myanmar travel guide - exotissimo travel
Embed Size (px)
DESCRIPTIONThis Myanmar Travel Guide will give you some more information about the country, the different destinations to visit, useful information for travelers, a listing of the Exotissimo preferred hotels, reservations and booking procedures
Exo Travel Guides
Experts in Asia - in Asia
IntroducingMyanmarThank you for choosing Exotissimo Travel Myanmar to
organize your travel arrangements in the country. This
document will give you some more information about
the country, the different destinations within Myanmar,
useful information for travelers, a listing of the Exotis-
simo preferred hotels and the reservations and booking
Known as “The Golden Land” because of her glittering
pagodas, Myanmar is a country rich in cultural heritage
and natural scenic landscapes with abundant tourist
attractions. History enthusiasts can bask in ancient
cities and archaeological museums. Nature lovers can
discover the lure of Myanmar forests, wildlife sanctuar-
ies and scenic spots. Beach lovers can relax and enjoy
the call of the sea at pristine beaches. Adventure seek-
ers can trek and scale of the challenging mountains to
meet the hill tribes in their colorful ethnic costumes.
Whatever your interest may be, we assure you that
traveling with Exotissimo to explore Myanmar’s hidden
treasures will surely be an impressive trip.
Where to go in Myanmar?
That depends how long you’ve got, what you want to
see and what you want to do? Hopefully the guide be-
low will help you make those decisions.
If you want to really discover Myanmar, you should set
a side a couple of weeks to travel, meet the people and
gain an understanding of this beautiful and fascinating
country. Our shortest tours are half day excursions and
while the longer you’ve got the more you can see. At
Exotissimo we pride ourselves on being able to fill ev-
erybody’s travel plans with just the right mix. It will be
our pleasure to make the suggestion and arrangements
to allow you to make the most of your precious leisure
time. After all, our team of local and western travel
enthusiasts work, live and travel all over the country
and we would be happy to share our new discoveries
When to go to Myanmar?
Myanmar has a tropical climate with three distinct
seasons: the cool season from November to February
which is dry; the hot season from March to May with
average temperatures in the 30s and occasionally over
40C; the rainy season from May to the beginning of
.ytidimuh dna smrotsniar trohs tneuqerf htiw rebotcO
The rains are rarely long enough to disrupt sight-seeing
For those heading to the beaches, the coast has two
distinctive seasons: Dry and Rainy. During the rainy
season (April-September), most resorts and restaurants
close down entirely and the flight schedule is severely
limited. The dry season is delightful with sunny skies,
warm ocean breezes, and temperatures around 30-34
Celsius during the day time.
The following is a guide to the best of the best of Myan-
mar filled with ideas for travel sightseeing and accom-
modation with a few insider tips along the way.
Colonial Style Hotels
If it is your first time to Yangon and you are purely
visiting the city for leisure, colonial style hotels are a
good choice. Besides offering high service standards,
these hotels provide a nostalgic window to the olden
times gone by in the former British colonial city. One
of our top favorites, the Strand Hotel is Yangon’s land-
mark heritage hotel with an opulent décor reflecting
the 1920s and 1930s epoch. Its central location makes
it a good choice for both the leisure or business trav-
To complement the modern travelers’ love affair with
the unusual and experiential travel, Exotissimo offers a
range of new and interesting tours in Burma that take
you off the well worn tourist trails and focus on the
wonders of Burmese culture. First time visitors should
not miss the Shwedagon Pagoda, a magnificent gold-
crusted pagoda that has come to be the country’s icon.
Other temple sites not to be missed are the Sule Paya
with an octagonal-shaped dome, the Botataung Pagoda
with the sacred hair of Lord Buddha enshrined, and the
Chaukhtetgyi Pagoda with a 70-metres reclining Buddha
statue. Finally, there is the Kaba Aye Pagoda within
which is the Buddhist Art Museum and Maha Pasana
Cave. For aspiring yogis and meditation devotees, it is
worthwhile to check out Mahasi Meditation Centre and
International Meditation Centre, both of which offer
full-time meditation amenities.
To seek out intriguing shopping finds, Bogyoke Aung
San Market is an excellent choice. Constructed in 1926,
the market is best known for its colonial architecture,
inner cobblestone streets and wide selection of souve-
Where to stay in Yangon?
What to see in Yangon?
The former capital city of Myanmar, founded by King Alaungpaya in 1755, spreads over 350 sq km in area with a population of about 5 million. Yangon is also known as the “Garden City of the East”, owing to the tree-lined streets, shaded parks and two lakes Kandawgyi (Royal Lake) and Inya Lake that fill the city. Considered one of the most picturesque cities in the Orient, Yangon is exceptionally laid out with perfectly straight streets and roads that intersect at right angles. Set in a tropical woodland, Yangon exudes a charm all of its own.
