Facts for the Visitor
Visas (obtained in Bangkok)
||810 Baht for a 28-day visa with 3 months
validity from the date of issue. The visa is issued at 16:00 the next day. Visa
application requires 2 photos and the name of a hotel in Myanmar where you'll
supposedly stay. Feel free to use any of the names from our Myanmar Lodging Guide.
||Same as US citizen.
Language Skills Needed
English is sufficient for travel,
but learn Burmese numbers before attempting local transportation.
|Be sure to pick up a free "Yangon
Tourist Map" in the airport lobby on arrival. With the map comes
sales pitches for tours in Myanmar. Politely decline the tours and keep the map.
Also get a free "Tourist Maps of Myanmar" at a tourist information
office. The one-page "Tourist Maps of Myanmar" has excellent maps
of Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake in addition to overview maps of Myanmar
What to Bring
|US$ cash (not travelers checks)
in large and small denominations, sandals that easily slip on and off,
and a fleece pullover or light jacket for Northern and elevated regions
where nights get chilly. Expect rain from May to October.
|None are on international networks.
Currency & Exchange Rates
|Two currencies are used and neither
is convertible back into hard currency. Foreigners need a pocket full of
both Myanmar currencies to sightsee.
||FEC stands for Foreign Exchange
Certificate. US$1 buys 1 FEC but not vice versa. FEC come in 1, 5, 10, and
20 denominations. Every foreigner entering Myanmar with an independent
tourist visa is required to change US$200 into FEC just after immigration.
(Business visa holders and tour package members are exempted.) Foreigners
must pay most hotels, all tourist site admission fees, and domestic
airfare in FEC or US$. On the black market, the US$ is 5~10% more valuable
than the FEC.
||Kyat is the primary currency.
Everything other than hotel, site admissions, and flight tickets are
paid in Kyat. Rates for Kyat vary widely between the official government
rate of US$1 = 450 Kyat to the black market rate in Yangon of
US$1 = 720 Kyat (January 2002). Please note: the Kyat depreciates against the
US$ up to 50% per year, and the government rate tends to be the previous
year's black market rate.
Tip: The average budget traveler in
Myanmar spends the equivalent of US$70 per week. If staying less than 3 weeks,
200 FEC is too much to spend. Since FEC cannot be changed back to US$ and
US$ are accepted everywhere in lieu of FEC, get as few FEC as possible.
Although airport security verifies that all tourist visa holders exchange
US$ to FEC, the minimum exchange amount is negotiable at the exchange
counter with a bribe or sometimes simple insistence.
|The limited number of official
money changers give poor exchange rates. Some hotels and restaurants
exchange FEC and US$ close to the black market rate. White House Guest
House in Yangon gives a good rate. From the airport, take a 3 FEC taxi
directly to White House, exchange some FEC there, then continue onward.
We were ripped off exchanging at other places without knowing the
current black market rate.
50Hz. Sockets fit US/Japan style 2 straight pin and European
style 2 round pin plugs.
|International Certificates of Vaccination are not required.
|Tips are not expected and often refused.
|Many places don't have telephones.
A call within Yangon is 50 Kyat. International calls are US$3~7 per minute
depending on the country.
|There are a limited number
of Internet points in Yangon and none in the rest of the country.
The cost is prohibitively high at US$1 per kilobyte of data
|City Bus, Yangon
||Bus fare is 20 Kyat (US$0.03) for any
distance. Most local people speak English and can advise which bus to ride.
Bus numbers are posted on the top 4 corners of the bus and are written in
|Long Distance Bus
||The bus network is regular and cheap.
Fares are about 700 Kyat (US$1) per 100~200 km stretch. Tourists and locals
pay the same price. Passengers are packed in seats, the aisle, and on the
doorway steps. Roads are narrow and poor so buses can average only 20~30 km/h.
||We didn't investigate trains
because our guidebook said they charge tourists the equivalent of 30 times
the bus price and take twice as long for a similar distance.
Copyright © 2000-2002 Wes and Masami Heiser. All rights reserved.