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Travel to Myanmar

As in the case of transport infrastructure, communication infrastructures in Burma are in full development. People are increasingly having access to mobile phone and the Internet, even though digital device is more important than in the surrounding countries. For new technology enthusiasts and those who cannot stop using emails during their Burma visit, here is the best Myanmar travel guide to useful communication and addresses in Burma.

Communication in Burma: Mobile and Internet

Telephone
Before going on some trips to Burma, make sure that your mobile phone is unlocked; you can use a local phone card. The three largest operators in the country are Telenor, Ooredoo and MPT. Ooredoo and Telenor have 4G coverage.
You will find SIM cards in Myanmar, running on a credit basis to charge for about 1.1USD. They are easy to buy in the small street stalls of Yangon and Mandalay, as well as at Yangon Airport and other major Myanmar tourist sites. To buy a SIM card, you need to have a photocopy of your passport, your Burma visa, as well as a passport photo.
It is increasingly possible to have access to your own network coverage from Burma. Be careful though: like any international communication, it may cost you a lot. In case of fixed telephone, there is very little development in Burmese. Telephone booths are easy to find on the street, and in general, each store has a telephone. It costs $0.07 per minute for a domestic call and about $5 per minute internationally.
The Internet in Myanmar
Wi-Fi in Burma is quite widespread, even in the most remote places; generally, almost all cafes and hotels provide this kind of service. However, the speed of connection is much slower than what you have been familiar with in your country. It costs 0.35USD per hour in an internet cafes on average.
The speed also varies according to the day. Before you travel to Burma, try to download an offline version of your mailbox if you have to work on your emails. There are no longer any restrictions on websites such as Facebook or Twitter.

Phone numbers and useful addresses. Here is a list of contacts in Burma that may be useful to you when staying in the country.
• Embassy of France in Burma
102 Pyidaungsu Yeikhta Rd, Dagon
Tel: 01 21 21 78
Www.ambafrance-mm.org

• Embassy of Burma in France
Address: 60, rue de Courcelles, 75008 Paris
Tel: 01.56.88.15.90
Fax: 01.45.62.13.30
Email: me-paris@wanadoo.fr
• Burma Tourist Board
Maha Bandula Park St, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Tel: +95 67 406 061
• Police emergency number: 199
• Tourist police emergency number: 01378479/01379701
• Health service emergency number (Yangon): 019000716/098612421
• Health service emergency number (Nay Pyi Taw): 095363181/0931471550/0931471850/09428152844
• Emergency number of the health service (Mandalay Region): 0943100961/0274365
• Emergency number of the health service (Kachin State): 09491552925/07423501
Also remember to keep the contact details of a trusted person, your bank (in the event of theft or loss of your credit card for example) and your travel insurance.

Languages in Myanmar

The most widely spoken languages of Burma are Burmese and English. English is normally enough to cope with the most touristy places in the country. For the other places, it is necessary to disentangle yourself with great reinforcement of English, French and body language.
Sometimes you can meet a guide speaking a few words of French or English. Do not hesitate to inquire in the tourist places. For the others, well, the Burmese speak Burmese and, if there is, the local dialect (there are more than 100!).
As for place names, thanks to the colonial past and the diversity of Burma, most places have more than two names. Here are some examples of popular Burmese phrases:
• Hello → Min-ga-la-ba
• How are you? → Ne-kaun-there (Pronounce Ne-Kaoun-la)
• Fine, thanks → Ne-kaun-ba-deh (Pronounce Ne-kaoun-ba-de)
• Nice to meet you. Twé-ya-da wùn-tha-ba-deh (Pronounce Twé-ya-da wouéna-ba-dé)
• My name is Pierre (male) → Kya taw ka Pierre bar (Pronounce Tché tow ka Pierre ba)
• My name is Marie (female) → Kya ma ka Marie bar (Pronounce Tché ma ka Marie ba)
• You speak English? → ìng-guh-lay loh byāw da’-thuh-there? (Pronounce Ingulè loh byow té la)
• Thanks • cè-zù tin-ba-deh (Pronounce Tchè zou tin ba dé)
• Yes → Ho of
• No → Ma ho bu (Pronounce Ma ho bou)
• The addition → shin-meh
• How much does it cost? → beh-lau-leh
• Where are the toilets? → eain da bae ma lae? (Pronounce èn da bé ma lé)
• A bottle of water → yè tan (de boo)
• Tea → lae pae ye (Pronounce lè pè yé)