Yangon nirs. Head to Yangon’s Chinatown, a series of colorful
streets filled with roadside stalls, market vendors and
jewelry stores. Named after the sacred mythological
bird, the Karaweik Hall is an imposing royal barge float-
ing in the Kandawgyi Royal Lake. It makes a good spot
to catch traditional Burmese arts performances as well
as a beautiful view of the Shwedagon Pagoda.
Situated at the confluence of the Pazundaung Creek and
Bago River, the Yangon River is an interesting spot to
seize out the local lifestyles. At the Yangon Nanthida
Jetty, one can enjoy the panoramic scenery and mag-
nificent sunset over the river. If you have time to spare,
we highly recommend crossing the river to Dhala on the
opposite bank for a glimpse into countryside lives in
Myanmar, or Kyimyindaing where stone Buddha sculp-
tures and the dyeing of monks’ yellow robes can be
For history and culture buffs, the National Museum of
Myanmar has an extensive collection of ancient arti-
facts, art works and historic memorabilia on display in
14 halls in a splendid five-storey building. A visit to
the National Races Village is a tour of Myanmar in a
nutshell, where visitors can stroll through and view the
8 villages of Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Mon, Myanmar,
Rakhine and Shan across the 117-acres compound. Un-
known even to most Yangon natives, the Yangon War
Cemetery is nestled deep in the city. A burial ground
eler. Another recommendation will be the Governor’s
Residence Hotel, an elegant boutique hotel housed in
an imposing teak mansion. It is also a short walk away
from the embassies and the spectacular Shwedagon
In town, the Traders Hotel tops our list. An outstand-
ing business hotel located right in the city centre, it
features modern facilities and comforts. As one of the
tallest hotels in Yangon, it affords splendid panoramas
of the city.
Mandalay was the capital of Konboung Dynasty or the
third Myanmar Empire. Located 668 km north of Yangon,
it is a bustling commercial center and a repository of
ancient Myanmar culture. The old Royal Palace boasts
of finely built walls and beautiful moats surrounding
the fortress-like structure. There is unique gold embroi-
dery, hand weaving of silk and cotton, stone carving,
woodcarving, tapestries, silverware, bronze casting and
other traditional arts and crafts.
Mandalay is also the principal center for Buddhist lit-
erature studies as its monasteries and pagodas are of
religious significance in Myanmar. Nearby, there are
several ancient capitals such as Amarapura, Sagaing,
Ava, Mingun where the Kongboung Dynasty kings es-
tablished their capitals.
Within Mandalay City
The Myanansankyaw Golden Palace, built in 1857 and
destroyed by a fire during World War II, is a replica of
the old palace and definitely not to be missed. Revered
as the holiest shrine in Mandalay, the Mahamuni Bud-
dha image is said to have been cast in the lifetime of
Buddha. We advise visits in the morning so as to wit-
for the allied soldiers who died during World War II,
the cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth War
Graves Commission. Just a 45 minutes drive from the
city, the Hlawga Wildlife Park is home to over 70 kinds
of herbivorous animals and 90 bird species, definitely
an ideal place for picnickers, naturalists, botanists and
Where to dine in Yangon?Off the beaten path in Yangon
Where to go in Mandalay?
For a taste of authentic Myanmar cuisine, we recom-
mend Padonmar Restaurant which features both tra-
ditional Myanmar and Thai cuisine with indoor and
alfresco dining options. The Green Elephant Restaurant
is another favorite of ours with a good selection of tra-
ditional Burmese and international dishes served in a
garden setting. The Monsoon Restaurant & Bar, housed
in a spacious colonial style building, is a good spot to
savor Myanmar and Indochinese specialties.
There is no lack of restaurants serving international
food in Yangon. Le’ Planteur Restaurant has estab-
lished a formidable standing in serving French cuisine
tops with Burmese hospitality, while the Manis Restau-
rant & Bar features contemporary Western and oriental
cuisines. Tokyo Restaurant & Bar remains a perennial
eating hunt for its delicious and fresh Japanese selec-
tions. Sabai Sabai whips up a fiery concoction of Thai
food. The handful of Chinese restaurants, such as West-
ern Park and White Rice, carry a wide array of dishes.
Coffee shops have mushroomed across Yangon in re-
cent years. For aromatic coffee brews with a panoramic
view of downtown Yangon, head to Thiripyitsaya Sky
Bistro on the 20th floor of Sakura Tower. Another A-
lister café is Mr Guitar, popular for its live bands and
frequented by locals and expatriates alike.
How about sightseeing in style in Yangon? Exotissimo
Myanmar can arrange a city tour on the Elephant
Coach, an elegant air-conditioned vintage vehicle deco-
rated in rich Burmese ironwood, comfortable leather
chairs and a retro-style exterior. A Yangon River sunset
cruise is a great opportunity to catch the magnificent
scenery while indulging in cocktails and canapés.
