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Facts

Population

60,285,000

Capital City

Naypyidaw

Another fact

Answer

Plug types

Voltage: 230V, Frequency: 50Hz

Religion

Buddhist

Currency

Kyat (MMK) exchange rates

Timezone

UTC +6:30 hours

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  • What to expect

    Burma is a beautiful and diverse country, home to many ethnic groups and an array of stunning natural and historical sights. It offers a taste of travel in the Asia of yesteryear, and getting off the beaten track in Burma is a rewarding and memorable experience.

    There are stunning landscapes from lush mountainous areas to jungles, plains, the Irrawaddy River and a long, beautiful coastline. Expect a slow pace of life in Burma, with less developed infrastructure and facilities than in other more visited parts of Asia. You may encounter blackouts, bumpy road travel and delays or changes to your plans.

    It is important not to display anger or frustration - those who are patient will be rewarded with a magical stay in a country rich with beauty. The people are warm, welcoming and curious, and keen to share stories about their lives.

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Flight times

From London

approximately 11.5 hours

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Events

Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the holidays listed here. As major holidays are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our the UK-based Asia specialists for details.

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  • 4 January

    is Independence Day, which marks Burma's independence from the British Empire in 1948. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 12 February marks Union Day

    , the anniversary of the Panglong Agreement in 1947, a historic meeting between ethnic minority leaders and the government. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 2 March

    is Peasants' Day, commemorating the anniversary of revolutionary leader Ne Win's coup in 1962. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 7 March

    is a public holiday honouring the Full Moon of Tabaung, an important Buddhist festival also celebrated in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 27 March

    is Armed Forces Day, a public holiday to recognise Burma's military regime, the Tatmadaw. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 12-16 April

    is Maha Thingyan, a water festival marking the leadup to Burmese New Year, where water is thrown on each other on the streets. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 17 April

    is a public holiday to celebrate Burma's New Year. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 1 May

    is May Day, honouring the economic and social achievements of workers. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 6 May

    is the Full Moon of Kason, the anniversary of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha, celebrated by watering the Bodhi tree. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 3 July

    is the Full Moon of Waso, or the beginning of Buddhist Lent. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 19 July

    is Martyr's Day, commemorating the assassination of Aung San, a revolutionary said to be the father of modern Burma, and several other cabinet members in 1947. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 29 October

    is the Full Moon of Thadingyut festival, marking the end of Buddhist Lent. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 28 November

    is the Full Moon of Tasaungmon, marking the end of the rainy season. It also holds religious significance. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 8 December

    is National Day, the anniversary of university students' strikes in 1920. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 25 December

    is Christmas Day, a public holiday in Burma. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • Health & Fitness

    Travellers to Burma should take precautions as they would elsewhere in Asia. In remote areas medical facilities can be particularly basic. Some of the diseases known to exist in Burma include malaria, hepatitis A & B, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, dengue fever, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/ AIDS.

    We recommend you take adequate preventative measures to minimise your risk of exposure to these health risks. We strongly recommend you consult your preferred doctor for the most up-to-date health advice at least one month prior to travel.

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  • Visa Information

    All persons entering Burma require a visa. Travellers need a tourist visa which must be obtained from a Burmese embassy (Embassy of the Union of Myanmar) or consulate abroad before departure. Please check with the Embassy in your country for up-to-date information regarding the visa application process.

    Usually, applications must be accompanied by a detailed itinerary for your trip and a letter from your travel agent confirming the exact details of your international flights into and out of Burma. At the time of writing, Burmese embassies in Australia, the UK and North America advise that visa processing takes at least 14 working days.

    Additionally, you must allow time to send your passport to the Embassy in your country and for it then to be returned to you. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you to start arranging your visa at least 45 days prior to your departure.

    Please note Burmese visa regulations and arrangements are subject to change and it is your responsibility to ensure your visa is in order before you travel. We strongly suggest that you check with the relevant embassies in your country of residence that these guidelines are applicable to you.

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  • Safety and security

    Burma is generally a safe destination by world standards, but the usual common sense precautions apply. In recent years petty street crime in large cities has risen. We recommend you take taxis rather than walk at night, but make sure you negotiate the fare upfront. Ensure you obtain a hotel address card to show to taxi drivers.

    Throughout your stay, keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers in a safe place separate from the originals. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes wherever possible.

    In large cities, we recommend you wear minimal jewellery and keep your spending money close to your body in a secure place. Read our safety guidelines for further information.

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Reading

 

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  • 'The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

    - a historical novel spanning a century, from the fall of the Konbaung Dynasty in Mandalay to modern times. It explores issues from the changing economic landscapes of Burma and India to national identity.

  • Burmese Days: A Novel by George Orwell

    - first published in 1934, this novel explores the last days of British colonialism, with an emphasis on its dark side.

  • Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin

    - a political travelogue chronicling a year spent travelling in Burma following in George Orwell's footsteps, revealing the struggles of life in modern day Burma.

  • Golden Earth: Travels in Burma by Norman Lewis

    - a colourful travel narrative written in the 1950s after the author explored Burma by any means possible, including hitchhiking on various transport modes.

  • The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason

    - a fictional account of a middle aged piano turner commissioned by the British War Office to venture into the remote jungles of Burma to repair an army surgeon's rare piano, exploring the country in the process.

  • Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi

    - a series of 52 poignant letters written by Burma's leading voice for human rights and democracy. Her letters reveal insight into the effect of political decisions on ordinary citizens' lives.

Useful words & phrases

  • Hello

    Min-gala-ba

  • How are you?

    K'amya (m)/shin (f) ne-kaun-yeh-la?

  • I'm fine

    Kown dair

  • No

    Mahouq-pa-bu

  • Yes

    Houq-keh

  • Thank you

    Jay su

  • Thank you very much

    Jay su be

  • It's nothing (You're welcome)

    Keiq-sa mashi-ba-bu

  • What's your name

    K'aya(m)/shin (f) na-meh beh-lok'aw­ dhaleh

  • My name is...

    Canaw (m)/cama (f) ... lo k'aw-ba-deh

  • Do you speak English?

    K'aya(m)/shin (f) in-galeiq-zaga lo pyaw-daq-thala?

  • I'm glad to meet you

    K'aya(m)lshin (f) neh twe-ya-da wun-thaba-deh

  • Getting around

    Arrival and departure transfers

    In Burma's cities, groups of six or more travellers use latest model air-conditioned buses with 20 to 30 seats to get around. Modern sedan cars and minibuses are used with smaller groups and in more remote locations. Where road conditions are bumpy, 4WD vehicles are used.

    In cities and towns and while exploring Burma's sites, expect to use a combination of boats, bicycles and your own two feet. Domestic flights are on local carriers including the privately owned Air Bagan, Air Mandalay and Yangon Airways. Taxis are readily available and cheap, though you must negotiate the fare before setting out as they are not metered.

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  • Internet

    Internet services in Burma are generally inexpensive outside hotels, and widely available. Telephone and internet connections can be unreliable throughout the country, especially outside the large cities. You will most likely find your mobile phone won't work in Burma, even with global roaming. International phone facilities can be found in the main towns and cities, though call costs are expensive.

    Most hotels provide international direct dial for additional costs. Reverse charge calls are also available in major centres for a fee. International post charges are slightly less than in Western countries, and it can take 14 days to reach its destination. Customs officials inspect outgoing packages at the post office before they are sealed, and boxes are usually available.

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  • Food & drink

    The food in Burma is heavily influenced by Chinese and Indian cuisines, with rice a mainstay and curries very popular. They are often similar to those eaten in Northern India, with fewer spices and more ginger and garlic added. Regional specialties are generally hot and spicy, often consisting of fish, rice, noodles or vegetables.

    Dishes to try include Mohingal, a fish soup with rice, Lethok Son, a spicy vegetarian rice salad, Oh-no Khauk Swe, noodles, chicken and coconut in a spicy sauce, and Mandalay's famed 'mee-shay' noodles.

    Fresh local fruits are widely available in the markets, and Chinese, Indian and Thai food are commonplace at hotels and restaurants. Tap water should be avoided, however bottled water is widely available and usually provided free in hotel rooms.

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  • Tipping

    We believe tipping is a great way to show your appreciation for receiving great service, and while it is accepted practice in Asia, it should never feel like an obligation. At the beginning of each trip, your Western tour leader or local guide will ask for a small sum (around 50 cents a day) to cover tips for hotel porters and boat crews throughout the trip.

    This helps prevent over tipping and having to always carry small change. We are confident that you will be extremely happy with the service you receive from our guides, drivers and tour leaders, and in many cases will choose to show this through a tip, so we do not include compulsory tipping for any Travel Indochina representatives on any of our trips. The choice to tip is always completely up to you.

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  • Swimming

    In Burma swimming pools can be found at many of the hotels, particularly in the more developed towns and cities. There are also opportunities for swimming at the country's beautiful coast, such as the white sand beaches of Ngapali on the Bay of Bengal.

    Please be aware that safety standards may not be the same as at home, and beaches are not patrolled by lifeguards. Children should be supervised at all times while swimming.

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  • Responsible travel

    With Burma's sudden surge in popularity, it is crucial that we engage in meaningful ways which are sustainable for the communities and environment. We have included horse-cart rides in Mandalay and Ava, which are gentle on the horses yet allow their owners to earn income from the growing tourism industry. Learn more about our focus on responsible travel.

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