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9 days swiss miss group tours to Myanmar / Burma

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Myanmar excursions: Golden Rock (Kyaikthiyo), Mawlamyine, the tattoo chin tribe village, etc.
Beacg top resorts at Ngapali Beach, Myanmar
Sailing in the Mergui <br />
Archipelago off Myanmar
Hiking and Trekking in Myanmar

Travel with author Martin Schacht in Myanmar

Travel with us to Asia

Myanmar travel and tour info
Yangon, the Shwedagon, the 2,000 pagodas of Bagan, Mandalay, Shan State, the Switzerland of Myanmar, Bahmo in the North, Sittwe and Mrauk Oo in Rakhine, etc.
Terms and conditions of Myanmar Travel Ltd., Yangon
Myanmar / Burma FAQ
Comments from our customers and about Myanmar hotels
Festivals of Myanmar
Gossip and travel stories
Books for before, during and after your Myanmar trip


Myanmar travel tips

HOW TO GET TO MYANMAR

International flights
Yangon International Airport (Mingalardon Airport) and Mandalay International Airport are the main International Airports in Myanmar. Yangon has direct air links with Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Calcutta, Chiang Mai, Taipei, Kunming, Doha and Dhaka. Mandalay has a direct air link with Kunming.

Bangkok
- Air Asia (FD) www.airasia.com
- Thai Airways International (TG) www.thaiairways.com
- Myanmar Airways International (8M) www.maiair.com
- Biman Bangladesh (BG) www.bimanair.com
- Bangkok Airways (PG) www.bangkokair.com
- Phuket Airlines Co., Ltd. (9R) www.phuketairlines.com 

Singapore
- SilkAir www.silkair.com
- Myanmar Airways International (8M) www.maiair.com 

Kuala Lumpur
- Myanmar Airways International (8M) www.maiair.com
- Malaysia Airlines (MH) www.malaysiaairlines.com.my 

Calcutta
- Indian Airlines Limited (IC) http://indian-airlines.nic.in/scripts/index.asp 

Chiang Mai
- Air Mandalay (GT) www.airmandalay.com 

Taipei
- Mandarin Airlines (AE) www.mandarin-airlines.com 

Kunming
- Air China (CA) www.airchina.com.cn
- China Southern Airlines (MU) (only to Mandalay) www.cs.air.com/en/ 

Doha
- Qatar Airways (QR) www.quatarairways.com 

Dhaka
- Biman Bangladesh (BG) www.bimanair.com

Air Tickets

We recommend to purchase the air tickets from the country which is your starting point in order to get the best airfare. No agent in Myanmar, or in another country, can offer you a better deal.

It is true and an attempt of International Airline regulation to prevent air-ticketing monopoly in one single region, so that world-wide local ticket agents can exist.

By Overland
Overland entry with a Border Pass is permitted at the following Border Check Points: Tachileik and Kawthaung on the Myanmar-Thai border and Muse on the Myanmar-Yunnan (China) border.

PASSPORTS & VISA
ON ARRIVAL - SINCE MAY 01, 2010
Myanmar requires a valid passport of minimum 6 months. Tourist visa are issued for a duration of 28 days starting from the day you enter the country. 

Every tourist can get the visa at the international points of entry and exit in Myanmar which are Yangon and Mandalay International Airport.

TO BE REQUIRED AT THE IMMIGRATION COUNTER:

- 30 $ US for a 28 days Tourism Visa (can't be extended)

- 40 $ US for a 28 days Social Visa (can be extended, with Home Stay)

- 40 $ US for a 71 days Business Visa (can be extended)

- 18 $ US for 24 hours transit Visa

- A valid Return Ticket

-  Prove of stay at a Hotel, Motel, Guesthouse under hotel license

-  2 Passport Picture size 4 cm x 6 cm (not older than 6 months)

PLEASE NOTE:

- Free of charge for children under 7 years with own or in parents passport

- In case of other entries than Yangon or Mandalay please contact info@myanmartravel.net
 

EMBASSIES:                                                                                                                               Please click here for an updated list of Myanmar Embassies and Consulates.

CUSTOMS
All foreign currencies (above US $ 2,000.-), jewelries, electrical goods and cameras must be declared to the Burma Customs at the Airport. Export of Myanmar antiques is totally prohibited. Only gems and jewelries purchased at the licensed dealers, or who can issue an export permit are allowed to be taken out of Myanmar. Travelers may bring in duty free 200 cigarettes, one quart of wine and one pint of perfume. You can bring your mobile phone with you, but the Burma‘s GSM system does not allow " international Roaming" so mobile phones from other countries do not work in Myanmar. Laptop computer can be brought in freely for the travelers’ own use.