During your Burma tours, try not to be discouraged by the communication problems that may arise. With a determined effort and patience, you will get out of most situations, and have an unforgettable journey.

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When visiting a foreign country, you may realize that there are often customs that are completely unknown or even strange. It is also the case of Myanmar which undoubtedly has culture completely different from ours. There are some rules and customs in Myanmar which you will find not very serious but can cause much inconvenience if you do not follow during your Myanmar holidays.

The customs of Burmese society

In terms of social relations and what can and cannot be done, it is advisable to be provided with this information before your travel Burma. Even when there are things you still cannot do after several attempts, it will certainly please your interlocutors to see that you are trying.
What you need to do:
If you have to bother someone without doing it on purpose, say “gadows” twice to ask for forgiveness
Try to control your anger
When entering a room, greet people in descending order according to their age
Do not hesitate to smile and show friendliness with your neighbors
At the table, people eat with their right hands. Try to do the same!
f you enter a house, Burmese politeness wants you to remove your shoes at the entry

What you should not do:
Do not borrow anything from a guest
Do not brag
If you need to give something to an older person, do it with both hands
It is inappropriate to talk about money, especially salary

Travelling in Burma: Buddhist customs

Burmese culture is strongly influenced by Buddhism, the national religion practiced by 90% population of the country. In Burma temples, you will be asked to remove your shoes and socks before entering. You will also need to wear proper clothes, especially including long and non-transparent clothing. Similarly, Buddha representations are sacred objects and you are not allowed to stand facing them or point your feet towards it.
Considering Buddhist monks, when you speak to them, try to make sure your head is at a lower level of theirs. Women should avoid touching or stretching objects directly. In buses or trains, people get up to give way to the monk.

Stay in Burma: respect the law

During your Myanmar trip, even if the population is tolerant toward foreign visitors, you will be expected to respect the Burmese law.
The first rules in Myanmar is to pay considerable respect Buddha. The Burmese regarded Buddha as a sacred and highly respected figure. The Penal Code includes articles imposing sentences of up to 4 years’ imprisonment for “insulting religion” or “offending the religious feelings of others”. This law is applicable to everyone even foreigners therefore, act properly during your Myanmar vacation.

When shopping, pay attention to what you buy, especially if it is rare or old items which could be a national treasure or of archaeological importance. Avoid buying ivory or animal skin objects, which means helping the government fight this illegal trade.
If you buy art or antique items, ask for a certificate of authenticity. Also remember that antiquities of a religious nature cannot be legally move out from the country.
Finally, in terms of Myanmar law enforcement and personal safety, do not enter the prohibited areas. There are still some and territories which are forbidden to tourists for various reasons: ethnic settlement, religious conflicts or underdeveloped areas. The richness of Burma lies in its culture which is so different from that of the West but varied and exciting. With a minimum of preparation, you can spend great holidays in Burma by learning Burma customs

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Myanmar(the old name was Burma) is a country that is increasingly opening up to tourism. With its many admiring temples, wonderful landscapes and a warm population, there is no doubt that the country has all the assets to become one of the major players in tourism in Southeast Asia. However, the country is in full development of its infrastructure, in particular transportation. The means of transportation in Myanmar are already diversified but in bad condition; however, the authorities are now working to improve services and networks; therefore, Burma holidays can be much more wonderful if tourists experience all types of transportation.