The Yangon circular train is not only a ‘sight’ by itself,
but also offers an enjoyable way to sightsee the city
and the surrounding outskirts. Disembark in Insein vil-
lage and pay a visit to the colonial locomotive work-
shop and colorful local market.
For advocates of traditional healing techniques, try the
Exotissimo tour that includes a visit to a plantation
grown with indigenous medicinal herbs, a walking tour
of ‘Kon Zay Dan’ street that sells Burmese herbs and
plants and a meeting with Mr Shein, a renowned tradi-
tional medicine practitioner famous for his ‘gold ash’
techniques. For Buddhists, we can arrange for Buddhist
teachings, dharma talks and meditation sessions with
venerable monks and meditation instructors.
Mandalay ness the crowd of devotees in their rituals of washing
the face of the Buddha’s image and sometimes even
cleaning his teeth! The Mandalay Hill is 230 meters in
elevation and visitors can climb the 1729 steps to enjoy
the magnificent view of the city and surrounding envi-
rons from the summit. Lying at the foot of Mandalay Hill
is Kuthodaw Pagoda, also known as the world’s biggest
book for its 729 stone slabs inscribed with Buddhist
scriptures. Not far from Kuthodaw Pagoda, the Ah-Tu-
Ma-Shi Monastery houses the Great Marble Image, an
image of Buddha sculpted from a single black of Sa-
gyin marble. Reminiscent of the old Mandalay Palace,
the Shwenadaw Monastery is famous for its exqui-
site woodcarvings and glided teak pavilions. ‘Zaycho’
means ‘reasonable price’ in Burmese, and at Zaycho
Market, one can definitely find attractively priced shop-
ping hunts and observe the lifestyles and cultures of
Outside Mandalay City
Situated 11km south of Mandalay, Amarapura features
the world’s longest wooden bridge - U Bein. Built in
1782, the U Bein Bridge spans 1208 meters with over
1700 huge teak pillars. Other places of interests in Ama-
rapura include silk weaving industry, Mahagandayon
Monastery, Kyauktawgyi Pagoda and Pahtodawgyi Pa-
20km southwest of Mandalay, Innwa (Ava) used to be
the capital for ancient Shan and Myanmar Kings in the
12th century. Crossing the river and riding in a pony-
cart, visitors can see Nanmyint Watch Tower, Maha Aung
Myay Bonzan Okkyaung and Htilaingshin Pagoda.
Mingun is located across Irrawaddy River and lies ap-
proximately 12 kilometers north of Mandalay. It is fa-
mous for the world’s second largest ringing bell of 90
tons in weight and Mingun Payagyi. It is accessible by
ferry boat rides which usually take 1 hour to sail up-
river or 45 minutes to cruise downstream.
Sagaing is located 21 km southwest of Mandalay on
the west bank of Irrawaddy River. Dotted with over 400
pagodas, monasteries and nunneries, the Sagaing Hill is
noted as a religious retreat. About 10 km from Sagaing
stands Kaungmudaw, an enormous dome-shaped pa-
goda built by King Thalun in 1636. Nearby is Ywahtaung
village, famous of its silver craftsmanship.
Pyin Oo Lwin is located 69 km east of Mandalay at over
1100 meters above sea level. Nicknamed “the city of
flowers”, Pyin Oo Lwin is a popular summer retreat
with its pleasant cool climate and scenic spots. The
National Kandawgyi Garden is well-known in Myanmar
for its rich biodiversity. Other places of interest include
the Chinese Temple, Pwekauk Waterfalls and Peik Chin
Bagan is one of the main tourist destinations in Myan-
mar. An ancient capital, it is also one of the richest
archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Bagan preserves
over 2000 well-renovated pagodas and temples repre-
senting the diversity of ancient Myanmar architectural
styles in the 11th to 13th century. It is also known as
the cradle of Myanmar’s culture.
Famous for its architectural beauty, the Ananda Temple
is one of the most spectacular in Bagan. Visitors should
not miss the Ananda Pagoda Festival that sees many
devotees amid a carnival-like setting every January. Not
paling in comparison, the Thatbyinnyu Temple over-
shadows its peers with magnificent panoramic views
of the Bagan plains. To view glorious sunsets on the
Irrawaddy River, we recommend the upper terraces of
Gawdawpalin Temple or the Bupaya Pagoda. The Guby-
aukgyi Temple is noted for its spire and wall paintings
that depict scenes from Buddha’s previous lives. The
Tharaba Gate is the only one remaining of the twelve
gates of King Pyinbya’s walled city in 839 A.D. During
the pagoda festival from late October to early Novem-
ber, the Shwezigon Pagoda and its three pagoda ter-
races constitute a lively scene. Nearby Ananda Temple,
the Archaeological Museum is a must-visit with its
wide collection of items excavated through the times
in Bagan. To find out more about lacquer ware, a fine
tradition of Bagan, opt for a lacquer ware workshop.
