Myanmar: 10 Useful Travel Tips and Tricks

If you are traveling to the still relatively undiscovered land of 1000 pagodas and are a little bit anxious about it, don’t be anymore. Here is my list of learnings from travelling to Yangon and the seaside that will help you make the best of your visit to Myanmar.

  1. Visa – don’t repeat my mistake when applying for a visa. Here is the deal: the government of Myanmar provides the great e-visa application service which is fast and simple. I, on the contrary, did it through the Embassy in Rome and trust me, receiving back the passports a few days before departure did interfere seriously with my inner zen (all fault of the courier – Mail Boxes Etc for the records).
  2. Money – before I arrived in Yangon I was a little bit concerned about the money. Do ATMs exist? Do I have to carry thousands of euros in cash? Dollars or Euro is better? Is it easy to find money exchanges? In some posts on Trip Advisor, dated 2014, I read that it is highly recommended to have all the cash that you think will need for the trip, preferably usd, and ideally big notes. However, things in Myanmar are changing with the speed of light so I asked fellow bloggers who had travelled to the country recently and they all reassured me that now the process is quite easy. And it really is, considering the following:
    • ATMs are almost everywhere in Yangon
    • Money exchanges are quite easy to spot and the rates are quite aligned
    • The exchange rate for the $ is more favorable than the one for the €
    • Notes with high denominations rate better (for example 100€ rate better than €20)
    • New bank notes, in pristine conditions, rate better
    • ATMs or Money Exchanges are not available on the sea side (there are barely any roads, let alone banks or automated machines)Myanmar Money Exchange Rates
  3. From the Airport of Yangon to the city center – there is only one comfortable way to get from the airport to town, a taxi. As soon as you get out of the arrival’s building you will be surrounded by taxi drivers who are impatient to offer their services. The official rate is 8000 kyat, keep that in mind. The first quote we got was 30 usd ( 1 usd = 1300 kyat) which we politely turned down. We closed the deal at 10.000 kyat.
  4. Taxi – talking about taxis, consider that in Myanmar the situation is not like in Thailand where you have to insist to have the meter turned on. Here the meters does not exist. I read somewhere that a trial run of taxi meters had taken place a few months ago to determine their viability in Yangon. So far the fare depends only on your negotiation skills. Most rides in town are around 1500 – 3000 kyat.
  5. Domestic travels – you think that you can book your domestic trips in Myanmar while comfortably seating on your sofa? Not here. I was looking for a flight from Yangon to Bagan on Edreams but there weren’t any results. Strange, I thought, or everything was sold out or I was missing a piece of the puzzle. I then checked the airline companies websites just to discover that they only display the schedules and the ticket prices but proceeding with an online purchase is not possible. This means that:
    • Or you book the ticket once you arrive in Myanmar
    • Or you find on google a travel agency that can assist you
    • Or – best solution that I discovered in loco – you can ask the hotel you are staying in to do all the arrangements for you.
  6. Internet connection – all the hotels in Yangon and some on the seaside provide a free wi-fi access which is undeniably slow but works. In Yangon you can also connect to one of the hundreds of hotspots around the town, kindly provided by MyanmarNet. All you have to do is t buy a voucher ( you will see them everywhere) and insert your credentials.
  7. Electricity – power shortages are the common things throughout the country. In Yangon everyone has a generator so you might not even notice it. Anywhere else it might become an issue, especially if you don’t plan well the recharging schedule for your devices. And you sure don’t want to remain without a recharged iPhone to capture all the beauty around.
  8. The art of crossing the street – traffic lights for pedestrians doesn’t exist and the zebra crossing serves as a mere decoration. 200% of the cars will never interrupt their march for you even if they will stop anyway half a meter later because of the traffic congestion. In our case what works best (so far) is to:
    • Have the eyes wide open
    • Look both sides
    • Treat each lane like a separate street
    • Choose the best moment
    • Run to the next lane
    • Repeat until you reach the sidewalkYangon Traffic
  9. How to dress – Myanmar is a conservative country. You will notice that most girls wear their traditional costumes which cover the legs and the shoulders. No one will ever tell you anything if you opt for shorts but for sure you might get some unwanted attention. Even though the country is quite safe I would never show too much skin if I was a solo traveler.
  10. Street food – street food options are definitely not lacking in Myanmar. Especially the area around China Town in Yangon is like one big open-air restaurant. Same for the beach in Chaung Tha which is full packed with food vendors. I am a sucker for this kind of experience but this time nothing I saw seemed inviting. Except for the fish and vegetables BBQs at the 19th street which we tried several times and were above sublimely yummy. Once I got more confident I decided to try the local sugar cane drink and yogurt, both served with ice. I have to admit, they were both very good, but their impact of on my health was disastrous. I guess it was just a bad luck but I would never ever drink again anything from the street.Yangon Street Food
  • Married with Maps

    Great advice! We plan to go there sometime this year so this will definitely be helpful!

    • Gabi

      I hope you will blog a lot about your trip. I am curious to see the impressions of other travellers.

  • VeganWorld-Traveller

    Ouhhh I didn’t know that you have been to Myanmar. When have you been there? The lab where I work just did some testing sessions in Myanmar. I was told that it was a beautiful Country.

    • Gabi

      Hi Dennis, you will never believe this but now I can see your comment right away and they don’t end up in the spam folder anymore! yayyyy!
      I have been in Myanmar for the last three weeks.
      There is a lot of jade in Myanmar, does the testings have anything to do with it?
      The country is beautiful, this was what I had heard too. That’s why I experienced the biggest travel shock here. It took me days to get used to how things work. I will write about this in another post. Every place has two sides ?

    • Gabi

      Hi Dennis, I have been in Myanmar for the last three weeks. It is beautiful, this was the only thing I knew before coming. However, I experienced the biggest ever cultural shock here. It took me ten days to adjust 😀 But don’t worry, if you ever go there you will be prepared, as I will soon post everything, the bad and the good.

      Btw you will never believe that I saw your comment right away, it didn’t end up in the spam. I am using a new plugin! With which I just noticed that I can not reply through the wordpress app ( or I can and my reply just went lost)
      I saw a lot of jade in Myanmar. Do the testings have anything to do with it?

      • VeganWorld-Traveller

        I am very well prepared now for the cultural differences 😀 But I guess, sometimes that is what traveling is about. To see the most different things…things and cultures that you couldn’t even imagine existing 😉

        Yes I heard that they have a lot of jade. Yes we also test jade.

        Haha I am very glad that my comments are not considered spam anymore. But it looks like you still have to find a good solution. I think this one is not so bad for the moment, though.