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FAQs.

The following questions and answers discuss the most important facts about traveling in Myanmar.
We have taken utmost care in compiling the answers, however can not accept any liability for the contents. Regulations in Myanmar may change overnight without prior notice.
 

Questions

Fascinating Land Travels & Tours

What can your travel agency in Myanmar arrange for guests?
We organize individual, tailor-made tours as our guests wish, traveling as individuals or in small groups. Please see about us for what we specialize in.
We will of course be glad to arrange hotels or flights etc. if you do not wish to book a complete tour.

 

Can you arrange our international flights to Myanmar?

At present we unfortunately  can not offer you flights from overseas to Myanmar but arrange services once you enter Myanmar, be it through any of the international airports or border crossings from Thailand / China. We will be glad to arrange the necessary formalities for you.
We can arrange flights for you from Bangkok to Yangon with Myanmar Airways International (MAI) but do not really recommend MAI due to missing reliability in the past.


Do we have to pay for anything additional?
We are very honest and clear when determining exactly what is included or excluded in our prices. There are no hidden costs!

In case of minor obstacles we will absorb unexpected costs to stick to the planned itinerary. Minor obstacles cover such events as breakdown of cars, small changes in the itinerary unless guests want to divert to a very different route, cost resulting from sudden domestic flight cancellation DURING the trip, etc.

For example: If a car breaks down, we will substitute with any other available means of transport (please do not necessarily expect the same quality). If a flight should be cancelled DURING the trip, we will arrange the next available flight and cover cost such as additional airport transfers. However guests have to stay at the hotel provided by the airline.

 

It is possible for guests to change the given route. In that case extra cost may be applicable.

Meals, aside from breakfast, are only arranged on special request.

 

If flights, boats etc. are booked and confirmed but cancelled later by the operators BEFORE the guests start their journey, we will offer alternative ways of transport and charge the additional cost respectively refund any amounts if the alternative is cheaper.

 

Why should we book our vacation early?
Maybe not every year, but often enough there are capacity shortages, especially during the peak season. Do you want to have a good tour guide? During holiday seasons they are very busy, sometimes booked even years ahead. The same of course is valid for flights and hotels etc.; the best places are usually fully booked in advance.
We gladly take time to provide recommendations to you. Please be aware that we might not be able to do this extensively during the peak season when our clients are in the country and we are devoting all our energies to taking good care of them.

 

What kind of local tour guides are available?
The following types of tour guides exist:
"Through-out guide": accompanies you from Yangon throughout your journey by car or plane until your departure from Myanmar. The Through-out guide only follows you to the beach if specifically requested. For the Through-out guide, there are discounted airfares.
"Station guides". Meets you at the respective places within the country (e.g. Inle Lake, Mandalay or Bagan) at the airport and accompanies you only in this particular area. At the next location, you will meet another Station guide. Station guides know their area particularly well. If you travel by car to the next destination, the station guide will accompany you till you arrive at the next destination and then returns.
In Bagan and Mandalay tour guides sometimes speak an accent which one needs to get used to. If you require a tour guide other than English speaking, it will be automatically a Through-out guide.

How can we be sure that we will like the booked hotels etc.?
Our emphasis is on working with each client individually to recommend the accommodations right for their budget and preferences. The more information we get from you, the better we are able to recommend the most suitable option. We visit our preferred hotels regularly to check them.
Often, there are very different alternatives available in all price categories. We take great care in choosing partners that provide good and clean accommodation.

Please be aware, that especially in the standard category often European standard is not provided.
In a country like Myanmar, there can be geckos or some mosquitoes in the room. You will not have to expect vermin however.

In some hotels ON Inle Lake, rats may come sporadically to the rooms. Better do not choose those hotels if you are sensitive.

 

If our favourable hotels should be fully booked, we may have to book less favorable hotels. In such a case, we will honestly tell you to lower your expectations.
Please be aware that hotel standards away from the main tourist destinations are often sub-standard and proper hotels are simply not available.