Airport Tax
The airport tax is US $10.- for international passengers, payable in FEC (Foreign Exchange Certificates). There is no airport tax on domestic flights.

MONEY/CREDIT CARDS
The official Myanmar currency is Kyat (pronounced “Chat”). The official exchange rate is 6 Kyat to US$ 1.-. The unofficial or market rate is as high as 1200 Kyat (Feb. 2007). There are several authorized moneychangers in Yangon who will exchange US$ into Kyat. For paying by credit card, please click here.

TRIP EXPENSES
The cost of living in Myanmar depends very much on where you are: While in an expensive hotel a beer may cost you US$ 5.- you might get it for about US$ 1.-(or its equivalent in Kyat) in a restaurant. Generally spoken, Myanmar is a low-priced country but as soon as you go for imported articles the price level easily matches the one in Thailand or even other Western countries - import taxes are rather high! As long "as you go local" you might pay one fifth of the price!

Lunch & Dinner
International Hotels between US$ 10 and 15 per person
Local restaurants between Kyats 3.000 and 6.000 per person

Beverage:

International Hotels:
Mineral water: US$ 1,5 to US$ 3
Soft drinks: US$ 3
Beer: US$ 3 to US$ 5
Glass of wine: US$ 3 to US$ 5
Tee or coffee: US$ 3

Local restaurants:
Mineral water: Kyats 500 to Kyats 800
Soft drinks: Kyats 300 to Kyats 700
Beer: Kyats 1200 to Kyats 1800
Tee or coffee: Kyats 500

Tipping

For the Guides
Average is US$ 3,-- per day/per person - any additional amount to be given is the decision of our clients.

For the Drivers

US$ 1,5 per person/per day.

For the Porters

Per luggage: 200 Kyats.

At local Restaurants

App. 200 kyats per person - depends again on the service you got!

At international Hotels

App. 500 kyats per person.

WHAT TO BRING
Sun hat, sun glasses, sun protection for your face and body, prescription medicines, insect repellent and an umbrella April to October (rain or shine). An antibiotic cream for minor cuts and scratches, extra pair of prescription glasses, a small flashlight and extra passport photos.

WHAT TO WEAR
Shorts, short skirts or revealing clothing are not appropriate especially when visiting temples or any religious site. Myanmar is a conservative Buddhist culture and improper dress can be offensive. Please dress with respect for the local culture. Lightweight, easy to care clothes of cotton and cool fabrics are ideal all year round. A winter sweater or jacket and socks may be needed in the cool season when visiting up country especially around Inle Lake and Kalaw when the weather can drop to near freezing during the night. Wear sensible walking shoes which can be easily removed when required. Shoes and socks must be removed at pagodas and monasteries so it is advisable to bring a pair of slippers.

BUSINESS
HOURS & HOLIDAYS
Government offices open from 10:00 to 16:00 on weekdays. Banking hours are from 10:00 to 14:00. Private companies work daily except Sunday and gazette holidays. Shopping centers and super markets open daily. The most famous Bogyoke (Scott) market is open daily from 10:00 to 16:00 except on gazette holidays.

Public Holidays (2007)
JAN 4 Independence Day
FEB 12 Union Day
MAR 2 Peasant’s Day
MAR 2 Full moon day of Tabaung
MAR 27 Armed Forces Day
APR 13-16 Thingyan Festival (Water Festival)
APR 17 Myanmar New year Day
APR 30 Full moon day of Kason
MAY 1 May Day (Workers’ Day)
JUL 19 Martyrs’ Day
JUL 29 Full moon day of Waso
JUL 30 Beginning of Buddhist Lent
OCT 26 End of Buddhist Lent (Thadingyut Festival of Lights)
NOV 24 Tazaungdaing Festival of Lights
DEC 04 National Day
DEC 25 Christmas Day
JAN 8, 2008 Karin New Year

CULTURAL EVENTS
Myanmar is a Land of Festivals: a festival for every month of the year. Most festivals are cultural and religious. Majority are nation-wide celebrated while a few are distinctly regional. The dates of the festivals and special events are determined by the Lunar Year.

POST
& TELECOMMUNICATION
The postal service in Myanmar is definitely cheap. Of course, letters and postcards take quite some time to reach their destinations but usually most of them will arrive. Parcels may be sent and delivered in Myanmar but again it is rather time-consuming, especially if you want to pick up a parcel at the Foreign Post Office - bring along a lot of time and patience! Private services like DHL come at a price but are doing a good job. If you should wish to send bulky and heavy items home it can be done either by airfreight or by sea. In this case our guides will be willing to give you the necessary help and assistance.

