We did the classic tourist route of Myanmar, hitting the four major attractions. We felt completely safe and incredibly welcome in these areas, the hospitality the locals showed us was amazing. Myanmar is often skipped on most people’s tours of SEA, but it really shouldn’t be. It’s home to amazing and unique temples, great food, and incredible scenery. It’s also very cheap to travel here; you won’t have any trouble staying under your budget! Bagan, the main hotspot, is worth the trip alone. Seeing the balloons rise over the archeological zone at sunrise, then spending the day wandering through temples was one of the best parts of our whole trip. Don’t skip out on Myanmar!
- Visa – You need to apply for a visa before going to Myanmar, you cannot get a visa on arrival. You can do this online here. Make sure to print out a copy of the visa to present upon arrival!
- Tax – Most restaurants will charge a 5% tax on the bill, and tourist restaurants will often add a 5-10% tip to bills.
- Currency – Burmese kyat (1200 MMK to 1 CAD). Pronounced “chat”. ATMs are plentiful, and will often charge 6500 kyat per transaction.
- Tipping – Not necessary, although leaving a couple extra hundred kyat is not frowned upon. Some tourist restaurants will add a 5-10% tip to bills.
- Beer – 1500 kyat for a big bottle (0.6L).
- Water – 300 kyat for a litre.
- Meals – Usually around 2000-4000 kyat.
- Language – Burmese. Below are a couple of phrases that are helpful!
- Hello – Ming-ga-la-ba
- Thank you – Jez-oo-bah
- Bill/Cheque (at a restaurant) – She-may
- Food – We loved the food in Myanmar, almost as much as we loved how cheap it was. Squished in between India, China and Thailand, you get a mix of all those cuisines, as well as unique local dishes. We’ve listed a few of our favourites you should try!
- Shan Noodles – Different every time, but always amazing. It’s half noodle dish, half soup, and often the dish is creamy.
- Burmese Sweet Tea (Lapaii) – Traditional tea made with condensed milk. Delicious!
- Mohinga – Rice noodles in fish based soup, often eaten for breakfast.
- Laykho/Laykho Nambia – Fried wrapped chickpea dish served to us for breakfast in the Mandalay tea houses. Laykho Nambia is the baked version of it! Both are delicious, but we could not find them in Yangon, so try to look for them in Mandalay.
- When accepting money or a gift it is polite to accept it with your right and, and touch your left hand to the inside of your right elbow.
- Always barefoot and shoulders covered at temples. Girls need to cover their knees at temples, guys are usually fine with longer shorts. At Shwedagon Pagoda they are especially strict, guys need to have pants or a sarong.
- Women’s clothing in general (outside of temples) is almost always covering the knees and shoulders. Dev did not feel ostracized if she wore a tank top or shorts but she usually opted to stay covered as she felt more respectful.
- When swimming in waterfalls, the locals always wear their clothing in the water. Guys, keep a T-shirt on with your bathing suit shorts and ladies, opt for quick dry shorts and T-shirts or a full piece bathing suit!
- Bagan – This temple hotspot is often compared to the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia, and is an absolute must if you’re travelling to Myanmar. Some people only visit this country to see the temples and nothing else (not that we recommend that!). Grab a hostel in the surrounding area, then spend your days exploring the 100 kilometres squared area consisting of over 2000 temples!
- Mandalay – This fun city is an attraction on its own, but the main draw is the even better day trips you can make from here. Spend a day in the city checking out the world’s biggest book, ancient monasteries and the sunset from Mandalay Hill. Then plan some day trips to the surrounding areas, where you can see beautiful unique temples in Mingun, the oldest teak bridge in the world (U-Bein bridge), and incredible waterfalls. We started our adventure here, and it was an awesome place to get back in the backpacker mindset.
- Inle Lake – We took a 3 day hike to Inle Lake from Kalaw, which was awesome. Staying in homestays along the way and witnessing the beauty of the mountains and farmland was great. We also had some of the best food in all of Myanmar (the Shan Noodles were unreal!). You can also visit Inle Lake without trekking, and the town is super fun on it’s own. Bargain for a good boat deal at the dock, and be whisked around the famous lake, stopping at local silversmiths, lotus weavers and cigar makers in the floating villages. We found tons of amazing restaurants and bars in the town of Inle, it was a great place to spend a few days.
Worth a Visit
- Yangon – Yangon had a few cool areas and attractions to check out, but overall wasn’t worth spending a ton of time in. We found a bunch of great restaurants, and spoiled ourselves a little by spending time in the very modern Junction City Mall. Definitely allot some time to seeing the Shwedagon Pagoda, a massive golden complex that’s worth the entry fee.