Travelers Tips & Information
Language and Religion
English is widely spoken though Myanmar language is in majority and 135 ethnics group has their own dialects. Most of the linguistic groups of Myanmar are monosyllabic and polytonal, similar to those of Tibet and China. The official Myanmar language is spoken by the majority of the population, including many of the ethnic minorities. About 15% of the population speaks Shan & Kayin.
Besides English speaking tour guides, other languages such as French, Italian, German, Russian and Spanish speaking tour guides are available. Over 80% of Myanmar is Theravada Buddhist and the rest with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Animist. However, as freedom of religious is allowed there are also many Christian churches of various denominations, is lamicmoques and Hindu temples throughout the country beside pagodas and monasteries.
Some hotels, jeweler shop and restaurants accept credit cards. Therefore, please bring enough cash for all your personal expenses. USD is preferred and widely accepted throughout Myanmar. Euro is accepted in the larger cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
No inoculations/vaccinations are required unless one is from/passing through an infected area. However, suggest bringing your daily medications as some of them may not available in Myanmar. Recommend to drink only bottled water throughout your journey. Mosquito repellent is recommended as well as a sun protection cream. Never drink tap water, but only purified bottled water anywhere.
With the new government and policy changes in recent years, tourism industries flourish rapidly in Myanmar and as a result, Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay offer a wide range choice of accommodation including luxury boutique hotels and international 4 star, 5 star properties. In the Inle Lake region travelers should not expect luxury properties, but have a alternative of charming, traditional accommodation. Being remote and undeveloped area, facility and category of accommodation will be basic in Kyaikhtiyo, Hpa An, Mawlamyaing, Loikaw, Sittwe, Mrauk-U, Kengtung and Monywa.
No official restriction to take along the personal electronic devices such as PC, camera, GPS, etc. Purchase the valuable item such as jeweler, antique and wood carvings only at the government registered shops which issue an official receipt to present on your departure.
Climate & Weather
The climate of Myanmar and other countries in Southeast Asia follows a monsoon pattern. During the half of the year of the year that the sun’s rays strike directly above the equator, the landmass of Asia is heated more than in the Indian Ocean. Climate is influenced by the annual monsoon that comes in regularly from the Bay of Bengal. As a result, Myanmar has three seasons – hot, rainy and cold. Due to different topographical feature, temperature as well as rain is different from region to region. The provinces in the hilly regions have pleasant climate while the central low land share relatively hot climate. The same is true in annual rain. The southwestern coast of Myanmar receives rain 200 inches per year whilst the central flat land receives less than 20 inches per year. Each season has its own attraction. During monsoon (May to early October), landscapes are green and lash and absolutely fine to visit central and upper Myanmar such as Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. The cold season is from the middle of October to middle of February. Average annual rainfall varies from about 5000 mm on the coastal region to about 760 mm at Mandalay.
International Direct Dialing is available throughout Myanmar but the international call charges are relatively expensive. The service is improving however the connection is sometimes does not working well. There is no public phone system with pre-paid call systems. Email facilities are available at most of hotels and a number of cyber cafes in main tourist destinations. Web-based free emails may not be accessible in Myanmar. Your mobile will generally does not work in Myanmar.
Being a tropical country closed to Equator, light casual were and cool fabric are most appropriate throughout the year. But it is advisable to bring warm clothes or jacket when visiting to the hilly regions especially in the cool season since the temperature is down to 2˚C at night and in the morning. Avoid sleeveless and shorts while visiting religious sites as well as shoes and socks are to be taken off.
Basic Myanmar food is mainly rice & curry which served with a variety of main dishes; curries with cooked meat or fish, side dishes; vegetables, salads, soups and etc. Myanmar foods tend to be less spicy than Thai food and Myanmar food is similar to Indian curries too. Myanmar, Chinese, Thai and Indian style restaurants can be found in major cities but European cuisine is available only in major hotels and some outstanding restaurants in Yangon.
We, Amazing Planet carefully selected from the hygienic point of view and atmosphere & quality of food. But at some are where you can’t have much of choice and limited dining opportunities are available, Amazing Planet will arrange at the best possible.