Air transportation in Burma

At present, air transport is the most frequent means of transport for foreign travelers in Burma. Yangon International Airport is the main entry point to Myanmar to which direct flights to Burma from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Singapore, Kolkata and Kunming arrive.
As far as domestic flights are concerned, Burma is rather well endowed. The biggest national airline is Myanmar Airways, but the country also has regional airlines for domestic flights and some selected international ones. You can also easily reach your favorite tourist places such as Bagan, Mandalay or Heho by plane.
Be careful though: it is not uncommon for flight schedules to change without prior notice. In addition, we advise you to book your flights in advance especially during the peak tourist season, as group travel is more frequent during this time.

Rail transportation in Burma

If you want to interact with the locals and take in the scenery during your Myanmar vacation, a train ride will be the most atypical Burmese experience. A train from Yangon to Mandalay can be a great experience.
As a legacy from colonization, train journeys in Myanmar are not as fast or as cheap as bus transportation, but they can prove to be very rewarding and interesting. They allow you to get closer to the Burmese population and take you through sumptuous landscapes.
Frequent delays and cool nights should be expected if you take a night train. You can buy train tickets either at the train station or ask your hotel to do it for you.

Means of transportation in Burma: The road network

During your Burma trip, you will surely have to travel through the Burmese road network at least once. In general, this means of locomotion is quite unpredictable, or even completely chaotic because the road infrastructure still needs a little refreshment.
Buses are the most suitable vehicle for long trips. Most buses in Myanmar belong to private companies. They are faster and cheaper than trains; however, a journey in a bus can be long and quite uncomfortable at night. You will have access to either buses with air conditioning or without. The latter are usually used for small trips. Remember that the journey will not be always comfortable. It can get quite cold in the buses with air conditioning, especially when you are traveling at night so bring a jacket or a blanket with you.
About prices, a travel from Yangon to Mandalay is about 10USD. You should book the bus tickets in advance or ask for help from your hotel.
Traveling by car is also available only if you pay great patience and adaptability because indeed most vehicles are quite old, and the roads are in poor condition. However, if you are seeking for a pleasant escape from the crowded buses, which can be a serious asset to enjoy your Burmese experience, a private chauffeur and a new car with air-conditioner (100USD per day approximately) is a good choice.
Furthermore, according to Burmese law, you will not be allowed to drive a car by yourself unless you go through lengthy administrative negotiations with the local authorities; therefore, renting a motorcycle or scooter for around US $ 10 per day is much more preferable. Remember to wear a helmet and take out travel insurance accordingly and notice that motorcycles or scooters are not allowed in Yangon.
There are also many taxi companies in Burma. True taxis have a green or white license plate and driver’s identity on the dashboard.
Finally, you will find other means of transport available in Burma: pick-up trucks, trishaws, horse-drawn carriages, or bicycles. These are available in major cities and most guesthouses. You are not always asked to wear a helmet, but pay attention to your travel insurance.

>> See more: Myanmar travel

Means of transportation in Burma: The boat

Travelling on a boat in Burma is a long but very pleasant journey especially on Inle Lake or Irrawaddy River Cruise where you can enjoy the picturesque landscape and life on the lake or the rivers. You can take a public ferry or rent a private boat.
If you want to make the most of your trip to stop and visit the surroundings, including temples or small fishing villages, do not hesitate to ask travel agencies. These often offer towers which is a great way to enrich your Burma trip.
Although often being in poor condition or not to the extent of comfort we expect, the means of transport in Burma are part of the charm of this country. You will definitely find the one you enjoy the most.

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Since the opening of the country to tourism, Burma has established deliberate policies to facilitate the entry of foreign travelers into its territory. However, like any administrative procedure, it is necessary to be properly informed about the ins and outs of a Burma trip. So here is everything you need to know to prepare your stay at best: what are the particularities to consider before your departure, and the different types of visa for Burma available to you.