International calls can be made from major hotels and the Central Telegraph Office in Major cities. Whenever making phone calls from Myanmar it is important to ask for the price first - at some hotels the tariff might be double the official rate. The service is improving but connections are poor and international calls are expensive. Internet is available at several locations throughout the country, however, travelers have to be aware that their e-mail websites might not be available due to government restrictions (e.g. Yahoo, Hotmail and many other e-mail websites cannot be accessed). You can bring your own laptop with you and also your cellular phone, but please remember that the local mobile telephone net is practically useless for tourists.

TIME
GMT + 6 hours

ELECTRICITY
Is mainly 220-230 Volts/50 cycles. However, fluctuations can be amazing: Be prepared for anything between 80 and 300 Volts! That’s why no Myanmar household is complete with at least one if not a battery of voltage regulators. Make sure to protect your electrical appliances from over voltage - your laptop might take it rather ill...

There also exists a "bewildering" multitude of different plugs and sockets in the country; extension sockets for three different types of plugs are the rule. Most electrical wall outlets take British-style plugs with a 3 flat plugs in a triangle; some outlets accept round plugs and combined round/flat holes for either type. You are advised to bring an international adaptor with you and if the need arises you can find what you need in any roadside shop - the problem is all too common in the country. Power cuts are all over the country more the rule than the exception. That’s why many hotels and even shops have their own generators to ensure a permanent power supply. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean 24 hours of power supply as many hotels switch on the generator only after sunset and switch it off at around 11 p.m.!

BOOKS & MAPS
You should be able to get such books and maps from your book shop or check amazon.com.

In Yangon we would recommend on 37th Street, between Maha Bandoola Street and Merchant Street, the marvelous little Pagan Book House at No. 100. Great books, new and ancient, and a fine place to chat with the ever-affable owner, U Ba Kyi.

Two other book stores we can recommend are:
Innwa Book Store, 226 Sule Pagoda Road, Kyauktada, Yangon, Myanmar
Mandalay Book Agency, 80M Kanbawza Lane (1), Bahan, Yangon. Ph 553468, 511343.

MEDIA

Newspaper
Three morning newspapers Myanmar Ah Lin and Kye mon in Myanmar and The New Light of Myanmar in English are published in Yangon and The Yadanabon News in Myanmar is published in Mandalay. Myanmar Times Journal (English Version) is distributed every Monday, and the Myanmar Version is distributed ever Friday. Both journals are published in Yangon. The locally published magazines in English; Golden Myanmar, Myanmar Chronicle, and Myanmar Perspective, are available in bookshops. Foreign newspapers such as International Herald Tribune, Singapore Straits Times and some foreign magazines and periodicals are available at In-wa (Ava) Bookshop, No.232, Sule Pagoda Road.

Radio
Radio Myanmar broadcasts English on the following schedule: 8:30 am to 9:00am 1:30 pm to 2:00 pm; and 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm. The new City FM broadcasts from 08:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M., and from 13:00 P.M. to 17:00 P.M. daily, starting from January 1, 2002.

Television
There are two local TV channels: TV Myanmar and Myawaddy with programs running from 7 am to 4 am; and from 4 pm to 11 pm. Most hotels also have satellite TV. Myawaddy was started on the 27th March, 1995. The average broadcasting hours is about 8 hours per day when it started.

FILM & PHOTOGRAPHY
In a country as photogenic as Myanmar many photo enthusiasts realize long before the end of their journey that they didn’t bring along enough films.

Nowadays that is not a problem anymore as supplies can be replenished in most places where tourists congregate. However, in some cases it might be difficult to get a special film or the films on sale are expired. So it might be a better idea to bring a sufficient supply of films.

Generally the Burmese do not have any objections against being photographed. However, courtesy commands to obtain the 'victim’s' approval. Many pagodas charge a minimal fee for cameras; video cameras might be a little more expensive. Some museums restrict photography. It’s not a problem any more to bring along video cameras.

Important: Photography in airports, railway stations and near any military installation is forbidden.

HEALTH

Vaccinations
No inoculations or vaccinations are required unless coming from or passing through an infected area. Clients should bring sufficient medication with them if required and should check for updated health recommendations before your departure to Myanmar regarding hepatitis, malaria, typhoid, etc.

