Planning for Travel to Myanmar
Planning for travel to Myanmar is not without its challenges, with an ever changing scenario in this fascinating travel destination. Sifting through the forums, and reading travel planners such as Lonely Planet seem to be the best source of information.
I am in the planning process of our trip and realized a page with the basics on travel to Myanmar would be very helpful to many judging by the questions……which have been answered on forums but require a lot of time to find.
Below I list the important steps required before you embark on you trip. These are up to date as of January 2011.
Visa Applications for Travel to Myanmar
- You can apply for a visa from a Myanmar Embassy in your country. If, like me, you don’t have one, there will be an embassy in a country nearby that is the place to apply. See the list here
- You can get a visa for 28 days maximum duration Any longer will require special applications which could take time to process.
- You cannot apply for a visa more than 3 months prior to arrival.
- It is possible to get a visa in Bangkok in 24 hours if you apply in person.
- YOU CANNOT GET A VISA AT THE BORDER. This is no longer possible.
- NOTE FOR NEW ZEALANDERS – You get your visa in Canberra, Australia.See the new process here http://myanmarembassycanberra.info/?page_id=93 ALLOW PLENTY of TIME. I rang the embassy and found them to be most helpful. Send your application ( get the forms off the embassy website ) and passport, with a postshop tracked service and enclose a money order/bank draft ( get at postshop) Send the visa cost plus enough for return postage. Use a currency converter to ensure you have sent enough money! The embassy will purchase the return postage envelope for you, as you cannot enclose a stamped addressed envelope as required.
- Our visas have been returned and took around three weeks to process, but were a little longer due to the Christmas holiday.
Entry and Flights to Myanmar
Entering Myanmar by land is difficult.Once there, there are other restrictions. It is best to fly into and out of Yangon when you travel to Myanmar. There are several airlines to choose from. Air Asia flies from either Kuala Lumpur or Thailand.
IMPORTANT NOTE for those flying from KUALA LUMPUR
If you are taking a connecting flight.... be sure to check which airport you will fly from. Air Asia departs to Yangon from what is technically part of the KL Airport but is on the other side from where the main planes arrive..... so allow two hours to transfer to this other departure lounge. You have to take a bus or taxi right around the perimeter of the airport.
Planning Your Myanmar Travel Itinerary
- The latest 2011 Lonely Planet is well set out with great information for travel to Myanmar - although those who have been recently comment you will pay more for recommended accommodation etc as the proprieters have hiked their prices having found they are popular.
- It is not possible to prebook all your travel between destinations until you arrive in Myanmar, although you can contact some agents by email. Unless you are doing an organized tour of course!
- You need to allow 2-3 days on arrival in Yangon, to plan and book ongoing travel with the help of an agent or your hotel.
- Allow plenty of time for travel between destinations. While distances are not always great….the time to get there apparently is.
- Buses – many overnight, plane, boat, train or car with driver – you can arrange share taxis or cars… are all possible means of transport within the country. If time is limited you will probably want to fly between some destinations.
- Read the forums on Thorntree (Lonely Planet) and Trip Advisor for up to date information from recent travelers. Also a good place to ask questions, and get recommendations.
- Accommodation – you can book mid to high priced accommodation online. However, if you want to use the cheaper guest houses etc you will have to do this once in Myanmar. Unless you are going in the peak season it would seem you can usually get accommodation once you reach your destination. I suggest pre-booking your first night or two and last night in Yangon prior to arrival.You can do this online.
Vaccinations for Myanmar
Allow plenty of time to get your vaccinations. Some take a month or two to take affect.You will not have access to many medications so start collecting up a First Aid kit early....there is quite a lot you will want. If you have prescription medication....you must take all your own supplies.
You need to have up to date vaccinations for
- Hepatitis A and B
- Measles, mumps and rubella
- Chickenpox if you haven’t had it as a child
- If you have been in Africa, South America or a country in yellow fever zone you must be vaccinated for yellow fever
– this is more likely in rural areas. You can take vitamin B1 before you leave which will make you unattractive to mosquitos! You need 100mg doses daily for a month before you leave and while you are in Myanmar. Also take minimum 40% deet insect repellant, and you may want to wear the coloured insect repellant bands. Check details….some last only a few hours while others last up to 120 hours.
Clothing for Myanmar
What clothing you take on your travel to Myanmar will in part be determined by the season you are there. It can be cool anytime in some areas.... at least in the evenings – e.g Lake Inle and mountain areas.
The days may be hot, very hot or wet! Be prepared. You will also need to be aware of Burmese culture where dress you are used to, may not be appropriate. Sleeveless, short shorts, low necks are unsuitable. You will need to be well covered in temples and pagodas. Easily removed footwear is essential for visiting temples and pagodas as barefeet is the only acceptable footwear! No.....not even socks. You may want wipes to clean/cool your feet off.
- Long trousers or skirts
- Below knee walking shorts
- Long sleeved shirts or blouses for temples and pagodas etc
- Short sleeved Tshirts
- Warm fleece jacket for mornings and evenings in cool areas
- Good walking shoes
- Rainjacket – some seasons this is essential
- Women – shawl or covering for temples etc if you wear short sleeves
- Swim wear if you plan to go to the beaches
These are the basics and you are best to try and have cotton or synthetics that breath and are quick dry. Remember to have modest clothing that won’t offend the Burmese people who cover up.
This is the information I have gathered and used to prepare for our trip.
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