Tips for Traveling around Myanmar
Mingalaba! ("Hello" in Burmese) Myanmar is an amazing country to visit, but just like other countries it has it's quirks that make it unique. It is important to remember a few key things while exploring the land of Myanmar.
- Be sure to cover up! Myanmar is known as a very conservative country when it comes to apparel. It is important to respect the culture and wear something that covers your shoulders and down to your knees, especially if you want to be visiting the various pagodas & temples throughout the country. You will see the typical Myanmar skirt called the "longyi" being sported by men, women & children. You can purchase one when you get there for $5 or less. I personally used a scarf to cover my shoulders and wore my comfy leggings to walk around town.
- Bring American NON CRINKLED dollars. Myanmar is very specific on the US currency bills they accept. When you use a cash exchange be sure to specify you are going to Myanmar and you need crisp bills. They will turn down all money that is not perfect. You are able to use Myanmar's currency as well, but a lot of the hostels and buses only take US dollars.
- Be careful when accepting taxi rides. Use the taxi lines at the airports and have your hostel or accommodation call one for you. Make sure it is a legitimate taxi & be sure to set the price before you get in!
- Get a SIM card or download MapsMe, an app that offers free offline maps to be downloaded whenever exploring a new city. The night buses in Myanmar drop you off at really inconvenient hours normally ranging anywhere from 3AM-6AM. When you are in the middle of no man's land it is nice to have a way to access maps so you can determine how much the taxis should be.
- Take the luxury buses! Trust me for $5 more you get a nice reclining velvet seat, a meal delivered to you and towels to wash your hands and face during the long journey.
- Take probiotics to help from getting food poisoning. Unfortunately, when you're a lover of the tea leaf salads & avocado salads you increase your chances of getting food poisoning because the vegetables are not cooked. Be sure to bring probiotics to help balance out the bacteria in your body. Also, bring some hydrolyzed salts to rehydrate yourself when you do get sick!
- The red blood looking stuff in everyone's teeth is actually beetle-nut, a chewing tobacco like substance that stains your teeth and mouth red. I freaked out and thought it was blood when speaking to my first local.
- Embrace the Thanaka! Natural sunscreen created from water and bark in Myanmar. You will see all the locals around town wearing some.
- BARGAIN YOUR BUTT OFF. The beauty of traveling to Southeast Asia is the ability to barter for all of the stuff you want to buy and all the rides you take in taxis. You can't blame the locals for trying to charge you extra, but be aware to bring your A-game!
- Do as the locals do! Eat at the night markets & enjoy the street food. Visit the random festivals and shows. Myanmar is rich in culture and quite an experience!
- Give yourself enough time to get to your bus out of Yangon! The traffic is absolutely miserable. It took us 2 and a half hours to get to our bus stop when heading to Bagan!
These are just some tips and tricks I wish I would have known before I went visited! You can learn more about what specific places to visit in Myanmar in my entries following this post. I will depict all the activities I did in each individual city, where to stay and what to eat!
Enjoy my friends!