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When do we have to pay for our booked vacation?
A down payment is required in order to guarantee your bookings. Especially in the high season (October till March), some providers require advance payments at the time of booking. Most hotels charge cancellation fees.

For details of payment please see our “Trading terms and conditions


Can you arrange for us travel permits to restricted areas?
Yes, we can arrange travel permits to normally restricted areas. Away from the main route; especially in the border regions, there are areas to which the government will not let you travel on your own for your own safety.

However, please be aware that such travel permit, depending on the actual situation, might be revoked or routes altered by local authorities while you are traveling. The tour must be completely arranged by us including a mandatory tour guide. At times the authorities will only issue permits for part of  the trip.

It is advisable that the trip be booked early and permits applied for 1 month in advance.
There are also areas, which are not allowed to visit.

Visa for Myanmar

What kind of visas are available in Myanmar?
Usually you will be granted a tourist visa that is valid for 28 days from your arrival in Myanmar. You have to arrive in Myanmar within 90 days of visa issue date. Please check those details with the Embassy in charge for your application!
 

There was a real Visa On Arrival (without advance approval) for a few months. It may be established again from certain airports / airlines.
Another Visa On Arrival in theory also exists (with advance approval). And all those rules may change without advance notice. We do therefore recommend applying with the Myanmar Embassy at your home country for a normal visa.
 

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Can I extend my visa for Myanmar?
it is presently difficult to impossible to extend a normal tourist visa. For details please e-mail us.

Where can I apply for a Myanmar visa?
• Apply for visa at any Myanmar Embassy, preferably in your home country.

International and domestic airlines in or to Myanmar

How can I fly to Myanmar (Burma)?
Most flights coming to Myanmar connect from Bangkok or Singapore. Amongst the airlines flying to Yangon are:
Silk Air (regional arm of Singapore Airlines) and Myanmar Airways International from Singapore.

Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia (since 2010) and Myanmar Airways International from Kuala Lumpur.
Thai Airways, Myanmar Airways International, Bangkok Airways and Thai Air Asia from Bangkok.

Air China flies from Beijing via Kunming.

 

Vietnam Airlines from Hanoi and now also from Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam).

 

Air Bagan from Chiang Mai (northern Thailand) to Yangon.

 

Myanmar Airways International from Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) to Yangon.

 

Qatar Airways start their flights from Doha to Yangon again in October 2012.


There are at present no suitable flight connections to other airports in Myanmar although there were flights offered to Mandalay previously.

There are flights from Yangon and Mandalay to Kunming (Yunnan Province - China)

 

 

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Which domestic Airlines are available in Myanmar?
The following domestic Airlines fly within Myanmar:
Air Bagan, Asian Wings, Air Mandalay, Air KBZ nd Yangon Airways.

State-owned Myanmar Airways (domestic).
Yangon Airways suspended all flights since end of 2010.

Air Bagan and Air Mandalay are private airlines, flying French built ATR 42 and ATR 72 planes. Air Bagan in addition has Fokker F100 for domestic routes.

Since January 2011 Asian Wings started flying using newer ATR 72 and since April 2011 Air KBZ started flying also with ATR 72.

We intentionally do not display flight schedules here as they often change and have to be read with caution. Ask us for connections!

 

An assessment of the semi-private airlines with regards to safety is difficult.



Is it safe to fly Myanmar Airways?
One needs to distinguish between “Myanmar Airways” and “Myanmar Airways International”, which are different companies although the names are similar.

Myanmar Airways offers only domestic flights within Myanmar and does not enjoy a good reputation. Most travel agents will avoid Myanmar Airways where another airline flies to the same destination.

”Myanmar Airways International” (MAI) is an alternative to other international airlines. MAI however was not always reliable in the past and had flights cancelled without proper notice.
 


MONEY

Can I use traveler checks and credit cards in Myanmar (Burma)?

