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Young Burmese girl, Bagan
Balloons over Bagan
Fisherman on Lake Inle
Monks queue for their daily meal
The teak bridge, Amarapura
Shwe Dagon, Yangon
Burma/Myanmar is only just beginning to emerge from behind the heavy, dark curtain of its past, and is coming, blinking into the sunshine, to take its rightful place as one of South East Asia’s most vibrant and rewarding destinations.
The optimism for the future that is now being carved out for the nation, under the strident gaze of “The Lady” Aung Sang Su Kyi, is palpable in every encounter, as the military regime crumbles in the face of this new democracy. And the world is watching.
It is difficult to imagine a country with more varied highlights to offer…
Downtown Yangon, with its’ beautiful colonial architecture, Indian markets, and the gold beacon of the Shwedagon Temple beaming out across the city; River journeys of epic scale, to backwater villages and remote rural communities so far off the tourist radar; the atmosphere of the Bagan temple complex at sunset; Lake Inle with its floating gardens, iconic fishermen and bustling markets; Hikes through remote hill tribe areas, high in the cloud forests, where the ethnicity of each village you pass is literally read from the inhabitants facial tattoos; awe inspiring Buddhist pagodas; absolutely undiscovered coasts; wall to wall monks; fantastic scenery; wonderful food; great wildlife; stunningly friendly people. And there is ALWAYS a festival.
Burma’s/Myanmar’s arms are open wide to tourists and there is now no reason not to come.
To read Jonny Bealby's report from his time in Burma, and Wild frontiers policy towards travel there, please click here
Wild Frontiers offers unique Small Group Tours, Private Journeys and Tailor Made Holidays to Burma.
Holidays in Myanmar (Burma)
What to do in Myanmar (Burma)
Please select the regions you are interested in.
Balloon Ride over Bagan
The temples of Bagan, numbering over 2,500, situated on a 40sqkm plain on the western bank of the Irrawaddy, is simply one of the world's greatest tourists attractions. Built between 1057 and 1287 (when Kublai Khan invaded), the rulers of the region adopted Buddhism as their national religion and went about proving their devotion to their new found faith with impressive zeal. Over 4,000 religious monuments were originally constructed; some built by kings, standing a hundred metres high, others by commoners, the size of a modest mausoleum. To witness this incredible site, just after sunrise from a hot air balloon is something you'll never forget.
Boat on the Irrawaddy
The Irrawaddy River rises in the Himalayas to form one of Asia's great waterways. After Rudyard Kipling's poem, the Irrawaddy is sometimes referred to as 'The Road to Mandalay' and as early as the sixth century the river was used for trade and transport. Vital to the British Empire it is still as crucial today, as a considerable amount of goods and traffic moves along it - including you! A river trip is an important component to any holiday in Burma - and on the Irrawaddy you'll see the full extent of Myanmar river life.
Sponsor a Novice Monk
As the custom of the region dictates, every Buddhist male must, at some point in his life, spend time as a monk. In order to be taken in by the local monastery an initiation ceremony has to be concluded which includes the taking of robes, shaving the hair etc. Normally a boy's parents would help and finance this, but when a child is an orphan this can be a problem. Through our contacts in the country we are able to help you help an orphaned monk, take the order and fulfil his religious duty. A deeply moving experience for all.
Trek Mount Popa
Hike to the summit of Burma's Mount Olympus, believed to be the abode of the country's most powerful Nats (spirits). Mount Popa is a 1500 metre volcanic peak that lies some 50km south-east of Bagan amongst a landscape of wooded hills and natural springs. The trek, taking between 4 and 5 hours, will take in some of the region's most impressive scenery, including the sheer-sided volcanic plug of Taung Kalat, a 737 metre pinnacle that is home to a spectacular cliff-top Buddhist monastery.