The peculiarities of a stay in Burma

11,000 km from Paris, Yangon is the main arrival airport of the French in Burma. Please note that there are no direct flights from Paris to Yangon; therefore, normally you have to transit in Bangkok before reaching Yangon. It takes about 13 hours to travel from Paris to Yangon by this way (including waiting time in Bangkok).
With the exception of one Italian company (Blue Panorama) and the German company Condor; Yangon airport is served by Asian airlines such as Singapore Airlines or Korean Air. Besides, Myanmar Airways International is the national airline. It is necessary to pay attention to the airlines you choose, especially Burmese ones because indeed, Burmese airlines are rated poorly, both by air authorities and by customers.
Before your departure, considering the small hotel capacity of the country, we advise you to book your Myanmar accommodation in advance, especially during high season.
Also note that holiday checks are not accepted in Burma and the use of bank cards is very uncommon.

Passport formalities and visas for Burma

Before flying to Burma and starting your holiday, make sure that your passport will still be valid for at least six months after your departure from Myanmar.
It is quite easy to get a visa for Burma. There are two ways to get a tourist visa Burma. Be careful, in any case, you must apply for a visa before arriving in Burma; this country does not allow any visa exemptions except for ASEAN countries.

Go to the Embassy of Burma in Paris

The Embassy of Burma in Paris issues tourist visas which is valid for 28 days. To apply for a visa, you have to submit the following documents: your passport (valid 6 months after the supposed end of your trip), the application form, two passport photos, a travel certificate with a list of addresses of the hotels in which you will stay, a proof of the flights return and a settlement for the visa (50 euros).
If you do not wish or cannot return to Paris to take your visa, you can bring with you a pre-stamped letter.

Visa for Myanmar on arrival

Since 2014, it is possible to make a preliminary request online on the website of the Burmese government: http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/. At the time of application, you will be asked for a certain amount of information, such as passport number, personal information and a photo. You will also be asked to make an online payment, about 47 € then wait ten days to process your file. If your application is accepted, you will receive an email, which you will only need to present to obtain your visa on arrival for Myanmar.
This visa procedure on arrival for Burma is currently only valid for entry at Myanmar’s three main international airports: Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw. Since last September, you can also use this procedure at three land entry points with Thailand (Tachileik, Myawaddy and Kawthaung).
For family travel, please note that each child over 7 mentioned on the parents’ passport must have an individual visa. It is also recommended that you should take with you a copy of the family booklet.

When preparing your trip, the visa for Burma will be the most important administrative formality to perform. However, it is less complicated than it seems to deal with it.

 

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Burma, a beautiful country in Southeast Asia, is a wonderful place to discover for its indigenous culture, architecture and population. The best time to go on a Burma trip is from November to February after the monsoon but before the big heat when travelers are seduced by good sunshine and cool temperatures.

Myanmar weather

For a great experience in this beautiful country, travelers need to have knowledge about the Myanmar weather and climate. Burma has tropical monsoon climate with three major seasons characterized by monsoon and high humidity in the south and a warm and dry climate in the center of the country.
From June to October is the monsoon season with heavy rains especially in July and August. There may be some typhoons or storms from the eastern sea at this time. On the other hand, the center of the country is drier.
From November to February: this season is characterized by the absence of rain, the beautiful sun and a pleasant temperature. It is the best time to travel to Burma and contemplate its wonderful landscapes.
– March to May is intensely hot in most of the country, especially from Bagan to Mandalay. In addition, there are fewer tourists and hotels are significantly cheaper.

