From ancient empires, colonial rule and military regimes, Myanmar is country with a fascinating history. A melting pot of cultural diversity, where Hindu temples sit alongside mosques, and glittering gold spires of Buddhist pagodas touch the sky. It is a land rich in tradition and steeped in myth, of natural beauty and wonder. But what makes Myanmar magical is the warmth and genuine friendliness of the people.
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Population: 55.2 million
Capital City: Naypyidaw (Pop: 925.000)
People: Bamar 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
Language: Myanmar (Bamar)
Currency: Kyat (MMK)
Time Zone: GMT + 6:30 Hours
International Dialing Code: +95
Formerly ruled by tribal monarchs, Myanmar came under colonial rule by the British Empire in 1824, bringing social, economic, cultural and administrative changes. In 1942 with the onset of WWII, Japan occupied Burma assisted with the help of the Japanese-trained Burma Independence Army, which later transformed into the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (AFPFL) led by General Aung San. In 1945 Britain liberated Burma from the Japanese, aided by General Aung San, who was popular leader among the people was later assassinated by political rivals in 1947. U Nu the former foreign minister took power and in 1948 the nation became an independent republic, named the Union of Burma. Once free and independent several uprisings occurred, and in 1962 a military dictatorship followed by a socialist regime came into power, isolating the country and closing it off from the world. In 1988 the people rioted against the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi the daughter General Aung San, and the country changed its name from Burma to Myanmar. In the ensuing years the people of Myanmar faced terrible hardships at the hands of the ruling government, and by sanctions and other measures imposed by the international community. Through her tireless efforts to bring democracy and human rights to Myanmar, Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991 and in 2010 she was finally released from house arrest after spending 15 years in custody. In 2011 political reforms saw the country reopen to foreign trade, investment and tourism. Myanmar is finally showing signs of positive development and opening up, to show the world just why this beautiful country has been coveted by so many.
WeatherMyanmar has a tropical Monsoon climate with three seasons, hot, rainy and cool. The coastal regions have an average temperature of 32 °C and northern region, considered the coolest an average temperature of 21 °C. The central areas are the driest, while Yangon and the coastal areas receive the most rain during the monsoon season. During the monsoon resorts and hotels at Ngapali Beach are closed. Mar - May - Hot Season; hot, humid Jun - Sep - Rainy Season; cloudy, humid Oct - Feb - Cool Season; mild, sunny Please note: The weather can be unpredictable in Asia and we suggest you carry an umbrella or raincoat with you.
Passport & VisaA passport with at least six months validity from the date of entry into Myanmar is required. We recommend you make a photocopy of your passport and keep it somewhere separate, or scan your passport and keep the scan in an accessible email account. A visa is required for all nationalities and can be obtained via e-Visa or your nearest Myanmar embassy or consulate. Please visit the Myanmar official government website www.myanmarevisa.gov.mm for more information.
CurrencyThe official currency of Myanmar is the Kyat (MMK). While US Dollars are preferred, Euro is becoming widely accepted at most major hotels and larger restaurants that cater to foreign tourists. USD notes should be clean and free from any marks, rips or tears or may not be accepted. ATMs that accept VISA and MasterCard are available in the main cities of Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay, dispensing money in Kyat. The maximum withdrawal is approximately US$300. There are few if any ATMs outside of the major cities and credit cards may not be accepted at hotels, so precautions should be taken.
Phones & Internet ServiceLocal sim cards are now available to purchase at the airport or local convenience stores for domestic calls only. International roaming is not widely accessible in Myanmar and we suggest you contact your local telco provider for more information. International subscriber dialing is available at all major hotels although very expensive. Internet access is available in most major tourist areas as well as larger hotels, restaurants and airports. Connections are relatively slow by western standards and can be unstable from time to time. Myanmar International postal services delivering worldwide, mostly route through Singapore, Bangkok and Seoul. DHL is also available for express deliveries.
TransportationTaxi’s are the main form of transportation in the major cities with fares within city limits ranging from MMK1000 – 4000. There are no metered taxis in Myanmar and a price needs to be agreed upon with the driver before starting the journey. Motorbike taxis
Travel by motorbike in Myanmar is not safe and under no circumstances is this promoted or recommended by Buffalo Tours. Please note that travel by motorbike is usually not covered by insurance. Please check the fine print of your travel insurance policy for further information.
Food and DrinkIt is not advisable to drink tap water in Myanmar. Bottled water is cheap and widely available. Myanmar food is a mixture of Indian and Chinese cuisine, with curries, soups and rice as staples. The national dish is Mohinga, a fish broth with rice vermicelli, onion, garlic and lime that is served with fish cakes and fritters usually eaten for breakfast.
Public HolidayMyanmar has many public holidays, most of which are related to religious festivals and based upon the lunar calendar. The biggest festival is Thingyan which precedes the Myanmar New Year. The five day celebration takes place during the middle of April and is a time when people return to their villages to celebrate, usually by sprinkling water over each other. Nowadays it is becoming more of a water fight, with buckets and water pistols!
Pre-departure check list
- Travel insurance
- Passport with at least six months validity from date of entry
- Photocopy of passport
- Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
- All relevant tickets
- Reconfirmed flights
- Lightweight clothing
- Raincoat and / or umbrella
- Long-sleeved shirts and trousers (recommended for evenings)
- Electric adaptor: 220V, 50Hz; 2 pin plugs
- A small bag/backpack for day and overnight trips
- Appropriate shoes for trekking, cycling and walking
- Insect repellent and sunscreen
- Medication/first aid kit
Please note: Domestic airlines impose baggage weight restrictions of around 20kg maximum, so travel lightly where possible.