Myanmar

It is important that you arrange for your own travel insurance. Please check carefully the terms and conditions of your insurance which should cover

  • Repatriation in case of emergency or health issues
  • Hospital bills (most of the time not covered or limited coverage)
  • Cancellation fees for prepaid, booked and confirmed services according to cancellation policy stated at time of purchase 

Most airlines now include the international and the domestic airport tax in the ticket.

Cancellation terms are subject to each hotel's policy; this shall be made known at the time of confirmation.

Cancellation and deposit terms are subject to each cruise’s policy; this shall be made known at the time of
confirmation.

 

Cancellation charges are calculated from the day the written notification is received by the company or agent as a percentage of the net total tour price as shown, plus any surcharges (e.g. ticketed air sectors and other penalties imposed by suppliers, such as hotels):

  • Between 07 and 0 days prior to arrival: 100% of package price
  • Between 14 days and 08 days prior to arrival: 80% of package price
  • Between 30 days and 15 days prior to arrival: 50% of package price

Cancellation charges are calculated from the day the written notification is received by the company as a percentage of the net total tour price as shown, plus any surcharges (e.g. ticketed air sectors and other penalties imposed by suppliers, such as hotels):

  • Between 0 - 7 days prior to arrival: 100% of package price
  • Between 8 - 14 days prior to arrival: 80% of package price
  • Between 15 - 30 days prior to arrival: 50% of package price
  • Between 31 - 45 days prior to arrival: 30% of package price

In case a hotel has stricter conditions than the above information, we will inform at time of confirmation

Myanmar has a tropical climate with three distinct seasons, although the effects of the "rainy" seasons vary
across the country:

Rainy Season
June - September

Cool Season
October - February

Hot Season
March - May

Overall the best time to visit Myanmar is from the end of October to middle of April. Yangon is very hot and humid during the hot and rainy seasons. Although Yangon and the surrounding areas can have a lot of rain during the summer, upper Myanmar is rather dry the whole year round. The months of July through September can be very pleasant in Bagan and Mandalay as the air is clearer with less dust and only light rainfall. The coastal areas should be avoided from May to the end of September. In the Shan Hill and Mrauk U the temperatures at night during the winter months can be surprisingly chilly ranging from O°C to 8°C.

We recommend bringing light, loose fitting cotton clothes with pale colours as they tend to be cooler. Myanmar still has very traditional customs and it is not appropriate to wear shorts, Bermudas or miniskirts.

Since shoes and socks have to be removed for all visits to pagodas and temples, we recommend wearing sandals or other slip-on shoes which are easy to put on and take off. When visiting temples or other religious monuments, visitors should be modestly dressed - it is very important that knees and shoulders are covered and ladies should not wear shorts or bra-less T-shirts in such places.

Hats and sunglasses are strongly recommended. Formal clothes, i.e. jackets and ties, are not required. A multi-use sarong with is a very handy item to bring. If travelling to Inle Lake, the Shan Hills, Rakhine State and Putao, particularly during the winter season, nights can be chilly due to altitude hence it is advisable to bring a warm layer for the evenings.

The Myanmar currency is kyat (pronounced "chat"). The following notes are in circulation 10,000 / 5,000 / 1,000 / 500 / 200 / 100. The lower notes under 100 are not widely in circulation any more. The current rate of exchange is approximately Kyats 1185.95 to USD 1 (1 June 2016). You can exchange foreign currency at the international airport in Yangon or at money changer counters in the downtown area. Please note that only currency in perfect condition will be accepted throughout Myanmar. Notes with torn off corners, rips or scrawls are not accepted. Currently travellers’ cheques are not accepted.

Credit Cards
Credit cards are now accepted at bigger hotels or restaurants. However do not take it for granted that you can pay everywhere by cards. We therefore recommend you to bring enough cash in USD currency to cover most of your personal expenses during your trip.

ATMs
MasterCard, Maestro or Cirrus-branded card can be used to withdraw Myanmar currency Kyats at various ATMs available 24/7. The maximum withdrawal allowed is kyat 300,000 (approx. USD 300) per transaction and 3 times withdrawal per day. ATMs are relatively new in Myanmar, hence a certain tolerance is needed in case of malfunctioning of the machines.

The basic principle of customs policy in Myanmar is that visitors should exit the country with the same goods and personal possessions that they brought in. Expensive jewellery or electrical goods must be declared to customs at the airport. Exports of antique and archaeologically valuable items are prohibited.

To avoid any confiscation of goods not purchased in Myanmar, visitors must be sure they appear on their customs declaration form on arrival. Particular note should be taken of antiques purchased in other countries in the region which might possible be deemed of Myanmar origin. Also extra should be taken to declare lose gemstones and jewellery. Note that export of antiques, Buddha images and gems without an official dealer’s receipt, is strictly prohibited. Duty free allowance is 200 cigarettes and one liter of wine or spirits. Foreign visitors are allowed to bring up to USD 10,000 without declaration. Baggage will be X-rayed or inspected before arrival and departure.

