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Myanmar Travel Tips

Country & population
Myanmar or Burma as it was known until 1988, has been one of the least accessible countries in the world up until very recently. The fact that the country has been inaccessible for so long has meant that Myanmar has been relatively untainted by the excesses of modern life and retains an aura of a bygone age. As a destination Myanmar offers great natural beauty, magnificent archaeological sites, stunning pagoda and temple architecture and warm, hospitable people 

Myanmar is the largest country in the South East Asian peninsula stretching 2000km from north to south and over 900km from east to west and covering the area of Great Britain and France combined. Three quarters of Myanmar is covered by mountains and jungle and there are no less than 135 ethnic groups living in the country. Flat plains and wide rivers characterize the geography of the centre of the country while mountain ranges run along the Thai border up to the Himalayas in the east. The southern coast of the country borders the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Myanmar's main river is the 2000km long Ayeyarwady River, formerly known as the Irrawaddy, around which most of the country's best farmland is found 



Passport & visa 
All visitors are required to have a valid visa to enter Myanmar. A 28-day tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors. Visas can be obtained at any of Myanmar's embassies and consulates overseas. Tour operators should preferably apply for a EV/T Package Tour Visa for clients to avoid clients having to make the compulsory change of USD 300 into FEC on arrival at Yangon Airport. For visitors from countries which do not have Myanmar embassies or consulates a visa can be issued on arrival by Asean Travel & Tours. Detailed passport information must be submitted to Asean Travel & Tours at least two weeks prior to clients departure in these cases. 


Currency
The currency in Myanmar is the Kyat (pronounced 'chat'). As in most countries of the world US Dollars are the most useful currency to carry and can be exchanged easily. Banks are open Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 14:00. Travellers cheques can be exchanged only in the major cities. Credit cards such as Visa Card, Mastercard, AMEX and Diners Club are now accepted at some of the larger hotels in Yangon. 


Climate 
Myanmar has three seasons similar to many other parts of Southeast Asia. The Southwest monsoon starts at the end of May or beginning of June and lasts until the end of October. This season brings frequent and heavy downpours of rain, mainly in the afternoon and evening. All this rain makes the weather very humid and this can make travel quite unpleasant. The rains give way to dry weather in November and the temperatures are generally lower and more pleasant at this time. A second monsoon passes the south east of the country in December and January resulting in lower cool breezes throughout Myanmar. In February the temperatures start to climb again leading up to the next rainy season at the end of May. Temperatures between March and May can be very hot reaching over 40oC in many places. 


Heath requirements 
No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in Myanmar and it is advisable to take precautions especially if travelling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are rather limited in Myanmar and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before travelling in case evacuation is needed. 


Language 
The national language of Myanmar is Burmese, of which there are over 80 different dialects spoken. The written language uses an amazing looking script based on ancient Indian characters. In the cities many of the older generation still speak very good English and it is also becoming popular again with the younger generation. 


Public holidays 
January 4: Independence Day 

February 12: Union Day 

Mar 2: Farmer's Day 

Mar 10: Dry Season Festival 

Mar 27: Armed Forces Day 

April: Water Festival (moveable) 

May 1: International Labor Day 

July: Waso (moveable) 

November 11: National Day 

December 25: Christmas Day 



Tipping 
Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in a country where the average annual income is only around US$ 300. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped. 


Airport tax 
An international airport tax of US$ 10 per person is payable when departing Myanmar on an international flight. Departure tax is not charged on domestic flights. 


Business hours 
Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 09:30 until 16:00.

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