U.S. citizens need a valid passport and visa to travel to Myanmar. Passports should be signed and valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. You should apply for your visa at a Myanmar embassy or consulate abroad before you arrive in Myanmar. In Myanmar, you will be required to present your passport with a valid visa at all airports, train stations, and hotels. Tourist visas are valid for three months from the date of issue and cannot be renewed or refunded. If traveling as a tourist, the duration of your stay in Myanmar is 28 days and is not extendable. Make sure that your passport has enough empty pages available for entry and exit stamps to ensure your entry and exit. Travelers should be careful not to stay beyond the date permitted in order to avoid difficulties when departing the country.
eVisa Program: The Government of Burma’s eVisa program allows tourists and business travelers to apply for a visa online. You are generally notified within a few days whether you have been pre-approved for a visa. You must present the approval letter at Immigration when you enter Burma. Once you are approved for the visa, the visa needs to be used within three months. You may apply Myanmar eVisa at http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/.
Pre-Arrival: A visa to Myanmar can be applied by mail and takes approximately ten business days to process. Applicants need to submit an original passport, two photographs, fill out the necessary application forms, provide evidence of the trip (copy of air ticket/itinerary, hotel reservations, etc.), pay the visa fee (US$20), and include a prepaid self-addressed return envelope. To download forms or for more updated information visit the Embassy of Burma’s website: http://mewashingtondc.com.
For more updated and other information please visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/singapore.html.
Please note: Each traveler is fully responsible for bringing and acquiring travel documents (e-tickets, hotel and travel vouchers, etc.) necessary for his or her itinerary. If you are not a citizen of the United States, your entry requirements may vary—please contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the country or countries to be visited and obtain the specific requirements for entry.
Please refer to the instructions given in your itinerary confirmation. If in the event that you are unable to locate our representative, please call the local contact number as specified on your voucher or confirmation itinerary for immediate assistance.
Population: 53 million
Location: South East Asia
Largest Cities: Yangon (Rangoon), Mandalay, Naypyidaw
Religion: Buddhist 89%, Christian 4%, Muslim 4%, Animist 1%, other 2%
System of Government: Parliamentary; Constitutional republic
Myanmar operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), plus 6.5 hours.
At 9:00 am anywhere in Myanmar, it is:
*Note: Add one hour to local time during Daylight Savings Time.
A good source of health information for travelers is the Center for Disease Control (CDC). You can visit the CDC web site at http://www.cdc.gov.
You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Please be advised that high-standard medical care is not readily available throughout Myanmar. Please ensure that we are aware of any physical disability or frequent of ongoing medical requirements. Sightseeing may require, at minimum, the ability to walk at a moderate pace for a mile or two, and the balance and agility necessary to climb stairs, enter and exit buses and boats, and navigate uneven or cobble-stoned streets. Some sightseeing stops do not have elevators or wheelchair access. Bring medications in their original, clearly labeled, containers. Travelers should consider Burmese pharmaceuticals generally unsafe to use, as many are counterfeit or adulterated, and should bring adequate supplies of their medications for the duration of their stay in Myanmar. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. When on vacation, it is always wise to watch what you eat and drink, but please do not drink the tap water while traveling in Myanmar. Most hotels will provide complimentary bottled water and additional bottled water can be purchased throughout your trip.
Myanmar’s unit of currency is the Myanmar Kyat (K), which is subdivided into 100 pyas. It is available in the following denominations: Banknotes: K1, K5, K10, K20, K50, K100, K200, K500, K1000, K5000, K10000, 50 pyas; Coins: K1, K5, K10, K50, K100, 1 pya, 5 pyas, 25 pyas, 50 pyas. Foreign currency and traveler’s checks can be exchanged only at authorized agencies such a banks, exchange offices, and hotels. ATMs are only just starting to be introduced in Myanmar, and even then are only found in Yangon and major tourist hubs, making them unreliable. Credit cards are essentially useless here except in some high-end hotels. It is recommended that travelers bring enough US dollars to cover their entire trip before they enter Myanmar. The exchange rate is constantly changing, but it can be found to be approximately 1 USD = 960 MMK. For the most updated exchange rate, please check www.xe.com.
Electrical service in Myanmar is supplied at 230 volts and 50 hertz. Bringing an adaptor is a good idea if you are planning on using electronics (i.e. cell phones, laptops, cameras, etc.) during your trip.
