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Jan 24

Tips when planning a trip to Myanmar

bagan

 

It is indeed one of the most fascinating destinations on earth. It still keeps the feeling of an undistorted paradise. It is how many other Southeastern Asian countries were before the crowds of tourism, but things are changing, we have been reading a lot about Burma or Myanmar and more tourists are traveling there, maybe this is the moment to go before everything really changes and it becomes just another place inundated by thousands of travelers who just want to put another check on the bucket list.

 

Getting there: several airlines fly to Myanmar. Some of the easiest international connections are Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. From these cities low carriers such as Air Asia and regular carriers such as Malaysia Airlines or Thai Airways have several flights a week to Yangon (The biggest city) and Mandalay. It is possible to enter the country by land, but even when the trip is an exotic adventure it is quite complicated and by practical means only feasible from Thailand through the Phu Nam Rom Crossing.

 

Visas: Myanmar continues granting visa on arrival to several countries including USA, there are several countries that are exempt of Visa, and another 100 countries can get an e-visa approval, this is actually a letter that allows the visitor to get the visa stamped at the airport, it costs 50 USD, it is valid for three months and allows a single entry with a 28 days stay. It is possible as well to apply for the visa ahead in consulates of Myanmar in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur where the process is quite efficient.

 

Traveling around the country; There are abundant and affordable public transportation options. Many buses depart from the main cities day and night. One just has to be at peace with watching unending local movies and hearing music at a loud volume. The train is an option but it runs quite slow. There are several local airlines linking the main tourist destinations.

 

What to see: There is a lot to see, and most likely visitors will return to Myanmar after their first visit. Yangon -the former capital- attracts many tourists, with local markets and pagodas, Nay Pyi Taw is one of the most mysterious cities on earth, it is the actual capital, built from scratch in secret in the middle of nowhere, with fascinating buildings, new pagodas, luxurious affordable hotels, huge empty highways, it was off limits to foreign visitors, but now is open to anyone. Mandalay is surrounded by natural and exotic beauty and Bagan is the place of hundreds of ancient temples in the midst of the jungle.

 

Where to stay: There are many hotels for all kind of budgets. Yangon is more expensive for the same categories of lodgings than other cities in the country, it lacks the most luxurious properties, but several brands have opened new hotels there. Nay Pyi Taw has fascinating ultra luxurious hotels, that are super affordable with first class amenities. There are many very nice hotels in the Bagan area and in Mandalay City.

 

Precautions: one will find that ATM and credit cards are accepted in some places in the main cities, outside the metropolitan area it is mostly a cash economy, one will need local currency and USD cash notes of low denomination. Myanmar is mostly a safe destination, one needs to have the same precautions as anywhere else. As well it is good to be informed about health risks including dengue and Malaria that are not higher than in any other surrounding country.

 

 

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