Wet Season : The Monsoon rain fails in Myanmar during May to October. Beaches and mountainous towns’ areas become inaccessible due to floods, landslides and strong winds during the wet season. Cities with good infrastructure such as Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw, however, are fine to visit.
Cold Season : Cold air ensues starting from November and gradually diminishes to February. The best time to come to Myanmar is within this time frame. The climate is cool and pleasant. Regions in central and southern Myanmar experience mild and cool weather particular at night. Only the high altitude places such as Chin, Kachin and Shan State have freezing temperatures.
Dry Season : The country experiences its hottest weather from March to April. During dry season the temperatures can go over 40°C especially in the lower central and southern areas where the humidity is high. Visitors typically avoid visiting the country around this time. The Buddhist New Year a.k.a Thingyan Water Festival is celebrated in April and cannot be missed, although temperatures peak at its highest.
Transactions of Money : There are international ATMs available through banks such as KBZ and CB for money in Myanmar's currency called the 'kyat'. Credit cards are still ineffective here. Transactions are mostly done in cash. International money transfers are also possible through the advent of Western Union (into kyats). However, it is wise to carry some US dollars with you into the country as hotels and other services may ask you to pay in that currency only. Money can also be exchanged at the airport or hotels, preferring clean, unwrinkled bills.
SIM : You can buy a permanent prepaid SIM card with around 15 dollars. Minutes can be added through top-up cards. Please read details at our blog post here.
Living Expenses : Daily costs may vary from person to person. An average person can spend about 15 dollars a day for food and drinks. A round trip within the city premises by taxi can cost between 2 to 10 dollars. Motorcycle taxis are also available with cheaper charges except in Yangon. The most economical mode of transportation, public buses (about 0.50 dollars for a round trip), is widely accessible in Yangon only. A night's stay can vary between 50 to 350 dollars, depending on the type of accommodation and season. Hotel rates are highest during the peak tourist season which is between November and February when early booking is advised.
Safety : Tourist safety is in greater jeopardy along Myanmar's borders. The borders are the scene of armed drug trade, ethnic militia activity, and landmines. Hence border areas are restricted to outsiders by the government, except for the following:
Tachilek, Myanmar - Mae Sai, Thailand
Kawthaung, Myanmar - Ranong, Thailand
Muse, Myanmar - Ruili, China
Tamu, Myanmar - Morei, India
Visitors can enter Myanmar through these crossing points. Then they must leave the country through the same passage. There are limitations to how far visitors can visit whether they have a temporary visa or full visa. Temporary visa can be obtained at the border. Full visa is received from Myanmar embassies in advance. The immigration office may keep passports until the visit is over.
Inland travel in the regions predominantly occupied by the Burmese such as the Yangon, Ayeyarwaddy, Bago, Mandalay, Magwe, Sagaing, and Thaninthayi divisions is unrestricted. There are still specific zones that require prior permission to enter though. These travel permits can be requested only in Yangon at the nearest travel and tour offices or police stations.
It is important to note that the status of the designated tourist areas may abruptly change. It is advised to remain frequently informed about any impending threat to your safety before leaving to the destinations. For example, the escalation of fighting between rebels and government troops along the Kachin (Myanmar)-Chinese border had closed Myitkyina and Putao to foreigners for a period of time. Religious tensions in Rakhine State also recently shut down Sittwe and Mrauk U to tourists. For an accurate, updated list of permitted areas, please refer to the Myanmar Ministry of Hotel and Tourism website under tourist information (myanmartourism.org).
Etiquette : For a visual look at proper tourist etiquette when in Myanmar, visitors can look through the official 'Dos and Don'ts' produced by the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism on their website. Some of the helpful advice are highlighted below.
- Learn and use basic Myanmar words when communicating with locals. It shows respect for the country and willingness to immerse in their language.
- As Myanmar is home to diverse groups of people with their own unique customs, it is well advised to research the customs of ethnic minorities before visiting their villages.
- Women should not touch a monk and men should not touch the robe of a monk as they are very revered in the country.
- Women are safe to travel around in Myanmar, however, it recommended that they wear modest clothing in public, particularly when visiting the pagodas.
- Do not hand out money or sweets to children as it encourages dependency on tourism. Instead of individuals, donate to communities, NGOs, schools, health clinics, and monasteries.