Introduction

Myanmar, golden land

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is dubbed the “Golden Land” festooned with numerous Buddhist structures and images. Boasting as one of the earliest homes of mankind, Myanmar is amongst the most mysterious and least-travelled nations in the world. This Buddhist land is an ideal destination for travellers to bask on sun-drenched beaches, to immerse themselves in picturesque landscapes or to delve into a plethora of history and rich culture.

This sacred land is imbued with the wonderfully quaint traditional delights of Asia which are rarely found elsewhere. The undulating terrains dotted with virgin jungles, magnificent mountains, sprawling pristine coastlines, coupled with a rich and glorious heritage spanning more than two thousand years offer savvy holidaymakers a wide range of travel selections from laid-back indulgence to intrepid adventure. Spectacular monuments and ancient cities attest to a vibrant culture that is still home to 135 different ethic groups.

Whether you cruise on the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River, drift over the ancient city of Bagan by hot air balloon or search for the elusive tiger on the back of an elephant, there is always a feeling of adventure. With upgrades to the of transport system and an increase in the number of flights, new and exiting “off-the-beaten-track” destinations are gradually being opened, from mountain trekking and rafting in the far north to world-class diving in the Mergui Archipelago. But all above, Myanmar offers the warmest welcome in Asia.

YANGON & THE COUNTRYSIDE
Yangon is the cosmopolitan capital city and gateway to Myanmar. The city is known for its lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes and is referred to as the “Garden City of the East”. It was founded by King Alaungpaya on the site of a small settlement called Dagon when he conquered lower Myanmar in 1755. The name Yangon means “End of Strife”. The city today still maintains its colonial charm and gracious turn of the century architecture. Towering over the city is the magnificent gold-encrusted Shwedagon Pagoda - one of the country’s most beautiful treasures and a place to observed devout Buddhists as they meditate and pray.

Other recommendations in Yangon include Chaukhtatkyi - the Reclining Buddha, the colorful markets of Chinatown, a Meditation Centre, Sule Pagoda, Botataung Pagoda, Kaba Aye Pagoda, Maha Pasana Guha Cave, Kalewa Monastery, the Buddhist Art Museum, the National Museum, Naga glass factory and the Bogyoke Aung San (Scott) Market.

Destinations
Travel tips
  • The culture of Myanmar is Buddhism-oriented. Burmese artwork is influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhism has also shaped Myanmar’s literature. Dance plays a significant role in the culture of the Burmese, with many of the traditional dances originating from Thailand. Myanmar also features a variety of traditional musical instruments and orchestras.

    The Burmese calendar is highlighted with a large number of festivals connected with Buddhism. One of the most popular events of the year is Thingyan, a five-day event which celebrates the Lunar New Year.

  • INDEPENDENCE DAY (4 January 2013)

    The Independence Day of Myanmar is a national holiday observed in Myanmar on 4 January of every year. The date celebrates Myanmar’s Declaration of Independence from Britain on 4 January, 1948.

    NAGA NEW YEAR FESTIVAL

    The annual Naga New Year Festival is to exchange experiences from the previous year, to make plans for the coming year and to discuss how to overcome difficulties. The festival is a family reunion for those who are from away home.

    THINGYAN WATER FESTIVAL

    This festival is to welcome Myanmar New Year for four days throughout the country. While young people gather together everywhere in towns to sing and dance and to joyfully splash water each other, the old take retreat in pagodas and monasteries to perform meritorious deeds.

    YADANA GU NAT FESTIVAL

    Known as the mother of the Taung Byone Festival, this unique event is famous because the enjoyable rowing trip to the site. The festival is held in honor of the Mother of the Two Lords, Mewanna, who returned from the Taung Byong Festival on her way to Mount Poga, while stopping at Yadana along the way.

    MT. POPA NAT SPIRIT FESTIVAL, MOUNT POPA

    Mt. Popa is one of the most sacred religious sites in Myanmar and home to a prominent Nat worship centre. Thousands of Burmese flock to the site and fill the area with an atmosphere that is joyous and light-hearted. In ancient times, many animals were sacrificed, but this changed in the Bagan period.

  • Health insurance is strongly recommended. There are hospitals and clinics in cities and larger towns, and regional health centers in outlying areas. It is advisable to carry a remedy against minor enteric upsets.

    MEDICAL FACILITIES

    Pan Hlaing International
    Pan Hlaing Golf Course Housing, Hlaing Tha Yar.
    Tel: 684325

    International SOS
    37, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Inya Lake Hotel, Mayangon Township, Yangon
    Tel: 667871

  • The Local currency in Myanmar is Kyat (MMK) and US Dollars are widely accepted. The exchange rate for US$ 1 is approximately 6 MMK.

  • Postal service in Myanmar to date is unreliable; letters and postcards to overseas sometimes do not reach their destinations. Most hotels have IDD lines, but calls are very expensive with average costs of a call to Australia, Europe and USA approximately US$ 9 per minute. Public phones that use pre-paid phone cards or 'callback' systems as well as public Internet/Computer service centers are not available in Myanmar.

  • Firemen: 191

    Police and medical emergency services: 199

  • VISA & CUSTOMS

    A visa is required in advance. Tourist visas for Myanmar can be obtained from any Myanmar Embassy or Consulate worldwide. Tourist visas are valid for a stay up to 28 days. Visa fee is US$ 20.

    Visa on Arrival is issued to all nationalities at Yangon and Mandalay international airports, to those residing abroad where there are no Myanmar embassies. Visa fees are collected according to the prescribed rate.

    CUSTOMS

    You will be given a standard customs declaration form to fill out on arrival in Myanmar. Regulations state that you should declare foreign currency in excess of US$2000. You should also declare any valuable items such as jewellery.

    BORDER-CROSSING

    The most popular Myanmar border crossing points are:

    Myanmar Thailand
    Tachileik Mae Sai
    Kawthaung Ranong

     

  • TIPPING

    Tipping to according to a percentage of the bill is not expected in Vietnam, but is enormously appreciated. In restaurants with table service, 10-15% of the bill is considered appropriate. You should also consider tipping drivers and guides. Typically, travelers on minibus tours will pool together to collect a communal tip to be split between the guide and the driver. About US$ 3 per day (per tourist) is standard. It is customary to make a small donation after visiting a pagoda, especially if a monk has shown you around. Most pagodas have contribution boxes for this purpose.

    ELECTRICITY

    The voltage in Myanmar is 220-230 Volts AC. Most of the international hotels have their own generators. Other places may experience power cuts and voltage fluctuation which can damage equipment like computers. Please travel with the required protection for your electrical items.

    DRINKING WATER

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