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This 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


Page 1: Myanmar Travel Guide - Exotissimo Travel

Exo Travel Guides


Experts in Asia - in Asia

Page 2: Myanmar Travel Guide - Exotissimo Travel

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

with you.

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.

Page 3: Myanmar Travel Guide - Exotissimo Travel

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


City Hotels

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.

Page 4: Myanmar Travel Guide - Exotissimo Travel

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

bird watchers.

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

the locals.

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

Myaung Cave.

Page 5: Myanmar Travel Guide - Exotissimo Travel

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.

Within Bagan


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.

Outside Bagan

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

Indian food.

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.

Page 6: Myanmar Travel Guide - Exotissimo Travel

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 East”.

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.

Inle Lake

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

Inle Lake.

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.

Page 7: Myanmar Travel Guide - Exotissimo Travel









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.


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

July 2011.


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

and monasteries.

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

are illegal.

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.

Page 8: Myanmar Travel Guide - Exotissimo Travel







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.




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-

sonnel, etc.).

Page 9: Myanmar Travel Guide - Exotissimo Travel










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.

Page 10: Myanmar Travel Guide - Exotissimo Travel


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]

some places.

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.