Thinking of joining one of our upcoming Solo Travellers trips to Myanmar? Or maybe you’ve already signed up… either way, here is some useful information to know before you go!
Most nationalities require a visa for entering Myanmar and your passport needs to be valid for a minimum of 6 months from date of arrival. Applying for your visa is an easy process which can now be done online.
Pristine Dollar Bills
You will need to take a folder or something similar with you when travelling to Myanmar, to keep your dollar bills in pristine condition. Notes that are folded, creased, scruffy or produced before 2006 WILL NOT be accepted in Myanmar. Whilst hotels, train tickets, and entrance fees will generally be paid for in US dollars, you will also need some Myanmar kyat, to pay for things like food and souvenirs, which can be changed at the airport or in banks. Make sure you keep some $1 bills for tips. You are able to change GBP and Euros at official money changers, and ATM’s are now available in most main towns. Do not exchange money on the street – this is a good way of getting scammed.
All temples and monasteries in Myanmar have a mandatory dress code to ensure arms and legs are covered, and no footwear or socks are to be worn inside religious sites, such as the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and at the temples in Bagan. We recommend wearing sandals or flip flops which can easily be taken off before entering – and keeping wet wipes in your bag is always handy for cleaning your feet afterwards!
Holy moly does it get hot in Myanmar during the day. We suggest packing (and carrying with you at all times) sun-tan lotion, hats, sun glasses, insect repellent, bottles of water and everything else you can possibly think of to help protect you from the suns rays. Remember, lobster red is not a good colour on anyone.
While this isn’t the case everywhere you go, it does seem like a lot of Myanmar chefs didn’t get the memo that eating lots of oil isn’t actually that nice… or good for you. Just be aware when ordering curry.
Stopping at a Burmese tea house is a real local experience. When you arrive you’ll sit on tiny colourful stools around a table and help yourself to a cup of tea – served with condensed milk (laphet-yeh). You will then be brought a selection of fried sweet treats to dip in your tea. Eat what you like, and then pay for what you’ve had when you leave. Simple. And delicious if you’ve got a sweet tooth…
Chewing Betel Nut
So you’re walking along and suddenly you see what looks like a load of blood on the pavement… Don’t worry too much, this is just betel nut which has been chewed up and spat out on the ground – delightful, we know. This is a real problem in Myanmar; Burmese men chew on ‘betel quids’ (potent parcels of areca nuts and tobacco, wrapped in betel leaf) which stains both their teeth and the pavement a deep red colour.
Men in Skirts
They’re not actually skirts. But you will see men wearing these ‘longyi’ all over the place, it’s pretty normal.
Cycling in Bagan
In our opinion, one of the best ways to explore the thousands of temples of Bagan is by bike. Bikes give you more flexibility, access to lesser known temples, are readily available in Myanmar and generally offer a more enjoyable experience. We recommend mountain bikes, however, e-bikes are also good if you’re not feeling energetic.
Hot Air Ballooning in Bagan
If you have the opportunity to go hot-air ballooning over Bagan, take it. It’s not until you see this place from up high that you truly appreciate the scale of it all. However, these balloon flights depend on good weather and you might not know, even a few hours before, whether you will be able to fly. In this case, full refunds are always issued. So, what do we advise? Do ittttt.
Finally, we thought you might like to know the translation of ‘hello’. Say with a smile and you can’t go wrong.
Now you know a little bit about what to expect, get yourself booked onto our next Essential Myanmar trip. You won’t regret it.