Myanmar is an incredible travel destination, there is such an abundance of color, exotic places and interesting attractions. Few people have heard about Myanmar, some only know it as Burma, the old name, and most people have the same reaction when they hear something like this from northern Thailand’s neighbors: “Myanmar, is this even a country?”
It is also fascinating, shocking and strikes you as a very cold shower since you make the first step in the airport. Even though I seriously prepared myself before going out this spring, nothing prepared me for the reality that you will find there. Whether you want to get there in the very near future, or want to enrich your general culture a little, you should know a few things about Myanmar.
The national currency is the Kyat, the rate being 350 kyat to 1 leu. Although it may seem surprising, you will find plenty of ATMs in big cities such as Yangon or Mandalay. We, for example, withdrew cash twice in the 17 days, and sometimes, where it was possible, we also paid with the card (generally at hotels). And one more thing: we know that one of the great requirements of all modern tourists, so to speak, is to have, as much as possible, the Internet. Contrary to the information circulating on various sites, the Internet is doing well. We had a SIM with internet, MTP and Telenor, but also wi-fi at hotels, and it was perfect.
Dust country: Before we got here, we didn’t imagine there could be such a dusty country as Myanmar. It’s true that I had read about it, but we thought it must be an exaggeration. It wasn’t. It didn’t take long and I understood that a cloud of dust was practically floating above this country. The worst feeling I experienced was in Nyaungswe (a small town near Inle Lake), in Bagan, in Mandalay and its surroundings. The surgical masks were very useful, which we recommend wholeheartedly if you plan to spend a few days in the area. People: The 17 days I spent in Myanmar started a new challenge for us, to discover another people who are at least as friendly and welcoming as the Burmese. Everyone greets you, everyone smiles, the children gather flowers or fruits with their hands to give them to you, just so, when you visit there, whole families sit and smile broadly if they see that you want to make them picture, it even compliments you at every turn. Discover more details at Best of Burma.
These are the elements we take into account in all our vacations and we wanted to clarify them because it happened that some photos from Myanmar were accompanied on Facebook by a message saying that we, as tourists, seemed an expensive destination. I stirred up a wave of conflicting opinions. Indeed, Myanmar may be a cheap destination, but under certain conditions: if you opt for hostel accommodation – that is, a bed in a room with 4 to 12 people, with a shared bathroom -, if you eat street food, if you do transfer between cities by local bus or train – in case you do not mind spending 10-12 hours in such a means of transport instead of 40 minutes by plane.
Burmese food is a combination of Thai, Indian and Chinese. I recommend eating fresh food on the street, a little bit of everything you do with your eye. The pineapple chicken from Innwa is really good. Do not venture to European food, Burmese are not very good at it. Women don’t go to bars in the evening. Those who, however, dare to do so are very poorly seen. The rule does not apply to tourists. Read additional info at Myanmar trekking tours.