Top Myanmar Hotels
All visitors to Myanmar must hold a valid passport and need to apply for a visa prior to arrival in the country through a Myanmar Embassy or Consulate abroad. Tourist visas are issued for a stay of 28 days. Entry into Myanmar must be made within 2 months of the date of issue and certain areas are off limits to tourists.
There are no limits on the amount of foreign currency that can be imported, although more than US$2,000 must be declared on entry. A declaration certificate will be issued and this must be kept for inspection on departure. Importing or exporting local currency is prohibited.
On arrival in the country, visitors must change a cash amount equivalent to US$200 into Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs). A few years ago FECs were the only form of payment accepted from visitors. Nowadays, they are used mainly for the purchase of plane/train tickets and for settling hotel bills. Many of the local moneychangers will change FECs into local currency. Officially, it is not possible to change FECs into foreign currency, although in reality many hotels in major cities will do this.
Jewellery, electrical devices and cameras must be declared on arrival.
Visitors can take the following into Myanmar duty free:
- Alcohol - 1 litre of wine or spirits
- Tobacco - 200 cigarettes
The export of Burmese antiques is prohibited.
Penalties for carrying or trafficking illegal drugs are extremely severe, ranging from long prison sentences to the death penalty.
Myanmar time: GMT + 6.5
There are 3 currencies in circulation.
- Kyat (Kt) - Check current exchange rates
- 100 pyas = 1 Kyat
- Kt100,000 is known as a lakh
- Kt10 million is known as a crore.
- Notes issued: Kt500, Kt200, Kt100, Kt90, Kt45, Kt20, Kt15, Kt10, Kt5, Kt1, 50 pyas
- Coins issued: Kt1, Kt50, Kt25, Kt10, Kt5, 1 pyas
Myanmar experiences a mainly tropical climate, which can basically be divided into three seasons.
- Cool Season - temperatures remain relatively pleasant, cool breezes blow across the country and rainfall is low.
- Hot Season - temperatures can soar above the average and although this is still a reasonable time to visit Myanmar, the heat can be stifling.
- Rainy Season - monsoon rains begin to fall towards the end of May. Rain can be torrential but usually falls in short bursts during the afternoon. Although there is a slight drop in temperature, the rise in humidity makes for very uncomfortable conditions.
Road travel is affected during the rainy season since many roads are unpaved and become impassable after heavy downpours. Mountain roads also become quite hazardous.
It is advisable to carry a lightweight jumper as it can be chillingly cold inside air-conditioned buildings.
|Season||Average temperature||Average rainfall|
|Cool Season (November - February)||13 - 19°C||19mm|
|Hot Season (March - May)||23 - 25°C||18mm|
|Rainy Season (June - October)||26 - 27°C||274mm|
- Hot Season - experiences warm temperatures that often exceed the average, although the heat does not become as unbearable as further south.
- Rainy Season - heavy rain tends to be isolated to afternoon downpours. Humidity levels rise and the heat can become extremely oppressive making it an unpleasant time of year to travel the region. The heat and high humidity make it almost unbearable to wear waterproofs at this time so take an umbrella.
Best time to visit: During the Cool Season when days are warm, evenings are cool and rainfall is low - take a few extra layers for the evenings, as temperatures can drop away.
|Season||Average temperature||Average rainfall|
|Cool Season (November - February)||23 - 24°C||13mm|
|Hot Season (March - May)||30 - 32°C||5mm|
|Rainy Season (June - October)||29 - 30°C||143mm|
The plains of central Myanmar are termed the "dry zone":
- Cool Season - rainfall is very low throughout this time and humidity is moderate.
- Hot Season - rainfall is low, however humidity can be quite high and the heat is often unbearable as temperatures soar well above the average - even higher than those in the south.
- Rainy Season - a smaller amount of rainfall is recorded in relation to other areas of the country, however temperatures are still very high.
If going to higher ground such as the hill station at Pyin U Lwin, a few extra layers of clothes will be necessary as it can get chilly, especially during the cooler months when evening temperatures can drop to as low as freezing. Rainfall is marginally higher and waterproofs would be useful.
During the wet season, travel in the mountains can be slow and arduous, so always allow for extra time when making travel plans.
Best time to visit: During the Cool Season when temperatures are lower and rainfall is minimal.
|Season||Average temperature||Average rainfall|
|Cool Season (November - February)||25 - 27°C||6mm|
|Hot Season (March - May)||29 - 31°C||11mm|
|Rainy Season (June - October)||26 - 28°C||466mm|
The south remains relatively warm throughout the year.
- Hot Season - sees a dramatic change in temperature. During this time it is common for temperatures to soar above the average and reach well into the 40's (oC). The heat becomes extremely oppressive and there is very little respite.
- Rainy Season - experiences high amounts of rain. Downpours tend to be short and fall during the afternoons but they can be heavy. The heat and high humidity make it almost unbearable to wear waterproofs at this time so take an umbrella.
Best time to visit: The Cool Season is much more pleasant in terms of heat and low rainfall. Days are clear and views are enhanced by endless blue skies.