Myanmar cuisine is mostly influenced by its Chinese, Indian, and Thai neighbors. Rice is an important staple in Myanmar dishes and it makes up about 80% of the local diet. In fact, it is consumed in practically every meal throughout the day from breakfast to dinner. Mohinga, a rice noodle dish served with fish soup, is a favorite among Myanmar people that is mostly enjoyed at breakfast or as a snack at mobile vendors. Rice is also usually eaten with the main meal, served with a variety of meat or fish, soup, relishes, and vegetables. Also, most traditional snacks, which are rich in taste and diversity, are commonly made with rice or glutinous rice. One snack worth trying is one of Myanmar’s most famous, lephet—a salad made of pickled tea leaves.
Tea is a popular drink in Myanmar. Most people drink either Burmese or Chinese tea, which are usually provided for free at restaurants. To fully experience the culture, try venturing to one of the many teahouses that the country is known for. Socializing and hanging out with friends at a teahouse is an extremely popular tradition where locals converse over cups of tea and affordable snacks, such as Burmese noodles, Indian samosas, or Chinese steamed buns.
In Myanmar, the official language is the Myanmar language, or Burmese, and is related to the Chinese and Tibetan languages. Since Burma was formerly colonized under the British government, the official language was once English. Nowadays, a person’s ability to speak English in Myanmar is dependent on his or her education level.
Myanmar has a tropical monsoon climate which means it is hot, humid, and can experience heavy amounts of rain throughout the year. The cold and dry season lasts from November to February. During this time, it rains the least out of the year and the heat reaches a tolerable 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The hottest and driest months are March and April, when the humidity is highest and temperatures can reach up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. May through October is when the wet season or monsoon season occurs. During this period, strong winds, heavy rains, and loud thunderstorms occur every day.
This will be contingent on your own personal preference and the time of year you are traveling. Generally, we suggest that travelers pack lightly and to bring comfortable, casual clothes in natural, “breathable” fabrics because of the humidity. Choose versatile styles that can be layered. A lightweight (preferably non-plastic) raincoat or poncho is a good idea, as well as a sweater or lightweight jacket for early morning/evenings and air-conditioned buildings. A sturdy, comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must, as sandals may not be comfortable for some sightseeing activities. Some hotels have pools, so you may want to pack your swimming suit. Do not forget to bring sun block, sunglasses, insect repellent, pocket packs of tissues, a sunhat, an umbrella (for both the sun and rain), and any medications you may need. Most hotels offer reliable laundry and dry cleaning services.
Myanmar is a Buddhist country so it is important to keep that in mind when deciding on what to wear when going out in public. Always wear what you are most comfortable traveling in, but a reasonable amount of modesty ought to be exercised. In most areas, comfortable, casual clothes such as short sleeved shirts, polo shorts, long skirts, etc., are great for sightseeing. Remember that temperatures are likely to be hot and humid so wearing light, loose fitting fabrics is a good idea.
When visiting temples and pagodas in Myanmar, bear in mind that they are places of worship, so one should dress politely in modest and conservative clothing as they would at any other religious place. Clothing such as short sleeved shirts, polo shirts, and bottoms or skirts that cover the knees are acceptable. Refrain from wearing shorts or revealing clothing, especially on days that you know you will be visiting a temple or pagoda as it could be seen as offensive. You may need to cover one’s shoulders, and women will need to wear long sleeved tops to cover their arms. Often times, those that are not dressed properly will be turned away. Shoes and socks will need to be removed before entering a place of worship so it is a good idea to have easily removable footwear (such as sandals) to facilitate this custom.
Hotels may impose a hefty charge on international calls. Check your hotel’s policy before placing any calls. To avoid hotel markups you can use a calling card from your local long-distance carrier. A number of United States cell phones manufactured today have the ability to operate overseas on the GSM (Global System for Mobile) standard. We recommend that you contact your cell phone service provider to determine if your phone operates on the GSM and what, if any, activation may be required. In Myanmar, reception on any cell phone can be unreliable and unpredictable. In some locations, transmission is not possible at all. If access to e-mail is of critical importance during your trip, please check availability in advanced. Most hotels have business centers or in room WI-FI service, surcharges may apply.
The nationwide emergency phone numbers are:
Myanmar: An Illustrated History and Guide to Burma by Caroling Courtauld
Myanmar (Burma) Insight Guides by David Abram and Andrew Forbes
Burma/Myanmar: Where Now? by Mikael Gravers and Flemming Ytzen