Myanmar Basics

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The Basics


Time: Local time is GMT +6.30

Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European plugs with two circular metal pins are most common.

Money: The official currency is the Kyat (MMK) pronounced 'Chat'. The best foreign currency to travel on in Myanmar is the US Dollar. The Foreign Exchange Certificate (FEC) is a legal currency for visiting tourists that is usable in government shops and hotels. US Dollar 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; street moneychangers offer favourable rates at hotels and markets. Few major hotels, airlines, shops, and restaurants accept credit cards and ATM cards can rarely, if ever, be used. It is advisable to carry cash.

Currency Exchange Rates

MMK100.00 = USD 0.07GBP 0.05CAD 0.09AUD 0.10ZAR 0.96EUR 0.06NZD 0.10
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Burmese is the official language, yet English is widely spoken and understood.

Entry requirements for Americans: 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.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: 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.

Entry requirements for Canadians: 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.

Entry requirements for Australians: 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.

Entry requirements for South Africans: 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.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: 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.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: 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.

Passport/Visa Note: 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. Foreign passengers are only allowed to travel to/from Myanmar by air or sea, and will be required to convert a minimum of USD 200 into local currency upon their arrival in the country. 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.

Travel Health: 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 unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected. 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.

Tipping: 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.

Safety Information: 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.

Local Customs: 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: Business hours are generally 9.30am to 4.30pm 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 repayed later in the future.

Communications: The international dialling code for Myanmar (Burma) is +95. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code. The area code for Yangon (Rangoon) is (1) and Mandalay is (2). Internet cafes are widely available in Mandalay and Yangon and public telephone booths can be found on nearly every street corner as well as at railway stations and airports; however, international calls are expensive. The government has been known to monitor and censor internet usage and some websites may not be available.

Duty Free: Two bottles of liquor, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, and half litre 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.