Pre-trip Information for Myanmar

GEOGRAPHY

The land was also known as Suvannabhumi, Golden Land - in ancient times, and today, with a land area of 676, 577 sq km., Myanmar is the largest country in the Southeast Asia region, bounded by mountain complex in the north, east and west, and enclosed by the Andamen Sea and the Bay of Bengal in the south, southwest, and west. Myanmar shares borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. Situated between latitudes 9. 30’ N and 28. 30’ N and between longitudes 92. 10’ E and 101.10’ E, the country stretches 2090 km north to south, and 925 km east to west and has a varied topography which includes islands, extensive rice plains, river valleys and forested hills and mountains.

It has a 2,832 km long coastline on the Indian Ocean. Myanmar's highest mountains, situated in the far north, include Hkakabo Razi, the tallest peak both locally and in the region, which rises 5,881 km above sea level. The two other mountain systems: a group of low mountains called the Rakhine Yoma stands in the west forming a border with the Indian Subcontinent, and the hilly Shan Plateau separates Myanmar from China, Laos and Thailand.

The central lowland region of Myanmar consists of the Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy) and Sittaung river valleys. Ayeyarwaddy is the longest river in the country running for 2,010 km from the northern region to the Bay of Bengal, and serves as the principle transportation route and as the main source of water supply for the central dry zone.

In geographically point of Myanmar that the northern Myanmar is much more highter than sourth where is famous for snow capped mountain and Ayeyarwaddy river was born in there. There are four main rivers in Myanmar which are called Ayayarwaddy,Than lwin, Chin Twin and Sittaung. Ayeyarwaddy river is famous  as the heart of Myanmar people because many ancients capital are lies a long Ayeyarwaddy river such as Ta gaung, Sagaing, Mandalay, Amarapura, Inwa, Bagan and Pyay.

In Myanmar, there are many beautiful lakes as In taw Gyi and Inle lake, Idyllic mountains , Interesting lime stone caves and widely pleasant planes in Middle of Myanmar with 135 national races which are made colorful of Myanmar. And then there are many festivals in Myanmar among then water festival is one the famous festival in Myanmar as New Year festival which will hold in every April. There are many wild life animals camp in Myanmar, they are many camp for Tiger, elephants and any other wild animals and then Ayeyarwaddy is famous for dolphin. There are many sites for trekking and biking in Myanmar and many famous beaches are not only for resting but also for to be learning marine life. Before Myanmar, Pyu people and Mon people were settle in middle of Myanmar and in the southern Myanmar in 1 to 6 century so Myanmar is rich of culture heritages. Moreover people in Myanmar are very hospitalities and warmly.

CLIMATE

The climate of Burma (Myanmar) is roughly divided into three seasons: summer, rainy and cold season. From March to mid-May are summer months; the rain falls from mid-May to the end of October and the cold season starts in November and ends in the end of February. Generally, Myanmar enjoys a tropical monsoon climate. However, climatic conditions differ widely from place to place due to widely different topographical situations. Central Myanmar has an annual rainfall of less than 40 inches while the Rakhine coast gets about 200 inches. Besides, the average highest temperature in Central Myanmar during the summer months March and April is above 110° F (43.3°C) while in Northern Myanmar is about 79° F (36.1° C) and on the Shan Plateau between 85° F and 95° F (29.4° C and 35° C). Temperature of towns varies according to their location and elevation. Mountain ranges of Myanmar created different climatic condition, rain forest that makes regular rainfall for the rice farmers and also acting as natural barrier which protecting the mainland from typhoon and hurricane.

HISTORY

In 1044, King Anawrahta, a Myanmar ruler, united the region and founded the First Myanmar Empire, that lasted nearly 250 years. The kingdom's capital, Bagan, is situated on the Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy) River in the central part of the country. The Myanmar has adopted features of the Mon and Pyu cultures, including Theravada Buddhism. Mongol invaders led by Kublai Khan captured Bagan in 1287, shattering the kingdom.

