Country guides Asia
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European plugs with two circular metal pins are most common.
Burmese is the official language, yet English is widely spoken and understood.
The official currency is the kyat (MMK) - pronounced 'Chat'. The best foreign currency to travel on in Myanmar is the US dollar, but it is less of an alternative currency than it once was. Notes will not be accepted if they are damaged or torn in any way, or have pen marks on them.
There is a big difference between the official and unofficial exchange rates in Myanmar, with street moneychangers offering more favourable rates than official channels. It's risky to change money with people on the street, though many tourists do.
ATMs accepting international credit cards are increasingly common in cities, towns and tourist areas, but machines don't always work in areas that are off the beaten track.
The Burmese offer their help freely and genuinely, and don't expect much in return, though gratuity is greatly appreciated. Tipping 10 percent on a meal is considered quite generous. Porters, drivers and tour guides expect a small tip.
Vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are recommended for all travellers. Malaria is common in Myanmar, especially during the rainy season (May to October) and visitors are usually encouraged to take anti-malaria medication, although there is no danger if you are only visiting the cities of Yangon and Mandalay. Travellers from yellow fever infected areas require a vaccination certificate to enter Myanmar. If you will be spending a lot of time outdoors in rural areas you should also consider getting vaccinated for rabies and Japanese encephalitis.
The tap water should not be drunk but bottled water is available throughout the country.
There are basic medical facilities in Yangon (Rangoon) and Mandalay, but in general medical facilities in Myanmar are poor and evacuation is recommended for serious medical cases. Payment in cash is usually required before any treatment. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.
Due to the ongoing risk of armed conflict, travellers are advised to avoid some parts of Myanmar, including most of the states of Rakhine and Kachin and the north of the state of Shan. Special care should be taken in border areas; there are only a handful of legal crossing points. While Myanmar does boast one of the lowest crime rates in the world, violent political protests are still common and should be avoided at all costs. Visitors are also advised not to take any photographs of the police, military, or demonstrations.
The monsoon season is June to September in the southwest of Myanmar and December to April in the northeast, and flooding may occur. Severe weather often also precedes monsoon season.
It is rude to step over any part of a person or touch an adult on the head, and hugging and kissing in public is frowned upon. Most Burmese families don't wear shoes in their homes and if visiting it is advised to remove shoes before entering the house. Monks should be treated with respect, even if they are children, and women should not speak to or touch monks. Religion practices, beliefs and sites should be treated with respect; insulting religion is a prosecutable offense in Myanmar. Homosexuality is technically illegal but the law is seldom enforced.
Business hours are generally 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday. Lightweight suits are recommended during the day and jackets are needed for top-level meetings. Most commercial business transactions will be conducted in English. Business cards in Burmese script can be useful. It is important to maintain trust, honesty, and friendship in a business relationship. Favours received, such as a reference, should be repaid later in the future.
Two litres of liquor, 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250gm of tobacco, and 150ml of perfume are allowed per person. Valuables including jewellery, cameras, electronic equipment, etc, should be declared at customs upon arrival. Purchases of locally bought goods may require receipts upon departure.
The international dialing code for Myanmar (Burma) is +95. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code. Most businesses in the country list a few numbers, as landlines often go dead and calls don't go through. Prepaid SIM cards are widely available and travellers can expect to find wifi in big cities, where most hotels and guesthouses, and some restaurants will usually offer it for free. The government has been known to monitor and censor internet usage and some websites may not be available.
Passport & Visa
All foreign passengers to Myanmar must hold confirmed return/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination. They will also require a tourist visa, which is valid for 28 days. Note that applications for visa extensions are not possible once in Myanmar; however, a fine of USD 3 per day overstayed, can be paid at Immigration upon departure. Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Myanmar, if arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months' validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Myanmar. A visa is required.
British citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Myanmar. A visa is required.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Myanmar. A visa is required.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Myanmar. A visa is required.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Myanmar. A visa is required.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Myanmar. A visa is required.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Myanmar. A visa is required.
Ministry of Hotels and Tourism: www.tourism.gov.mm/Emergencies: 199 (police); 191 (fire); 192 (ambulance).
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Embassy of Myanmar, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 332 3344.
Embassy of Myanmar, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (0) 20 7499 4340.
Embassy of Myanmar, Ontario, Canada: +1 613 232 9990.
Embassy of Myanmar, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 (0)2 6273 3811, 6273 3751.
Embassy of Myanmar, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 341 2557/2556.
Embassies / consulates in Myanmar
United States Embassy, Yangon (Rangoon): +95 1 536 509.
British Embassy, Yangon (Rangoon): +95 1 370 865.
Canadian Embassy, Yangon (Rangoon): +95 1 384 805.
Australian Embassy, Yangon (Rangoon): +95 1 230 7410.
South African Embassy, Bangkok, Thailand (also responsible for Myanmar): +66 2 659 2900.
New Zealand Embassy, Yangon (Rangoon): +95 1 230 6046.