There are some very important information you should know before traveling to Myanmar and some very unique facts about their culture and country that will surely surprise you. Here are 10 essential things you should know before traveling to Myanmar:
1. YOU NEED A VISA
You must apply for an eVisa before entering Myanmar a couple weeks in advance, which will set you back USD50. You will receive a document to print out and carry with you to the immigration at the airport. Follow this link for all necessary information.
2. ENTRANCE/ZONE FEES
Be ready to pay an entrance or zone fee of 25000 kyat for Bagan and 12500 kyat for Inle Lake (and make sure to carry the receipt with you at all times as they might randomly check, if you are not carrying it, they might not let you in the main attractions).
3. IT IS NOT ALWAYS HOT
Although temperatures can be very high during the day (the sun during this time is especially strong, so make sure to wear sunscreen and wear a hat as much as possible), in the morning and at night it is actually cold, with temperatures being as low as 15 degrees. So make sure to bring a scarf and a jacket to keep warm, especially on the Inle Lake boat tour and while watching the sunrises in Bagan.
4. DRESS CONSERVATIVE
It is considered highly inappropriate to show cleavage, shoulders or knees around Myanmar. As you will notice, women there do not wear anything revealing and always have their shoulder and knees covered. I suggest packing lots of t-shirts and longer pants if you want to be respectful (plus, when visiting temples and pagodas you need to have shoulders and legs covered anyways).
5. SHOES OFF
Make sure to bring a pair of flip flops for when you are going temple hopping, as you will have to take your shoes and socks off at every single one of them. You can bring a plastic bag to carry your shoes in or you can simply leave them at the entrance, they will not be stolen.
6. US DOLLARS MUST BE SPOTLESS
I mean this! You must bring new, crisp and completely clean notes, any crease, mark or stains will get you a worse exchange rate or will not even be accepted in most cases. Bringing old notes will make money exchange extremely frustrating!
7. IMPRESSIVE LANGUAGE SKILLS
Numbers are written in Burmese characters! So don’t even try to look for a price, you are better off asking someone! Also, if you are bargaining for souvenirs and you are consulting the price in your mother tongue with your traveling buddy, you might as well use english, because all the sellers (from children to adults) understand the numbers in pretty much every single language. I have tried Mandarin and Italian and they quickly caught up and countered my offer in that same language, was actually very impressive!
8. WIFI AND INTERNET CONNECTION
The internet connection and 3G on your phone are sometimes slow, but they get their job done eventually. Most restaurants and hotel have wifi, but you are still better off buying a sim card when you arrive at the airport.
9. “HELLO” AND “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?”
Everyone will greet you “Hello” whether you are walking, cyclying or on a motorbike. People literally go out of their way to greet foreignes and most of the times they simply ask “where are you from?” as a form of greeting.
10. PEOPLE’S FACES ARE NOT DIRTY
What you see on most people’s faces is a common paste called Thanaka, which is a natural sun screen and face mask used by both man and women.