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MYANMAR (Burma) - Peter M. Geiser's Hotel and Travel Guide

Myanmar is also known as Burma. The country has a long and varied
history, from kingdom to outpost of the British Empire to independent
country (see also the book below).

The main tourist spots are Yangon (Rangoon), Mandalay, Inle Lake,
and of course the huge temple area of Bagan (Pagan).

 Inle Lake

General Information
 Geographical Information
 Border Crossing
 Travel Permits
 Money Rates and Currency 
Cheat Sheet



MYANMAR (Burma) - Peter M. Geiser's Hotel and Travel Guide

Copyright (c) 1995 - 2005, Peter M. Geiser



New series by Peter M. Geiser and Sibylle Dussy, with many photos:

"Classics", FAQ of

Hotel guides



For books, please have a look at the online version at



Myanmar requires a visa. It is valid for one month starting from the
day you enter the country, and you have to enter the country at most
three months from the day of issue.

It is possible (Apr 95) to get a one day or a three day visa directly
at the border station of Mae Sai (northern Thailand). The one day visa
was USD 5.

For details on how to get a visa in specific countries, have a look at
the embassy section.





The main entry and exit point of Myanmar is the airport of Yangon.

Official Entry and Exit Procedures

The 'official' entry and exit procedures (as stated from the Ministry
of Tourism) are as listed below. In practice, they are not quite so
strictly enforced.

Entry Procedure (Airport)
1. To show your passport, entry-visa, disembarkation card and other
   relevant documents to the officers at the immigration counter
   (foreigners' section)
2. To exchange 300 USD for F.E.C. at the counter of Myanmar Foreign
   Trade Bank (MFTB)
3. To let customs officers examine your passport and declaration
   forms at the customs counter
4. To pick up your luggage taken in by the conveyor-belt
5. To declare, if any, electrical goods/camera/jewellery and
   foreign currencies at the customs counter
6. To settle custom duties, if required, through the red channel
7. To let customs preventive officers inspect your luggage
8. To let immigration officers re-examine your passport

Departure Procedure (Airport)
1. To get your ticket confirmed at the airlines concerned
2. To pay the airport tax (6 USD in cash) at the airport
3. To show your passport and airport tax receipt at the counter of
   the airline concerned so as to receive your boarding-pass
4. To let the immigration officers examine your passport and
   embarkation card
5. To submit your passport and declaration form at the customs counter
6. To let the customs preventive officers inspect your luggare
7. To go through a body-search.

To point 4: you also have to give the examination card that you got
during check-in and the officer will stamp you passport.


It is should possible to cross overland from Yunnan province in China
and from Thailand, also there are differing reports.

Valid entry points from Yunnan are Lwage, Namhkan, Muse, Kyukokand

There are differing reports on entering from Thailand. While some
state that it is possible to enter at Tachilek opposite Mae Sai and
travel to Kyaing Tong, others state that this border is closed. Mae
Sot and Ronong are also reported closed. Get the latest information
once you are there and be prepared to be turned around.

Day return cross-border traffic is also allowed at Ayeyawaddy,
Three-Pagoda Pass and Kawthaung.



Following is a list of officialy accessible regions, published in
April 1995 by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Do not take this
list as unchangable truth, officials might not have heard of it, or do
not want to follow it and still try to prevent you from going to some

Kachin State

   Package tours (PT) organizcd by operators are permitted in Hopeng,
   Mohnyin, Mogaung, Inndawgyi, Bhamo, Myintkyina and up to Putao.

   Foreign Independent  travelers (FIT) are allowed in Myintkyina and up
   to Putao.

   Travel by rail or air.

Shan State (North)

   Package Tours and FITs are allowed internally up to Lashio. Travel by
   air or rail.

   Arrivals from PRC by road via Muse. Namhkam, Kyukok and Kunlong entry
   point are allowed up to Lashio. 

   For travel to lashio, a border pass is necessary. 100 FEC units must be

   A visa is required for travel to Mandalay and Yangon via Lashio. 300
   FEC units must be changed. Travel by air or rail.

Shan State (South)

   Tourists travelling internally are allowed to go to Taunggyi, Innlay,
   Pindaya, Kalaw and lawksauk. Both PT and FIT allowed. Travel by air or
   rail or road. 

   Passage is allowed internally to Kengtung and Tachilek. Travel by air.