Lying 67km southeast of Bagan, the Mt. Popa is known
as the Oasis of the Dry Zone for its lush environs and
also famous as the abode of Mahagiri nats (spirit gods).
By the bank of Irrawaddy River, Salay is an ancient town
rich most renowned as the birth place of Salay U Ponny,
the Shakespere of Myanmar. Found primarily in arid
regions, the toddy palms are ubiquitous in Bagan. Trav-
Located 136 km west of Mandalay, Monywa can be
reached via a 3.5 hours drive. It is a picturesque town
on the Chindwin River. On the way to Monywa, you can
visit Mohnyin Thanboddhay spread across 37 acres of
land. Monywa is also famous for Po Win Taung (Mt. Po
Win), where caves, niches, staircases and Buddha Im-
ages are carved into the entire mountain of Mt. Shwe
The 16-rooms Rupar Mandalar Resort is a top choice if
you desire to stay in a boutique hotel with a romantic
and exotic atmosphere. Nestled in landscaped gardens
right in the city’s heart, the Sedona Hotel Mandalay
faces the majestic Royal Palace and Mandalay, lovely
sights that greatly complement the hotel stay. At the
foot of Mandalay Hill, the Mandalay Hill Resort opens
into panoramic views of the surrounding lands.
Take a day to explore the villages in the Mandalay and
observe local fishermen using traditional methods to
catch fish. Watch out for the Irrawaddy Dolphin, and
endangered freshwater mammal, in the waterways.
Opt for a river cruise along the Irrawaddy River to ex-
perience the picturesque sceneries, local lifestyles and
handicrafts. For the more adventurous, embark on a
cycling tour of Mandalay and peddle past rustic vistas
in Mandalay outskirts, Sagaing, Mingun and Irrawaddy
River. If you prefer exploring caves, then head to the
Padalin Caves, a cluster of large caves that contains
ancient mural paintings in a primitive forest.
A Little Bit of Mandalay restaurant serves more than
local dishes in Mandalay; it also whips up a delight-
ful range of Myanmar specialties. The Green Elephant
features Burmese and Asian cuisine in the peaceful
surroundings of a 1920s colonial house. For regional
cuisine, we recommend Golden Duck for its mouth-wa-
tering Chinese food and Ko’s Kitchen that specializes
Where to stay in Mandalay?
Off the beaten track in Mandalay
Where to dine in Mandalay?
in Thai food. elers should make a stop at one of the roadside stalls
for a taste of toddy juice and wine. A visit to a toddy
climber’s hut makes a unique way to learn about the
culture and traditions of a group that lives closely with
The stylish Aureum Palace Resort is a good choice for
guests seeking luxury and relaxation. The riverside Thi-
ripyitsaya Sakura Hotel is another favorite for its tradi-
tional Burmese architecture of teak, stones and bricks.
Located right in front of the legendary gate of Bagan,
the Hotel @ Tharabar Gate Hotel is within walking dis-
tance to the spectacular Ananda Temple.
For Burmese cuisine, head to the Nandar Restaurant,
River View Restaurant and Sunset Garden Restaurant.
For European specialties, the Eden BBB Restaurant is
a top choice. The Aroma Restaurant gets our nod for
Enjoy horse-back riding along one of Bagan’s historical
trails. Trek to Mt. Popa (an extinct volcano) together
with forest ranger and be rewarded with a picnic lunch
Where to stay in Bagan?
Where to dine in Bagan?
Off the beaten path in Bagan…
and superb views at the peak. Learn the interesting pro-
cess of creating “Poneyay” (pea powder paste) and see
how local plum jam is made and packed. In addition,
visit workshops of two of the region’s best known prod-
ucts: handmade lacquerware and wooden handicrafts.
Located in the middle of Nyaung Shwe valley in the
southern Shan State, Inle Lake is the second largest
natural lake in Myanmar. At 1328 meters above sea lev-
el, this vast picturesque lake is a mesmerizing beauty
best known for its floating villages and gardens. Inthas
(native lake dwellers) move about on the lake in their
boats with a unique one-legged rowing technique. As
the only mode of transportation is boats and motor-
boats, Inle Lake is figuratively named the “Venice of
The Inle Princess Resort has always been Exotissimo’s
top choice in Inle for its traditional décor and lovely sur-
roundings. It is located on the lake shore and its rooms
are stilted bungalows overlooking the water- true bliss!
The Lake View Resort is a deluxe boutique offering that
overlooks the Inle Lake. Distinguished by its signature
dome, the Inle Resort is one of the finest and designed
in native style architecture.
For Burmese or local Inthar specialties, we suggest
Anne’s Restaurant and Nam Pan Restaurant, which lies
on the northern and southern part of Inle Lake respec-
tively. For dining choices near the famous Phaung Daw
Oo Pagoda, Inthar Lay Restaurant (a 2-storey wooden
house) and Mr. Toe Restaurant receive the thumbs-up.
