CLIMATE OF MYANMAR
1). We want to travel to Myanmar in our summer time in Europe, but people say there is a lot of rain there so its not a good time to do so. Is it correct?
The climate of Myanmar is tropical with three main seasons.
( 1 ) The rainy season is from mid-May to mid-October with an average temperature of 25-30 C. Although it rains heavily in Yangon and Inle Lake, traveling in Myanmar during this season is still enjoyable because Mandalay and Bagan lie in dry zones where it barely rains. For Inle lake, rainy season is the best. The lake, the mountains, the stream, the paddy fields , every where is green and clean. This is the most beautiful time for Inle lake.
( 2 ) The cool season ( Winter ) is from mid-October to mid-February with an average temperature of 20-24 C. This is the best season to visit Burma. Some regions in upper Burma, Kalaw ( South-West of Shan State ) and Kyaing Tong ( Eastern Shan State ), has a temperature that ranges between 5 – 10 C, so travelers may need to bring some warm clothes to tour around this area.
( 3 ) The hot season ( Summer ) is from mid-February to mid-May with an average temperature of 30-35 C. Although it’s a bit hot, our programs are designed to make traveling enjoyable as we avoid the heat by touring about in the mornings and evenings.
2). How can I get Myanmar ( Burma ) Visa ?
Every one except some Asean nationalities need visa to come to Myanmar.
Valid Passport with Entry Visa is required for all travel ers to Burma. Visa can be obtained at any Myanmar Embassy or Consulate abroad. Visa fee is about US$ 30 in local currency.
3). Can I get visa online ?
eVisa , 'Electronic visa on line system' for visitors to Myanmar has started practicing since '01 Sep 2014' and it has been running well.
Please see E Visa tab for detailed information. Visa fees starts from USD 50/pax and the process takes about 5 days to obtain the approval.
MYANMAR CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE
The monetary unit is the Kyat (pronounced 'chat'), denominations are Kyat 10000, 5000, 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 & 1. The exchange rate is around 1200 Kyats to US $ 1. Bank rates and market rates can vary from 3 to 5 Kyats depending on the bank.
Money Changer counters, ATMs and Credit Cards
Tourists can easily change any foreign currency into Local Kat at any exchange counters with market rate. USD is the most popular foreign currency.
Local currency: ‘kyat’ can also withdrawn three times a day from the ATMs in Yangon International Airport and all tourist destinations and Major cities like Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Taunggyi. Limit for one transaction is only Kyat 300,000 ( Three lakh) and the bank will charge about 5000 Kyats for each transaction and daily withdraw limit is Kyat 1,000,000 (Ten Lakh).
Regarding credit cards; Master Card and Visa Cards are accepted in Myanmar now especially in the tourism related businesses like hotels, travel agencies and high end restaurants. We, Columbus Travel also accept credit card payment.
6). How do you charge the cancellation fees?
We, Columbus Travels is very flexible about cancellation policy on all bookings till last minute. But in Myanmar, the cancellation policy of most hotels are twenty-one ( 21 ) days notice for group travels and seven ( 7 ) days notice for individual travels. Strict cancellation and deposit policies apply for bookings of river cruises, beach hotels and some small and beautiful boutique hotels. So the action of cancellation charges will occur according to the hotel cancellation policy.
DOMESTIC TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION WHEN VISIT AROUND MYANMAR
7). How do you care for transportation service during the tour in Myanmar?
Domestic air services in Burma (Myanmar) have greatly improved over the recent years. However, travel by trains is still not so comfortable. The clients of Columbus Travels will travel by reliable private airlines ; Air KBZ (K7), Yangon Airways(YA) , Air Mandalay(6T) , Asian Wings Airways(YJ) , Mann Yadanar Pone airlines(7Y), Golden Myanmar Airlines (GMA) , Apex Airlines and sometime by Myanmar National airline(UB)with ATR-flights , Air Bus , Fokker , Jet and Embraer aircrafts. Baggage allowance on Burma (Myanmar) domestic flights is basically limited to 20 kg.