Your sightseeing will begin with a visit to the gilded majesty of the Kuthodaw Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill. It is here that you will find the 'world's largest book', made up of a series of marble slabs, each inscribed on both sides with pages of text from the Tipitaki; the standard collection of scriptures of the Theravada Buddhist faith. From here move on to the intricate teak carvings of the Shwenandaw Monastery, the last major structure still remaining of the original wooden Royal Palace, before paying a visit to the Maha Myatmuni Pagoda, home to Mandalay's holiest Buddha statue.The afternoon then sees you taking a gentle boat ride up to Mingun, following the course of the river to visit the monumental ruins of the Mingun Pahtodawgyi. You can also visit the Mingun Bell, a 90 ton monster that is one of the largest of its kind in the world, as well as the beautiful Hsimphyumae Pagoda, built by Bodawpaya's grandson in 1816, before taking a sunset cruise back to Mandalay.
Explore Bagan Temples
Having been picked up from your hotel by your guide you will wander out into the extraordinary temple field, fist visiting the famed golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda and the 12th century frescos that adorn the cave temple of King Kyansittha. You can also visit the temples of Htilominio and Ananda, the latter of which is considered a masterpiece of Mon design. In the afternoon then enjoy a relaxing horse cart ride through the Tharaba Gateway and on to the Shwegugyi Temple, located in front of the old Royal Palace. After visiting the 12th century Thatbyinnyu Temple (at 61 metres, the tallest in the city) you will end the day watching a golden sunset from the open terraces of the Bagan temples.
Meet your guide for a half day city tour, starting by paying a visit to the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, whose famous golden stupa dominates the city's skyline. The most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, Shwe Dagon is believed to be over 2,500 years old and its central stupa is surrounded by a wealth of intricately decorated buildings and statues. Believed to hold the relics of past Buddhas, the pagoda is a popular shrine for local pilgrims, making it a fascinating spot at which to enjoy the setting of the late afternoon sun. From here you will head down to the docks, walk through the local markets, visit a number of other pagodas before finishing your tour at the famous Scott's Market.
Visit Po Win Taung Buddhist Caves
If travelling by way of Monwya, we highly recommend taking time out to visit Po Win Taung. Take a ferry across the Chindwin River where you'll pick up a jeep and drive for about 40 minutes to an extraordinary and rarely visited cave complex filled with original Buddhas. This is guaranteed to be a highlight of the trip - it was for us!
Explore Lake Inle
Beginning after breakfast, you can board a boat to enjoy the calm waters and floating gardens of the lake. A photographer's dream, the gardens are formed from a combination of silt and weed, which over time forms a thick layer of rich humus upon which gardens of fruit and vegetables can be grown and tended. The Inthas tend these gardens from long, banana-shaped boats, the same boats that they use to fish the waters of the lake for Inle carp. The locals have a somewhat distinctive way of rowing these sturdy craft, standing at the stern of the boat and wrapping a leg around the oar. It is a posture that affords them an unrestricted view across the floating reeds and leaves them two free hands with which to handle their nets. The morning also sees you visiting the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery and the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, site of the holiest shrine in southern Shan. In the afternoon youm can then proceed to In Paw Khone to observe some traditional silk weaving, visit a local blacksmith and, if time permits, take a stroll to a lakeside village to learn a little more about the Intha and their ways.
Holidays in Myanmar (Burma)
Where to stay in Myanmar (Burma)
Please select the regions you are interested in.
This former Nikko Metropolitan is a nine-floor city hotel with great views of the Shwedagon pagoda. Although rather...
The Governor's Residence
If it can be afforded this is the pick of the bunch in Yangon, with a great old style colonial building beyond a lush...
A really lovely old colonial house, originally built as a restaurant and club catering to the British at the turn of...
Hotel By The Red Canal
As far as the tailor-made market is concerned, this is without doubt the pick of the bunch. The town's only real...
Mandalay Hill Resort
Situated at the north east corner of the Palace Canal, this is a large purpose-built, 4 star hotel. Although it...
Tharabar At The Gate
This is a lovely hotel and given that it is owned by a local business man, who has built it up from a small guesthouse,...
Thiripyitsaya River Hotel
This former government hotel, now leased to and run by a Japanese company, is situated on the banks of the Irrawaddy...
