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In 2010, Myanmar (officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar) became the new name for Burma. Its history is marked by different peoples, colonization and even dictatorships. Rich in ancient and complex history, Myanmar has long been closed to the rest of the world. Over the past few years, the country has opened up to tourists and offers them cultural treasures to discover, notably the archaeological site of Bagan, the beautiful Inle Lake, and the vibrant city of Yangon. Naypyidaw has been the capital of Myanmar since 2005 and its name means "royal city".
The Buddhist religion remains the most present in Myanmar. You will meet many monks in the streets and temples. The population is very respectful of these monks and avoids bothering them. Throughout the country, you can marvel at thousands of Buddhist temples, pagodas, and stupas. But Burmese culture is not just about religion. The landscape of the country varies widely offering an exciting mixture of lakes, cities, mountains, and valleys.
Burmese gastronomy is influenced by India, Thailand, and China. Throughout the coastal cities of Myanmar, you will find exquisite fish and seafood cuisine. As you go inland into Myanmar, you will find more meat and poultry dishes. Burma’s national dish is a breakfast soup called Mohinga, which is fish soup accompanied by rice noodles.
It is best to avoid the monsoon season from June to October. From October to February, you can enjoy a cool and dry season. The ideal time to go is from November to February when the weather is hot or very hot. The weather in Burma will greatly influence your trip. Remember to check the forecast for the period when you decided to go to Burma.
Remember to book your accommodation well in advance. The hotel supply is rather low compared to the number of tourists visiting the country. In high season, it will be more difficult to find accommodation at the last minute.
In order to travel to Burma, you will have to complete some formalities before your departure, including getting a Myanmar Visa and receiving travel vaccines for Myanmar.
American, British, and Australian passport holders need visas to enter Myanmar. In order to apply for a visa, you must have a valid passport that is more than 6 months from its expiration date when you arrive in Burma. The Government of Burma has an eVisa program to apply online for your visa. The approval process takes up to 3 business days. You will receive your eVisa approval letter in your email. You should print out this letter and bring it with you on your trip. You must use your visa within 90 days.
Vaccines are not mandatory in order to enter the country. However, it is recommended to be up to date for all universal vaccines. Depending on your type of stay, it is preferable to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis. Remember to plan your vaccines before your departure and talk with your doctor.
Myanmar drives on the right side of the road, but many cars still have their steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. It is not advisable to drive in Myanmar, as you will need a special permit and a local resident with you in the car at all times. It is possible to rent a car and driver for a day or more.
The country uses a mixture of US dollars and Burmese kyat. Tourist-centric places, such as hotels, train tickets, and some entrance fees will use USD. Everything else, such as food and local crafts, will be in kyat.
If you want to exchange cash, then your bills should be in pristine condition. If your bills are folded and worn, some Burmese banks will reject them or exchange them at a lower rate. Exchange currency at the airports and banks. This is the only way you can ensure you won’t be scammed. Don’t exchange currency on the streets.
Payment by MasterCard and Visa is growing but is not yet accessible by all. You can withdraw money at ATMs. Please note that you will have to pay taxes each time you use your cards. You can also access money transfer via Western Union.
We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.