The Inle region boasts of ample biking and trekking
opportunities. Head to Nyaung Shew and begin a bik-
ing adventure to Shwe Yan Pyay village and monastery
nearby. Spend a relaxing day fishing in the Keng Tung
fishing ponds and savor a local meal with the catches.
Within Inle Lake
Explore Ming Tauk, a bustling market with an authentic
local atmosphere with variety of indigenous products
from Inle Lake. The Nga Phe Chaung Monastery, sup-
ported by 654 teak pillars, is also known as the “Jump-
ing Cat Monastery” because the resident monks have
trained their cats to leap through hoops. Housing five
sacred Buddha Images, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is also
famous for the 19-days festival which is usually held
at the lake every October at the end of Buddhist Lent.
Ascend the covered stairways to the hilltop Shew Indein
Pagoda dotted with hundreds of ancient stupas. To gain
insight into local cultures and livelihoods, visit some
Where to go in Inle Lake?
Where to stay in Inle?
Where to dine in Inle?
Off the beaten path in Inle
of the silverware or silk weaving craftshops. Enjoy a
sunset canoe ride and take in the beautiful sights of
Around Inle region
Head to Taunggyi (literally meaning “the great moun-
tain”) to experience its scenic charm and pleasantly
cool climate. Another attraction of Taunggyi is Hot Air
Balloon Festival held in November every year. Pindaya is
a picturesque town with stalactite and stalagmite caves
located on the mountain ridges towering the town. The
pagoda festival in March is a colorful carnival attended
by the different hill tribes of Taungyo (Pa O), Danu, Shan
and Palaung. In Kalaw and the surrounding areas, there
are trekking opportunities to several interesting villages
belonging to the Palaung and Pa O tribes. Kakku is a
hidden treasure with a unique temple complex of more
than 2000 stupas lying hidden in the Pa O heartland.
GEMS / PRECIOUS STONESENTRY/EXIT POINTS
We use the following 5 domestic airlines: Air Bagan, Air
Mandalay, Air KBZ, Asian Wings and Yangon Airways.
All four airlines fly French-Italian ATR turboprop planes
(Avions de Transports Régionaux), a type of plane well
suited for the local conditions, airports and distances.
The configuration is either 40 seats (ATR-42) or 70-seats
(ATR 72) in rows of 4 seats with a middle aisle. Entry-
exit is at the back of the plane. Standard One-class
Air Bagan operates 1 Fokker-100 Dutch-made jet aircraft
with 95 seats, 12 of which are business class seats (Lo-
tus Class - 3 rows of 4 with middle aisle). Economy
class configuration is: 2 seats -aisle- 3 seats. Entry/exit
is at the front of the plane.
Exotissimo Travel does not use Myanma Airways (do-
mestic) flights (not to be confused with Myanmar
Airways International). If passengers insist on flying
Myanma Airways (if for example no other airline is fly-
ing to that destination), passengers will be asked to
sign a Liability waiver.
Myanmar - FAQsAIRLINES (INTERNATIONAL)
The following airlines currently fly into Myanmar: Thai
Airways, Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Myanmar Airways
International, Malaysia Airlines, Silk Air, Air China, Chi-
na Eastern, Mandarin Airlines, Indian Airlines, China
Southern Airlines, Air Bagan and Vietnam Airlines.
An international airport tax of 10 USD per person is pay-
able cash in USD or FEC (Foreign Exchange Certificates)
when departing Myanmar on an international flight.
Departure tax for domestic flights is 1000 kyat and is
included in ticket cost for flights booked on or after 1
Queue up at the immigration counters with a filled out
arrival card and your passport with your visa stamped
inside. After passing immigration, collect your luggage
from the luggage belt and proceed to the customs
counter. Hand over your filled-out customs form. Note
that items of value and currency in excess of 2000 USD
are supposed to be declared and taken again on de-
parture, but in practice things are made quite easy for
tourists. Also note that mobile phones and laptops are
no longer kept in storage on arrival as is still claimed
in some guidebooks.
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such
as cotton is most suitable for traveling in Myanmar.
The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the
tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the
evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat
and umbrella are a good idea in the rainy season and
the umbrella can also offer useful shade from the sun.
Evenings in the hill stations and on Inle Lake can be
quite chilly so bring a sweater or other warm cloth-
ing if visiting these areas. This applies especially for
the winter months November-February for treks and
the Inle lake area where early morning boat rides can
be quite cold. Visitors should not wear shorts, short
skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting pagodas
Shoes (and socks!) must be removed before entering
any religious building or private home. It is therefore
useful to wear shoes without too many laces and which
can easily be taken off. We provide small towels to
clean your feet before putting back on your shoes.
Some roads in Myanmar are not in the best shape and
most of the vehicles are also a bit older. For elderly peo-
Myanmar uses 220V, and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round
2-pin or 3 pin plugs. It is recommended to bring a uni-
versal plug adaptor. Power outages are quite common
but most hotels have their own generator.
