General Information

Myanmar is located in Southeast Asia which is bordered by India and Bangladesh to the west, Thailand and Laos to the east, and China to the north. Previously known as Burma, Myanmar had been secluded from the whole world for decades and this country used to be known only for its tumultuous history. However, since this sleeping beauty has awakened, tourists from the world now can see the uncovered exquisiteness and meet whole-hearted local people in Myanmar.

Early civilization in Myanmar can be dated back as early as 750,000 years ago. In the 9th century, the Bamar people set up the Bagan Kingdom and Buddhism became predominant in the country. In the 15th century, Bagan Kingdom fell due to the invasion of the Mongol enemy. The British colonized the country from 1824 to 1948. Since then, the country was under military dictatorship and underwent an on-going civil war until 2011.

At the moment, there is no sign of turmoil in this country and Myanmar has become one of the most magical destinations in Southeast Asia. On your tour to Myanmar, you will have a chance to see mesmerizing religious architecture, pristine jungles, spectacular waterfalls and vibrant ethnic villages.

Best Time to Travel to Myanmar

Located in the monsoon region of Asia, the country is hot and humid throughout the year. There are two main seasons here: the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season runs from October to May when the rainy season lasts from June to early October. In the rainy season, November – February is the best time to travel to Myanmar since it is dry and cool. On the contrary, the weather is sultry from March to May.

Passport & Visa to Myanmar

Idyllic Myanmar - Myanmar Travel Guide
Idyllic Myanmar

It is required that your passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of entry to Myanmar and you must have at least one blank visa page.

Myanmar visa exemption:

  • Passport holders from these Southeast Asian countries can visit Myanmar without a visa for 2 weeks: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Passport holders from Singapore can visit Myanmar without a visa for 30 days

Tourist visa to Myanmar has a length of stay of 28 days from the date of arrival to this country. Passport holders from 100 countries can apply for tourist e-visa. Check here to see if your nationality is eligible for this policy or not. Don’t apply for your visa too early nor too late since it will take up to 2 weeks to process your application.

Passengers with e-visa can only enter the country from three main ports: Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw International Airport.

Myanmar Currency

Myanmar Currency - Myanmar Travel Guide
Myanmar Currency

The kyat (K) is the official currency in Myanmar. Kyat comes in different denominations: K5; K10; K20; K50; K100; K200; K500; K1000; K5000; and K10,000.

Before the government reforms, some black markets in this country such as the famous Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott Market) offered the better exchange rate. But this is no longer the case, now you can exchange foreign currency at some national banks in major cities (Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, etc.) or at the airport.

Transportation in Myanmar

  • Taxis are accessible in big cities and the price is reasonable (around K1,000 per kilometer). Renting a car in Myanmar is the most convenient way to travel around certain areas.
  • Train is a romantic way to travel around this country. The train condition on Yangon to Mandalay route is cleaner than trains in rural areas.
  • Long-distance bus tickets can be purchased online or at the bus station. For popular bus routes such as Yangon to Bagan and Yangon to Mandalay, we recommend booking tickets in advance.
  • Land transportations are sometimes slow, so if you are lack of time, consider a flight for core routes such as Yangon to Mandalay or Yangon to Bagan. Tickets will be sold out quickly before Thingyan Water Festival, so buy tickets in advance if you want to attend the festival.

Religion in Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda - Myanmar Travel Guide
Shwedagon Pagoda

Theravada Buddhism is the predominant religion in Myanmar which constitutes 87.9% of the total population. Ethnic minorities practice other religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.

Visiting this country, it is undoubtedly that you can enjoy a soul-cleansing and therapeutic time at a Buddhist pagoda, temple, and monastery. We advise that you should contemplate some customs and manner before entering any religious site. Some etiquette to remember:

  • Dress conservatively; cover up your shoulders, elbows, and legs. Don’t wear any revealing clothes.
  • Remove your hats and shoes before entering any pagoda.
  • Keep your distance when you talk to the monks.
  • Do not make noise and avoid any inappropriate conversation or controversial topic.

Holidays in Myanmar

Thingyan is the Burmese New Year Festival, which is the biggest holiday in this country. It occurs in the middle of April and it is calculated according to the Burmese calendar. In the festival, local people sprinkle water over each other in order to wash away bad luck and wish the others good luck next year. If you wish to explore local life in this festive time of the year, save your date in April for a tour to Indochina.

Top events in Myanmar:

  • Independence Day: 4thJanuary
  • Ananda Pahto Festival: January
  • Peasants’ Day: 2nd March
  • Thingyan: mid-April
  • Taungbyone Nat Pwe: August or early September
  • Tazaungdaing: October or November

Related Reading: Essential Travel Guides for First-time Travelers to Myanmar

Top Destinations in Myanmar

1. Yangon

Sule Pagoda - Myanmar Travel Guide
Sule Pagoda

Used to be the capital city of this country, Yangon is still well-known as the center of economy, tourism and entertainment of the country. This city is often mistaken as the current capital city of this country. Yangon is the home to various colonial-era buildings and religious sites. The sacred Shwedagon Pagoda is an iconic symbol of Yangon and a representative for the development of Buddhism in this country. Besides sightseeing, tourists can also purchase colorful souvenirs at some markets, tantalize their taste buds with mouth-watering local delicacies, and interact with friendly Burmese people in this bustling city.

2. Mandalay

U Bein Bridge - Myanmar Travel Guide
U Bein Bridge

Located in the north of Myanmar, Mandalay piques travelers’ curiosity with a solemn allure of a bygone era. The stupa-studded Mandalay Hill is probably a must-see attraction when visiting this city. Furthermore, U Bein Bridge in this city is one of the most popular photography sites in Myanmar, especially before sunset when lighting is the best here. The amazing thing about sunset at U Bein Bridge is that you can catch different colors of the scenery: sometimes oranges, sometimes vibrant red or violet.

3. Bagan

Bagan - Myanmar Travel Guide
Bagan

With the massive system of 3000 temples and pagodas, Bagan is recognized as ‘The land of pagodas’ in Myanmar. Numerous religious buildings in this city had been constructed since Bagan was the capital of Pagan Kingdom from the 9th to 13th centuries. The most exhilarating way to admire the magnificence of the pagoda complex in Bagan is taking a hot air balloon. Moreover, Bagan is also famous for being the lacquerware center of Myanmar.

4. Inle Lake

Inle Lake - Myanmar Travel Guide
Inle Lake

Inle Lake, the second largest lake in Myanmar, is the ideal place for you to discover watery environment and the locals’ daily life. This lake is inhabited by a large number of fish species which creates an abundant biosphere reserve. Leg-rowing fishermen in Inle Lake, which you can see from many travel magazines around the world, have become the iconic image of this destination.