The Second Myanmar Empire founded by King Bayintnaung at Taungoo during the 1500's. The Third and last Myanmar Empire was founded by king Alaungpaya. The first war was fought from 1824 to 1826, the second in 1852, and the third in 1885. With these wars, the British gradually annexed the whole country to its empire and named the country Burma.

In 1942, Japan occupied Myanmar. Young Myanmar nationals formed Burma Independence Army with the help of the Japanese and drove the British out of Burma. Through the dislike of the Japanese rule, a group of Myanmar university students, led by General Aung San, formed a league called Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (AFPFL) to fight the Japanese and they helped Britain and Allied powers regain Burma in 1945 and return to power. The British had to give Burma full independence on January 4, 1948.

CULTURAL & TRADITION

Myanmar has a population of over 53 million people (annual growth rate of 1.61%) with major races are Bamar, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine and Sha. Myanmar is a Buddhist country with the Buddhists making up about 80 percent of the population, following the school of Theravada Buddhism. There are also Christians, Muslims, Hindus and some animists (Religious: 89% Theravadas Buddhist, 4% Christian, 4% Muslim, 1% Hindu, and 1% Animist). But it respects the freedom of belief and the people practice religious tolerance on other religions which is evident in the existence of different beliefs in large cities. Although the fact that Myanmar lies between two great civilizations, India and China, and is largely influenced by the civilization of India, it has developed its own culture with distinctive characteristics. The unique thing about Myanmar culture is that it is free from racial or sex discrimination from childbirth throughout the lifetime.

VISA REQUIREMENTS

A valid passport with entry visa is required for all visitors. Tourist visa for Myanmar can be obtained from any Myanmar Embassy or Consulate world-wide. A tourist visa allows a stay of 28 days extendable for an additional 14 days. A business visa allows a stay of 10 weeks, extendable up to 12 months on case-by-case basis. Visa on Arrival is granted on prior arrangement with the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism. Infants and children also require a separate visa even traveling on parent's passport.

Visa - on - arrival: can be granted on prior arrangements at least a minimum of 14 days ahead (we will be count Sat and Sun) from tour operator in Myanmar. Passport details as such as Full Name / Passport No. / Nationality and Profession is needed in advance. Two passport photos are necessary upon arrival in Yangon.

Now on arrival visa available for Business and transit passengers. For Business visa, the client have in hand invitation letter one of the trading company letter head from Myanmar and other this company license copy and working permission license. Note: Tour Company and hotel company invitation letter and letter head are not allow Yangon International Immigration and don’t use for on arrival Business visa.

FESTIVALS IN MYANMAR

Myanmar is a Land of Festivals: a festival for every month of the year. The dates of the festivals and special events usually fall on the full moon day of the month. Most festivals are cultural and religious. Majority is nation-wide celebrated while a few are distinctly regional.

Please try to arrange your travel to coincide with a festival in Myanmar. These unique celebrations, such as the annual Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival around Inle Lake offer a perfect chance to visit villages and join the locals as they celebrate their festivals throughout the year. Water Festival is mid of April and hard to travel during water festival in Myanmar.

BUSINESS/ SOCIAL HINTS

Appointments should be made in advance. Punctuality is appreciated. For Business meetings, men should wear a light-weight suit and tie. Women should wear modest clothes. It is customary to shake hands on meeting and taking leave. Business Cards are exchanged after introduction. Many executives speak English. Visitors should be receptive to local customs and conventions.
On social occasions, e.g. invitation to restaurants should be punctual and dress as for business meetings unless otherwise indicated.

FOOD

Burmese cuisine is an amazing blend of various influences, including Chinese, Thailand and Indian. Rice is the mainstay of a Burmese meal, and it is eaten with a choice of mild curry dishes with fish, chicken, prawns and lamb. Not much beef or pork is eaten because Buddhists and Hindus abstain from eating most meat from 4-legged animals. One of the culinary highlights of Burmese food (or Bamar food) is undoubtedly light, spicy salads made with raw vegetables or fruit tossed with lime juice, onions, peanuts, and other spices. Noodle dishes are often eaten for breakfast or as light meals during the day. Western food is also available in many of the hotels, along with traditional Bamar food. All of the hotels and restaurants where eat serve wonderful food!