Situated on the western side of the lake, at the northern end, this 96 room hotel is a good option in the mid-range. It...
Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Inle and accessed by boat, this lovely boutique hotel, if our pick for...
Shwe Inn Tha
Privately owned by a local woman (called Ann) whose family have lived on the lake for generations, this stilted hotel...
Kandawgyi Hill Resort
We really like this place. The main house was built in the 1920s and forms part of the rich colonial history of the...
Win Unity Resort
This is a strange but perfectly decent place to stay. Newly constructed it consists of a number of semi detached...
Amara Mountain Resort
Built in 1909, this British colonial residence was lovingly restored in 2002 to form a boutique hotel.Situated on a...
Princess Keng Tung
This simple local hotel is the best option in the small town of Keng Tung in eastern Burma.12 standard (basement &...
Situated directly on the beach, Sandoway Resort is the ultimate place to relax after sightseeing around Burma....
Amata Ngapali Beach Resort stretches along the beautiful shoreline of Ngapali Bay. Constructed of wood and local...
Pleasant View Resort
This unpretentious mid-range hotel is set within pretty gardens on beautiful Ngapali Beach. Simple yet comfortable, the...
Mr Charles Guesthouse
Mr Charles guesthouse is set just off the main road at the tranquil northern end of the town.The best hotel option...
Perched high above the Nam Lang River with glorious views of mountains and rice terraces, Malikha Lodge is the only...
Ngapali Bay Resort
Ngapali Bay Villas & Spa offers 32 individually fitted beachfront villas, all with great ocean views. Designed by a...
Pine Hill Resort
Pine Hill Resort is set in pretty gardens in the highlands of Kalaw surrounded by pine trees and misty blue mountains....
The RV Paukan is a boutique hotel on the Irrawaddy river, beautifully furnished with a unique combination of modern and...
Thande Old Bagan Hotel
Bagan Thande Hotel has an enviable riverside location at the south-west corner of the ancient walls of Old Bagan City....
Villa Inle Resort
Villa Inle Resort & Spa is spread over more than 20 acres on the eastern fringe of the lake near the village of Maing...
The Winner Inn has an excellent location in the leafy neighbourhoood on the outskirts of Yangon.A simple yet...
Holidays in Myanmar (Burma)
Holidays in Myanmar (Burma)
Myanmar (Burma) Travel Guide
Please select the regions you are interested in.
Located on the Central Burmese Plains, along the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady River, Bagan was first settled around the 2nd century AD. Its golden age though began with the ascension to the Burmese throne of King Anawratha in 1044. A disciple of Theravada Buddhism, Anawratha began a policy of temple building that over the next two centuries saw the completion of an astonishing 13,000 temples, pagodas and religious monuments. The famous golden domes of the Shwezigon Pagoda, which was started by Anawrath and completed in 1102 by King Kyanzittha is believed to hold a bone and a tooth belonging to the Gautama Buddha, whilst the Ananda Temple (also from the reign of King Kyanzittha) is considered to be a superb fusion of Mon and Indian architecture. At its zenith, Bagan attracted monks and artisans from as far away as India, Sri Lanka and the Khmer kingdoms of Cambodia, but in 1287 it was sacked by the Mongol armies of Kublai Khan, after which it fell into a state of steady decline.
The economic centre of Upper Burma, Mandalay lies at the heart of the country’s religious and cultural traditions. One of modern Myamar’s most vibrant cities, it is still nonetheless home to more than 700 pagodas and numerous monasteries, including the revered Mahagandayone Monastery, one of the largest centres of Buddhist learning anywhere in the city. Founded by King Mindon in 1857 and set around the dominating presence of Mandalay Hill, the city was the last of Burma’s royal capitals, until its annexation by the British at the end of the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885. The original palace was destroyed by fire during the Second World War, but the remaining walls and gates still present an impressive testament to its former glory, whilst the remarkable Kuthodaw Pagoda presents visitors with one of Buddhism’s most extraordinary settings. The city’s economic resurgence is thanks mainly to the strong influence of the Chinese who, over recent years, have helped shape a city that has become a rich mix of Chinese ingenuity and Burmese traditions.
