How Can We Help?
Frequently asked questions about Myanmar.
|Country Facts & Figures|
|Country Name:||Union of Myanmar|
|Cities:||Yangon around 7 million|
|Area:||676 552 sq. km (261 218 sq. miles)|
|Highest point:||Mt Hkakaborazi 5881m|
|Languages:||Burmese, English and ethnic languages|
|Religions:||Buddhist 89%, Christian 4%, Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%|
|Ethnic groups:||Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%|
|Currency:||1USD = 1150ks in Sep2016|
Myanmar has three main seasons: hot season, rainy season, and cold season. The best time to visit Myanmar is from November to March when temperatures are relatively low (average 15 – 30 degrees centigrade) and when there is practically no rain. Note that in December and January the temperature can drop to near freezing at night in the highlands of the Kalaw, Pindaya, Taunggyi and Inle Lake area. In April and May which is the hottest season the temperature often tops 40 degrees centigrade in Yangon, and in Mandalay and Bagan it can get even hotter. The monsoon starts between mid-May and mid-June bringing frequent rains particularly in the southern as well as western region of Myanmar which last until September.
GMT + 6:30 hours.
The official language is ‘Myanmar/Burmese’ with numerous regional and minority languages and dialects. English is spoken at all major hotels. Basic English is also spoken widely throughout the country, and travelers will almost always find someone who will at least understand and speak a few words of English. Discovery DMC provides guiding services in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Thai and Chinese.
Never drink tap water – purified, bottled water is available everywhere. Eat at established restaurants and avoid peeled or cut fruit as well as ice cubes. It is wise to guard against sunburn, dehydration and heat exhaustion. Light clothing made from natural fibers is useful most of the year around and a sweater or jacket is needed when touring hill areas and the Inle Lake region from November to February. When visiting pagodas and other religious buildings great care must be taken to appear modest and correctly dressed. Women should not wear shorts, bra less T-shirts or have bare shoulders when visiting such places. Shoes and socks must always be removed at pagodas and monasteries. Photography in airports, railway stations and near any military installation is forbidden by Myanmar law.
Myanmar cuisine embraces Indian style curries with meat or fish as well as vegetables and regional salads and soups. Chili is popular in Myanmar and is often used in spicy dishes such as curries, though Myanmar food in general is not as hot as the Thai cuisine. There is a broad range of Chinese, Thai and Indian restaurants sprinkled around the major cities, and also Western food as well as many other types of food can be found in Yangon, Mandalay and some other tourist resorts.
Since 2011 many private sector banks and money changers have emerged. These money changers can be found at domestic airports. US Dollars, Euro and Singapore Dollars are accepted in cash. Bills must be in perfect condition without any creases or markings, otherwise they may be declined. Most of the official money changers are extremely picky about the condition of notes whereas traditional black market money changers offer slightly lower rates but are more flexible with notes condition. US dollar bills with the letters “CB” in the serial number may also be declined in some places.
For the time being credit cards are only accepted by a few hotels which mostly charge high commissions on credit card payments (between 4-8%). It is recommended to carry both local currency Kyat and US dollars in cash, you will need both. Exchange rates in 2014 are around 1000 Kyat per US dollar. As of 2014, ATM machines have become increasingly common, primarily in urban areas. You will find one at most shopping and commercial districts and near international hotels. The ATM machines generally accept all international visa and master cards. The local bank fee is 5000 Kyat per transaction. However, some machines are outdated or poorly maintained and there is a risk of transaction error or your card getting stuck in the machine. Be vigilant when using ATM in Myanmar, try to use machines that look new and updated, preferably machines that are located at a branch of the bank operating the machine, and do not rely solely on your credit card as a source of payment during your trip bring cash with you as back up.
Shopping is plentiful in most areas of Myanmar with colorful markets and stalls adorning most streets. Most popular buys include antiques, embroidery, gems, lacquer ware, mother-of-pearl, hand-woven silk Longyi, traditional woodcarvings, customary puppets and tribal crafts. Jewelry should be purchased through an authorized dealer who will issue a receipt so that the items can be exported. Bargaining is an elemental part of Myanmar life in small shops and markets.
Tipping is common in Myanmar and much appreciated. Tipping is entirely voluntary and should encourage good and satisfactory service. Major hotels and restaurants usually add 10 % service charge to bills. Where it is not included a tip of 5-10 % of the bill would be appropriate if the service is satisfactory. Porters should be tipped at 300 Kyat per bag. Recommended tip for local guides is 5Usd per person per day and 2Usd pp per day for drivers.
Don't forget to check out our tours and activities in other parts of the country.
Myanmar / Essential Information
- Visas and border crossings
- Country facts and figures
- Language and culture
- Mobiles and the Internet
- Travel to and around Myanmar
- And more