Health and Medical Care
The dreaded tropical diseases usually do not constitute a threat to tourists because they are mainly the result of unsanitary conditions, lack of medical care due to poverty and similar factors. Malaria, however, should never be underestimated, but, according to our experience, is not a grave problem in areas visited by tourists. The threat of being bitten or poisoned by dangerous animals should also not be overestimated.

On one hand poisonous snakes and spiders are rarely to be found and on the other hand they anyway usually run away before a human gets close. However, we advise to stay away from the all too common stray dogs as well as from cats.

Unfortunately the quality of medical care leaves a lot to be desired. Minor indispositions may be handled by local doctors and some local pharmacies stock a fairly extensive spectrum of drugs, mostly sold under their English trade names. We recommend bringing along all regularly required drugs in sufficient numbers, as well as cosmetics. In the case of aggravating health problems your place of treatment should be either Bangkok or Singapore where you will find plenty of good hospitals. The most common health problems, however, are flu and diarrhea: Even though you may not be able to prevent them entirely you can limit them by choosing clean and proper food and avoid staying in air-conditioned rooms for too long.

Monosodium Glutamate - (MSG) Alert
Throughout most Asian countries including Myanmar MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) - known locally as 'AJINOMOTO' - is still used in food preparation in some restaurants. Some travellers who may experience swollen feet, hands or headaches will more than likely have had a good amount of MSG in the food. It is always best to inform your guide when ordering if you do not wish it to be added to your food.

Drinking Water
Only drink purified bottle water. Bottled water is readily available and some hotels provide complimentary. Carry a bottle with you throughout the day.

Medical Treatment
If you should get sick in spite of all the precautions, following hospitals are recommended:

SOS Assistance

Inya Lake Hotel, 37 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road,
Tel : (95-1) 667877, 667879

Kandawgyi Clinic

Natmauk Road,
Tel : (95-1) 530083

Pacific Medical Centre & Dental Surgery
81, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road,
Tel : (95-1) 548022

ACCOMMODATION
Improved a lot since 1996. Yangon offers a wide choice of accommodation including boutique hotels and international 5 star properties for a reasonable price. You can get a superior room including breakfast at a 4 star hotel already for US$ 60 per room/ per night. In Mandalay you have to pay for the same standard US$ 20 more per room/per night. The new Mandalay City Hotel (2-3 star ), situated in the city center offers superior rooms and deluxe rooms for a reasonable price.

In Bagan and Inle Lake you have a choice of charming, traditional accommodation from 1-2 star to 4 star hotels. Hotel developments continue around Inle Lake with the newly opened Inle Resort on the eastern shore of the lake. The Inle Regal Resort now offers 18 junior suites and 10 superior rooms and is recommended as the best quality accommodation built on stilts.
The renovated deluxe rooms at the Thazin Garden are some of the best in Bagan and the Kaday Aung Hotel is our recommendation for our superior class category.

Major developments of boutique style hotels take place at Ngapali Beach, but we have to check them first, before we are going to offer them to our clients. Till then we recommend the Amata Resort & Spa and the Sandoway Resort at Ngapali Beach. The Sandoway Resort has now also a swimming pool as well as air-condition in all rooms.

The Silver Beach Hotel is our recommendation for the standard category. For people who just want the beach atmosphere it is the perfect little Bungalow Hotel. The rooms are simple, but have air-con and the food is excellent. Meanwhile the Silver Beach has also 8 Deluxe Bungalows with sea view... Bungalows are 3 star accommodation.

For all other places in Myanmar accommodation can be simple and basic

FOOD & DRINKS
Myanmar cuisine uses rice or noodles as staple dishes, usually served with a variety of side dishes: curries with meat or fish, vegetables, salads, soup, condiments etc. Myanmar curries tend to be less chili-hot than those served in Thailand, In order to give travelers a true feeling for the Burma, Restaurant and food are carefully selected for hygiene as well as gastronomic considerations. Meals & drinks at International Hotels are considerably expensive. There are many good local restaurants with almost the same quality of food and hygiene as hotels but at reasonable prices.

Most of the restaurants in the major cities serve various dishes of Chinese, European,Thai and Indian cuisine. Myanmar dishes are oily, sour, salty and spicy. There are also a wide variety of local snacks and delicacies. Mouk-hin-kha (thin rice noodles served with fish gravy) and Ohn-noh-khauk-swe (noodles served with chicken chunks and coconut gravy) are the most popular in Myanmar. Shan food and delicacies also are available. Shan style of cooking belongs neither to Myanmar nor Chinese nor Thai cuisine but they taste really good in their own way.

ENTERTAINMENT
There are all kinds of entertainment in Yangon, from cultural shows to marionette performance, theatre, cinemas and others. There is plenty of Karaoke entertainment.