Travel to Burma

Burma has a long and fascinating history that constitutes several cultural and architectural works as well as famous historical places. This country attracts many foreign tourists by its extraordinary beauty and calm.
The trip to Myanmar would be incomplete without a visit to Bagan, the first capital of the Burmese Empire, one of the most important and impressive Buddhist archaeological sites. You can contemplate more than 2000 ancient Myanmar pagoda in the immense space of 40 km2 with tremendous landscapes of forest and mountain … Come and get struck by the Bagan sunset on the terrace of the temples – an incredible landscape of nature. Bagan gives you memories, unforgettable experiences thanks to the majestic beauty of nature, tranquility and the thousands of temples.
Then you can take a journey through Burmese history and culture in Yangon. Situated on the Yangon River and the Andaman Sea, this city is an important destination for any trip to Myanmar. In this city there are pagodas, mosques, churches … Travelers will find many historical sites, museums, markets, the park … Notably many temples and statues are covered with gold leaf.
One of the most highly recommended activities in Mandalay is the observation of the gold drummers in the leaf factories. The Mahamuni Pagoda is home to one of the most important Buddhas in Burma.
You can taste the traditional dishes with the original spices. Do not forget to buy handmade products (such as silks, lacquers, cigars, jewelry …) that are legion in this country where the craft still makes the majority of the Burmese live. The people are welcoming; it is very unlikely that you will experience any discomfort from the Burmese during your trip. Open and benevolent, they try to help you as much as they can without asking for a counterpart despite the obvious difference in wealth. The increase in the number of tourists encourages the street vendors to solicit you but a simple smile of refusal will be enough to stop them.
Myanmar will be an interesting destination for people who have strong wanderlust. A Myanmar travel will give you excellent memories. Choose the best time that suits your need and prepare your luggage for the discovery trip.

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What is true for many countries is even more so for Burma: the geography of Myanmar has largely influenced its past and current history. Myanmar’s geographical criterion has a substantial impact on the country’s situation, besides its relief or its climate, especially during the colonial period, when the country became one of the crossroads of trade between Europe and Asia. The study of the geography of Myanmar allows us to deeply understand the origins of the conflicts and the disputes for the country as well as an ideal Myanmar travel route.

General geography

This territory covers more than 675,000 km². The country shares a border with Bangladesh and India to the west and northwest, with China to the north and northeast, and with Laos and Thailand to the east and south-east. These boundaries are essentially a succession of hills and mountains, making the crossing of land borders quite complicated. The highest point of the country is the Hkakabo Razi, with an altitude of 5900m. The country also has a very large opening on the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea (more than 1900km of coast).
In the plains crossed by Irrawaddy and Sittang, the Burmese have been cultivating rice for over 1000 years. The rivers have made this part of the territory fertile. The other part of the territory is a mixture of highlands and mountains inhabited by “peoples of the hills”. These are ethnic minorities who settled there after migrating from neighboring countries, such as the Shans.

Territorial divisions

The geography of Myanmar, especially its reliefs and the distribution of its population, has made it possible to create the different territorial divisions of the country today. It can be seen clearly on Burma map that the country is divided into 7 states and 7 regions, most of which bear the name of their capital and home to individuals of Burmese ethnicity.

In the case of some states, such as Rakhine or Shan, for example, most of their population are ethnic minorities in Myanmar. Yangon is the most populous region, and Kayah State is the least populated administrative division. States and regions are also divided into districts.

Geography of Myanmar and climates

During your tour in Burma, one of the most important criteria for the success of your trip may be the Myanmar climate and weather.
It is important to note that the Myanmar weather is tropical with monsoon. There are three seasons. During the cold season, from November to February, the weather is dry and warm. During the warm season, from March to May, the weather is very hot; the temperatures often exceed 35 ° C. Finally, during the monsoon season, from June to October, it is very hot and rainy. Despite the influence of the monsoon on the country, precipitation varies enormously from one place to another. In particular it rains a lot by the sea. Thus, the best time to visit the country is during the cold season, from November to February. It is, however, the tourist season.

During your tours Myanmar, many of the activities you can do will depend on the geography of the country and its climate. Try to prepare yourself accordingly.

