If you’re thinking of backpacking Myanmar, these tips will help you maximise your stay in this culturally rich nation with some of the most hospitable people you’re ever likely to encounter.
Vietnamese tourists who wish to enter Myanmar only need a passport with an expiration date that is longer than 6 months. You do not need a visa when visiting Myanmar, as long as your stay is shorter than 14 days.
♦ Ideal time to visit
November – March, when the weather is mild. From April the weather is hot and humid.
You can fly with Vietnam Airlines or Vietjet Air (direct flights) or Air Asia for cheaper airfare but you will transit in Bangkok, Thailand.
♦ Transportation in Myanmar
Taxis are a convenient transportation option in Bagan. Taxi and tour guides in Bagan can be booked through email and paid later (50 USD/1 day/ 3 persons) or you can find another option at Bagan coach station.
Getting around Yangon – Bagan – Mandalay – Inle by bus: JJ – Express Highway Bus. Book through Facebook, pay later: facebook.com/jjexpressbus or Elite Bus. Good service includes food and drinks and an iPad for each passenger. Bus attendants are helpful and enthusiastic.
♦ Exchange rate
1 USD is around 1000 Kyat. You can exchange money at Yangon airport or Ben Thanh Market.
♦ What to bring
In addition to personal items, bring medicine (the health care system in Myanmar is bad so avoid being sick).
Can be booked through Agoda.com or Booking.com. We stayed at Blazing Hotel in Bagan and Zawgi Inn Hotel in Inle. The hotels are clean, the staff are nice, and make you feel at home.
Mohinga (rice noodle sandfish soup), milk tea, shan noodles, dumpling in Yangon’s Chinatown. Grape, wine and butter in Inle Lake.
♦ Must-see attractions
+ In Yangon: Golden Rock; The giant sleeping Buddha statue; Shwedagon Pagoda. Myanmar is also blessed with 2,000 kilometres of spectacular coastline. Especially amazing is Nepali beach – a natural and unspoilt beach only a 45-minute flight from Yangon.
+ Five must-see temples in Bagan: Thatbyinnyu Temple – one of the tallest temples in Bagan; Ananda Temple: the finest, largest, best preserved and most well known; Shwesandaw Pagoda: Bagan’s most famous sunset-viewing spot; Dhammayangyi Temple, dubbed by locals as ‘the ghost temple”; and Sulamani Temple with its fresco interior.
+ In Mandalay: Royal Palace; Maha Muni Pagoda; Shwenandaw Monastery; U Bein Teak Bridge; Mandalay Hill; Saganing Hill, Mingun and Inwa Village in the suburbs of Mandalay.
– Traffic jams in Yangon often occur in the late afternoon.
– Avoid getting ripped off by bargaining before paying money.
– Remove shoes and socks inside a pagoda or monastery, as they are not allowed to be entered with covered feet. Wear appropriate clothing (sleeveless and revealing clothing is a no-no).
– Not all temples are allowed to be climbed on, so you should ask first.
– A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Myanmar in late August 2016. Many of its pagodas and temples were damaged and haven’t been fully restored. So please pay attention and keep yourself safe as many ancient monuments are in danger of collapse.
Vo Hong Anh – Vo Khanh Linh | Wanderlust Tips