Yangon, formerly Rangoon, was the capital of Myanmar until it was superseded by Naypyidaw in November 2005. Today, with a population of over 5 million people, it remains the largest city and main economic hub of the country. The city is an amalgamation of British, Burmese, Chinese and Indian influences, and is known for its colonial architecture, which although decaying, remains an almost unique example of a 19th-century British colonial capital. New high-rise buildings were constructed from the 1990s as the government began to allow private investment. However, Yangon continues to be a city of the past, as seen by its longyi-wearing pedestrians, its street vendors and its pungent smells. There are some stunning sights - particularly the Shwe Dagon Pagoda - some wonderful markets - particularly Scott’s Market - and some fascinating walks - particularly along the Irrawaddy River. All in all Yangon is an interesting place from which to begin and end your trip.
Occupying a 22 kilometre long plateau in the middle of the central highlands, Lake Inle is home to the Intha, a people of Tibetan-Burmese descent who live amongst the waterside villages that spread along the shoreline and the islands of the lake. Wonderfully scenic and rich in tradition, the lake and its surroundings provide visitors with a glimpse of a rapidly disappearing world. The Intha still go about their daily business much as they have for generations, travelling around the lake in small wooden rowing boats from which they fish and farm, much as their ancestors have for centuries. The area is also renowned for its weaving industry, with Shan bags and high-quality silk fabrics known as longyi a particular speciality. The lake also produces a unique lotus fibre that is used in weaving special robes for images of Buddha, called kya thingahn (lotus robes). Whilst the lake encompasses nearly 120 square kilometres, its depth reaches no more than around 3 metres, resulting in the aquatic rural idyll of floating gardens of hyacinth and stilted thatched huts that makes this one of the most picturesque settings in the country.
Named after Colonel (later Major General) James May of the 5th Bengal Infantry, Maymyo was once a staunch stronghold for British traditions and eccentricities. Located in the Shan Highlands, some 67 kilometres to the east of Mandalay, it was established as a summer capital for the colonial overlords at the latter end of the 19th century. Decades of British influence turned this lush corner of Central Burma into a little slice of Middle England and today many of the former colonial mansions have been renovated by rich Chinese merchants or turned into luxury hotels, reviving graceful memories of that bygone age. The cool, clean air makes the town a refreshingly elegant destination to escape the heat and humidity of the summer and the town’s wonderful botanical gardens provide a welcome blaze of colour amongst the verdant green of the surrounding hills. Home to a thriving Eurasian community, the town is one of the most unique in Burma, with its distinctive horse-drawn transport providing the perfect means of exploring its historic heart.
From its humble beginnings as a small Danu village, Heho has grown into the main air gateway for tourists heading out to Lake Inle. Expanding with the arrival of the railway in the 1920s, the town became a major airbase for both the Allies and the Japanese during the Second World War and today its bustling markets attract a wealth of goods and villagers from the surrounding countryside. Pa O women, with their distinctive woven baskets and colourful headscarves are regular visitors to the market, which bears the distinction of being the largest of its kind in southern Shan State.
Located over 1300 metres above sea level, amongst the rolling hills of the Shan Plateau and surrounded by Palaung, Danu and Pao villages, Kalaw lies at the centre of some of the best trekking in Burma.
Ngapali boasts 3km of palm-fringed sands on the beautiful Bay of Bengal in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. With a number of good beach hotels, crystal clear water and unspoilt beaches, Ngapali makes an ideal beach extension after visiting Burma's cultural highlights. Aside from relaxing in a stunning setting, you can visit small fishing villages and local markets; explore the countryside by bicycle and enjoy boat trips to the magnificent offshore islands.
