restaurants and shops. The official rate of exchange is US$1 to K6. However, travellers will change their dollars at the unofficial rate which at the time of writing is about K800 to US$1.

The Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC) used in Myanmar are for the equivalent face value as US dollars.


Travel Insurance & Medical Assistance Coverage

Travellers are strongly advised to arrange comprehensive travel and medical insurance cover for their visit to Myanmar. Please be careful to note any exclusions in your policy and to declare any pre-existing medical conditions.

Medical care at the level which most travellers would expect in their home country is expensive in Myanmar. Any serious illness or injury is likely to require medical evacuation to either Bangkok or Singapore. Travellers are highly recommended to ensure that their travel insurance covers the cost of medical evacuations because they are extremely expensive.


Health Requirements & Advice

No vaccinations are officially required for a visit to Myanmar. However, travellers should arrange to be inoculated against cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tetanus and polio before beginning their trip. Depending on their destination, it is also advisable to take precautions against contracting malaria. To minimise the possibility of illness or disease during their holiday, travellers are recommended to consult a tropical medicine specialist before departure.

Beat the bites: Travellers should take precautions against bites from insects (including mosquitoes). The use of an insect repellent containing DEET is recommended. Wearing clothes that cover the arms and legs, especially during the evening and at night, is also recommended. In the event of being bitten by a dog or any other mammal, travellers without pre-exposure rabies protection must seek immediate medical attention. Rabies is 100% fatal.

Traveller's tummy: It is common to suffer gastric upsets when travelling abroad. To minimise the risk of discomfort, travellers should avoid consuming undercooked food or icy cold drinks, and be careful to drink only purified bottled water.

Sunburn: The tropical sun can be vicious. Travellers should bring a sun screen product of the appropriate strength for their skin type and exercise extreme caution if sunbathing. They should be aware of the symptoms of sunburn as well as heat exhaustion or sunstroke and maintain an adequate intake of non-alcoholic liquid to avoid dehydration.


Clothing

Light, casual clothing made of cotton is recommended all year round. Hats, umbrellas and sunglasses provide useful protection from the sun and/or the rain, depending on the season. If you are travelling during the cool season or in hilly regions, pack a sweater or jacket. Warmer clothing is needed if travelling in mountainous region, where the overnight temperatures can fall to freezing.

Short skirts or pants or any revealing clothing are not appropriate, especially when visiting religious sites. It is also obligatory to remove shoes and socks at all pagodas, temples and monasteries.


Photography

Please use your discretion when photographing people, especially those in tribal areas and always ask permission first.

It is illegal to photograph facilities of strategic interest such as military installations, airports, railway stations, police stations, bridges and government offices.

There is a fee to use of cameras and/or video cameras at some of historical sites and places of interest for tourists.

If using a digital camera, you are recommended to bring extra memory cards. Downloading images onto a CD-ROM may not be possible at some locations.


Post & Communications

The postal service of the Myanmar Post Office is not reliable and letters and postcards to overseas sometimes do not reach their destinations.

Most hotels have IDD lines, but calls are expensive. The average cost of a call to Australia, Europe or the United States is about US$9 a minute. Public phones that accept pre-paid phone cards or use call-back services are not available in Myanmar.

Myanmar has GSM and CDMA cell phone networks, but there is no roaming access. Prepaid cards costing USD/FEC50 are on sale for use by tourists within the country.


Electricity

The voltage throughout Myanmar is 220-230 volts AC. Flat 2-pin, round 2-pin and/or 3-pin plugs are used. A universal adaptor is recommended for convenience of the travellers.


Time Zone

Myanmar Standard Time is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) + 6:30 hours.


Shopping

Myanmar offers visitors an impressive range of unique arts & crafts for which it is deservedly famous.

Recommended buys include lacquerware, silverware, wood and marble carvings, paintings, hand-woven silks and cottons, richly embroidered tapestries, traditional marionettes, ceramic ware and cane or bamboo basket ware.

Mandalay is a centre for traditional crafts and features an abundance of souvenirs such as sculptures and Buddha images.

Visitors to Bagan are also recommended to visit its lacquerware workshops, where they can see painstaking workmanship involved in the production process.

If you are shopping in Yangon for handicrafts and souvenirs, the famous Bogyoke Aung San Market offers a vast selection of arts and crafts, ranging from hand-woven rugs from the hills to fine jewellery. Bargaining is expected.

All gems and jewellery should be bought at government licensed shops, which will provide the official receipts that travellers are required to present to Customs officers on departure.


Dining & Entertainment

Burmese food is a meeting point between the spicy Thai cuisine and the Indian spice 'curry' base. Rice is usually served with side dishes ranging from meat or fish, salads, vegetables and soup.

There are Chinese, Thai and Indian restaurants in major cities, but European cuisine is mainly available only at international hotels, with some notable exceptions.

Throughout upcountry Myanmar, food is limited to Burmese and Chinese dishes and traditional noodle shops. Tribal dances and cultural shows are presented at some restaurants that cater mainly to international visitors. Dining in Yangon can be both pleasurable and exciting as there are many restaurants which serve quality food at reasonable prices.

Nightlife options are limited in many upcountry destinations, but not in big cities. After dark entertainment in Yangon includes pubs, clubs, and discos, most of which are in international hotels. Karaoke lounges can be found in many cities throughout the country. Yangon and Mandalay also boast many coffee shops.


Tipping

Tipping is common in Myanmar. It is appropriate to provide cash tips to waiting and/or bar staff in restaurants and hotels.

Guides and drivers will also appreciate a tip for having provided good service.