Myanmar is the sort of place that seeps deep into your soul. It’s a different world where age-old traditions thrive, people are friendly and the pace of life slow.
After years of isolation, this fascinating, complex and beautiful country is rapidly transforming as it throws open its doors to welcome travellers. From stunning gilded pagodas, rich mountainous valleys and floating gardens, Myanmar is a truly rewarding destination for travellers.
Travelling to Myanmar has never been easier. Here are our top tips to get the most out of your trip.
There is so much to see in Myanmar that it can be tempting to try and see everything. But it’s a big country and infrastructure is still being developed so it can take longer than you might expect to travel around.
The well-established loop from Yangon to Mandalay is popular for good reason. It includes most of the major sites and landscapes of this verdurous paradise. These are places that you should consider including on your trip.
This bustling, vibrant city is the entry point for most travellers to Myanmar – a fascinating mix of the old and new. The city hums with energy and colour – from street markets selling everything to tea shops – the city wakes early and goes to bed late. In the literal centre rises the awe-inspiring, glistening Shwedagon Pagoda. No trip to Yangon is complete without spending time basking in the sheer, golden magnificence of this most sacred Buddhist monument.
Nothing can quite prepare people for just how stupendous the plains of Bagan are. The best way to see Bagan is from a hot air balloon at sunrise. You’ll float through the warm, misty pink sky over thousands of ancient pagodas, temples and stupas that rise and fall from the lush forest canopy.
The serene, otherworldly Inle Lake tends to leave a lasting impression on visitors. Home to floating gardens, bamboo-pole stilted homes and even monasteries, Inle Lake is like nowhere else on earth. The shoreline is home to villages, stupas and ruins to rival Bagan. Go early to see the iconic site of fishermen rowing long boats with a single leg in the romantic morning light.
There are 3 main seasons in Myanmar:
You’ll need a visa to enter Myanmar. You can apply online for an e-Visa for use at select entry points. Check with your nearest embassy of Myanmar well before you travel.
Planes, trains, buses and boats – choose your favourite way to travel in Myanmar. Flying is by far the easiest and quickest way to get around. Trains and buses are a great and authentic way to travel if you’re not in a hurry. Many towns and tourist sites will offer horse and cart services to get you between places. Travelling by boat can be a relaxing way to enjoy the landscape, the Mandalay–Bagan route is a popular one for travellers.
You’ll want a combination of credit cards, US dollars and local Kyat (MMK) for your trip. The government encourages travellers to use the local Kyat, although most hotels will happily accept payment in US dollars. Exchange your US dollars on arrival, but make sure any US dollars you bring are in immaculate condition. Happily, more and more banks and ATMs are opening in Myanmar so it’s a good idea to take a combination of pre-loaded credit cards and US dollars to exchange on arrival.
You’ll need local currency for smaller transactions in villages in Myanmar but for larger purchases and accommodation we recommend MasterCard’s Cash Passport. Accepted at ATMs, banks and major hotels, it’s the easiest and safest way to take your money travelling. With a MasterCard Cash Passport you can lock in the exchange rate before you travel and won’t have to accept what is offered at the airport.
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