Travelling Myanmar

Shewdagon-Paya

Swedagon Paya, photo credit goes to : Liew Fook Seng

Myanmar has always been closed to the outside world and only is recently slowly opening up to visitors. Despite the cruel history of oppression, Myanmar is a gem waiting to be discovered by tourist who are brave enough to venture into it.

Here are some tips on how to travel Myanmar

First of all there are only 12 ATM machines in whole of Myanmar and none of these are connected to the world. At Myanmar , credit card has almost no usage there. The only place where credit card is usable is the few international hotel in Yangon but it’s subjected to 40% commission charge. Travelers cheque has no use in this country even if it’s accepted there will be more than 40% commission on it.

Cash is King

Only USD is accepted officially for a foreigner in Myanmar. You will have to bring lots of them from your country.  This is quite a pain to bring all the money in USD with you when travelling for a long period. The make the matter worse, only fresh like mint USD are accepted in Myanmar. There should be no pencil marks , pen marks, dent, even a slightest 1mm thorn will make the money worthless as toilet paper. As a precaution make sure the USD looks fresh before going into that country.

The official currency in Myanmar would be Kyat.  The rate varies however it’s only legal for you to exchange the it 1usd – 800 kyat at official government money changer. This rate is quite exorbitant as black market rate would be around 1usd to 1000 Kyat.  It’s illegal to change in black mark and tourist has been landed with 1 year jail in that country. Be vary to change with Indians in Yangon as they are known to cheat and steal your money. There are also a lot cases where people were intentionally distracted during the exchange process and some of their money were stolen.

 

Travel guidebook and internet

If you are travelling independently, it is almost impossible to find a Myanmar travel guidebook at Malaysia which you may need to buy and ship it from overseas in advance. You should do your research way in advance and there will be limited Internet access in Myanmar. Most of the websites are blocked.

 

Visa

At the moment it seems that every country needs a Visa to enter Myanmar even you are from an ASEAN country! Visa is applicable at  Myanmar Embassy , Jalan Hilir Ampang , Kuala Lumpur.  Open only on weekdays. Visa application: 9.30 to 12pm  , Visa Collection 4:00PM to 5:00PM.  To obtain a visa, you’ll need 2 passport size photos,  Photocopy of your airtickets and first page of your passport.  Cost RM 150 for 2 working days processing , RM 80 for 5 working days processing.

 

Despite all the bureaucracy hoo haa ,  Myanmar is worth travelling.