Know Before You Go:
Myanmar Travel Tips
“But, what’s it really like?” As invigorating, exciting and intoxicating as it is to explore an unknown land, it can be inconvenient and even a little intimidating to go in completely blind. That’s where we come in. In this ongoing series, we pose some essential questions and arm you with the answers of our regional experts to help you get in deep and up close—without frying your cell phone or bringing the wrong currency. In this edition, Trip Designer Tyler Dillon sheds some light on a magical place close to his heart: Myanmar.
Myanmar Travel Tips
Do I need a visa? How far in advance should I apply for my visa? Can I get them in advance or onsite?
Yes, you will need a Myanmar visa and we highly recommend that you obtain your visa two month priors to departure. Recently, the Myanmar government has been issuing visas on arrival, but the country and policies are always changing. We highly recommend that you get your visas prior to departure to ensure no delays at custom checkpoints.
How do I get a Myanmar visa?
US and Canadian passport holders will need a visa, according to current regulations. No matter what passport you have, we strongly suggest checking with a travel site like our partner CIBT, who will process your visa application on your behalf for a fixed fee beyond the cost of the visa itself. (US passport holders can click here; Canadian passport holders click here.) Paying this fee is almost always worth the hassle and time saved over arranging a visa yourself, and your visa application may be processed quicker and more efficiently.
What is the currency in Myanmar?
The local currency in Myanmar is the kyat (pronounced “chat”). The official exchange rate fluctuates, so your best bet is to check online. (As of this writing, US$1.00=940.5 kyats.) Your best bet when buying goods, however, is to carry US cash. It’s best to carry lots of American dollars in smaller notes (denominations of one, five, 10 and 20 if possible) for spending. Currencies you may exchange are: US dollars, Hong Kong dollars, Pounds Sterling, Malaysian dollars, Euros and Australian dollars.
“I was the first foreigner to use the first ATM in the country. (It didn’t work.)”
Can I get cash there?
No, it’s extremely difficult. More ATMs have popped up recently, but they’re very rare and unreliable. Best to arrive with enough cash to last you throughout your stay. True story: I was the first foreigner to try and use the very first ATM in the country. I landed the day they opened it and a friend asked me to be the first to try it! (Also true: it didn’t work.)
At home my cash gets all wrinkled and folded. That’s ok, right?
Oddly, no. Myanmar banks and money exchangers will only take American bills in perfect condition. American money needs to be mint: crisp and clean with no rips, folds, water marks or pen marks.
Can we use our credit cards at the hotels?
Only a few hotels in Myanmar accept credit cards, so you should plan to pay cash everywhere.
I like to stay connected. Should I bring my smart phone, tablet or laptop?
I’d highly recommend against it. All of the hotels have business centres, but they don’t have wi-fi and in general connectivity is limited. Your best bet is to prepare to go “off the grid” while you’re there.
What’s the electrical voltage in Myanmar?
The voltage in Myanmar is 230 volts and the frequency is 50 Hz. The plugs that will work at the hotels are C,D,F and G. Many hotels have multi-purpose outlets that can take Australian 3-pin plugs. For laptops and phones, a simple plug adaptor should be sufficient, but for hairdryers, curling irons and other high-power electronics you will need a plug adaptor and voltage converter. You don’t want to fry your device—or your hair!
What airlines fly to Yangon?
Airlines that land in Yangon include United, JAL, Qantas, Malaysian, Thai and Singapore. Flights arrive in Yangon direct from Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Myanmar with B&R
I was looking at B&R’s Myanmar trips and have a few questions: Can B&R help with the visa process you mentioned above? Our partner, CIBT, can help. As a B&R traveller you’ll receive a 20% discount off the fee—just be sure to use these links: US passport holders click here. Canadian passport holders click here.
Do you pick up at the airport? Yes we will pick up all travellers from the airport and take them to their hotels. Please provide your travel advisor with your flight details into Yangon so they can ensure someone will meet you at the airport.
At the end of the trip, when does the group arrive back in Yangon? When can I book my international flight home? On the last day we fly from Bagan to Yangon and arrive by 12:30 p.m., so please book flights leaving in the afternoon or early evening; there are afternoon flights to Singapore. We can arrange day rooms if you are taking a later flight—please let your travel advisor know in advance so that we can book this for you.
Is the balloon ride included in the trip? No, Balloons Over Bagan is not included with your B&R trip, but we highly recommend it. The ballooning is offered on the morning of your eighth day and costs US$320. If you are interested please contact your travel advisor very early, as it books up fast!
See for Yourself
From the serenity of Inle Lake to the spectacle of Bagan’s temples, on this Myanmar Biking trip, the mystique is at once ineffable and undeniable.