In the wake of my travel diary in Burma, I share with you a new post dedicated to this country.
On the net, there are many tips and content on Burma. Nevertheless, I recommend that you consult recent content on this country. Indeed, Burma is evolving very quickly and especially for everything related to tourism.
Some advice is timeless, but find out what is true in 2016 may not be true in 2017!
An example? A few years ago, ATMs were not very present (and/or unreliable in Burma). There are now many!
In the rest of this post, I share 12 tips for preparing your trip to Burma. This advice relates to the main questions that we can ask ourselves before flying to Burma: money management, hotels, transport, budget,…
Choose An Open Jaw Ticket!
To start this list of useful tips for planning a trip to Burma, let’s start at the beginning, the plane ticket!
Booking your plane ticket is often the very first step in planning a trip.
Before you book your flight to Burma, you should know that getting around Burma is time-consuming, time-consuming. Even if the distances may seem short, do not trust the kilometres but rather the journey time, by train or by bus.
For those travelling on a larger budget, domestic flights avoid spending days (or nights) on Burma’s buses or trains.
If you plan to travel to Burma by train and/or bus, I strongly recommend that you opt for an open-jaw ticket. This will allow you to arrive in Yangon for example and leave from another city without having to return to Yangon. Mandalay is served by several international airlines. The solution is therefore surely to enter Burma in one of these two cities and leave the other. A long bus trip less!
Elisa Versus Classic Visa
To travel to Burma, you need a visa. You have two options for obtaining your Burmese visa:
- eVisa: the procedures are done online, the visa costs $ 50 and you get it in a few days. Upon arrival at the airport, you must present confirmation of eVisa. A stamp later on your passport you enter Burma! Who says Burma is not a modern country?
- classic visa: this visa must be obtained from the embassy in Paris. Previously it cost less than the visa and could, therefore, be a solution, especially for people living in Paris. Now at 55 euros, this solution is, in my opinion, to forget.
As you can imagine, I opted for the first solution. In 5 minutes the form is completed and I obtained confirmation of eVisa within 48 hours. Top.
Getting Around Burma Takes Time …
Here, this is not advice but simply something to have in mind before setting your itinerary in Burma.
The average speed on the roads should be around 40 km / h on a long journey. The 300 or 400 kilometres that constitute the main stages of a journey can, therefore, be very long to travel.
For example, here are some travel times by bus and train in Burma:
- Inle Lake / Bagan by bus: 7 hours for 320 kilometres
- Yangon / Inle Lake by bus: 11:30 am for 590 kilometres
- Bagan / Mandalay by bus: around 6 hours (versus 11:30 am by train!)
- Mandalay / Yangon by bus: around 9 hours (versus 15 hours by train!)
As you can see, the train in Burma is lower than the bus which is not already very fast …
In terms of price, the price of the train is incredible. The 11.30 am Bagan / Mandalay journey in first-class costs 1,800 kyat or 1.30 euros!
For the bus, the price varies greatly depending on the company (more or less comfortable). For the longest journeys with the best companies, the price will not exceed around 17 euros.
Internal Flights, A Good Solution!
If you don’t like long journeys or your budget is larger, you can opt for an internal flight. And you would be right 😉
During my trip, as I said in my travel diary in Burma, I made only one bus trip (between Inle Lake and Bagan) and if it was to be done again I would opt for the plane.
I have made several domestic flights with Golden Myanmar Airlines. No worries of delay or cancellation.
A small hour of flight instead of 8 hours of bus, it is appreciable!
For domestic flights, it takes between $ 50 and $ 110 depending on the flight and the company.
Airlines often have a minimalist website and it is not possible to book domestic flights on conventional sites like BudgetAir for example.
Therefore, to book your domestic flights in Burma, I recommend the excellent 12go.asia which allows you to book bus, train but also air tickets in many countries of Southeast Asia, including Burma. I have been through this site many times in different countries: it is super practical!
What Reservations Must Be Made Before Departure On A Trip To Burma?
Beyond the long-haul flight and the tourist visa application for Burma, there are other reservations to make to prepare your trip well.
I was just talking to you about domestic flights and possible bus routes. Thanks to 12go.asia which I mentioned above, it is now possible to easily book trips within the country.
Burma Travel Accommodation
In high season, it is recommended to book accommodation in Burma fairly quickly. Indeed, demand is strong and the number of hotels, although growing, is not as high as in other countries of Southeast Asia.