Real good fashion shows (the fashion show is the local substitution of a modern show elsewhere, since there are strict limits set by the government), with high professional exotic designs, mainly as an add on in various discos offer an interesting entertainment. Discos are plenty and "sing a song" restaurant entertainment many.

An interesting nightlife is going on near the Shanghai Shopping Center complex after 8 pm. This is in Chinatown and the spoken name is -- denjisa -- and in the basement of the Asia Plaza.

Some of the hotels have also happy hour

The Traders Hotel
Has happy hour every day from 18:00 to 20:00 with live music on Thursday till 21:00

The Savoy Hotel
Has happy hour every day from 18:00 to 20:00 with live music on Wednesday till 23:00

The Strand Hotel
Has happy hour every Friday from 17:00 to 20:00

Cultural Shows
Much of the Burmese theatrical arts have been influenced by U Po Sein, one of the greatest dancers of all time. He started the dancing of the Jatakas -- the stories of Buddha's several lives before he reached Buddha hood. Before his time, the Jakatas were danced only by puppets for humans were too sinful to perform such holy stories. However, Po Sein was so sincere in his act and his religion that he was allowed by the Sangha to dance the stories.

There are several basic dance moves and postures an aspiring dancer has to learn. Chin up, chest out, bottoms up, knees bend is a strict to rule to follow by. In addition, a smile has to be always on the face, unless otherwise required by the particular dance. Burmese dance requires the movement of every body part that one has. From the eye to the chin, from the shoulders to the fingers, and from the waist to the feet. There can be lively music that requires much jumping, or there can be classical music that requires much grace. Indeed, although at a glance, the dance may look easy, learning it can prove to be hard.

As modern popular music and culture penetrates into Burma, the Burmese theatrical and performing arts have decreased in popularity among the Burmese youths. However, those who know the value of the Burmese dances can appreciate the beauty they depict. The Burmese dances tell a long story that goes hand in hand with the Burmese history.

The Myanmar Music Ensemble
The composition of the Myanmar Music Ensemble is somewhat different from that of the European orchestra. The strings are absent, their function being taken over by the drum-circle which takes the tune instead of being only the tympani. The gong-circle supports it. There are the wood-winds, the bamboo flute and the oboes (Nhai) big and small, but no brass. Our tympani corner (Pat-ma-gyi) which is at the bottom of our gusto is very strong. The stalwarts are: the big drum (Pat-ma) with its companion the big Cymbals (Yagwin) and support drum (sa-khunt) with its companion the smaller cymbals, the stick-drum (si-doh), the six side-drums, the tiny time cymbal (than-lwin) and the irrepressible bamboo clappers (wa-lek-koke).

For a Myanmar Cultural Variety Show we would recommend:

In Yangon the Lakeview Theatre Restaurant at Kandawgyi Palace Hotel

Kan Yeik Tha Road
Tel: 249255-9, 242613-19
They have a daily show from 19:30 - 20:30.
Price for the cultural show including Thai buffet dinner is US$ 6,- per person

In Mandalay the cultural show and dinner at the Mandalay Hill Resort / Kinsana Garden Theatre
No. (9), Kwin (416B), 10th Street, At the Foot of Mandalay Hill, Mandalay
Tel: 02-35638
October to April: Daily show with dinner from 19:00 till 21:00

Puppet show
Myanmar Puppetry was not only for entertainment, but also a high art held in much esteem by all classes. Marionettes were a means of making people aware of current events, a medium for educating the people in literature, history and religion, display of lifestyles and customs. At the same time, they functioned as mouthpieces for the people in the days of royalty, tiny hands in state and social affairs.

Regular Show
Everyday from 20:30 to 21:30

Entrance Fee
US$ 3.- per person.

There are a lot of restaurants in Bagan, showing daily puppet shows during dinner time. The most popular place is the Nanda Restaurant (02-67542, 67039).

THINGS TO BUY
Myanmar arts and crafts, mostly pure hand-made, are best souvenirs. Lacquer ware, woodcarvings, tapestries, silverware, brassware, silk and cotton fabrics and shoulder bags are some of the favorite items.

For jewellery, there is Burma rubies, sapphires, jade and pearls available at Myanmar gems shops. All gems and jewellery purchased should be made through the government licensed dealers, who can give a voucher for export.

Bargaining is essential for obtaining the reasonable prices. Possible price reductions of up to 50% are not uncommon.

General Myanmar Info - Myanmar Travel Tips - Visa on Arrival


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© 1999 Myriam Grest Thein