   Arrivals from China are allowed via Mongla to Kengtung and Tachilek.
   Exchange USD 100 for Kengtung and USD 200 for Tachilek. Border pass

   Travel to the interior via Kengtung and Tachilek by air requires
   visa. Exchange USD 300.

Kayah State

   Travel is allowed by air, rail or road to Loikaw.

   Travel by road via Pinlaung.

Rakhine State

   Travel in Rakhine State is allowed internally to Sittway, Myauk-Oo,
   Ngapali, Thandwe, Gwa and Taunggup. Travel by air, road or sea.

   Travel is allowed by Ngathainggyaung-Gwa route and Pyay-Taunggup

   Traders from Bangladesh are allowed to Buthidaung and Sittway. Exchange
   USD 300. Visa required.

Kayin State

   Tourists are allowed travel to Thamanya, Pha-an and Hlaingbwe. Travel
   by rail or road.

Mon State

   Tourists are allowed to travel to
   Kyaikhtiyo. Kyaikhto. Thalon. Kyaikmaraw. Mawlamyine. Thanbyuzayat and
   Kyaikkhami. Travel by rail or road.

   IT allowed to Bilugyun.

Tanintharyi Division

   Tourists are allowed to Myeik, Dawei, Maungmagan, Kawthoung, Lumpi
   Island, Zadetgyi Island (exclusive of Naval Base). Travel by air or

Ayeyawady Division

   PTs are allowed to Pathein, Chaungtha, Myaungmya,  Ngathaingchaung and
   Bogalay. Travel by road/river. 

PTs are allowed to go to Alaungdaw Kassapa, Powun Taung, Monywa, Twin
Taung, Budalin, Kyaukka, Tinmabin and Yihlyantwin.

PTs and FITs are allowed in Yangon, Mandalay, Bago and Magway Divisions as

Sagaing Division

   PTs are allowed to Kalay, Hkamti and Homalin.

   Travel by air or road or river.

Chin State

   PTs are allowed to Hakha, Falam and Tiddim.

   Travel by road.

Restricted Areas
Phakant, Mogok, Mongshu and Pearl Island require application for permit
through Ministry of Hotels and Tourism to Office of Chief of Staff

Riverine Travel
ITs are allowed travel by boat on the Bhamo-Mandalay. Mandalay-Bagan-
Nyaung U, Mandalay-Yangon. Delta areas and Pha-an-Mawlamyine routes.
Travel will be arranged by the tour operators as per prescribed rules.



The currency is the Kyat (MMK) consisting 100 Pyas. There are FEC
(Foreign Exchange Certificates) for tourists. FECs are available in
equivalents of USD 1, USD 5, and USD 10.

Kyat notes are available in the following sizes: 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 35,
45, 50, 75, 90, 100, 200, 500. There is a 50 Pya note. Coins are 1, 5,
10, 25, and 50 Pya, and 1 Kyat. Coins are very rarely used. The 35 and
75 Kyat notes are uncommon and no longer issued, but still valid.
The notes should be signed "Bank of Myanmar". There are other
notes that are signed with "Bank of Burma", but it is difficult to pay
with them.

It is illegal to import or export Kyats.

People entering Myanmar will have to change USD 200 into FEC 200.
This amount has been reduced from USD 300 due to the high value of the
USD (and probably also because of increasing pressure). These FEC have
about the same value (some 5 - 10 % less) as the USD. The FECs are
treated equally to USD within the country (i.e. prices listed in USD
can be paid with FEC.) Notice: with this money you are supporting the
governemnt of Myanmar.
If you are on a guided tour and have a EVT visa, you will not have to
change these USD 200.
If you change more than the required USD 200, you can convert the
unused FEC back, but you have to have all the receipts.

It is possible to "reduce" these 200 FEC by paying admissions to
museums, in the post office etc. by using large notes. Often the
clerks do not have enough change in FEC, so they will have to return
USD. Some hotels and guest houses change back FEC to USD for a
commission of about 10%.

The rate for Kyats is 1 USD = 6.27 MMK (Jan 2003) , but this rate is
used only for official government transaction that a tourist hardly
gets involved in.
Historical development: 6.6 (Dec 2001), 3.34 (Jan 2000), 6.25 (Sep
1997 until Nov 1999), 5.88 (Oct 1996).

To get a nice small conversion table that you can put in you pocket,
look at the Currency Cheat Sheet at

Make sure you always have small change, since there are many places
that simply do not have the money to change big notes.