Tipping is practiced widely in addition to the service charge shown in the bill of restaurants and hotels and also to the drivers, guide and boat men. There is no exact limit but depends upon the generosity and the satisfaction on their services delivered to you. Portage fees at airports are more or less 500 Kyats per bag (US $ 0.5) is recommendable.
Myanmar is well know and one of best counties for shopping… All varieties of souvenirs including -lacquer ware, silver ware, wood and stone curving, hand -woven silk and cotton, precious and semi precious gems such as Jade, Ruby, Sapphire, tapestries, puppets and traditional are available throughout the country. Jewellery should be purchased through an authorized dealer who will issue official receipt so that the items can be exported on your departure. Export of antiques and archeological objects are not allowed. Visitors are to be advised to purchase only the allowed items of handicrafts and art from the registered souvenir shops asking the official certified receipt from the shops. Any illegal trade of prohibited items will result in heavy penalty. Bargaining is a fundamental part of Myanmar life in small shops and in the markets.
Feeling of Respect
In Myanmar, feelings of respect are spontaneous in almost any situation. Deeply rooted in hearts. People pay respect to whomever honor is due. Yadanar Thone Par-literally meaning the Three kinds of Gem, refers to the venerable trinity of Buddha, Dhamma [his Teachings] and Sangha [members of the Buddhist Order]. Among the Three Gems, Buddha is the most exalted. So much so that each Buddha image must be treated as reverently as a living Buddha himself. Also to be revered are shrines housing the images, and precincts where in shrines, stupas, temples, monasteries and any other religious edifices stand. Which is why footwear is strictly prohibited on sacred religious grounds.
Like other Buddhist Asian countries, Myanmar adheres to a se5t of acknowledged cultural rules that can cause problems for the uninitiated. Here’s a guide to what you should not do on your trip to Myanmar :
i. Never wear shoes and socks inside a pagoda or monastery as they are not allowed, although some monasteries allow footwear in the grounds. When visiting someone’s home, shoes should always be left at the door. You should also remember that carpets, mats and other kinds of floor covering are meant to be sat upon, so should avoid walking on them especially with your shoes on.
ii. Myanmar dress is conservative; therefore visitors should avoid wearing anything unsuitable in public. In a pagoda, men and women should avoid wearing sleeveless or revealing clothing.
iii. Women should not sit on the roof of buses or boats out of politeness to the men or elder sitting underneath. Nor should anyone sit in chairs on the same level as monks or nuns and certainly not higher.
iv. Do not step over the body of anyone else. But if you must, always ask to be excused first.
v. When you offer something to a monk or nun or an elderly person, use both hands. With others, apart from casual transactions at shops or food stalls use your right hand or both hands in order to be polite in the case of giving or receiving gifts, etc.
vi. Monks and nuns should not be touched. Women should be careful not to let any part of their body touch a monk’s robes.
vii. Men should not offer to shake hands with a Myanmar lady unless she offers first, and should not touch them even in friendliness. Also, couples should avoid displaying affection in public.
viii. Do not sit with feet on tables or sprawl yourself on the floor. If you happen to be sitting and your feet should, however unwittingly, be pointing toward, say, a Buddha image or a monk or an older person, it would be considered offensive.
ix. However aggravated you are, do not lose you temper in public as it will cause everyone involved to lose face. Furthermore, touching someone older than you on the head may also be interpreted as an act of aggression and should be avoided. It is also worth bearing in mind that, apart from the religious persons, age, rather than wealth or professional position, is the most important criterion of social standing. In short, respect for elders above all.
Introduction and Greetings
Mingalarbar, literally means an auspicious occasion! probably is the first word, which you will hear from a local when you visit Myanmar. Unlike any other language-greeting phrase, Mingalarbar can be used at any part of the day. The originally western custom of shaking hands when introduced has become something of a vogue among urbanized Myanmars. But this applies only to men. If you were introduced to monks, you would bow or bring your palms together. If you, a man, are introduced to a Myanmar lady, you should not stretch out your hand to shake hers unless she does so first. As demure and shy as a Myanmar lady might appear at first to a foreigner, she is the upholder of centuries-old traditions that make up the fabric of Myanmar society. Thus a proper Myanmar woman will most certainly be reluctant to have any sort of social intercourse with a man who is not intimately related to her. In urban areas, once again, better-educated, well-exposed ladies are less likely to adhere rigidly to such a conservative code of behavior.