Tucked away in the scenic mountain valley close to the Thai border, Kengtung is a laidback town which has retained its many old traditions and customs. It is an archaeological treasure trove where classical Shan houses with intricately designed wooden balconies, ageing Buddhist temples mix seamlessly with crumbling colonial architecture left over from its yesteryears. Kengtung may feel more like its neighbors across the Mekong than Myanmar itself. Get the best of both the cultural and spiritual world with visits to the striking Maha Myat Muni Pagoda and the nearby hot spring. The town is an excellent base for you to explore the distinctive cultures of these unique indigenous peoples. Different beliefs of Animism, Buddhism and Christianity co-exist together in this remote town. Short treks take you to Wa, Shan, Akha and Lahu villages where you will find villages and people very few have ever visited.
Monywa is a little known town northwest of Mandalay on the eastern bank of the River Chindwin. Although the town itself offers little to distinguish itself, we like it as it remains off the tourist route and is an ideal overnight stop for those travelling overland between Mandalay & Bagan. It make a great base to explore some interesting religious sites, including the impressive Mohnyin Thambuddhei Paya, a Buddhist temple with a huge stupa resembling Indonesia's Borobudur, Laykyun Setkyar, the second-tallest standing Buddha statue in the world, and the Phowintaung cave complex.
Putao is a town in the far northern Kachin State, which shares a borders with China in the North and East and India in the West. It is a picturesque place set in the wide valley near the mighty Himalayan range. Snow capped peaks of pristine Himalayan chain and beauty of flora and fauna of the district makes this area a great godsend for ecotourism. Northern Myanmar is one of the richest and biologically diverse regions in Indochina as it finds itself on a crossroads between the tropical Indo-Malaysian climate in the south and the temperate and alpine Sino-Himalayan climate in the north.
The Irrawaddy River or Ayeyarwady River run from north to south through Burma (Myanmar). It is the country's largest and most important river. After Rudyard Kipling's poem, it is sometimes referred to as 'The Road to Mandalay'. Travelling by boat is an wonderful way of getting between Bagan to Mandalay and provides a relaxing insight into life along the river. Both day and longer overnight cruises are available.
This sleepy market town in the Northern Shan State allows tourists to get well off the beaten track. It is a great place for trekking through Shan villages to picturesque spots such as hot springs, water caves, waterfalls and forests. The early morning market is one of the best and the historial Shan Palace and the Bawgyo Paya Pagoda are well worth visiting.
Holidays in Myanmar (Burma)
Myanmar (Burma) Travel Information
Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the end of your tour, and it must have at least one blank page for each visa required.
Please ensure the passport details we hold for you are correct.
Please note it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa documentation when starting your tour. Country entry regulations can alter daily and it is always best to check with the relevant embassies for any changes.
Before departure UK passport holders require visas for Myanmar. These can either be bought in person at the relevant embassies or through a visa company such as:
6-12 Gladstone Road
Tel: 020 7223 5295
Fax: 020 7738 2617
The details below specify relevant information for your visa application forms (based on taking the suggested group flights).
You will also need: authorisation letters, we will provide these in time for your visa application
NB: Please note that for the application you will need
• 2 completed visa application forms
• 2 (MUST be white background) passport photographs
• Copy of flight itinerary
If you are travelling on a non-UK passport, please contact your nearest consulate/embassy for up to date visa information.
Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours.
You should be aware that many standard insurance policies may not cover you adequately for all aspects of a Wild Frontiers trip and so we strongly recommend that you purchase a suitably designed insurance policy.
One such policy is the "Wild Frontiers" policy underwritten by Ace European Group Limited (ACE " firm reference 202803), which is available to EU residents (which excludes Norway & Switzerland) through our website or via the insurance company direct on 0845 345 3456. Under this policy there are two different levels of cover available.
Standard policy: a comprehensive travel insurance policy that provides cover for all Wild Frontiers activities, including trekking up to 6,000m. This policy does not provide cover for travel to areas where the FCO is advising against all or all but essential travel.
Elite policy: provides the same comprehensive level of cover as the standard policy. In addition the Elite policy also provides cover for travel to areas where the FCO is advising against all or all but essential travel. The policy will not provide cover for any claims arising from or relating to the reasons why the FCO is advising against travel.