It is recommended to carry cash. The Buremese are honest, so there is
not much chance to get robbed. Besides, it is not quite easy to change

USD, CHF, FRF, DEM, GBP, JPY are the only acceptable currencies.

The following traveller's cheques are accepted, but only by very few
Master Card Traveller's Cheque
American Express Traveller's Cheque
Bank of Tokyo Traveller's Cheque
CITI Corp Traveller's Cheque
Visa Traveller's Cheque
Bank of America Traveller's Cheque
National Westminster Bank Ltd Traveller's Cheque
First National CITI Bank Traveller'sCheque
Swiss Bankers Traveller's Cheque
Commonwealth Bank of Australia Traveller's Cheque

Accepted credit cards are Visa, American Express and
Diners. It is possible that you will be charged an additional
commision of 3 - 5%.

Cash advances are not possible at the moment.

Opening hours for banks are 10 am to 2 pm.



Post offices are open Mo to Fr, 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Basic overseas postage is MMK 4 to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore,
Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Japan; and MMK 5 to USA or UK. There are
special Air Letters for USD 3.50.

Letters to Europe take about 10 to 14 days.



Myanmars international telephone code is 95.

Overseas calls are possible through operators at a Central Telegraph
Office or at major hotels. Some hotels also have IDD, the prefix is

Some rates for one minute:
Bangkok    USD  3.66
Australia  USD  8.50
Europe     USD 15.00

Some area codes (to dial you need the prefix 0):

Bassein              42
Magwe                63
Mandalay              2
Meiktila             64
Moulmein             32
Pegu                 52
Prome                53
Sittwe               43
Yangon                1



Accommodation is from about USD 2-5 for a room in a simple guest house
to over USD 50 in a luxury hotel.

Guest houses in Yangon start at about FEC 7, in other cities from
FEC 3.

While the official government hotels may offer more luxury than
privately run small hotels, you also support the government with the
money you pay. Consider staying in privately run accommodation



The basic diet is rice and curry. There are numerous forms of fish
paste with salad. Soup is taken wogether with the rice and other

Food costs amount to about USD 6 per day. This amount soon increases
to about USD 10 to 20 if you drink a few beers.

A cheap dish (curry or fried rice) is about MMK 70 to 100.

A good Burmese meal is about MMK 200 to 350 (without drinks).

Chinese food ranges from MMK 200 to 500 per dish (you'll eat more than
one dish per meal.)

A bottle of Mandalay Beer is about MMK 240 (market) to MMK 350

The most popular Myanmar dishes are 'Mohinga' (rice noodles with fish
gravy) for breakfast and 'Ohn-No Khaukswe' (noodles with coconut

Desserts include Sanwin-Ma-Kin (sweet cakes made with semolina, sugar,
egg, butter and coconut), banana cakes, Kyaukchaw (sea weed jelly) and

Almost every town also boasts Chinese restaurants (mainly Cantonese
and Fukinese). Indian food like Kababs and Birani are also popular.
European food is only available at bigger hotels.



This section intends to give some advice on health issues in South
East Asia. It does not cover all possibilities and in case of problems
you certainly still should visit a qualified medical doctor. This is
especially true for vaccinations.

Depending on the country you are travelling, medical facilities may
not be widely available. This is true especially for Cambodia, Laos
and Myanmar. China and Vietnam does have a wide variety of medicines,
but you may not be familiar with them. In case of serious troubles
consider leaving the country and going to a place with good facilites
(e.g. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.)

Chinese people are very aware of health problems. The Chinese medicine
is world famous and obtainable even in the smallest villages and also
many of the surrounding countries (e.g. Vietnam). However, Western
medicine is not very widely available. 

Doctors and hospitals normally expect immediate cash payment.

If you regularly need some medicine, bring enough of it with you since
chances are that you will not get the same or a replacement for it. It
is also recommended to bring one or two clean needles in case of an

Be carful not to drink water directly from the tap. Although it is not
a problem anymore in big cities like Shanghai, depending on your
resistance it is better to be safe than sorry. Especially in China,
even the smallest guest houses in the remotest villages there are
thermos bottles with boiled water. It is used to drink tea. However,
if you follow the rule of "cook it , boil it, peel it, or forget it",
you can eat and drink from any restaurant or street stall and
ridiculous things (at least for people with an average stomach) like
bringing your own chopsticks is really not necessary.


