Myanmar At A Glance
Being a country full of intriguing history and tradition, Myanmar is slowly becoming an extremely popular destination to visit. With ancient temples and pagodas, untouched landscapes, and an emerging culture that is slowly opening up to the modern world, there is much to learn and discover about this place. In 2015, this country which was formerly known as Burma voted in their first democratically elected government in over half a century and has opened up its doors to tourists.
Currency: Burmese Kyat (MMK)
Language: While the main language in Myanmar is Burmese, there are still about 100 or so other dialects that are commonly spoken. Given the fact that the country just opened its doors to other nations in the last few years, the level of English amongst the locals isn’t the same as when traveling other Southeast Asian countries. However, those that do work in the tourism industry have adapted fast and are usually able to communicate things with ease.
Festivals and Celebrations: As with most Asian countries, the festivals and celebrations are largely connected to religious events and dates. With festivals often celebrated with dancing, parades, and religious, chancing upon these festive days is a real treat, allowing you a real glimpse into their culture. The most popular festival is this country is the Thingyan festival which is the Buddhist festival which is usually celebrated from the 13-16 of April. During this festival, everyone joins in for one big water fight symbolizing the cleansing of sins. For further tips on traveling Myanmar, check out our complete guide.
Best Time to Go: In a nutshell, although you can visit Myanmar all year round, due to its tropical climate. However, as a general rule, try to avoid visiting Myanmar from June to September. During this time (especially from July to September), the wet season is in full swing. Places like Ngapali Beach during this time closes down due to inaccessible roads.
The best time to visit most of Myanmar is from November to February as it is neither too hot to walk around due to the cool breeze that blows in. March to May, on the other hand, are boiling hot, especially in the plains near Bagan and Mandalay.
Visa: As long as you have a valid passport, you shouldn’t have any problems entering Myanmar by land or by air. Citizens of 100 countries can apply online for tourist visas through the government website. An e-visa is valid for 28 and roughly costs $50. They advice for you to start applying for an e-visa at least a month in advance as often it can take anything from 1 day to 1 week for you to receive your visa confirmation. If you’re already on the road, it is also possible to get a tourist visa from the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok (same day processing or for pick up the next day).
Safety: Generally speaking, traveling around Myanmar is pretty safe, with little to no violence or petty crime towards foreigners. One safety concern is that involving public transportation as often times, road infrastructure is quite poor. With that being said, spend the extra $5 and pay for a VIP ticket. You will be a lot more comfortable and rested when you get to each place.
Currently, there is a lot of political turmoil and unrest in a few states regarding the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims. General travel advisories from government advises against all but essential travel to parts of Rakhine, Shan, and Kachin states. While the touristy areas of Myanmar remain unaffected by this turmoil, there are still mixed opinions regarding the ethics behind planning a trip to Myanmar given the unrest.