Land transportation is by luxury Air con buses or private air-con vehicles. Excess luggage can be left in Yangon hotels for collection on return from up country. In remote areas, air-conditioned cars or buses may not always be available and travelers should be advised that the conditions of roads in the remote area not the same. Due to poor road conditions, long distance overland travel generally takes longer than the travelers might expect, averaging only 45 to 50 kilometers per hour.
For cruising on Ayarwaddy river and Chindwin river, various choices of regular scheduled day boats as well as better and luxurious cruises with overnight trips along the rivers are available.
HOW WE MAKE YOUR TRAVEL ITINERARY
8). During our stay in Myanmar, we want to see the nature, culture, history and people and their life style. Can you arrange a very comprehensive program?
Major sightseeing itineraries include a variety of religious and historic monuments, a rich cultural and artistic heritage, and beautiful scenery. We also seek out other attractions like interesting local markets, festivals, Myanmar traditional handicrafts and industries, and an opportunity to meet the local people in their own environment. A specialty includes the opportunity to try regional cuisines around Myanmar and to experience various typical and traditional forms of Myanmar entertainment. By including such extra dimensions, we make any visit to Myanmar a richer, more rewarding and more memorable experience.
Myanmar cuisine is established around rice or noodles, usually served with a variety of curries between meat and fish, along with a dish of vegetables, salads, soup, and condiments. Myanmar curries tend to be less spicy than those served in Thailand. Meals & drinks at International Hotels are considerably expensive. There are many good local restaurants with almost the same quality of food and hygiene as hotels but at reasonable prices. They serve various dishes of Myanmar, Chinese, European (French and Italian), Thai and Indian cuisine. But roadside small restaurants are not recommended, as it can be risky for health.
There are also a wide variety of local snacks and delicacies. Mouk-hin-kha (thin rice noodles served with fish gravy and onion soup) and Ohn-noh-khauk-swe (noodles served with chicken and coconut gravy) are the most popular in Myanmar. Shan food is another delicacy. Shan style of cooking neither belongs to Myanmar nor Chinese nor Thai cuisine but they taste really good in their own way.
Restaurants and food served towards the travelers are carefully selected for hygiene as well as gastronomic considerations.
HOTELS IN MYANMAR
The hotels’ standards in Myanmar vary especially in quality and availability. Numbers of new and refurbished hotels meeting international standards are available in most destinations like Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake, Kyaing Tong, Ngapali Beach, Ngwe Saung Beach, and Chaung Thar Beach. Only basic and simple hotels are available in the remote areas.
11). Is Myanmar a good shopping place? What are the best buys?
Myanmar arts and crafts, mostly hand-made, are lovely souvenirs. Lacquer ware, woodcarvings, tapestries, silverware, brassware, silk and cotton fabrics, and shoulder bags are some of the popular items. For jewelry, there are Burmese rubies, sapphires, jade and pearls available at Myanmar gems shops. All gems and jewelry purchased should be made through the government licensed dealers, who can give a voucher for export.
Bargaining is essential for obtaining reasonable prices. Possible price reductions of up to 70% are not uncommon.
12). Is there any compulsory vaccinations for travel to Myanmar?
There are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to Myanmar ( Burma ) but it is advisable to take precautions against malaria. Prescription drugs are not widely available in the remote areas of Myanmar so travelers should bring any required medication with them.
Insect repellents are highly recommended, especially when traveling to remote areas in conjunction with other measures to prevent mosquito bites. The sun can be remarkably hot so a hat and sunscreen is advisable.
For many years SIM cards in Myanmar were expensive and difficult to obtain. But now three operators compete each other and selling with very cheap price, K1,500 ( about 1.2 USD ). These SIM Cards work on a top-up basis, with K1000, K3000, K5000 and K10,000 Cards available.
SIM cards and top ups can be bought at numerous street-side retailers in every cities and even in very small towns.
15). Can I buy travel insurance in Myanmar?
It is advisable to purchase travel insurance in your own country. Please choose a reputable insurance company who has agent in Myanmar. This is very important.
16). Do we have to declare everything at the airport custom?