AIDS is a serious threat in many countries.

According to recent figures by UNAIDS, the United Nations program,
about half of Cambodia's prostitutes are HIV positive. The total
figure of the population with the disease is estimated at 120'000,
with the most explosive growth in Asia. Aids iis also increasing
rapidly in other countries.


The four essential steps when dealing with malaria are:
Awareness: know about the risk of malaria.
Bites by mosquitoes: prevent or avoid.
Compliance with appropriate chemoprophylaxis.
Diagnose breakthrough malaria swiftly and obtain treatment promptly.

Malaria (from Italian 'mala aira', bad air) is a life-threatening
disease and a major health risk for travelers visiting tropical
countries. It occurs when small parasites are passed from one person
to another by the bites of certain mosquitoes (Anopheles). The
parasites use red blood cells to breed and finally cause their
decay. This decay causes fever and eventually a lack of oxygen which
can, in case of a malaria cerebral, cause brain damage. Depending on
the type of malaria these fever shocks appear every three (malaria
tertiana) or four (malaria quartana) days. Death rate of malaria can
be up to 2%.

There have been many discussions on how to best deal with it and even
the doctors have not yet agreed on a single opinion.

Probably the best paper describing malaria and its prevention and cure
is from the PHLS Malaria Reference Laboratory of the London School of
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and can be found at:

Dr. Arlene Goldman published an excellent guide to the various drugs
used in malaria treatment and lists region with malaria resistance.
The URL is


The parasitic infection bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is caught by
contact with river water. You do not have to drink the water or swim
in the river, just getting wet may be enough. The microscopic
parasites in the water burrow into your skin and cause a damage to the
liver and other organs. It is a chronic debilitation disease. The most
dangerous region is in south Laos (south of Pakse) and in Cambodia.



Maynmar has five international airports, Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan,
Nyaung-O, and Heho.

There are direct flights between Yangon and Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur,
Singapore, Jakarta, Dhaka, Kunming, Moscow and Vientiane.

The airlines serving Yangon are Myanmar Airways International, Thai
Airwais International, Silk Air, Biman, CAAC and Aeroflot.

Some addresses of airlines in Yangon:
Aeroflot Airline, 182 (B), Dhamma Zedi Road.
Air France, 69, Sule Pagoda Road.
Biman Airline, 106, Pansodan St.
China Airline, 104, Strand Road.
KLM, 104, Strand Road.
Myanma Airways International, 123, Sule Pagoda Road.  Tel 89772,
    89773, 89774.
Myanma Airways, 104, Strand Road.
Nepal Airlines, 104, Strand Road.
North West Orient Airlines, 36, Shwebontha St.
Silk Air, 537, Merchant St.
Thai Airways International, 441/445, Maha Bandoola St.

There are two domestic airlines, Air Mandalay Ltd. and Yangon

Myanmar Airwais International now has Boeing 737-400 machines and are
quite nice.

It seems to be a hassle to get tickets, so it might be wise to pay a
tout USD 2 to buy the tickets for you.

Between Yangon and Bangkok are two flights each day, one in the
morning and one in the afternoon. The return ticket should cost you
about USD 170 or FEC 98 for a single with Myanmar Airways
International and USD 250 with Thai Airwais International.

Air Mandalay operates two flights per week between Yangon and Chiang

Since 12 February 2000 there is a direct flight between Mandalay and
Bangkok. It is operated by Angel Air.

There are flights by Bangkok Airways between Chinag Mai and Mandalay.
Upon arrival at Mandalay you have to pay a USD 24 visa fee and a
USD 71 "service charge for landing".

There is a direct flight between Hong Kong and Yangon twice a week.
UB238 Hong Kong - Yangon  dep 17:40, arr 19:25
UB237 Yangon - Hong Kong  dep 12:00, arr 16:40

The departure tax in Yangon is USD 6.

