Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a beautiful country in Southeast Asia that has only just recently opened it’s doors to tourism. After travelling to many Asian countries, Myanmar has got to be the most authentic and untouched we have ever visited.
Let’s start with a few facts you should know:
The currency is kyat.
They speak mainly Burmese. English is not widely spoken is in more popular Southeast Asian countries.
The locals are extremely warm and friendly, but as always use common sense when roaming the streets.
The capital is Naypyidaw.
Nobody accepts credit cards, but we found that there were heaps of ATM’s in all the major cities. It shouldn’t be an issue for you to get cash out.
Wifi does exist in most hotels, but it is incredibly slow. We recommend you getting a sim card (we spent $6 on 6GB with Ooredoo and speed was fantastic).
Myanmar is a very cheap country. Probably the cheapest we have ever visited. Taxi rides are no more than $2-$3 to get around town. Bottled water is 20 cents. We bought a few items of clothing from the local markets for $2.50. Food is dirt cheap too – we went out for lunch with 4 other travellers and all 6 meals came to $4!
We found getting a visa is super easy. You can apply for an e-visa here which is valid for 90 days, allowing a maximum stay of 28 days once entering the country. The main information they need is your personal details, the address of the accommodation you will be staying at and a recent photograph. It took 2 days for our e-visa to be sent to us via email – super simple!
Where should you go?
A very popular route, coined the backpackers route, is starting in Yagon – Mandalay – Inle Lake – Bagan – Ngapali Beach – and then back to Yagon.
Yagon: The largest city in Myanmar. You cannot miss visiting the awe-inspiring golden Buddhist monument Shwedagon Paya. We also recommend checking out downtown Yangon, which is teeming with food vendors, open-air markets, and incredible temples, mosques and churches.
Mandalay: Mandalay, the second largest city of Burma with over 1 million inhabitants, is the cultural and Buddhist center of Burma. Here you need to check out the palace of Burma’s last king, U Bein Bridge (the longest bridge of it’s kind in the world), Mandalay also has the world’s largest book, and you need to watch the sunset atop of Mandalay Hill.
Inle Lake: Imagine a large, serene lake fringed by marshes and floating gardnes, where stilt-house villages and Buddhist temples rise above the water – Inle Lake doesn’t need much convincing to make a stop here. The coolest part we think is the Intha fisherman, watching them catch their fish during the sunset is a sight you will never forget.
Bagan: Myanmar’s best known and most visited attraction – and for a good reason! With over 2200 temples and pagodas scattered across the vast plains of Bagan, it is a very unique place tog o and explore via bicycle, ebike, or even horse and carriage. We highly recommend waking up at 5am, choosing a tall temple and watching the sun rise along with 20 or so hot air balloons!
Ngapali Beach: If you are into body surfing, snorkelling and tasty seafood than you need to check out the white-sand beach of Ngapali.
How to get around?
There are a number of ways to get around Myanmar and it all depends upon your own personal preference.
By air: Air travel in Myanmar is available between the large cities, but it isn’t the most affordable option.Unlike many other Southeast Asian countries where the domestic flights are an inexpensive option, Myanmar’s choices are quite limited. Prices range between $100-$150.
By train: Train travel in Myanmar is for the more adventurous type. It is a fantastic way to see the country, but is certainly not the fasted or most reliable way to get around. Prices range between $2-$5.
By bus: Travelling by bus is the simplest way to get around Myanmar if you are on a budget. This was our choice of transportation during our travels through the country. Most long distance buses to major cities are air-conditioned and pretty comfortable. Also, many bus schedules operate over night which means you can travel by night and explore by day. Prices range from $5 – $10.
By boat: Riverboats are a slower paced but enjoyable way to travel between cities and to experience the river life of Myanmar. The most popular route is between Mandalay and Bagan along the Irrawaddy River. Price ranges from $10 to $70 depending on the boat & length of the journey.
Where should you stay?
Need more information? Watch our Myanmar Adventure over on YouTube