All foreign currencies (above US $ 2000), jewelries, electrical goods, and cameras must be declared to the Burmese Customs at the Airport. Travelers may bring in duty free 200 cigarettes, one quart of wine, and one pint of perfume. Export of Myanmar (Burma) antiques is prohibited. Only gems and jewelries purchased at the licensed dealers, or who can issue an export permit are allowed to be taken out of Myanmar.
Internet access has improved. Free Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, guest houses, restaurants and cafes. You can even find internet access in remote areas. However, Internet access can be slow sometime so you can not download large files.
MYANMAR LIVELY BEACH
18). We want to spend some days on a lively beach ( we do not want quite and isolated beach ) ,pls recommend one.
Among the three beaches, Ngapali and Ngwe Saung beaches are quiet so your choice should be Chaung Thar beach. Its about 5 hours drive from Yangon. Its always very lively and active with its local crowd and different kind of restaurants and beer pubs ( we call beer station in Myanmar ). But there not much good hotels in Chaung Thar beach than other two beaches.
BURMA STANDARD TIME
GMT + 6 1/2 hours
220 VOLT 50 HZ
A flashlight is helpful when traveling up country where electricity is poor.
Government offices open from 09:30 to 16:30 on weekdays. Banking hours are from 10:00 to 14:00. Private companies work daily except Sunday and gazette holidays. Shopping centers and super markets open daily. But the most famous Bogyoke (Scott) market closes on Monday and gazette holidays. Busy hours at this place are from 10:00 am to 17:00 pm.
TIPPING IN MYANMAR
d). Tipping in Myanmar
Tipping in Myanmar is depending on how well you think they have been at your service.
Some common practice are :
Porter at Air port : Kyat 500 per bag
Porter at Hotels : Kyat 500 per bag
Car Drivers : ???
Your tour guide: ???
WHAT TO WEAR
Light clothing is required all year-round, but a sweater or jacket may be needed when traveling in hilly areas, especially during winter months. If visiting during the rainy season (May - September), an umbrella or raincoat will be required for the days in Inle lake and Yangon. It is required to dress decently within the precincts of religious buildings. Shoes and socks must be removed at pagodas and monasteries so it is advisable to bring a pair of slippers.
WHAT TO AVOID
Travelers are advised to keep away from touts who may approach them to exchange foreign currency or to sell gems of dubious quality. Travelers are also advised not to drink tap water. Purified bottled water is available everywhere in Myanmar. Taking photograph of military camps and soldiers are to be avoided.
ENTERING BY BORDER CROSSING
g). Border crossing between Myanmar and Thailand
Border crossing between 'Myanmar' and 'Thailand' at four check points: Tachileik – Mae Sai , Myawaddy – Mae Saot , Kawthaung – Ranong and Htee Khee – Nan PhuRau has opened for foreigners as well as for Myanmar nationalities with effected from 28th Aug 2013. This reliefs the former formalities of applying permission as it is no more require to apply it in advance. For foreigners who want to come to Myanmar by border cross should already obtain Myanmar visa. For foreigners who want to come to Myanmar by border cross should already obtain Myanmar visa.
h). Border crossing between Myanmar and China
For the border between 'Myanmar' and 'China', the check point is at 'Rue Li – Mu Se' and it is still necessary to obtain permission in advance.
MYANMAR NATIONAL HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS
INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS TO MYANMAR
Three gateways are 'Yangon', 'Mandalay' and 'Nay Pyi Taw' International airports.
Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways , Thai Air Asia , Air China, China Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Biman Bangladesh Airline, China Southern airlines, Dragon Air, Jet Star, Korean Air, Malaysia airline, Myanma Airways Int'l , Nok Air, Qatar Airways, Silk Air, Singapore airlines, Tiger Air, Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet airlines fly to 'Yangon'.
Bangkok Airways , Thai Air Asia , Silk Air and China Eastern Airline fly to 'Mandalay'.
Bangkok Airways and China Eastern Airlines fly to 'Nay PyiTaw'.
Useful Phrases in Burmese