If purchasing the Elite policy you also have the option to extend the cover provided by the policy to include cover for claims arising from a terrorist act in an area where the FCO is advising against travel. You can add this cover to your policy when purchasing online or over the telephone.
These policies are only available to those travelling on a Wild Frontiers holiday.
For more information and to purchase your policy online please visit the Insurance section of our website.
The cover is underwritten by Ace European Group Limited (ACE), and is arranged by Travel & General Insurance Service Limited. Both companies are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Wild Frontiers Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Travel & General Insurance Company plc, details of which can be found at the FSA's website www.fsa.gov.uk.
To contact them please visit their website at www.travel-general.com or call 0845 408 0583.
Health and Vaccinations:
There are no mandatory immunisations for travellers to Myanmar though you should be up-to-date with Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A. Malaria is present in parts of Myanmar so we recommend you seek advice from your local GP or travel centre
Holidays in Myanmar (Burma)
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More useful information when travelling to:
Flight InformationPresently there are no direct flights from Europe or the Sates into Myanmar (Burma); most come through a South East Asian hub such as Singapore or Bangkok. When travelling on one of our group tours we recommend travelling Thai Airways via Bangkok. Taking this routing, on current timings, you will depart Heathrow at 11.50, arrive into Bangkok at 06.10 to following morning, transfer to the next flight departing 07.50 and arrive in Yangon at 08.30
Useful Tips• Your mobile phone is unlikely to work, so tell your friends and family before you go
• Take cash; there are no ATMs and credit cards are not accepted
• Wear slip-on shoes as you’ll be taking them on and off a great deal as you visit temples and monasteries
• Carry an umbrella; great against the sun and for the occasional shower
• Carry a torch when visiting the temples of Bagan; some involve climbing steps in the dark
Novels - HE Bates’ wartime novel The Jacaranda Tree and The Purple Plain, George Orwell Burmese Days, Amitav Ghosh’s historical novel The Glass Palace gives the story of 3 generations of families from 1885 to the Japanese invasion.
Guidebooks: If you want to read up on your destination we recommend a variety of guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Odyssey Guides, The Rough Guide and Footprint Guides. All these publications have good general information as well as more specific country information that will help orientate you in the areas you visit.
When To GoThe most popular time to visit Myanmar is between November and February. This is the dry season, when the skies are clear and the days warm. If you want to avoid the other tourists the shoulder seasons of October and April May are also good, but be ready for a bit of rain.
In general you should bring clothes you feel comfortable with. However, you should refer to the ‘Cultural Sensitivity’ section.
Special Note For Women:
In Myanmar women should cover their shoulders in temples and at Buddhist monasteries.
Therefore as a guide we suggest a packing list like this:
• 4 x Light cotton shirts or T-shirts, short sleeved and long.
• 2/3 pairs of cotton trousers. If preferred, women can wear dresses and skirts
• 2 x pairs of shorts
• 2 x Lightweight jumpers or sweatshirts
• Set of lightweight waterproofs
• Waterproof jacket or poncho
• Change of clothing for the evenings
• An extra “outfit” if you’d like to dress up a bit on occasion
• Sun hat or cap
• Swim suit or trunks
• Pair of walking shoes/boots (walking)
• Pair of recreational shoes, adventure sandals, trainers or pumps
We would recommend taking a smaller bag so you can separate a few days worth of clothes while on your trek/boat.
The following is useful extra equipment for your trip:
• Flip flops/sandals for bathrooms
• Trekking poles if trekking
• Torch (LED head-torch keeps your hands free)
• A bandanna or large handkerchief is useful for dusty tracks
• Pair of good quality sunglasses
• Plug adapter (see ‘Electricity’ section)
Personal First Aid Kit:
While we do carry a large medical kit we would advise that you take some of the basics with you. This should include:
• Any prescription medication required (please inform the tour leader at your pre-departure meeting about these)
• Antibacterial dry hand wash
• Painkillers: paracetamol & ibuprofen
• Rehydration salts (Gastrolyte)
• Malaria Tablets (if necessary)
• Travel motion-sickness tablets if required (e.g. natural ginger tablets)
• Diarrhoea remedies
• Cold/flu decongestants
• Mosquito Repellent
• Insect bite cream
• Plasters/Bandage/Steri-Strips/Blister pads
• Sunscreen (30+ factor)
• Moisturiser/after sun cream/lip balm
• Contact lenses and solution if required
(A kit with most of this in is available at www.nomadtravel.co.uk)
• Ear plugs (if sharing a room / camping)
• Alarm clock
• 3-4 plastic carrier bags are very useful for dirty washing, dirty shoes and rubbish
• Small packs of tissues
• Money belt or secure pouch for money and passport etc.