Myanmar is bordered by 5 countries: Thailand and
There is not much in the way of western style enter-
tainment in Myanmar but Yangon has a few bars and
nightclubs. In the rest of the country, entertainment
is mostly confined to the hotels and tourist-orientat-
ed restaurants. For those seeking a taste of the local
culture in the evenings, head to tea shop, beer hall
or night market where the locals gather to relax and
ple or those with health and back problems especially,
we recommend avoiding longer road trips like Bagan
to Kalaw or Inle Lake to Mandalay. In some places like
Monywa-Po Win Taung, some jeep rides are planned.
Please let us know in advance of people with back
problems or who need special attention are traveling in
order for us to make necessary arrangements.
The staples of Burmese cuisine are rice, rice noodles,
and curries. The main ingredient of the meal is usually
rice and the curries tend to be not as spicy as those
from India or Thailand. A clear soup called hingyo ac-
companies most meals and a fermented fish sauce or
paste called ngapiye is usually served to add to the
flavor. Chinese, Indian and European food is served in
restaurants at most tourist places.
Myanmar is well known for its riches in precious
stones, especially rubies (pigeon-blood) and jade (im
perial-jade). Should visitors chose to purchase gems,
they do so at their own risk and rely solely on their
own judgment and knowledge. Exotissimo Travel Myan-
mar does not assume any responsibility for gem and
antique purchases through “recommendations” made
by our guides. Our guides are instructed not to recom-
mend any specific shop. Even if pressed to do so by
visitors, the sole responsibility for their purchase lies
with the buyer.
A relative guarantee for the quality of purchases is
given by an official receipt and certificate issued by
government-licensed dealers. Prices in such shops are
higher but are more credible and would theoretically al-
low you to return the purchase in case you are unhappy
or if it is of lesser value. The issued paper can also be
shown when exiting the country as export of gems and
stones, and without such a government-issued paper
Laos to the east, India and Bangladesh to the west and
China to the north east. There are three international
land borders open for travelers: Tachilek (located near
the Thai border town of Mae Sai), Kawthaung (located in
the south near the Thai town of Ranong, 5 hours from
Phuket) and Muse (connecting to China’s Yunnan
if a traveler uses different arrival and exit points (ie- arrives in Yangon by plane and departs overland via Kengtung) special permission must be requested in advance.
HOURS OF BUSINESS
No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever
if you are coming from an area where the disease is
present. However visitors should be inoculated against
typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio.
Malaria is present in Myanmar and it is advisable to
take precautions especially if traveling off the beaten
track. Please consult with your usual doctor or a doctor
specialized in tropical countries before traveling.
Medical facilities are rather limited in Myanmar (Yan-
gon has the best facilities) and it is essential to take
out a good medical insurance policy before traveling.
Such an insurance should cover the cost of an evacua-
tion flight out of Myanmar (most of the time to Bang-
kok) which are sometimes necessary.
Medical facilities are rather limited in Myanmar (Yan-
gon has the best facilities) and it is essential to take
out a good medical insurance policy before traveling.
Such an insurance should absolutely cover the cost of
an evacuation flight out of Myanmar (most of the time
to Bangkok or Singapore) which is sometimes neces-
sary either on a regular flight or on a special flight. For
adventure tours, such as cycling, proof of purchase of
a travel insurance policy will be required.
Internet access is still in its development stages and
not reliable- the connections can be extremely slow at
times so patience is required! Internet is also regulated
in Myanmar and the access to some websites is filtered
or impossible. Many internet cafes, however, can offer
a different URL that will allow access to email providers
such as gmail and yahoo. It is best to have your mail
forwarded to Exotissimo (we will provide you with the
right contact person) or the hotel e-mail address.
Most of the hotels have now some internet terminals
and in cities like Yangon, Mandalay and Nyaung Shwe
(Inle Lake), you will also find some small internet cafés.
Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from
09:30 until 16:00. Most shops are open every day. An
exception is Bogyoke Market (Scott Market), which is
closed on Monday, on public holidays and full moon
days (like all markets in Myanmar). The museums in
Myanmar are open Wednesday - Sunday only and are
also closed on public holidays.
The national language of Myanmar is Burmese, of which
there are over 80 different dialects spoken. The written
language uses an amazing looking script based on an-
cient Indian characters. In the cities many of the older
generation still speak very good English and it is also
becoming popular again with the younger generation.
Your mobile phone will NOT work in Myanmar as Myan-
mar currently has no roaming agreement with any
country. Prepaid cards in value of USD/FEC 50 (CDMA-
450 MHZ) are available for purchase within the country.
The USD/FEC 50 card is maximum 90 days validity after
activated. These prepaid mobile phone cards are aimed
at tourists visiting Myanmar who wish to keep in touch
with friends and family.