This is even more true if you have specific ideas of accommodation where you want to go during your stay in Burma. By dragging too much, these may be complete …
I am thinking in particular of renowned accommodation in an exceptional setting such as the Inle Heritage Stilt Houses, a little gem on Inle Lake. The number of rooms is very limited and if you travel between November and April or in summer, it may be full well in advance …
Activity To Book For Your Trip?
There are not many activities to book before departure. Besides, I see only one: the overflight of Bagan in a hot air balloon. Even if he could have hesitated about making this flight or not before, there is now no longer any hesitation to have in my opinion. Indeed, with the ban on climbing pagodas, it is now the only way to enjoy the magic of sunrises in Bagan!
Indeed, previously it was possible to enjoy sunrises and sunsets over the plain and its pagodas from the summits of the tallest pagodas. You could also see the morning mist which gives a unique atmosphere. Now, it’s forbidden!
Forget The Dollars…
By browsing blogs or forums on the internet, we often read that you have to go to Burma with dollars.
This was certainly true a few months ago (years?) But it is not at all the case anymore.
Officially, dollars are no longer accepted in Burma. Even if you can pay in many places in dollars, it is not at all favourable for us.
First of all, because you are going to have to change your euros into dollars and therefore pay fees. Also, you will not be able to pay everything in dollars. In a market at the bottom of Inle Lake, if you want to buy 2 bananas, it is better to have kyats!
Also, whenever I saw prices in kyats or dollars, the exchange rate was not at all advantageous for the price in dollars.
I, therefore, recommend that you start with 0 dollars but with euros. You are then free to opt for cash (in euros) that you can change on the spot or for cash withdrawals from distributors.
Withdraw Cash In Burma
Again, we read everything and its opposite about distributors in Burma.
In 2015, there are many, almost everywhere. You will not find it in the depths of villages, as in many places in the world.
However, during a trip to Burma, you will have the opportunity to have it many times, in Yangon, Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake), Bagan or Mandalay. At airports or in the city.
Note, all the same, I recommend you leave with a little cash (in euros) for security.
Indeed, personal experience, during the independence day at the beginning of January, all the ATMs of Nyaung Shwe (about 4 or 5) were empty for 48 hours! Fortunately, I had euros that you can change unofficially everywhere. Regarding the exchange, I invite you to read my ticket were to change his money while travelling, valid for Burma and elsewhere.
Finally, I advise you to travel with 2 bank cards. It is always preferable in case of loss/blocking of a card, you always have a second safe.
What Budget For Burma?
Travel & budget, a question that keeps coming up. I don’t necessarily like to answer this question because it depends on dozens of parameters: duration of the trip, type of trip, itinerary, type of transport, type of accommodation, activities, meals, etc.
What can I tell you on the matter?
First of all, travelling to Burma costs more than other countries in the region. This is valid for quite a few expensive items.
Domestic flights cost between $ 50 and $ 110 for a one-way trip. In Thailand or Vietnam, it’s more between 15 and 50 euros.
The most rudimentary hotels cost around 30 euros per double room. For something decent, you have to climb higher. In Bagan for example, it will even be necessary to go well beyond 100 euros per night to have a pleasant and well-located hotel.
In terms of visit, the entry ticket for the Inle Lake area is 13,000 kyat from memory (about 9 euros). For Bagan, it is per person 23,000 kyat per person (about 17 euros).
A taxi ride in Yangon will not exceed 2,000 or 2,500 kyat. In Mandalay, where it is difficult to find a taxi (and taxi drivers know this), it is higher.
Finally, for meals, you can eat on the street for a few hundred kyats (less than a euro) but it is often very fatty. For canteen type restaurants, the bill will not exceed 2/4 euros per person. You will also find more classy restaurants but you can eat there for 10 to 15 euros per person approximately.
In summary, travelling to Burma, therefore, costs more than countries like Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia, but it remains affordable.
Burma And Hotels
In Burma, hotel chains are very little represented. Most hotels are therefore managed by Burmese and clearly, the value for money is generally not good. Especially when comparing these hotels to neighbouring countries.
However, the hotels are clean and the staff very friendly. The shortcomings relate rather to the lack of charm of the room (and the rest of the hotel) or the quality of the breakfast.
However, I would like to point out that there are very good hotels in Burma like the Sule Shangri-La in Yangon or the Sahara Inle Heritage, my favourite hotel on this trip to Burma!
Travel To Burma: The Essentials Not To Be Missed!
There are many must-sees during a trip to Burma.
For my first trip to Burma, I decided to focus on the most impressive places in the country by taking my time.
