Known also as Burma, Myanmar is slow travel personified, home to golden pagodas and ancient stupas, leg-rowers on Inle Lake and, still, a rural nation where the bullock and cart is common transport. The sights, smells and sounds of the old Orient are alluring in this mystical land. Drift in the mists of the Ayeyarwady River, board a hot air balloon basket in Bagan, or visit the glittering Shwedagon Paya at dawn to revel in its beauty. This country is unlike any other.
Myanmar is the second largest country in Southeast Asia, stretching over 2,000 km from the snow-capped mountains in the north to the pristine islands of the Andaman Sea in the south. In between, the country offers a diverse range of habitats from the cool climate in the mountains of Shan or Chin states, to the dry and hot region in the middle of the country (known locally as the ‘dry zone’), and the more humid region — especially during the rainy season — on the west coast.
The official currency of Myanmar is Kyat. It is not possible to obtain Kyat outside of Myanmar. US dollars, Singapore dollars, Euro and Thai Baht are easily exchanged into local currency around the country, including on arrival at the airport — and those counters usually offer the best exchange rate. You can withdraw money at ATMs in Myanmar and over the counter at some banks, bearing in mind that they accept Mastercard and Visa credit cards only (debit cards and traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted).
We recommend carrying some Kyat as you travel through the country as US Dollars are usually only accepted in hotels.
Yangon International Airport is the primary entry point for most travellers. Most long-haul direct international flights will transit at Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Doha and Dubai to get to Myanmar.
Mandalay International Airport is also served by an increasing number of direct international flights including Singapore, Chiang Mai, Gaya, and parts of China.
The capital, Nay Pyi Taw International Airport has a smaller number of direct international connections that includes Bangkok and Kunming.
One of Myanmar’s southernmost cities, Myeik, has a single international connection from Bangkok.
Visa-free travel is permitted for ordinary passport holders from ASEAN member countries for stays not exceeding 14 days, or longer in some cases. Most foreign nationals will require a visa to enter Myanmar. For all passports, please check here.
In addition to getting visas at your local embassy or consulate, Myanmar has an online e-visa system for visa applications. E-visas are currently valid for entry at Myanmar’s three main international airports: Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, and overland-travel to Myanmar via the Thai-Myanmar border points.
All passengers bound for Myanmar will be required to fulfill customs requirements pertaining to entry and departure. Baggage is cleared at the first airport of entry into the country. The contents of checked-in baggage must be declared on arrival and departure if the total value of its contents exceed US$500 in value.
All jewellery must be declared on arrival. Please note that a special cash memo or receipt issued by an authorized dealer is required for gemstones (set or unset), jewellery, silverware or handicraft purchased in Myanmar.
The best time to visit Myanmar is during the green season, from June to mid-October. The weather is comfortable, and the scenery is beautifully green. It’s a perfect time to visit Bagan, Mandalay and Shan states, where there isn’t too much rain — mostly brief showers at the end of the day. Avoid the beaches during this time, as coastal areas are prone to storms and most hotels are closed over this period. Yangon can get quite a lot of rain as well, so it is better just to spend a few nights there. However, sightseeing is great as there aren’t many other tourists around in the green season — it’s Myanmar at its best.
In the summer (March-May), the whole country can be unbearably hot in the afternoons; temperatures can rise to nearly 35 degrees most days. The winter season (November-February) is the most popular time for tourists because of lower temperatures coupled with mild rainfall. It’s a good time to visit, but the downside is that it can get busy around major tourist locations.