Voltage: 230V, Frequency: 50Hz
Kyat (MMK) exchange rates
UTC +6:30 hours
What to expect
Burma is a beautiful, captivating country home to a diverse array of ethnic groups and some unforgettable sites and landscapes. Its relatively undeveloped nature means venturing out to rural regions is a rewarding and fascinating way to gain greater insights into the country and its people.
There are beautiful scenes from lush jungles to the Irrawaddy River, and beyond to the stunning coastline. Infrastructure in Burma is quite undeveloped, so you may encounter power cuts, uncomfortable road journeys or changes to your itinerary.
It is essential to 'keep face' in Burma and remain patient and calm in your dealings with people. A stay in Burma can be a magical experience, with warm, hospitable people, stunning sights and a greater understanding of this compelling country.
From Los Angeles
approximately 17 hours
From New York
approximately 17.5 hours
Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the vacations listed here. As major vacations are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our the USA-based Asia specialists for details.
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.
is Peasants' Day, commemorating the anniversary of revolutionary leader Ne Win's coup in 1962. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is a public vacation honoring 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.
is Armed Forces Day, a public vacation to recognize Burma's military regime, the Tatmadaw. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
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.
is a public vacation to celebrate Burma's New Year. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is May Day, honoring the economic and social achievements of workers. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
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.
is the Full Moon of Waso, or the beginning of Buddhist Lent. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
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.
is the Full Moon of Thadingyut festival, marking the end of Buddhist Lent. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
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.
is National Day, the anniversary of university students' strikes in 1920. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is Christmas Day, a public vacation in Burma. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
Health & Fitness
Travelers to Burma should take the same health precautions as they would elsewhere in the region. Outside major centers medical facilities can be very basic. Some of the diseases known to exist in Burma include hepatitis A & B, typhoid, tuberculosis, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, diphtheria, dengue fever, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/ AIDS.
It is strongly advisable to take adequate preventative measures to minimize your risk of exposure to these and other risks. We strongly recommend that you consult with your doctor at least one month prior to travel for relevant health advice.
All travelers to Burma must possess a visa. A tourist visa which must be obtained from a Burmese embassy (Embassy of the Union of Myanmar) or consulate before travel. Please consult with the embassy in your home country for current visa application advice. For US residents we have partnered with CIBT visa service who can assist in obtaining a visa, click here for more information.
Applications usually have to 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 the US, Australia and the UK advise that at least 14 days are required to process a visa.
It is also essential that you 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 allow at least 45 days before your departure date to arrange your visa.
It is important to note that the Burmese visa situation is subject to change and you must be responsible for ensuring your visa is in order before you travel. We strongly suggest that you consult with the relevant embassies in home country for current guidelines.
Safety and security
Burma is a relatively safe destination, although the usual safety precautions do apply. Petty street crime has risen in the cities in recent years, so it is best to take cabs at night rather than walk. Fares should be negotiated in advance with the driver, and you may also wish to show them your hotel's business card so they are clear on your destination.
It is advisable to keep photocopies of essential travel documents such as your passport, credit card numbers and airline tickets in a secure place apart from the originals. You should also keep valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes if provided, wear minimal jewelry and keep cash secure to your body. Read our safety guidelines for further information.
'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 traveling 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 colorful 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
How are you?
K'amya (m)/shin (f) ne-kaun-yeh-la?
Thank you very much
Jay su be
It's nothing (You're welcome)
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
Arrival and departure transfers
Groups of six or more passengers travel in air-conditioned buses with 20-30 seats, while modern sedan cars and minibuses are used for smaller groups and in less developed areas. 4WD vehicles are used in regions with rough road conditions.
When exploring Burma's fascinating sites and towns, you might use various modes of transport including bicycles, boats and your own two feet. Domestic flights are on the privately owned Air Bagan, Yangon Airways and Air Mandalay. It is possible to catch cabs, though these are unmetered. Although very affordable and readily available, you will need to negotiate your fare with the driver upfront.
Internet services are widely available in Burma and are usually quite inexpensive. You may experience intermittent telephone and internet connections, particularly outside major centers. Your cell phone may not operate in Burma, even if you have global roaming.
It is possible to make international phone calls from major towns and cities though these can be expensive. International direct dial is commonly available from hotels at an extra cost, and reverse charge phone calls can usually be made for a fee.
It costs slightly less to send international mail than from Western countries, and mail can take approximately 14 days to reach its destination. Any packages will be inspected by Customs staff at the post office prior to being sealed, and boxes are usually for sale if needed.
Food & drink
Burmese cuisine features influences from Chinese and Indian cuisines, with curries very popular and rice a common staple. Less spices are typically used in the curries, though more ginger and garlic are often added for flavor.
Specialties vary by region, and some can be quite spicy. Tasty dishes to sample include Mohingal, which is a fish soup with rice, and Oh-no Khauk Swe, coconut and chicken in a spicy sauce. There is also a delicious spicy vegetarian rice salad, Lethok Son and Mandalay's famous 'mee-shay' noodles to try.
Aside from Burmese dishes, Thai, Indian and Chinese food can be commonly found at restaurants and in hotels, and there is an abundance of fresh fruit for sale in the markets. You should not consume the tap water in Burma, however bottled water is readily available and usually provided in hotel rooms for free.
Tipping is an accepted practice throughout Asia, yet is not considered compulsory. If you wish to demonstrate appreciation for great service, it is acceptable to tip, though not obligatory. At the start of your trip, your Western tour leader or local guide will collect a small amount of money (usually 50 cents per day) to cover tips for local service staff.
Compulsory tipping is not included on our trips, however we are sure you will be more than satisfied with service levels from Travel Indochina representatives including tour leaders and drivers. The choice to tip, however, is entirely yours.
There are opportunities to swim in hotel swimming pools found mainly in the country's more developed areas. You can also swim at the beach if venturing to Burma's beautiful coastline on the Bay of Bengal. It is important to note that lifeguards do not patrol beaches and safety standards are different to what you are used to, so it is essential to monitor your personal safety and that of any children you many be traveling with.
As Burma has emerged from a relatively closed country to one firmly on the tourist map, we believe it is essential to engage in sustainable travel that benefits the local people as well as the environment. In Mandalay and Ava we incorporate horse-cart rides, which support their owners with income yet have a low impact on the horses. Learn more about our responsible travel approach.