Over 3 weeks in Burma, I went too far fewer places than most travellers. However, I took the time to enjoy and visit the places I have been to. For the first trip to Burma, it seems essential to me to go through:
- Yangon because the capital of a country is always a must (even Yangon is no longer officially the capital…)
- Inle Lake which is one of the 2 treasures of Burma
- Bagan and its temples, the other wonder of Burma
- Mandalay and its region which does not lack magnificent places like the U Bein bridge
3G In Burma
3G in Burma is essential!
First, because you can get a SIM card on every street corner in big cities for less than one euro (1000 kyat).
Second, because the internet connections in hotels do not work. At best, you will be able to load a page every 45 seconds …
For this stay, I opted for the operator Ooredoo. Officially, you must buy the SIM in a shop and declare your identity (passport required). You can buy the SIM on the street and unpack it yourself, without presenting any documents.
Regarding recharges (recharging via USSD code), they are also found almost everywhere. Everything can be done without a call, so you are autonomous 😉
The prices for 3G access are very correct. Count 6500 kyats (about 4.50 euros) for 1.35 GB of data over 30 days.
Each time you reload, you get bonus credit. Very handy for calling a local number for example. Also, sending SMS to France from Burma costs less with the Ooredoo SIM than with a French operator!
Ooredoo coverage is good. Whether in Yangon, Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake), Bagan or Mandalay, I have always had a network and a reliable 3G connection. During the day, in the most remote corners, it happened that 3G (and sometimes GSM reception also) was not available.
In the end, my Ooredoo 3G connection will have replaced wifi in the vast majority of hotels I have stayed in…
Burma, A Safe Country!
When I talk about Burma around me, a lot of people who do not know the country have a rather negative a priori on the question.
Drug trafficking, insecurity or war are words we often hear.
On a “classic” route in Burma, there is no concern for security.
On the contrary, the Burmese are very welcoming.
Also, the country is much less touristy than other countries in Southeast Asia, you will encounter few if any scams as may be the case in Thailand or Indonesia.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Burma?
The question we often ask ourselves when we have a destination in mind.
If you want to avoid the hot weather and the monsoon, the best time to visit Burma is from November to February.
From mid-March, early April begins the rainy season. This period also marks the beginning of the hot weather in the country. The 40 ° are very often exceeded.
In Asia, the rainy season often results in heavy showers but rarely in full days of rain. However, it should be noted that Burma is particularly affected by the monsoon.
For example, the average rainfall in Yangon exceeds 500 mm per month in June, July and August. In comparison, in Phuket in Thailand, the rainiest month arrives “only” at 350 mm of precipitation.
Should Vaccines Be Provided For Burma?
No vaccine is required to travel to Burma.
However, depending on the length of your stay and your itinerary, certain vaccines may be recommended (the classic ones, hepatitis A, typhoid fever and rabies).
Malaria is also present in Burma but especially outside tourist areas.
For my part, I did not make any particular vaccine to go to Burma.
I am already vaccinated against hepatitis A (+ conventional vaccines to be made in France, excluding travel).
Note that there are many stray dogs in Burma. Very much. The overwhelming majority of these stray dogs are peaceful and even amorphous. However, during my stay, I met several more hostile dogs, including a nice pack 😉 If you are more stressed by the subject, the rabies vaccine can be useful (and also for longer and/or in remote corners).
What Should You Take To Burma?
I will not list everything to take with you on a trip to Burma. I will only address the specific points of Burma.
First of all, for Inle Lake, especially if you go there in “winter”, I recommend that you bring a good big fleece because by boat on the lake, especially early in the morning and late afternoon, it can be cool.
So even if you travel daytime temperatures ranging between 20 and 32 ° in the different cities of your itinerary, remember that by boat, the situation is different!
For Bagan, two things are essential to visit the temples and pagoda: flip-flops and flashlight!
To enter the pagodas/temples of Bagan, you must systematically remove shoes and socks. Needless to say, after 7 or 8 pagodas, it becomes painful! Flip flops are essential!
Also, inside some temples (especially when you can climb to the top) it is very dark. A flashlight can then be very useful, especially for sunrises/sunsets.
As with other trips, don’t forget to take a travel-oriented pharmacy kit with you! You can add a mosquito repellent spray there or buy it there if you prefer not to clutter up.
Do not take adapter for the electrical outlet. The sockets are compatible with our 230V electrical / electronic devices.
If you have further questions about planning your trip to Burma, please comment on this post. I will answer it with pleasure and it could also be useful for other readers of this blog 😉