A phone rental system is available from the Yangon
International Airport. A deposit of 200 USD (cash) is-
required and the daily fee is 2 USD for regular phone
or 4 USD for smartphone. Phone credit is anadditional
cost with cards available for 10,000 - 30,000 kyat (must
be paid in cash). These top up cardsare available for
purchase throughout the country.
MONEY (EXCHANGE, ATMS, TRAVELERS CHEQUES)
Myanmar is a cash-based society- There are NO ATMs in
Myanmar and Credit Cards/Travelers checks are mostly
not accepted. Please make sure to bring enough cash
(USD or Euros) for your purchases and payments.
Currency: The currency in Myanmar is the kyat (pro-
nounced ‘chat’) and comes in notes of 10,20,50, 100,
200, 500, 1000 and 5000 kyat. As in many countries
of the area, the US Dollar is the most useful currency
to carry but we recommend for travelers to exchange
some money into kyat. In many local restaurants and
shops, kyat is the only method of payment allowed.
There is a parallel official currency the FEC (Foreign Ex-
change certificate), which can be used (as you use cash
US Dollars) to pay hotels, flight- train tickets, souvenirs,
meals etc. It is at par (1:1) with the US Dollar but make
sure to spend it before leaving Myanmar as it is valid
only in Myanmar.
Exchange: Please DO NOT change money at the airport
as the rate is much lower (50-70% less) than the rate
in town. Your Exotissimo guide can advise where to
change money in Yangon.
US Dollars are the best currency for exchanging and the
Normal print films are available in Myanmar but profes-
sional quality films (like slide films) are very difficult
to find and it is better to bring your own. In towns
Mobile telephones and laptop computers with modems
are officially not allowed into the country but the rule
is not enforced and they can be brought in. However
mobile phones will not work in Myanmar, as the coun-
try does not have any roaming agreements. Items of
jewelry, cameras and foreign currency (above USD 2000)
are supposed to be declared at customs upon entry.
Export of Buddha images and antiques or articles of
archaeological importance is prohibited. Gemstones can
be safely bought only from government-controlled out-
lets and the buyer should ask for a certificate (please
read more details under Gems/Precious Stones above).
Euro is becoming more popular, especially in Yangon.
The exchange rate in Yangon is generally better than
upcountry and the larger the bill, the better the rate
(ie- 100 USD notes receive 10% more kyat compared to
50 USD notes). Bring new series US Dollar bills (“big
heads” instead of “small heads”) and with series num-
bers not starting with CB- these are not accepted in
Myanmar due to rumors of these series being counter-
feit. Notes should be in very good condition and not
torn, dirty or washed as these will not be accepted in
Myanmar, even in many hotels!
NOTE: It is no longer a requirement to exchange money
into FEC (Foreign Exchange Certificates) at the airport.
Credit cards: Only some upscale restaurants and some
hotels do accept credit cards (surcharge of 3-8%) but it
is not recommended to rely on this service as the Inter-
net often shuts down during the day making payment
by card impossible.
Travelers Checks: Travelers Checks currently CANNOT BE
USED or exchanged in Myanmar.
like Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Nyaung Shwe, digital
photos can easily be downloaded and loaded onto a CD-
ROM in case you run out of memory. It is not allowed
to photograph facilities with strategic military interest
(bridges, army compounds, police stations, army per-
October 12 Full moon Day of Thadingyut
November 10 Full moon Day of Tazaungmone
November 20 National Day
December 25 Christmas Day
January 4 Independence Day
February 12 Union Day
March 2 Farmer’s Day (Peasants’ Day)
March 7 Full Moon Day of Tabaung
March 27 Armed Forces Day
April 12-16 Water Festival
April 17 Myanmar New Year Day
May 1 Labour day (May Day)
May 5 Full moon Day of Kasone
July 3 Full moon Day of Waso
July 19 Martyr’s Day
October 30 Full moon Day of Thadingyut
November 28 Full moon Day of Tazaungmone
December 8 National Day
December 25 Christmas Day
Buddhism is the dominant religion in Myanmar and
over 85% of the population practice it. The monastery is
the traditional focal point of village life in Myanmar and
monks rely on villagers for donations of both money
and food. Every boy in Myanmar is expected to spend
sometime as a monk. The remainder of the population
are Christians, Muslims and animists.
There are many fantastic local products in Myanmar
that make excellent souvenirs and memories from your
trip. Traditional crafts include lacquerware, especially
in Bagan, woodcarvings, stone carvings, bronze work,
rattan, silver jewellery, silk longyis and hand-woven
Vehicles used in Myanmar (from 4-seater saloon cars to
45-seater buses) are generally of an older manufactur-
ing date (which can be 10-15 years back) as the import
of new vehicles is currently not possible or prohibitive-
ly expensive, given the current economic situation in
Myanmar. While every effort is made to provide the
best possible and available options, visitors have to be
prepared to travel in less comfortable vehicles than in
neighbouring countries like in Thailand, Laos or Cambo-
dia. We appreciate your understanding.
