Cheat Sheet for The Myanmar Tourist
Tourist visa (valid for 28 days) - $50 USD per person
Regional fees - $40 USD per person (These vary depending on where you want to go. If you visit Inle or Bagan, you will have to pay a regional fee to enter the area.)
Cash, Currency Exchange, and ATMs:
Myanmar is still largely a cash-based economy. While credit cards are accepted at major stores and can be used for hotel and ticket bookings, most of the country still runs on cash. When you travel Myanmar, it is wise to carry pristine US dollars with you; some hotels will only accept US dollars as payment, and due to Myanmar currency regulations, they are unable to accept imperfect (folded or soiled) US dollar bills.
The Myanmar currency is called kyats (pronounced 'jats').
Currency exchange shops are available throughout the city; there are currency exchange services available at the airport when you land, and you can also exchange currency at a fair rate at City Mart grocery stores throughout Yangon.
If your bank does not charge foreign transaction fees, we recommend using an ATM for withdrawing the cash you need. The ATMs give the best exchange rates.
Visa on arrival is not available for tourists. Tourists must apply online for a single entry, 28-day visa to visit Myanmar. The visa is usually fully processed and ready within 3 business days. Once you have your visa and invitation letter, the visa is valid for a period of 90 days, if you do enter Myanmar to use your visa within 90 days, the visa will expire and you’ll have to reapply. More info on visas can be found here: https://evisa.moip.gov.mm/NoticetoTourists.aspx.
Phone and Internet:
The leading telecom providers in Myanmar are Ooredoo, Telenor, and MPT. All three offer reliable high-speed coverage throughout Myanmar. MPT is the most reliable provider in remote and rural areas of Myanmar. Wifi is not widely available in Myanmar, but you can turn your phone into a mobile hotspot and it will provide fast, reliable coverage.
4G SIM card for your phone: $2
A month’s worth of phone data: $8
What should I Budget for Eating Out?
To eat like a local: (but at shops that will still be kind to your stomach!)
Breakfasts - $0.75-1.00 per person per meal
Lunch/Dinner - $2-$5 per person per meal, depending on what you order
Street Snacks/Drinks – Usually $1 or less
If you eat at western-style restaurant or upper end Myanmar restaurant, you can expect to pay more like $8-12 per person for a meal, depending on the place.
Weather in Myanmar mostly divides into three seasons:
October - January is a great time to travel in Myanmar, the weather is cool and there is little to no rain.
February - May is the summer season: there is no rain, and the weather is dry and quite hot.
June - September is the rainy season: high humidity and often hot when it is not raining.
At Golden Rock temple area (also known as Kyaitiyo) the weather on top of the mountain is cool all year round (about 15oC-20oC) with regular rain, clouds and fog.
No matter when you visit Myanmar, you should bring an umbrella, hat and sunglasses, especially in the summer to avoid sunstroke.
Things to Do in Yangon:
See the Shwe Dagon Pagoda - entrance fee: $6 USD per person (make sure you wear long pants or skirts if you don't want to make a deposit of 5$ to rent a wraparound longyi, in other words, sarong)
Ride the circle train around Yangon - $0.50/person
Explore the food stalls of downtown Yangon with a guide from Yangon Food Tours
Visit Sule Pagoda and Maha Bandoola Park.
Go to the restaurant at the top of Sakura Tower called Sky Bistro, order a meal and take in the amazing city views. (Meal order required in order to visit the viewpoint) or Yangon Yangon bar above Sky Bistro, and pay an entrance fee of 10,000 kyats (about 6$) reusable for the same night.
Take the commuter ferry to Dala from downtown Yangon, and explore Dala
Visit Yangon’s iconic Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly known as Scott Market). It’s closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly!
Explore 30th-40th streets for a taste of downtown living.
Visit Sharky’s Restaurant on Pansodan and try their gelato. Afterward, visit Hla Day upstairs, and browse their selection of goods made by Myanmar artisans.
Take a tour of one of Yangon’s riverside villages on bamboo bikes with Bamboo Bike Myanmar! Visit www.bamboobikemyanmar.com for more information.
Take a food tour with Yangon Food Tours either for a breakfast, lunch or dinner time, as well as a street snack tour that starts at 4 pm. Visit www.yangonfoodtour.com for more information.
Getting Around Yangon
There are no metered taxis in Yangon. The hardest place to get a fair price for taxi is the airport. Elsewhere in the city, rides start at about 2000 ks for a short distance, and usually they cost no more than 9,000 or 10,000 kyat within the city proper. Yangon has GrabTaxi (the SEAsian version of Uber/Lyft). Download the app and you can choose your destination and hail rides without having to negotiate a price. Be forewarned, not all drivers speak English, and sometimes they will call you to confirm the ride request.
Taking the city bus is for the adventuresome (it can be hard to know where to get off, as most stops are labeled in Burmese), but if you decide to try it, the fare is 200 ks per person.
There is an express bus that runs from Sule Pagoda and terminates at the Yangon airport. It’s by far the most affordable way to get to and from the airport from downtown Yangon. The fare is 100 ks per person, just about $0.10.
Do I give money to monks?
No, you are not obligated to give money to monks. In fact, it is not permissible for monks to touch money. If you wish to give them something, it is better to hand them food. You can make monetary donations at religious sites.
Is it all right to take photos of people?
There is no strict rule for this. It varies from person to person. The best thing to do is simply hold up your camera and ask. They will understand and tell you yes or no.
Travel within Myanmar
Should I fly, or take a bus?
It all depends on your budget, and how much time you have to spend traveling in Myanmar. Let’s suppose you want to visit Inle Lake, in Shan state:
If you fly, tickets will cost around $200-250 round trip per person, and the flight lasts about one hour.
If you take a bus (you can take a day bus or an overnight one), roundtrip tickets will cost you roughly $30-45 for a middle class VIP bus, and the ride from Yangon to Inle takes about 12 hours, the ride from Yangon to Mandalay is about 8.5 hours. Generally speaking, the good buses are Lumbini, JJ, Elite and Myat Mandalar Tun, Shwe Lashio, etc.
What about taking the train?
Train travel in Myanmar is a memorable experience, it generally takes longer than the bus, and it can be a bumpy ride. Myanmar Railroad has several routes departing daily from Yangon for Bagan, Mandalay and cities in Shan State. You can read more about Myanmar’s train routes here.
And the last thing, enjoy your trip!