Featured Myanmar Hotels
Myanmar Travellers Tales
Yangon, Myanmar. The city is off the beaten path (for example, no cell/mobile phones that I saw) and therefore highly interesting. The Shwedagon pagoda just up the road from Summit Parkview Hotel is best visited for the first time at night, about 8pm. It positively exudes an aura of holiness. Took taxi from taxi stand at airport (6000 kyat = about 6US$) and made arrangements for them to take me around the next day. Can supply name of good taxi driver and guide upon request. Airport is simple, but mercifully free of duty free shops. Don''t forget the $10 US departure tax.
Myanmar - Take plenty of USD or Thai Bahts. As your credit card is not welcomed anywhere. There are no ATM machines. Cash is King! Taxi from Traders to Yangon airport - about K3,000 - K4,000 (USD3 - USD4). Taxi from Old Bagan - Bagan airport K3,500. Taxi from Mandalay Airport - Mandaly centre K9,000. All prices are approximate and will change depending upon your taxi driver. Airlines: Yangon Airways, Bagan Air, Air Mandalay. If you are planning a trip to Myanmar, I would definitely recommend "Bagan" as it is magnificent! Stay around 4-5 days for a pleasureable experience.
Prices escalate at an unbelievable rate! Things are cheap, but not quite as cheap as guidebooks make them out to be, being somewhat out of date. Take taxis anywhere and everywhere, they''re affordable.
We were there in May when it was incredibly hot. Questioned our own sanity once or twice when we were cycling around, but that freedom (as opposed to car or horsecart) is quite priceless.
I was in Yangon during the May bombings. Still, I felt terribly safe as a single female over 50 traveller. By all means take your camera and walk through People''s Park to the Pagoda, go to the Bogyoke Aung San Museum and have Ma Thin Thin give you a tour. If you need something luxurious, go for tea at the Strand. The Sabai Sabai is excellent for lunch although the quality decreases on a busy weekend evening. If you are interested in traditional pottery, take the ferry to Twande. Go the Gar San Glass Factory where lovely pieces can be purchased for as little as 50 cents US. They do a really good job packing. Be careful and shop around before buying anything in the Aung San Market and if you need glasses check out Academy Optical at 140/141 Bogyoke Aung San Market. Progressive lens in flexible frames including eye exam were $63 US!
Myanmar is a challenging yet unspoiled country to travel through. Train and air schedules frequently change. Rebooking air flights is a necessity, not a courtesy. Long distance buses are cheap, about US$7, for the 10 hour ride from Yangon to Mandalay. But air flights are worth the money for the time savings. In Yangon the Zawgyi House restaurant just east of Scott''s Market serves good western and Burmese food. They offer outside and air-conditioned(!) dining. Mandalay''s Green Elephant serves upscale interprerations of Burmese cuisine. In the evening there''s often a haze of burning mosquito puncks in the outdoor dining area to fend off these pesky insects. Try ''mohinga'', the rich-tasting Burmese noodle soup only served at breakfast. I''d recommend a 1-2 day trip to Pyin Uu Win outside of Mandalay to esscape the heat. The local 5-hour train makes every station stop as it snakes up the 3,000 ascent overlooking the plains. Bench seats, no interior lighting, people sitting on baggage in the aisle. In other words a great way to glimpse Burmese life.
I would recommend the Mi San restaurant at Bu Paya Junction, Old Bagan. The restaurant has good Burmese, vegetarian, and Chinese food, and the staff fan you the entire time as you eat! The owner is extremely friendly. I would recommend that visitors make an attempt to visit some of the more distant ruins. The area of the Kandawgyi and other shrines in the far north of Nyaung U, for example, has some of the finest mural paintings in all Bagan. The view from Thetkyamuni and other temples in the area over the Ayeyarwadi is the best of all sites, since the ruins are situated on rather high hills very close to the riverbank.
Recommended places: Sabai Phui guesthouse - Mandalay. Aircon and bathroom for $5 a night, (you don''t need luxury every night!), $16 boat trip to Mandalay (9hrs - more fun tan flying), Bagan Hotel (exclusive), Balloons over Bagan, expensive $225, but worth it, Royal Beach Resort - Ngapali Beach (family run and cheap). NOT RECOMMENDED - JIMMY''S TOURS AT INLE LAKE. A taxi driver dropped me off there from Heyo Airport, pretending it was the ''Boat Station'', before I knew it he''d worked out an itinerary for 1 1/2 days at $120. About 5 times what I needed to pay, if I''d avoided him. He was then unconcerned that his boat ran out of fuel and we drifted for an hour and there was no floating market where he sent me at great expense at 6.30am, due to a full moon holiday. Avoid the slippery little git at all costs. BE AFRAID, IF YOU WIND UP IN HIS OFFICE.
Inle Lake and its surrounding area felt like stepping back to a bygone era. The beauty of the lake is a compelling enough reason to visit, but the sight of traditional crafts such as cigar rolling, boat making & steel hammering are fascinating for both adults and children alike. If you are a photographer bring lots and lots of film/digital cards! As with most places though in South East Asia today, however, you feel that its only a matter of time, before traditional methods succumb to drive of the tourist dollar.
Wholeheartedly recommend the Balloons over Bagan experience. Although its not cheap it is a fantastic experience. Avoid the Green Elephant restaurant in New Bagan, particularly if paying in dollars. We went to both and the food is far superior and cheaper at the Si Thu restaurant next door, and the exchange rate quoted by the Green Elephant was an appalling 750 to the $ compared to the market rate at the time of 880.