Automatic teller machines are not available in Myanmar! Since October 2004 credit cards and traveller cheques are not anymore accepted in the country. Any other information you may read is outdated, although some of the better hotels accept credit cards again (sometimes against hefty surcharge!). You should definitely not rely on this!
PLEASE BRING SUFFICIENT CASH WITH YOU, PREFERABLY US DOLLAR! Crispy, new currency with no markings and tears only! Worn out and stamped USD bank notes are often rejected.


What is the local currency in Myanmar?
The local currency is called Kyat. Kyat bank notes are available between 1 and 10.000 Kyat. 1000 Kyat are over 1 USD. Coins are no longer in use.

Where can I change US Dollar / Euro into Kyat in Myanmar?
In the meantime in official banks.
Large USD denominations are exchanged at a higher rate.
Euro can be reasonably changed in Yangon.

Is there a mandatory exchange required in Myanmar?
Since August 2003 there is NO requirement anymore to change on arrival (Previously 200 USD had to be changed into Foreign Exchange Certificates, FEC)
FEC are still legal tender but tourists will seldom see them these days.
 

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Safety

Is Myanmar a safe country to travel?
Myanmar, in those parts open to travelers, is a very safe country to visit. Capital crime is virtually unknown and foreigners are treated especially respectfully. The occurrence of theft or any other criminal cases involving foreigners is negligible.
Carrying larger cash amounts does not pose a big risk. Of course, it is advisable to not show it openly.
When traveling in cars, seatbelts are often not available.

Since the end of 2004 a number of bomb explosions occurred, causing some casualties, however they were not aimed specifically at foreigners. It is not exactly clear who is behind those bombs. In May 2005 there were 3 simultaneous bomb explosions in Yangon, which caused several casualties. There were some smaller bomb explosions in places usually not visited by tourists by the end of 2007 and at the beginning of 2008 but also one in Yangon. The damage in Yangon was very small.
There are occasionally smaller earthquake tremors in Myanmar which usually cause none or small damage only.
In September 2007, demonstrations happened in several bigger towns of Myanmar and were quelled by the authorities.
In case of any demonstrations etc.: There is no danger to foreigners if they do not actively involve themselves. In any country, one better avoids crowds.


Transport and roads in Myanmar

Is it easy to travel in Myanmar?
Infrastructure within Myanmar is often much worse than visitors from foreign countries are used to. It is inferior even to Thailand’s infrastructure. Therefore one needs to allocate considerably more time and expect less  comfort when traveling than at home. Most cars are rather old, although we do take great care to choose cars in good condition. Especially in the high season, you might encounter shortages.

Flying reduces travel time considerably over land transport, so most visitors choose that mode of transportation for longer distances.

Myanmar people are very friendly and helpful. There will always be someone to help you. However language barriers might make it difficult if you are traveling without a guide.

During the rainy season (June to September) there might be disruptions to travel.
 

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Which is the best time to visit Myanmar (Burma)?
Most people visit Myanmar during the “cool” and dry season from November to February. In this time, night temperatures drop to 17 degrees Celsius in Yangon and just above 0 in the mountains.
Many people have a wrong perception of the rainy season (May to September). Although in the coastal region, monsoon rainfalls are very heavy, in the middle parts of the country they are not. It rains in regular intervals, but uninterrupted and day-long rainfall is rather unusual. Very often sun and rain change in short intervals. The rainy season is certainly very pleasant to people who enjoy the green nature and all plants growing. It is also possible to visit Bagan and Mandalay during the rainy season as they lie in the dry belt. High humidity in connection with very warm weather however can be very challenging for some people.
The danger of Malaria is generally greater in the rainy season.


General matters:

Should I visit Myanmar at all?
There are many pros and cons.
The overall economic situation and American sanctions (since 2003) has brought hardship to ordinary people in Myanmar. Many people support themselves and their families by income generated from tourism. Be it directly through employment in hotels or as tour guides, souvenir producers, sidecar (rickshaw) drivers, food stall operators or fruit and cigarette vendors, local people work hard in the tourist industry.
Myanmar people appreciate contacts to foreign visitors and  the outside world. Within the country, you will find only few local people, who support a boycott.
At the end, everybody has to answer the question for her or himself. As a visitor, you have the choice to spend your money where you think it will most benefit the people.