It is advisable to drink only bottled or purified water. Myanmar faces some challenges with the waste management, and in order to help reducing waste, we strongly advise that you carry your own refillable water bottle which you can fill in hotels or restaurants.

Myanmar has 220-230 Volts AC. It is advisable to bring a torch/flashlight because power cuts can occur throughout the country. Myanmar uses the British 3-pin socket system as well as the round 2-pin system but as sizes vary, you are advised to carry a multi-purpose adapter. Power cuts are frequent particularly in the months of April – September. However most hotels do have reliable power back up although this often does not power the air conditioning to full strength. Some destinations (Ngwe Saung and Mrauk U) have no regular power supply and hotels operate with generators only.

There are many good restaurants in Yangon, which serve quality food at reasonable prices. There are restaurants offering Thai, Chinese, European, Italian, Indian and Burmese cuisine. Eating at the street restaurants can be a wonderful Asian experience but is not recommended unless an experienced guide has recommended the restaurant. Throughout upcountry Myanmar, the choice of food is limited to Burmese and Chinese. In Yangon and Mandalay there are now many noodle and coffee shops and Yangon has a good choice of fine dining experiences.


As a general comment Burmese Food is a meeting point between the spicy Thai cuisine and the Indian spice ‘curry’ base. Rice and noodles are the stable dishes usually served with a variety of side dishes ranging from meat or fish, salads, vegetables and a lentil soup. Myanmar food often is served at room temperature (never hot).

Accommodation
Accommodation standards in Myanmar still vary widely, especially in quality. During high season the hotels with character are in huge demand getting booked up many months ahead. New and refurbished hotels meeting international standards are available in Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake, Ngapali Beach and Ngwe Saung Beach. Diethelm Travel cannot guarantee specific hotel requests and upcountry reserves the right to substitute accommodation for the best available alternative standard when a first-choice hotel is not available. Clients are advised that accommodation in remote locations can be very basic and simple.

Noise
occasionally, according to the Buddhist lunar calendar and traditions, recitation of monks at monasteries or pagodas occur all over the country. Especially, during the 3 months Buddhist lent (June to October), Patthana recitation of monks can be heard non-stop, day and night for a week. These recitations usually are broadcast with loud speakers in order to spread to every direction. People believe that reciting the Patthana, or hearing its recitation will impart certain blessings such as warding off dangers & spirits, curing illness, attaining prosperity or success, or being guarded by angels. The loud noise from monasteries can be a disturbance during the night for the hotels nearby especially in Bagan and Inle Lake and Golden Rock.

The Pagoda festivals are also very common in Myanmar. They are usually held during the full moon days and can last from one to three weeks. Evening entertainments, music, dances and night markets until midnight take place with many people enjoying the festivities. It is advisable to carry ear plugs as some hotels which are nearby these festivities are disturbed by the noise.


Vehicles
Diethelm Travel does its utmost to provide the best available cars and buses. Although we now have good air-conditioned vehicle available throughout Myanmar, more remote areas still lack good quality vehicles.  It is compulsory by law to fasten seat belts when driving.

Road condition

In general road conditions are fair and acceptable, again many are not yet up to international standard. Overland driving during the wet season can be challenging due to flooding and enough time is needed in case of road blockage. Driving is cumbersome due to repairs, ongoing road constructions and weak respect of traffic rules.

Traffic
Traffic is getting more and more congested in Yangon, Mandalay and driving in the cities can be slow and delays happen due to long waiting time at traffic lights. We recommend respecting the timing indicated by your tour guide for sightseeing or transfers. High vigilance and attention is needed when crossing streets. Yangon is currently upgrading its road condition and this includes constructions of fly-overs. Traffic jams at key-junctions are unavoidable and for this we plan early departures to airports.

Taxi
No taxis in Myanmar use meters and the fare must be negotiated before the beginning of the trip. Public buses offer a cheap albeit crowded alternative to taxis; the challenge is finding out where the bus is going.

Myanmar has three international airports: Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw (Capital). Mandalay airport is located 45 minutes outside the city. The international and domestic terminal are in the same building. Nay Pyi Taw airport international airport is located 25 minutes outside the city. Both, international and domestic airports are in the same building.

Yangon Airport is located 15 km (approx. 45 minutes) to the North of the centre of Yangon. The international and the domestic airport are in adjacent buildings and can be reached by walking of about 3 – 6 minutes.  Terminal 1 and 2 serve international flights; the domestic airport is going to relocate to a new building in November 2016. Upgrading work is in process and is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016.

