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10 Travel Tips for visiting Myanmar (Burma)

By on April 3, 2015 in Myanmar/Burma

1. Do you need a visa?

Depends on your home country. As I am from the UK I needed a visa…

2. Have a surge protector for electronic gear

If you have electrical gear (phone, camera etc.) that needs charging, or anything that needs plugging in, then use a surge protector. Electricity in Myanmar (Burma) is a bit random and power outages seem common. Due to the outages there are quite a number of spikes in the current/voltage of the supply and these can cause damage.

3. Take crisp US dollars bills

The local currency is the kyat, however, some places will only take US dollar bills, so make sure you take a supply with you. The dollar bills must be crisp and wrinkle free. The slightest hint of a blemish on the bill and it won’t be accepted. Two handy tips: If you are staying somewhere with an iron you may want to try ironing any bills that people won’t accept, and second, I found that if someone didn’t take a bill they would often accept it if I put it back in my wallet and then took it back out again. Go figure!

4. Don’t accept damaged or torn US dollar bills in your change

Shops and hotels will often try to give tourists damaged or torn bills that they have accidentally accepted as they know no local will take them. Don’t accept the bills as you will then be stuck with them!

5. Wear shoes that are easy to take off and put on

If you are planning on visiting local temples and shrines where you will have to take your shoes off make sure you are wearing shoes that are easy to get on and off. Another thing to consider is taking a bag to put your shoes in as a number of temples and shrines you may leave by a different entrance to the one you entered.

6. Motorbikes

Watch out for them, particularly when you are crossing the road, as they will come at you from any and all directions. Don’t assume that they will be moving in the same direction as the cars, and be careful as they often nip up the inside of traffic and catch you unawares as you are standing by the edge of the road waiting to cross. Also, don’t assume they will obey the traffic lights.

7. The steering wheel is on the wrong side…

Why? I have no idea. I asked, and yet no one seemed to have an answer. In Myanmar (Burma) they drive on the righthand side of the road. However, their steering wheels are also on the right, hence drivers have limited visibility. This means that they may not see you as you try to cross the road. Be careful. The import of righthand drive cars is now banned. Worryingly, some coaches/buses do have steering wheels on right and passengers exit in to traffic, so if you are using a local coach/bus be careful…

8. Foreigners can’t drive…

Forget trying to hire a car…

9. No socks

So places will insist that you take your shoes and socks off as you enter. Get used to it! And just accept your feet will be willing you at the end of the day. Also, watch out for hot marble in temples and shrines as it can burn the feet.

10. Get taxi price before you get in – and haggle

Common sense whilst traveling. None of the taxis were metered.

11. Traffic is bad in Yangon (Rangoon)

Lots of jams and lots of traffic lights. Plan ahead… A journey that you may think will take 20 minutes can often take 40 or more.

12. Count down at traffic lights

These are great. However, don’t assume the traffic will stop at 0. Also, watch out for motorbikes ignoring the traffic lights.

13. Prepare to be scanned as you go in and out of hotels and some public buildings

This was odd. I was scanned as I entered a number of building, and even when I set the alarm off I wasn’t searched. At some places I didn’t sent the alarm off, despite having a phone in my pocket.

OK, so this is 13 tips… I can’t count! It started as 15!

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