All vehicles do have air-conditioning and we provide
all our clients with complimentary water and towels in
ice-boxes in each vehicle. Myanmar is 6h 30 min ahead of GMT in winter and
5h 30min in summer: 1500H GMT = 2130H in Myanmar
(winter). Myanmar is 30 minutes behind Bangkok (Thai-
land) time: 1500H in Bangkok = 1430H in Myanmar.
A visa is COMPULSORY to enter Myanmar. A 28-day tour-
ist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors. The cur-
rent regulations for entering Myanmar are as following:
1. Individual visa
This visa is issued by a Myanmar Embassy or Consul-
ate. An invitation letter is not mandatory, and it usually
takes 3-5 working days to issue this visa.
Myanmar has three seasons similar to many other parts
of Southeast Asia. The Southwest monsoon starts at the
end of May or beginning of June and lasts until the end
of September. This season brings frequent and heavy
downpours of rain, mainly in the afternoon and evening
especially in Yangon, the rest of the country is dryer. In
the rainy season the weather is more humid what can
make travelling less comfortable. The rains give way to
dry weather in October and the temperatures are gener-
ally lower and more pleasant at this time. In March the
temperatures start to climb again leading up to the next
rainy season at the end of May. Temperatures between
March and May can be very hot reaching over 35oC in
Tipping for good service is not expected but is always
appreciated in a country where the average annual in-
come is only around 250 USD. It is customary, though
not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the
end of a tour. Hotel and station porters can also be
Road travel allows visitors to see more of the coun-
try and is a great way to get closer to the land and
its people. However some distances are quite long in
Myanmar, and they are even longer because road con-
ditions make (relatively) fast travelling difficult. Roads
are in poor conditions although efforts are being made
to upgrade most roads especially after the yearly rainy
season which ends in October. The relatively old ve-
hicles used in Myanmar also make long distance travel
less comfortable than in neighbouring countries.
tipped. 2. Package Tour visa
This visa is issued by a Myanmar Embassy or Consulate.
It usually takes 3-5 days to issue the visa. With the con-
firmation of your booking, Exotissimo will send the let-
ter to the Embassy. Exotissimo will need the full names,
passport numbers, nationality and name of Myanmar
Embassy we have to send the letter. A copy of the letter
will be send to you by fax or e-mail.
3. Visa on Arrival
Pre-arranged Visa on Arrival is available for all nation-
alities (starting 2 August 2011) however we stillrecom-
mend applying for your visa in your home country be-
fore traveling. This service is only availablefor clients
traveling with Exotissimo for the duration of their stay
in Myanmar- due to regulations weare not able to as-
sist with non-Exotissimo clients. Please provide us
passenger’s full name, father’sname, date of birth and
place, Passport No, Issuance/Expiry date of passport,
Nationality, Sex, Race,Religion, Occupation, Home ad-
dress, Flights in/out and a scanned passport photo. The
applicationprocess for visa on arrival will take at least
12 working days.
After getting the approval letter, we will send you a
copy of this authorization by fax or scanned e-mailat-
tachment. The letter should be presented at the airline
check-in counter. Upon arrival in Myanmaryou will get
your visa stamped in your passport and pay 30USD/
passport in cash at the airport (this feecan be included
in your package price and we will then settle the visa
fee for you). Exotissimo’sservice fee for these arrange-
ments is 25USD/passport and it will be included in your
package rate. Theservice fee will be charged whether
the visa application is accepted or not.
Please bring a supply of passport size pictures for any
eventuality when traveling in the region (6photos).
Note: we still recommend applying for a visa in your
home country as approval is generally grantedfurther in
advance than with the VOA process.
EXOTISSIMO TRAVEL MYANMAR
Yangon - Main Office#0303, Sakura Tower339 Bogyoke Aung San StreetKyauktada Township, Yangon, MYANMARTel: +95 (0) 1 255 266/427/429Fax: +95 (0) 1 255 428Email: [email protected]
Mandalay - OfficeNo.24, 70th StreetBetween 28th & 29th St.Mandalay - MYANMARTel: +95 (0) 2 38786Fax: +95 (0) 2 44214Email: [email protected]
NOTE: Myanmar is in the northern hemisphere so it is
also winter from November to February. You need to
bring some warm clothing for early mornings every-
where, and especially for higher areas like Shan State
(Kalaw, Inle Lake, Pindaya, Kengtung, Putao). The ho-
tels in those areas are NOT equipped with heating or
fireplaces so be prepared for some colder nights!
It is not advisable to drink tap water but bottled min-
eral water is safe and available everywhere. All hotels
provide a complimentary bottle of local mineral water
per person in the room. Ice cubes in drinks is gener-
ally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants but it
is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas.
Some minor stomach problems are always possible
when travelling in exotic countries. Bring a supply of
your usual anti-diarrhoea medicine.