Yangon airport

Since late 2016, Yangon airport now operates out of three terminals:

Terminal 1: international arrival and departure

Terminal 2: international arrival and departure

Terminal 3: domestic arrival and departure

Terminal 3 connects to terminal 1 and 2 with a shuttle bus. The bus stop is located outside the entrance to the departure hall. Look out for the information signboards. Buses depart approximately every 15 minutes.

Taxis are also available for this short connection.

 

There are no compulsory vaccinations but it is advisable to take precautions against malaria; we recommend seeking the advice of your doctor. Prescription drugs are not widely available and visitors should bring any required medication with them carrying them in their hand luggage. If carrying a lot of medicines, it is advisable to have a doctor's letter stating that medicines are required for personal use. It is also advisable to bring plenty of mosquito repellent, particularly for use in the evenings. As Myanmar enjoys a tropical climate, sun block cream is recommended particularly for boat rides on Inle Lake or while at the beach. A spare pair of glasses, if worn, is also advisable.

Medical assistance of international standard is not yet widely available. The following clinic is considered reliable for medical assistance:

  • Samitivej Clinic at Parami Hospital
    60 (G-1), Parami Road, Yangon 11061
    Tel: 95 1 165 7987
    08.00 am – 6:00 pm

During your stay in Myanmar, you will be exposed to heat which can lead to dehydration. We highly recommend to drink electrolyte supplements that can be found at pharmacies.

The extent of insurance coverage in Myanmar varies widely to western norms. It is suggested that visitors consider short-term health and accident policies from your own insurance company prior to leaving home. Local hospital care is basic, any seriously injured tourist will require medical evacuation to either Singapore or Bangkok. As medical evacuations can be extremely costly, we recommend that you take out a comprehensive insurance policy that will cover the costs of a medical evacuation and subsequent medical care.

Myanmar is gradually upgrading its internet and phone systems. International roaming is now open to already 43 countries (including ASEAN countries, France, UK, Germany, Belgium and the USA). However systems still can be erratic and connections may not always work. Locally purchased SIM cards are available through MPT (Myanmar post and telecommunications) for use all over the country, or through Telenor and Ooredoo for uses in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. As systems are in the process of updating, your tour guide will help you with finding the best connections for your phones and internet.

 

Most hotels now are equipped with WIFI; again, the connections can be slow. The infrastructure is now steadily improving.

There are approximately 100 languages spoken in Myanmar with 65% of the populace speaking the official language called Myanmar. A wide variety of languages are spoken, especially by ethnic minorities, representing four major language families: Sino-Tibetan, Austro-Asiatic, Tai–Kadai and Indo-European. In areas where tourists are travelling through, English is widely spoken and well understood, particularly by older populations. Diethelm Travel engages multilingual guides speaking English, French, German, Russian, Thai, Chinese and Spanish.

Local time is GMT + 6.5. Government Offices are open from 09.30 am to 4.30 pm, banks from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm from Monday to Friday. Shops are usually open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm, Tuesday to Sunday although new shopping centres are open 09.00 am until 9.00 pm daily. Many museums, shops and markets will be closed on Mondays. Most shops will be closed on public holidays. Bogyoke (Scotts) market is open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, except Mondays and public holidays.

Travelers are advised to obtain a visa in their home country prior to entering Myanmar. Specific advice on up-to-date requirements should be obtained from the consulate offices in your country.

  • For general guidance, please note the following: Passport must have at least 6 months remaining validity at time of travel.
  • Foreigners must always carry their passport whilst travelling.


Visa processing time is between 5 and 10 working days at most Myanmar Consulates or Embassies. Tourist visas are valid for 28 days. Some Embassies require a ‘confirmation letter’ which Diethelm Travel can provide.


When you are travelling overland or by air, please ensure that your passport is in your hand luggage. NEVER pack your passport in your suitcase. Certain airports still have immigration counters where passports are checked.

 

Yangon airport, Mandalay airport, Nay Pyi Taw Airport – and Thai border points

The Myanmar government now allows that visas can be applied on-line for tourists arriving to Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay and the border cities with Thailand (Tachileik, Myawaddy and Kawtaung). Please visit the following website for on-line registration www.evisa.moip.gov.mm. Tourist visas will be allowed for a stay of 28 days. The current cost is USD 50 and will need to be paid on-line.

 

Visa on arrival

The Myanmar Government does not issue any longer visa on arrival for tourists.

 

Passengers arriving or departing on cruise ships: Visa must be applied through a Myanmar embassy or through the local ground handler.

 

 

The postal service in Myanmar is unreliable; letters and postcards to overseas sometimes do not reach their destinations. Most hotels have IDD lines, but calls are expensive with average costs of a call to Australia, Europe and USA approximately USD 5 per minute. Public phones that use pre-paid phone cards or call-back systems are not available in Myanmar.