Flight Schedule

The schedule was effective from 7 Dec 94 to 31 March 95, and has now
been greatly expanded. Make sure you check for latest timetables.
Aircraft: ATR 72-210 QC: 80 Seats

                      Days          Flight     Dep    Arr     Meals
From Yangon (RGN) To
Bagan     NYU  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  6T 001    07:45  09:00  Breakfast
Mandalay  MDL  1     3        6     6T 003    12:10  13:40  Lunch

From Mandalay (MDL) To
Heho      HEH  1     3        6     6T 002    09:20  14:45  Lunch
Yangon    RGN  1     3        6     6T 004    10:15  11:45  Lunch
Yangon    RGN           4        7  6T 006    10:15  11:45  Lunch
Yangon            2        5        6T 008    13:40  15:10  Light Meal

From Bagan (NYU) To
Mandalay  MDL  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  6T 001    09:20  09:50  Refreshment

From Heho (HEH) To
Yangon    RGN  1              6     6T 002    14:55  16:10  Light Meal



Some distances of railways between major cities:

  Yangon to Myitkyina  1'162 km (722 miles)
  Yangon to Mandalay     620 km (385 miles)
  Yangon to Lashio       901 km (560 miles)
  Yangon to Mawlamyine   287 km (178 miles)
  Yangon to Pyay         259 km (161 miles)

There are three trains between Yangon and Mandalay every day, at 5 pm,
at 6:30 pm and at 7 pm. A one way ticket in the upper class cost about
USD 32 to 38, depending on the train. The newest report states that
there are four trains, all costing USD 32:

Dep.   6:00   17:00   18:30   19:30
Arr.  21:10    7:00    8:30   10:35

The trains from Mandalay to Yangon leave daily:

Dep.   6:00   15:15   17:30   18:30
Arr.  21:30    5:20    7:30   10:00

There is a train to Molmeyn.

From Mandalay to Bagan, there is a daily overnight train service.

The train between Mandalay and Myitkina is USD 27 for upper class.

There is a special counter for tourists in Yangon, Mandalay and Thazi.
Of course, at this counter you have to buy the specially priced

In smaller cities it is possible to buy tickets in ordinary class. The
train between Myitkina and Mandalay is then only USD 1.

The express trains between major tourist spots are very comfortable
with new, reclining seats). The ordinary coaches look more like made
for animal transport.

Do not forget earplugs if you want to sleep during a night ride, since
very loud Burmese music is played.



Myanmar has many rivers with lots of transportation.

Ayeyarwady River   1'550 km (963 mi)
Chindwin River       792 km (492 mi)
Thanlwin River        89 km ( 55 mi)
Kaladan River        177 km (110 mi)
Saing Tin River      129 km ( 80 mi)
Sittoung River     current too strong

There is a luxury cruise ship running between Mandalay and Bagan on
the Ayeyarwady Princess. There are also numerous regular boats. The
government boat is FEC 11, the privately run boats are FEC 17. The
boats leave at 6 am (for one FEC, the hostel will provide for
transport to the ferry terminal). The trip takes about 10 hours.



Ordinary buses are old, cheap, convenient, uncomfortable, and
extremely crowded. There are more expensive and comfortable express
busses. Still, due to bad roads, the average speed is still below
50 km/h. If you would like to get some sleep, say during a night trip,
don't forget earplugs; loud action movies will be shown.

Express busses between Yangon and Mandalay cost about MMK 1000 one

The Bagan Express leaves Yangon at 4 pm and costs MMK 1000.

The Bagan Express to Mandalay leaves Bagan every day at 4, 6, and 9
am. It costs MMK 400.

The Bagan Express to Taunggyi leaves Bagan every 2 days at 5 and at
7 am. Price is MMK 700. There are Tiger Head pickup trucks. They
charge MMK 1000 in front and MMK 500 in the back. They leave at 4 am.

The are modern express busses between Yangon and Mandalay. Arrow, Leo
and Trade Express have a bus at 5 pm daily, for MMK 1000. Asahi Yoko
departs at 5:30 and costs MMK 950. All of them arrive around 7 to 8 am
the next morning.

An express bus from Taunggyi (Lake Inle) to Yangon costs MMK 1800. It
leaves dayli at around noon and the ride takes 17 - 18 hours on bad



A minivan complete with driver and guide should be about USD 80 for a
ten day trip from Mandalay to Rangon.

Other quotes that have been reported: A large car for up to three
persons is about USD 50 per day, a minivan for a maximum of 7 persons
is USD 70 per day. This includes a driver and fuel.

A 17 day trip in a Toyota LandCruiser for 8 people complete with
driver costs USD 600 for 17 days.


MYANMAR (Burma) - Peter M. Geiser's Hotel and Travel Guide

Copyright (c) 1995 - 2005, Peter M. Geiser



New series by Peter M. Geiser and Sibylle Dussy, with many photos:

"Classics", FAQ of

Hotel guides


User Contributions:

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM