English is spoken in major tourist areas.
Like most of Southeast Asia, cash is king. You’ll always need to carry cash to shop in local markets. ATMs are now easy to find in the cities but you might struggle to find them elsewhere. I was able to take out a maximum of 300,000 MMK. The currency is still closed so you’ll need to change up any left over cash before you leave. If you want to exchange USD notes need to be spotless.
PASSPORTS & VISAS
• Validity of at least six months after your arrival back in the UK
• Tourist Visa required and you need to have this before arrival. You can apply online (use the link on the FCO website) costs 50 USD and is valid for 90 days from date of issue.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Peak season: late December – mid January
Coolest weather: November – February
Hottest weather: March – May
Rainy season: May – October
What to Wear
It’s hot and dry in Myanmar so the temptation is to wear as little as possible, but this is a deeply conservative country. Locals dress modestly with shoulders and knees covered. Dressing modestly is strictly observed in temples and you will not be allowed to enter if you’re showing too much skin. Buddhist Temple Etiquette. It is recommended that you dress modestly all the time, not just for visiting temples to respect local customs. Keeping covered will protect you from sunburn in the day and insect bites at night.
Head & Feet
The head is considered the most sacred part of the body in Buddhism and the feet the most impure. It’s therefore considered to be extremely improper to touch someones head. Likewise, pointing at things with your feet, putting your feet on furniture or pointing towards people with feet are rude gestures. You shouldn’t be surprised or offended if shop owners ask you to remove your shoes before entering and this is required when visiting a temple.
FOOD & DRINK
This fermented tea leaf salad doesn’t sound all that appealing but it’s actually delicious. It’s the perfect mix of flavors and textures: soft pickled tea leaves, crisp roasted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds and crunchy beans fried in garlic.
Known as Myanmar’s unoffical national dish. Fish based soup with thin rice noodles.
Delicious Deep Fried Things
Lots of snacks in Myanmar are deep fried. I had the best chocolate samosas in a tea shop in Yangon.
Tea is a big deal in Myanmar. It’s black, Indian style normally served with sweetened condensed milk.
Flights are cheapest in and out of Yangon but you can also get international flights to Mandalay.
I was really surprised how easy it is to get around. Buses are frequent to the main towns and are great quality. Internal flights are expensive and distances are manageable to do on overnight buses.
Travel by rail is painfully slow and it’s recommended to get the bus to travel between cities. There are some scenic rail journeys which are exactly that – scenic, it’s about the journey rather than the destination. Check out Yangon‘s Circle Line Train or the journey over Gokteik Viaduct from Pyin Oo Lwin.