|Please always bear in mind travel takes people into new and unusual situations, so don’t expect things to be the same as home. In Myanmar you will find the way of life, points of view and patterns of conduct differ somewhat from what you may be used to. We hope you can enjoy this diversity, because that’s what travel is all about!
Clothing and Dress
Dress for comfort. Comfortable shoes are essential. Include a sun hat and small folding umbrella in case of rain (and as added protection against hot sun, too). Formal dress is not required, but there may be occasions when you’d like to dress up a bit, so pack one good outfit. Bring along a swimsuit as all hotels we use have a swimming pool. Temperatures will be warm throughout, but bring along a sweater as evenings may get chilly, especially at Inle Lake and in the hill tribe areas. Try not to overpack.
Burmese food is a blend of Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisines. Rice is standard with most meals. Myanmar is famous for its rice growing. It ranks sixth largest producer of rice in the world (it was, at one time, the second largest). Seafood dishes are popular in coastal areas, while meat and chicken dishes are more common inland. There are always many vegetarian choices, reflecting the deeply religious nature of the people. Buddhists avoid beef while Moslems regard pork as taboo. Breakfasts are buffet style at the hotels. Beer and soft drinks are readily available. As a standard precaution, don’t drink untreated, unboiled water or eat unwashed vegetables or fruits. Do use extreme caution with street foods.
Tap water should not be drunk, unless it has been boiled
or treated. The hotels provide thermoses of hot water
in the rooms. You can use this source without worry
either for tea, or by uncapping overnight, as drinking
water for daytime use. Bottled water is widely available,
but purchase only from reputable dealers. Be wary if someone
offers you bottled water or bottled orange soda for a
low, low price; it could be counterfeit and unsafe to
Myanmar is famous for its gems and jade, lacquerware, wood carvings, arts and crafts, tapestries and silk products. One of the prime shopping districts is Scott Market, a short walk from Traders Hotel in Yangon. There, you'll find almost everything; bargaining is expected, so be prepared to test your skills. Bear in mind, though, you generally get precisely what you pay for.
We use first-class hotels equipped with private facilities and modern amenities. In places without star-rated hotels, we use best available..
Laundry services are provided at all hotels.
For general tourist information you cannot go wrong with Lonely Planet or Rough Guides, but for more in-depth understanding of the people, customs and history we can recommend several choices, including;
Burmese Days by George Orwell
From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe
The Trouser People by Andrew Marshall
Three Pagoda Pass by George Fetherling
History of Burma by Maung Htin Aung
Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin
Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan
The Lady by Barbara Victor
We welcome any titles you feel should be included in this list.
No vaccinations or inoculations are required, but consult with your physician if you have any concerns. Hepatitis A and B are generally recommended. If you decide to have these shots, give yourself plenty of time in case you have a reaction. Western medicines are not readily available, expect in the largest cities, so we'd recommend you pack a supply of basic medicines you may need. The best way to stay healthy is frequent washing hands and being cautious about what you eat or drink. For more information go to Health Canada or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
Jet lag/Dealing with long flights
Everyone deals with long flights in their own way but here are some tips to make it easier on yourself. Cut back caffeine and alcohol, drink lots of liquids, and rest as much as you can. Melatonin works for some people, but not all. Don't remain in one position too long; get up and move at least once every two hours.
The Myanmar currency is called the kyat. Officially the exchange rate is around 6.5 kyat to the dollar but is subject to fluctuations. As the country doesn't have an open currency market; there is a flourishing black market. In Yangon the most common exchanges are found in Scott or Bogyoke Market or along Sule Pagoda Road, both within easy walking distance of Traders Hotel. Myanmar poses real challenges for travelers in other respects. Credit cards are not accepted at most places, and where they are a huge service charge may be added. The same applies to traveler's cheques, which are, as a rule, not accepted. Forget about ATMs; they don't exist. Travelers must bring spending money in cash: US dollars, Euros, British pounds, or Japanese yen, and then either discreetly use the currencies to make purchases, or find a black market to exchange into kyat. For current official rate go to http://www.xe.com/ucc.
Myanmar is one of just three countries worldwide that have not adopted the metric system as their official system of measurement. The other two countries are United States and Liberia. All three still rely on traditional, Imperial,l measurements counting distances in miles, weights in pounds and fluids in quarts and gallons. Metric measurements are used in tandem in some cases, however.
Electricity in Myanmar is 230 volts, 50 cycles. Hotels have outlets for electric razors. If you bring small appliances or a computer you’ll need a converter kit and international plug set, which can be obtained at most travel shops or electronic stores. Most hotels have hair dyers, irons and special outlets for computers in the room.
The official language of Myanmar is Burmese, spoken by about 65 per cent of the people as a first language. English is widely used on signs and is taught in schools as a second language. Many elderly Burmese speak English, having grown up when the country was part of the British Commonwealth, but their number is fast dying out. American music and movies, and the Internet, are providing a younger generation added incentives to learn English, but the military regime is adamant about making Burmese the first language of instruction and use in the country. Altogether there are 107 separate languages spoken in Myanmar. The major ones, with number of speakers in brackets, are: Shan (3.2 million), Karen (2.6 million), Kachin (almost 1 million), followed by Chin, Mon and Rakhine.
Illegal drugs or politically or sexually explicit material are strictly taboo. Be guarded against prostitution; the consequences can be severe and can lead to expulsion form the country. Take standard precautions to protect your belongings, especially when you are out shopping. Lock your luggage. Don’t change money on the street, no matter how tempting the deal may seem. Leave you passport, air ticket and money in a safe in your room or in the hotel’s security box. Top
Your suitcase should not exceed 62 inches (sum of height, width and length), or weigh more than 44 pounds (20 kilos). And your carry-on should not weigh more than 5 kilos or exceed 22 inches by 14 inches by nine inches in size. You are allowed two check-in pieces of luggage on international flights, but only one on China’s domestic flights. The weight and number are strictly adhered to. If you are over the limit you may have to pay a surcharge. Please note that while we provide baggage handling as much as we can, but there may be instances when porter services are not available. For that reason do make sure you are able to carry your bag for short distances. Top
Tipping is part of travel no matter where you go. Service providers depend on the income to support themselves and their families, so it is important not to overlook the accepted practice. We recommend you budget $8 per day for guides and drivers. We collect the tips in group-tour situations, and the tour manager then makes the disbursements as required. Very small groups and independent travelers will have to do this on their own. We'll provide guidelines. The tour manager tip is separate from any others. The normal per diem tip in his or her case is $3 to $5 per day. Top