The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (former Burma) is an ancient state in the western part of the Indochinese Peninsula. The capital city is Naypyidaw. Myanmar borders China, India, Bangladesh, Laos, and Thailand. It is washed by the waters of the Gulf of Martaban, the Bay of Bengal, and the Andaman Sea.
Myanmar is a multi-national state with the population about 60.000.000. The predominant ethnic group is the Burmese, about 68% of the population. In Myanmar, there also live the Rakhine, Chinese, Indians, and Shana. The dominant religion is Buddhism. The official language of the Republic is Burmese.
The climate in the country is sub-equatorial and tropical. There are three seasons in Myanmar: a wet season (starts at the beginning of the summer and lasts until October), a cold season (from November to February) and a hot season (spring). The best time to travel to Myanmar is spring.
In Myanmar, the tourists will become familiar with the Buddhist heritage and enjoy the time on the beaches on the Ngpali resorts. 5-star hotels have been built on the long white sandy beach. Another popular place is the resort Ngwe Saung near the Irrawaddy River. Ngwe Saung has a very good beach and all the facilities for diving, snorkeling, windsurfing and other water sports.
When you get bored with beach activities, you can take a trip to the Naypyidaw Zoological Park. If you like out-of-town holidays, the ecological tour to the Irrawaddy River can be arranged.
The tourists can see the ancient monuments of Burmese civilization in Yangong where among hundreds of stupas and pagodas, a colossal Shwedagon Temple proudly rises above. Its height is 98 meters and the Temple is covered with pure gold. In the second largest city Mandalay, the tourists can take a picture of the Statue of Buddha. As the legend says, God was present when the Statue was being built.
Pindaya is a city with a unique temple in the caves and the gold stupa Shwe U Min. If you like traditional festivals and carnivals, you should stay in Taunggyi, the Shan Province. In November, the Balloon Festival takes place here.
There are no direct flights to Myanmar from Russia and other CIS countries. The tourists have to take transit flights with a stop at the airports in Southeastern Asia. Thai Air and Thai Airlines offer flights from Bangkok, Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur and China Southern Airlines offers flights from China.
There are regular flights between Yangon and Singapore, Calcutta, Hanoi, Taipei, and Chiang Mai. There are flights from Kunming, which arrive at Mandalay, the second international airport in Myanmar.
All foreign tourists, including the citizens of Europe and CIS countries, must obtain a visa to travel to Myanmar.
The tourists can apply personally or online. The tourists who travel with Myanmar Airways International from Siem Reap and Guangzhou can obtain a visa at the Yangon airport. Other tourists have to apply to the Embassy, Consulate or apply for a visa online.
The visa issued online is valid for 28 days. If the travelers want to get the visa for 3 months, they should apply to the Embassy personally.
According to the Customs legislation, it is prohibited to import and export national currency (MMK). There are no restrictions concerning the foreign currency, but the sum exceeding 2.000 US dollars must be declared. The currency must be exported within 6 months. One can perform a reverse conversion, but only 25% of the imported amount of money.
The tourists can bring in Myanmar tobacco, alcohol, perfume, personal belongings and souvenirs duty-free.
It is prohibited to import and export:
- print anti-government materials;
- satellite dishes, mobile phones, notebooks, tablet PCs, videotapes and CDs;
- jewelry, precious and semi-precious stones (without purchase confirmation);
- antiquities and items with historical or artistic value;
- items with Buddha image.
The Burmese cuisine will remind you of the Indian and Chinese cuisines.
Buddhism prohibits the Burmese from eating beef and Islam does not approve eating pork, so the local chefs prepare only mutton dishes. The tourists should try a fish soup Mun Khinka with curry and noodles, Khok swe (noodle with chicken and Burmese spices), and Khmit Chin Khin (a shrimp soup and bamboo shoots).
The staple food in Myanmar as in the entire region is rice. The local chefs claim that they know 357 ways to cook rice. Noodle is usually cooked in a simpler way than in China, but the locals use spices and hot sauces. A sauce Ngapiya is extremely popular among the local people. They cook it from dried and fermented shrimps and small fish. Both the locals and the tourists love hot seafood pastes such as Baalchan and Ngapi Chau.
If you crave for something even more exotic, in the restaurants, you can order roasted sparrows, smoked ox tails, Burmese mutton with avocado or a soybean sprouts stew with chicken liver. Dishes from insects takes a special place in the Burmese cuisine. They eat spiders, timber worms, crickets, and grasshoppers. Usually they roast the insects or let them dry in the sun.
Burmese bread is rice flatbread Paratha or Nam byar.
Coffee is not popular in Myanmar and it’s quality leaves much to be desired. The Burmese prefers to drink green tea with milk, sugar and sometimes they add cardamom and cinnamon. The locals love a refreshing drink made from sugar cane, lemon and ice.
In Myanmar, the travelers can try exotic alcoholic drinks such as palm punch Khta eyr and palm liqueur Khta ayet. Local whiskey, gin and rum are also sold here. The Burmese also makes quite good beer Myanmar Drought, Singkha, Mandalay, and Dragon.
The national currency in Myanmar is Kyat (MMK). The locals call the money Cha.
In the large cities and resorts, the tourists can pay with US dollars.
The banks in Myanmar work 5 days a week in the morning hours. The travelers can cash traveler’s checks at banks and in travel agencies. One can withdraw the money from the card account at banks.
There are a few ATMs on the streets of the capital, Yangon or Mandalay. There are restrictions concerning money withdrawal from the card account and the commission for the transaction is very high. Hotels and large stores accept credit cards.
Experience shows that it is better to have enough cash in Myanmar.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Myanmar
There are 8 UNESCO candidate sites in Myanmar.
- In the Shan Province in the Taunggyi district, the tourists can see the Padah-Lin Caves. These two caves were the place of living for ancient people (the period between Paleolithic and Neolithic Age).
- Take a trip to Mandalay to see the pagodas of the ancient city Bagan, the capital city of Pangan state which existed on the territory of modern Myanmar before the Common Era.
- A trip to the Ancient cities of Upper Myanmar will allow the tourists to see the cultural and architectural monuments. An excursion to Innwa, Amarapura, Sigaing, Mandalay, and Mingun can be arranged.
If you come to Myanmar in September, do not miss a chance to visit the Ingle Lake in the middle of which the Jumping Cats Monastery was erected. Right on the lake, there are beds with tomatoes and oxen are swimming. Every week, there is a fair near the lake and the tourists can buy unique souvenirs next to nothing. From the Ingle Lake, the tourists can get to the Nyaung Shwe Hot Springs.
If you stay in Yangon, you should visit the National Museum of Myanmar and the Imperial Barge. Anyone can see the marble 50 meter Buddha statue without leaving Yangon as well as the Sule Pagoda. In Mandalay, in the Kuthodaw Pagoda, there is the largest book in the world which consists of 729 marble pages.
The ancient capital of Myanmar the city of Pangan will impress the tourists with abandoned, but still magnificent Temple Complex consisting of over 2.000 stupas and temples. Mrauk U is an ancient city with thousands of temples and underground galleries and caves.
Souvenirs in Myanmar
In Myanmar, the tourists often buy the powder of the Thanaka tree. This tree is worth gold for the Burmese. This powder is applied to the skin and people believe it has a healing effect.
In all cities of Myanmar, the tourists can buy lacquered jewelry boxes from horse hair or a notorious fruit Durian and jam made of it. Papyrus decorated in the old style or a dagger will remind you of your holidays in Myanmar.
You can also buy more expensive gifts such as very beautiful Bronze figurines and Buddha masks, silver dishes and jewelry.