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Burma is one of the countries in South-East Asia that remains the most ignored in the eyes of the world’s population. However, the country has several major Burma tourist attractions: impressive religious monuments, exceptional scenery as well as warm and welcoming locals. The Burma population, although destabilized by years of civil war, remains increasingly dense. A meeting with the people of Myanmar will give an extraordinary human dimension to your Burma trip, a patchwork of different ethnicities and cultures.

General information on demography in Burma

Population and ethnic composition
Censuses in Burma are not commonplace; therefore, Burmese demography was a mystery for a long time. With the improvement of the political situation, the first statistics on the population were published.
According to the United Nations, the population of Burma reaches 53 million people (figures from 2013). It is a heterogeneous population: it is estimated that there are more than 135 ethnic groups in Burma, mostly Burmese. Shans, Karens, Mons account for about 30% of the population; whereas, 70% of the population lives in rural areas, and the literacy rate is 92%.
Although Burmese is the most widely spoken language, many other ethnic groups have kept their own languages. You will find it easy to come upon English speaking people in Yangon and busy tourist spots. Indians and Chinese also speak different languages or dialects, such as Hindi or Bengali.

One of the most important Myanmar travel information is that most people live without access to basic health care or hygiene. Infant mortality is considerably high (73/1000), and life expectancy is quiet low (53 years for men, 56 for women). The Burmese population is also under the threat of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
According to the 1974 Constitution, Buddhism is the official religion of Burma. It is practiced by nearly 90% of the population among the other religions: Christian (4%), Muslim (4%), and animism prevalence.

Demographic Challenges in Burma

Myanmar’s economy depends largely on natural resources and agriculture. Inadequate infrastructure, lack of training and political difficulties have hindered the development of the industry.
The poverty level reaches 26% of the population, and much higher in rural areas. Access to electricity is limited to only 26% of the population.
Due to its large demographic heterogeneity, the population of Myanmar is often under pressure from conflicts with ethnic minorities or minority religious groups. This is currently the case with the Rohingyas, a Muslim minority in the north of the country.

The three major ethnic minority groups in Myanmar

During your trips to Burma, if you want to give a human dimension to your stay, it is advisable to meet and get to know ethnic minority groups. You will be able to discover more deeply all the wealth of Burma. Here are the 3 major representatives.

Shans (9% of the Burmese population)
The Shans currently have 4 to 6 million people in Burmese territory. They live mainly in Shan State, northern Burma, famous for housing Inle Lake. The Shans were previously in conflict with the Burmese; however, it seems that the situation has subsided.
The Shans are doing everything they can to keep their culture alive. The majority of them are of Buddhist confession, and speak Shan language in addition to the Burmese. Traditionally, the Shan are farmers (rice, fruit, tea …) as well as very good craftsmen.

The Karens (7% of the Burmese population)
The Karens live mainly in the state of Karen, in southern Burma. Many live on the border between Thailand and Burma. During your Myanmar travel, you may notice that the situation of this ethnic group is very precarious: many are homeless, and more than 100,000 people are currently living in refugee camps since the last insurgency. The Karens speak several different languages, depending on their origins, including Karenni and Kayan. While 65% of the Karens are Buddhists, the rest of the population is Christian. Traditionally, the Karens live on agriculture, making it a relatively poor population compared to the rest of the Burmese.

The Rakhines (4% of the Burmese population)
The vast majority of Rakhines, most of whom are Buddhists, live along the coast of Rakhine State in eastern Burma. Rakhine culture has much in common with Burmese and Indian culture. This is due to the fact that the Rakhine State is separated from the rest of the territory by the Arakan Mountains and has some proximity to the rest of Southeast Asia. These influences can be noted in literature, music and cuisines. Additionally, The Rakhine language is generally comprehensible to those who can speak Burmese.
At present, the violence between the Rakhines and the Muslim community of the Rohingyas is causing a humanitarian disaster in which thousands of people killed or deported.

During your Burma tours, coming to rub shoulders with the Burmese population which is rich in various cultures brings a more authentic dimension to your stay.

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