After cyclone Nargis in May 2008, many people were asking themselves that question again. To give people support and let them earn an income is probably the much better way than giving hand-outs.

 

How is healthcare in Myanmar?
Substandard health facilities probably pose the biggest risk when traveling through Myanmar.
Outside of large cities medical facilities are not satisfactory, even in Yangon hospitals rarely reach international standards.
Do bring with you sufficient supplies of any medicine you may depend on, and possibly a first-aid kit. Especially in larger towns, plenty of medicine is available, however often there are warnings of fake drugs.

 

What food do Myanmar people eat - Is it safe to eat anywhere?
Although there are great regional differences, food tends to be quite oily or spicy. Myanmar people eat a lot of rice, fish, "Ngapi" (fermented fish paste) and vegetables. The average meal will consist of rice, a curry and some vegetables.
"Mohingha" (fish soup with rice noodles) is a favorite food and well known amongst foreigners. It is eaten usually in the morning. Dried fish is also very popular.
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate - locally known as Ajinomoto) is frequently used in large quantities. When ordering, you may request not to use MSG, but this is not always followed through.
The best way to avoid possible stomach problems is to look carefully at the hygiene of restaurants. A dirty looking restaurant with few customers is not a good sign. Usually foreigners are warned to not eat at small food stalls, whereas one can see the worse hygienic conditions. Be careful with raw food and fruits, especially those  you can’t peel.
Please avoid crushed ice, whereas ice cubes should be no problem. Do not drink tap water but bottled water with intact seals only.

Should I take Malaria prophylaxis for a trip to Myanmar?
The first advice on this should always be: Avoid mosquito bites!! Especially at dawn, wear long clothes and use mosquito repellents.
The answer on prophylaxis is a very difficult one depends on where you go and at what time of the year. The side effects are sometimes very strong and there is no guarantee that you will prevent getting Malaria with a prophylaxis.

At the main tourist points Malaria is however rare, except on land routes into the mountains and at the beaches.
Doctors with experience in tropical regions or Tropical institute offer the best advice based on your itinerary.

Do I need any insurance for travel to Myanmar?
Although there is no mandatory insurance required, we suggest the following:
Health insurance with emergency evacuation (please be sure to check with your insurance company that they do cover your trip to Myanmar).
Cancellation trip insurance.

Very few service providers in Myanmar have an adequate insurance to cover guest’s claims; if any at all.


 

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Communication with Myanmar

Can I access my e-mails and internet in Myanmar?
There are currently a number of Internet cafes in the main tourist areas and larger towns. However a great number of e-mail providers are blocked. You may use a local address provided by the shop to send your emails.

Aside from e-mail providers, only very few web-pages are blocked.

Can I use my mobile phone in Myanmar?
Mobile phones, if discovered in the past in your luggage, had to be deposited with customs until your departure. In the last few years, we however did not hear anymore of enforcing that practice.

 


How do I have to behave in Myanmar? What offends Myanmar people?
Myanmar is still a country with very conservative manners. Please act and dress accordingly.
Wearing very short skirts or shorts is considered impolite especially while visiting Pagodas.
Pointing out to something with your legs and patting someone on the head is also regarded as a bad manner.
Sitting etc. on Buddha images e.g. for photographs is absolutely unacceptable.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us with specific questions .
 

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No. 102, Kha Yay Pin Yeik Mon 1st Road, Mingaladon Township,
Yangon, Myanmar
Tel. / Fax. : (++95 1) 637 717
Mobile Tel.: (++95 9) 970 661 356, 773 321 434 or 421 040 824
e-mail: 
Website: www.fascinating-land-travels.com
           www.urlaub-in-myanmar.de

Last Updated : 09 May 2017