The great majority of Burmese are Theravada Buddhists. Buddhism still has great influence on the daily lives of Myanmar. Close family ties, respect for elders, reverence for Buddhism and simple native dress are common values practised by most. 89% of the population are Buddhists with the remainder being made up of Christians (5%), Muslims (3%), Hindus (1%), animists and other (2%). Myanmar accepts full freedom of worship for followers of other religions.

Large parts of Myanmar are open to foreign visitors. Access to some remote or border areas (India and China), however, is still subject to government permission. In such situations Diethelm Travel will endeavour to obtain the necessary permits. Allow one month for procurement of such permits.

The special permit, which will be arranged by Diethelm Travel where applicable, is only the permission to cross the border but not the actual visa. The Myanmar visa must be stamped into the clients' passports prior to their arrival at the Myanmar border if entered from China or India.

The following border checkpoints are currently open for tourists:

Tachilek / Mae Sai (North Thailand) Kawthaung / Ranong (South west Thailand)

Myawaddy / Mae Sot (West Thailand)

Kawtaung / Ranong (South Thailand)

Permits can take considerable time to obtain.

Myanmar is still considered a safe country to travel around. However we strongly advise to keep valuables at all times locked up: during the day in your hand bag, and during nights in the safety box of your rooms. During excursions and roundtrips, personal belongings, especially money and valuables should NEVER be left on vehicles, even during short breaks, and carried around at all times. Diethelm Travel Myanmar is not responsible for any loss or theft.

Begging is not widespread in Myanmar and visitors are requested not to encourage development of this practice by giving money or sweets to children. If travelers wish to contribute to, say a village community, gifts should be directed to the local schoolteacher or headmaster. Contributions can also be arranged through recognized local charity organizations.

Photographing of Airports, Railways Stations, Wharves, Police Stations, Military Installations, Bridges and Government Offices are generally not allowed. Please use discretion when photographing people, especially with tribal people, who may have superstitions against this. For close-up shots, always ask first.

Myanmar is particularly renowned for its lacquer ware, precious stones and jewellery. Lacquer ware is available most notably in Bagan but also in Mandalay and Yangon. Precious stones and jewellery can be purchased from any of the approved shops and government shops that populate Yangon, Mandalay and all other major towns and cities. The silk weavers, tapestry maker, carvers of wood, ivory and stone, silversmiths and bronze-casters are largely based in Mandalay. Bargaining is essential for all souvenirs shopping, if travelers are to obtain reasonable prices. Possible price reductions of up to 30% are not uncommon.


Jewellery is generally not up to international standards for design and workmanship and buyers should check that 'gold' is not, in fact, gilded silver. All gem and jewellery purchases should be made through a government-authorized dealer, who must issue an official receipt, which is required for export of such items.

Please do not buy antiques or religious statues, since the origin is doubtful and they cannot be exported. Visitors are advised to ignore touts who may approach them to exchange foreign currency, or to sell gems of dubious quality as such offers, although apparently attractive, are breaking strict laws

Mingalaba. This word of welcome is also a wish for good fortune and best signifies the warm, welcoming nature of the people in Myanmar. Myanmar today remains one of the most mystical and magical countries on earth; a land of breathtaking beauty stretching from snow capped peaks (Mt. Kahkaborazi is 5881m) and dense jungles of the Himalayas, to the pristine beaches of the Bay of Bengal and rice fields of the Delta; in between lie the glittering pagoda-filled plains, ancient capitals and - running throughout it all - the mighty 2000-kilometre-long Ayeyawaddy River.

The country's population of 53 million lives mainly in villages and 100 different national groups are found within the country's borders; the Bamar are the majority group inhabiting the central zone whilst the Shan, Kayin, Kachin, Chin, Rakhine and Mon live in the mountainous areas or along the coast. Intrinsic to the country is Buddhism and daily life revolves around the family, worship at pagodas and festivals. Myanmar not only has a rich cultural heritage but also an incredibly varied fauna and flora; all this combined with an enchanting population make it one of the most fascinating, and as yet undiscovered, destinations in the world.

Tipping is quite common in Myanmar today. Only at very simple restaurants do waiters not expect tips. Where a porter or waiter gives special service, a small tip is always welcome.

Regarding drivers and guides, the amount tip is discretionary and should only be given for ‘good service’. As an extremely approximate guideline, which should be adjusted taking various things into consideration, such as the sophistication of the guide, size of the group and duration of drive or tour, the following would be applicable:

  • 2 - 3 persons in a car: USD 3 - 5 a day for a driver and USD 8 - 10 a day for a guide
  • Group of 10 - 20 persons: USD 0.50 per person for a driver and USD 1 per person a day for a guide