• Eye patches if light affects your sleep
• Sewing kit/scissors
• Writing materials
• Spare batteries/camera memory cards
• Swiss Army knife
• Universal bath plug
• Calculator (for currency conversion)
• Lyons coffee bags if you cannot survive without ‘proper’ coffee.
NB: If you wear glasses, it is advisable to bring a spare pair since opticians are uncommon. If you wear contact lenses you may find that climatic changes and dust can create visual irritation, therefore, it is advisable to bring a pair of glasses.
In Myanmar the official unit of currency is the Kyat.
To check out the latest exchange rate for the places that you are visiting you can go to www.oanda.com
As a guide a beer costs about $2, while a bottle of wine can be had for between $20 and $30 per bottle.
Bargaining is acceptable in the areas you are visiting.
Please Note at time of writing there is a $10 departure tax from Yangon Airport and 2,000 kyat (about $2.5) airport tax at each regional airport.
A few points to help you plan:
• Payments are mainly made in cash.
• There are no ATMs and neither traveller’s cheques nor credit cards will be accepted.
• Only the few large hotels and banks accept credit cards and Travellers Cheques so they are basically useless.
• It is useful to bring lots of small denomination notes.
Top five tips for staying healthy:
• Ensure you have the correct vaccinations before you travel and that you take an adequate supply of any prescription medication with you.
• Remember " high factor sun cream is recommended.
• Make sure you drink plenty of (clean) water " dehydration is very common when travelling " but avoid ice cubes as they may be made from un-purified water.
• Wash your hands regularly. You can buy antibacterial dry hand gel or take some wet- wipes.
• Use insect repellent and long sleeves to avoid getting bitten, even in non-malarial areas.
In temples, monasteries, at churches and cathedrals women should cover their shoulders, while men should take their hats off.
Please remember, we are guests in the countries through which we travel and we may sometimes inadvertently cause offence by taking photographs without first asking permission.
Also many countries have very strict rules about taking photos of army, police or any official personnel; restrictions apply at borders, bridges and any government building. Please exercise care in this regard as the penalty may be to have your film and/or camera confiscated.
Language & Religion:
In Myanmar, the major language is Burmese, although there are over 135 ethnic groups each with certain linguistic quirks.
Climate & Weather:
The most inclement season for visiting Burma is from November to March, when it rains least and isn't too hot. However from our experience May is a wonderful time to visit, if you don’t mind the temperature a little hotter and the odd shower to cool things down. The southwest monsoon starts sometime between mid-May and mid-June, from when it rains until October. On this tour you can expect temperatures on the plains of Bagan and Mandalay to reach 35 degrees, and some rain, but on the plus side there will be almost no other tourists, which will make your trip unique.
Myanmar is 5½ hours ahead of GMT.
A useful website to check the time zone differences is www.worldtimezone.com
If using a camera with film we suggest photographers bring plenty of rolls. Those bringing video & digital cameras that require battery chargers should also bring a two-pin, continental style adapter. In most hotels you can charge from the mains using a travel adaptor plug.
Food and Alcohol:
Food in Myanmar " excluding the grasshoppers which we feel are over rated " is one of the biggest attractions for visitors, and is the centrepiece of domestic cultural activity. With huge similarities to Thai, Vietnamese and Indian the cuisine is both varied and excellent. One thing to bear in mind though, river prawns, no matter how delicious they look, are not as nice as their salt water cousins.
Wine, beer and spirits are pretty generally available.