Myanmar (or Burma) is an isolated country in Southeast Asia. It separated from the Burmese Empire, which existed from 1500-1000 BCE. Once upon a time, the Burmese empire conquered Thailand (Kingdom of Ayutthaya) and parts of India (Manipur). 

Today, Myanmar is a small independent nation. It lies on the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea coast, and it shares borders with Bangladesh, India in the west, China in the north, and Laos and Thailand to the east.

Things To Do In Myanmar

Top Cities

  • Naypyidaw (formerly Pyinmana) — a newly designated capital of the country
  • Bago (formerly Pegu) — the historic city near Yangon full of wonderful Buddhist sights
  • Kawthaung — a beach town in the far south which is as much like Thailand as Myanmar gets
  • Mandalay — the former capital of the Konbaung Dynasty built around the Mandalay Royal Palace and main commercial centre of Upper Myanmar
  • Mawlamyine (Moulmein) — the capital of Mon State and the third largest city
  • Pyin U Lwin (Maymyo) — a cool town which is a wonderful former British colonial hill station
  • Taunggyi — the capital of Shan State in the heart of the Golden Triangle
  • Twante — a delta town that is famous for pottery
  • Yangon (formerly Rangoon) — the economic centre, known for its pagodas and colonial architecture

Top Destinations

  • Bagan — an archaeological zone with thousands of ancient pagodas near the banks of the Irrawaddy River
  • Inle Lake — a large shallow lake good for beautiful boat trips, visiting floating villages inhabited by the Intha people, hiking, and also a source of excellent silk
  • Kengtung — between Mong La (on the border with China) and Tachileik (on the border with Thailand) in the Golden Triangle, known for the Ann (black teeth people) and Akha tribes and trekking
  • Kyaiktiyo — a gold-gilded rock sitting atop a cliff and a major pilgrimage site
  • Mount Popa — an extinct volcano regarded as the Mount Olympus of Myanmar, a green oasis high above the hot plains and an easy day trip from Bagan
  • Mrauk U — former capital of the Rakhine Kingdom
  • Ngapali — beach resort in western Rakhine State, spilling into the Bay of Bengal
  • Ngwe Saung — longest stretch of beach in Ayeyarwaddy (English: Irrawaddy) Division, white sandy beach and crystal clear water are the features of Ngwe Saung Beach
  • Pyay — a town on the Irrawaddy River midway between Yangon and Bagan, known for its archaeological site Sri Kittara, the ancient Pyu capital from 2 to 9 CE
  • Pathein — a river town in the Irrawaddy delta, known for manufacture of umbrellas, gateway to Chuang Tha and Ngwe Saung Beaches

Culture of Myanmar

Myanmar’s culture is a mix of Indian and Tibetan influences intertwined with local traditions. The country has predominately Theravada Buddhism. You can see stupas and temples throughout the country similar in architecture like the ones of northern India. 

Keep in mind that, due to a strong dictatorship in the country, the overall infrastructure is in poor condition. Photography and videotaping are not encouraged by the government, so exercise caution. 

The good news is, Myanmar has an extensive rail network. A train journey is a great way to see the country and meet people.

Driving & Transportation

It is hard to hire a self-drive car in Burma, due to many bureaucracy issues. However, hiring a car with a driver is not a problem. Keep in mind also that roads of the country are in poor condition. Some of them can even be inaccessible during the rainy season (from May until October).

Currency

The Burman currency is Kyat. The approximate exchange rate is 1380 Kyats for 1 US Dollar. The local currency is only useful when paying in restaurants, public transport, taxis, and shops. Other expenses, such as train tickets, museum fees, and hotel rooms, must be paid in US dollars. Euros are also acceptable in some cases. Make sure the dollar notes don’t have any tears, folds or marks. Otherwise, they may not be acceptable. Also, though high-value notes may have higher exchange rates, it is also wise to have small denominations, as some facilities may not have change.

There are around 90 ATMs available in the country, and only in large cities. Also, credit cards are not widely acceptable, as for now, but this situation changes rather quickly. The same situation is with traveler’s cheques. We hope, however, that this will change in the nearest future.

Electricity Plug Types

In Myanmar, people use electric sockets of types C, D, F and G. The standard voltage is 230V.

June 7, 2016 12:00 am Published by 2 Comments

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