Myanmar is a cash-based economy, so you’ll mostly pay with US dollars or Myanmar Kyat. Credit cards may not always be accepted due to less reliable access to banking services and infrastructure limitations. It’s best to have some cash on you at all times, although keep in mind that larger denominations will make it easier to deal with vendors and sellers. Stay safe by keeping your wallet tucked away wherever possible.
Credit cards are not accepted in many places in Myanmar (Burma). The processing typically happens through Singapore, Bangkok, or Hong Kong and is vulnerable to Internet connections. So be careful if you use credit cards solely for your trip to Burma.
Businesses these days may scan both the front and back sides of your credit card in addition to running it through their processing system. Hotels and other companies that take credit cards are typically only able to process Visa and MasterCard. These businesses might also add a transaction fee of 4%-6%.
From 2014 to the present, it has become easier to find an ATM in Yangon, and there are now ATMs in Mandalay and Bagan. Outside of those areas, travelers may not be able to find a way to withdraw money. Myanmar doesn’t accept many foreign currencies, so it’s recommended that you bring only crisp US dollars from 2013 or later (with no tears, creases, folds, or fading) as they will typically be rejected. The currency cannot have markings on them or signs of any kind otherwise they will likely not be accepted.
When you arrive at the airport and want to pay in pound, the best thing to do is go to a designated currency exchange booth. If you want to go out for dinner on your vacations, you would need to know that most items are quoted and paid in kyat. When traveling in rural areas it’s always good to carry low denomination money so that you can make change easily if necessary.
A lot of Myanmar and the Irrawaddy River in particular are not handicapped accessible. Most Irrawaddy River cruises involve walking over uneven terrain which makes it difficult to maneuver with a wheelchair. Instead, some sites have many steps that can be steep and narrow. What sites or facilities could you get around with?
Check with an official of the site before you visit just to be sure they allow shoe removal. For your safety and enjoyment, it is recommended that you be in good physical condition and have an emergency evacuation plan in place.
What is the weather like?
Myanmar (Burma) has a lot of really different climates, so it’s best to be prepared. You’ll have to wear layers because no matter the season, you’ll always run into some kind of temperature fluctuation.
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A number of stores nationwide now accept credit cards, but most will only accept cash payments in kyat. It is a good idea to have some cash on hand for impromptu transactions like gratuities, souvenirs, and taxis.
Make sure to only buy precious stones, gold, and jade from a reliable dealer to avoid fake or misrepresented items.
Etiquette is the way people behave in society.
Myanmar is unique in that it differs greatly from Western culture. The traditional custom is to cover your knees and shoulders whenever entering a temple, as well as taking off your shoes. If you’re going to be visiting the temples, it’s customary to remove both socks and shoes before you go inside.
When in Myanmar, it’s important not to take photos without due permission. The locals are going about their daily lives and may not appreciate being photographed. Monks wearing red robes can be found near every temple and visitors should respect the monks’ customs of being dressed. Women are not allowed to touch monks, even by accident, so please allow plenty of room for them to pass by. Temples are also the community centers of life in Myanmar, so you’ll see many people gathered together enjoying this responsibility. Your tour guide will let you know when it’s inappropriate to take photographs.
When crossing borders, you’ll be required to show documents. Please carry your identification with you at all times, and don’t leave it in checked luggage. While crossings are usually not a problem, you must be prepared to open your luggage when migrants officials come around.
When you arrive at the airport, it’s not unusual for a border guard to ask you questions like “where are you from,” “where are you going,” or “how long will you be in [insert country]?” Give honest answers and be polite. You might be asked to register expensive items with the customs office, like laptops or cameras, so that they won’t get taxed.
When travelling internationally, it’s important to know the rules for bringing items back home. Although many items are allowed, we recommend checking with both your home country’s customs office as well as the embassy of any countries you visit to make sure that you do not violate any laws or restrictions on items.
When traveling abroad, you may come across a lot of enticing items that you can’t resist buying for yourself. It’s important to know in advance how to properly prepare for your return home because many countries will ask you to complete a customs form. This form will require descriptions and values of the items. The best way to prepare is by keeping your sales receipts on hand so that it will be easier to fill out customs forms when you return. Keep in mind that most countries have set limits or exemptions when it comes to customs duty, depending on both quantity and value of the goods. Before embarking on your trip, be sure to research this information beforehand so you know what to expect during your time abroad.
Myanmar Vacation Safety
Before you travel to Myanmar or any other country, it’s highly recommended that you check your country’s international travel information. For the United States, this can be found here.
Vaccinations: The countries you’re visiting will provide information on the necessary vaccinations and when to get them. It’s also highly recommended to consult the United States Center for Disease Control site (CDC), which offers current recommendations.
Myanmar is generally safe for travel, and tourist areas are also low-crime. Due to its low crime rates and welcoming attitudes, Myanmar is a popular destination for international travelers as well. That said, there are some things you should still be aware of: Pickpocketing, theft, and mugging are all possible near crowded markets or in high tourist areas. To avoid these incidents and scams involving gem vendors, it’s best practice to stay away and not purchase any jewelry while in country. As always, make sure to thoroughly consider any jewelry or gem purchases before finalizing them.
We recommend that you bring a backpack, drinks, and snacks to help you survive the day.
Weather varies depending on the season, so it’s important to prepare appropriately. Layering clothing is recommended because cool mornings can quickly turn into hot afternoons. All buses and restaurants are also air-conditioned, which makes layering perfect for any type of weather.
Before going on a trip, make sure you’ve got all of your travel essentials packed.
If you’re going on a trip, it’s important to have these items: walking shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug repellant, hats, umbrellas, lightweight rain coats and other outerwear garments that are appropriate for the season. It’s also recommended that you bring duplicates of prescriptions for glasses and any medications (generic equivalents tend to be easier to get), copies of credit card information, and copies of your passport information pages and visas.
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Touring clothing should not be overly formal. Lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking clothing that can be layered is suitable for most activities. A mix of shirts, khakis, slacks, skirts, dresses, and walking shorts are usually appropriate for daily activities. You may want to bring a light sweater for early morning or late evening activities or any activity involving air conditioning.
Most religious sites require the knees and shoulders to be covered, so attire such as long pants or skirts with shirts with sleeves is a must. Shoes and socks are also removed at most temple sites. Sun hats are highly recommended – especially during the rainy season – but can’t be worn in some temples due to traditions that exist only at those places.
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To ensure a comfortable walk, we recommend wearing sturdy shoes with good ankle support. Visitors will be asked to remove their shoes and socks at certain sites, so you may want to wear easily removable shoes.
To ride public transport, you must first acquire a ticket.
If you’re going to Myanmar, be prepared to spend hours on long, bumpy bus rides. These trips are uncomfortable but the views will help keep your mind off your aching body.
Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to try new things when traveling in Myanmar. Some dishes might not seem like they’re for you, but they are very common in Myanmar culture so give them a shot. If you’re feeling a little queasy, have some plain rice or noodles to help settle your stomach.
In Myanmar, food safety standards are not as strict as in the United States and Europe. It’s not uncommon for street food to have been sitting out all day in the sun with flies swarming around it. When traveling, the best way to stay safe is to use your common sense. Bringing a basic over-the-counter stomach medicine and an antibiotic are probably good ideas.
Travelers to Myanmar should also know that this country is a haven for vegetarian food. Rice, vegetables, and exotic spices make up most of the diet and provide travelers with an authentic experience.