DRINK PLENTY OF BOTTLED WATER

Never try to drink tap water. Purified, bottled water is available everywhere. Only bottled water is readily available and some hotels provide complimentary. You can buy bottled water anywhere in Yangon and big cities in Myanmar.

TOILETRIES & MEDICATION

While imported beauty products are readily available in major cities, you’d be wise to pack staples like sunscreen, contact lens solution, tampons and mosquito repellent, as well as prescription medication. Many medicines are available in Myanmar without prescriptions, but they may be out-of-date or of poor quality.

IMMUNIZATION

No vaccinations are officially required for a visit to Myanmar. Strongly recommended is Malaria prophylaxis. Vaccinations against Polio, Tetanus and Hepatitis are also recommended.
Inoculations or vaccinations are not needed or required unless you come from or pass through an infected area. Clients should bring sufficient medication with them if required and should check for updated health recommendations before your visit Myanmar regarding hepatitis, malaria, typhoid, etc.

PHOTOGRAPHY

It's advisable to bring your own film although film can be purchased in all major cities. Obtain permission before photographing monks or the interiors of pagodas and temples. Never photograph a military installation or anything pertaining to the military as it may be viewed as a breach of national security. At large airports, the x-rays on the safety inspection machines are now film-safe. In smaller, provincial airports, however, this is far from certain, so it's best to carry your film through the safety check by hand. Developers for digital cameras are also widely available in the major cities. Camera stores around your hotel in big cities often offer CD burn service from memory card into a CD so that you can recycle your memory card for further photo ops. Simply ask your hotel staff or your guide for instructions.

SAFETY TIPS

Crime in Myanmar: Most travelers’ memories of locals grabbing your money are of someone chasing you down because you dropped a K 500 note in the street. In remote towns such as Shwebo or Monywa, you can feel pretty confident leaving a bag on the ground at a bus station while you go for a quick tea. But don't tempt anyone. There has been a smattering of reports of street crime, particularly in Yangon, which include burglaries of some expats' homes. Exercise guarded caution on vulnerable occasions when you're carrying your bags - and when in particularly touristy places.

BOOKS

Reading materials may be hard to find, especially in less-touristy areas, so bring some good books. While cheap, counterfeit CDs are tempting, remember that you may face trouble when you bring these illegal copies home.

CLOTHING

Cool, comfortable cotton is the most suitable fabric for Myanmar’s warm, humid tropical climate. Locally made cotton is available at most destinations.
For travelers heading to high altitude destinations (such as Kyain Tong, Inle Lake, Golden Rock and Putao) and if the trip consisted of taking boasts on lakes and cruising on rivers, it is advisable to take a sweater or jacket as it can be chilly at night and while taking the boats.

One should bring flip flops (or) easy-to-take-off shoes as there would be several shoes-off places of interest. Visitors are expected to properly dress while visiting religious monuments like monasteries, pagodas and temples. Covering shoulders and knees is considered appropriate.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

You should bring a money-belt to safely carry your travel documents and cash, and ensure that your luggage has a lock. Bring photo-copies of your passport and visa, plus some extra passport-sized photos if you’re applying for on-arrival visas. Sometimes, you can be expected to walk into darkroom at the airport for an “up-to-date” picture for visa document.

LOCAL CURRENCY

Now the CB Bank accepts Master Card and converts with current exchange rate and with draw by Myanmar Currency. And the visa card can be used in 2013.
In 2013, bank or wire transfers can be made into the banks in Myanmar from worldwide. Now we use ATM machines for local currency with some related banks (KBZ BANK, CB BANK, Ayeyarwaddy Bank, Myanmar Eastern Bank and AGT Bank)

Kindly make sure any American money you bring is in good condition and are not dirty, damaged or tattered. Each day, make sure that you have enough small bills in local currency for your daily needs (snacks, shopping, etc.).

Myanmar’s national currency, the kyat (pronounced chat, and abbreviated K) is divided into the following banknotes: K1, K5, K10, K20, K50, K100, K200, K500 and K1000. You can exchange US dollars or euros to kyat in official exchange counters, hotels or travel agents.

SHOPPING

Best buys include lacquer wares, silver, wood and stone carvings, hand-woven silks and cottons, gems, traditional puppets and handicrafts. All gems and jewelries purchases should be made through a government authorized dealer who must issue an official receipt, which is required for export of such items.

TIME

Myanmar Standard Time is 6:30 hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime (one and half hour difference with Singapore and 30 minutes with Thailand)

OFFICE HOURS

Government and business: 9:30 am to 4: 30pm, Monday through Friday. Some business office and domestic airline office opened 09:00 am to 13:00 on Saturday.

POST & TELECOMMUNICATIONS

The Central Post Office located at the corner of Bo-Aung Kyaw Street and Strand Road in Yangon. Operates from 9:30 am to 4:30 p.m. Available to makes international calls, telexes and faxes in the nearly almost of the major tour sites.
Myanmar country code: 95

MOBILE PHONES

Customs will no longer hold your telephone upon arrival in Myanmar and your cell phones from other countries can now be used in Myanmar. International GSM roaming is not available yet, but visitors to Myanmar can buy local SIM cards (card is good for local calls as well as overseas calls)

INTERNET

Yadanarbone Teleport (formerly Bagan Cyber Tech) and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MPT), Sky Net Teleport and Red Link are the only Internet service providers in Burma. Internet cafés are common in the country. Now we can use mobile internet for our domestic SIM card that already applied to MPT to use internet.

INSURANCE

Please make sure you have fully comprehensive travel insurance before coming to Myanmar as it is not available in the country.

ELECTRICITY:

Main electricity supply is 220-230 v / 50 Hz.

LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE

There is a 20 kilo limit for baggage per person and excess baggage fees may be charged. It is advisable that you leave items not needed in Yangon and collect them upon your return.

AIRPORT DEPARTURE TAX

Passengers departing Myanmar international airport on international flights will need to pay a departure tax of US$ 10.00 per person. It is best to bring a US$ 10 note with you so that all the procedures can be easy for you.

DUTY FREE ALLOWANCE

Every foreigner who come to Myanmar are allow two bottles of liquor, two cartons of cigarettes or 100 cigars and half liter of perfume per person. Yangon International Airport arrival hall has a selection of duty free shops with a full range of items at a good price.

CUSTOMS FORMALITIES

Foreign currency, jewelries, electrical goods and video cameras need to be declared at the airport.
Gems and jewelleries purchased from authorized dealers are allowed to be taken out. Antiques (items over 40 years old) are not allowed to be taken out of the country.

RESTRICTED AREAS

  1. Mogoke [ruby mine] in the main land
  2. Hpakant [jade mines] in the Kachin State
  3. Chin State [except special travel permit to Mt. Victoria

Kayah State [Loikaw, the native place for Padaung tribe]. Except for the Loikaw the rest can be visited under special permit which considered case by case basis.

The tourists come enter from the following borders and out from Yangon or Mandalay International airport. Mae Sai Border from Thailand, Myawaddy (three pagodas pass) Border from Thailand (not allow at the moment), Sayintnaung Point from Thailand at Kawthaung, Ruli Border from China, Tamu Border from India with special permission.

TIPPING

Burma people are genuinely happy to help foreign visitors and don't expect anything in return. But you can offer them if your guide or any other person during your trip was especially kind or helpful a tipping from you would be a generous gesture and greatly appreciated. With small or family groups, we suggest tipping drivers about US$5 – US$10/person/day and guides about US$15 -US$20/person/day.

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