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Myanmar has a long and complex history. Many peoples have lived in the region and the history began. The first identifiable civilization is that of the Mon. The Mon probably began migrating into the area in about 300 BC. and their first kingdom Suwarnabhumi. was founded around the port of Thaton in about 300 BC. The Pyu arrived in Myanmar in the 7th century and established city kingdoms at Binnaka. Mongamo. Sri Ksetra. and Halingyi. During this period. Myanmar was part of an overland trade route from China to India. By 849. the Burmans had founded a powerful kingdom centered on the city of Bagan and filled the void left by the Pyu. The kingdom grew in relative isolation until the reign of Anawrahta (1044 - 77) who successfully unified all of Myanmar by defeating the Mon city of Thaton in 1057.
After the collapse of Bagan authority. Myanmar was divided once again. The Burmans had restablished themselves at the city of Ava by 1364. where Bagan culture was revived and a great age of Burmese literature ensued. The kingdom lacked easily defendable borders. however. and was overrun by the Shan in 1527. Surviors of the destruction of Inwa eventually established a new kingdom centered on Taungoo in 1531 led by Tabinshwehti (reigned 1531-50). who once again unified most of Myanmar. A popular Burmese leader named Alaungpaya drove the Bago forces out of northern Myanmar by 1753. and by 1759 he had once again conquered Pegu and southern Myanmar while also regaining control of Manipur. He established his capital at Rangoon. now known as Yangon.;
How to get into Myanmar:
Currently Yangon International Airport is the major entry point into Myanmar. There are direct air-links connecting Yangon with Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, China and Vietnam.
Passport and visa:
Visitors must have a valid passport (at least 6 month from date of entry in to Myanmar) EVT (Entry Visa for Tourist) can be obtained at any Myanmar Embassy/Consulate offices or upon arrival at Yangon airport.
-Tourist Visa @ US$ 30 with 28 day stay (non - extendable)
-Business Visa @ US$ 50 with 71 day stay (extendable)
-Social Visa @ US$ 40 with 28 day stay (extendable)
-Transit Visa @ US$ 18 with 24 hour stay
All travelers will get a set of document by the airline which needs to be filled and submit to immigration authority at Yangon and Mandalay Intl airport respectively.
Rules & Requirements for the Visa on Arrival applicant as follows:
-A valid passport with validation at least 6 month from the date of arrival in Myanmar
- Passenger must have a return ticket
-Must have an address of stay in (Yangon/Mandalay). Must stay at licensed hotel, guest house etc
-Must have an address if stay at homes, factory or any other places other than hotel
-Require 2 x passport photo (4x6) centimeter in size which must not be more than 6 months old
- Must be able to obey the law of Union of Myanmar including rules and regulation laid down by ministry of immigration
-Children under 7 years will be exempt from visa fee
-FIT traveler must have proof of cash minimum US$ 300 or equivalent of other currency for single person or minimum US$ 600 or equivalent of other currency f travel in family
- Traveler must obey the the visa rules and regulation
-Must refrain from entering in to off-limited areas
Custom's formalities on arrival:
Regulations are generally relaxed for tourists arriving by air in Yangon. Visitors must complete immigration and customs declaration forms during the flight and submit these on arrival. All foreign currencies (if bring more then US$ 10000) may be declare at Custom. Traveler's check, jewelry, cameras and electronic goods etc must be recorded on the customs form which may be checked on departure. Bringing in or taking out Myanmar currency is not allowed. Gems and jewellery purchased from authorized dealers are allowed to be taken out however antiques are not allowed to be taken out of the country.
The national language is Myanmar. English language is not widely spoken except for the tourist areas such as airports, hotels and tourist sites. Our guides are multilingual but we provide only English language guide on most trekking routes.
Currency and exchange:
Myanmar currency is Kyat and the denominations are K-1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 & 1000. The official exchange rate is around 6 Kyat to one US dollar however current market exchange rate could be as high as 200 time of the official exchange rate. Generally larger denomination is better but old,torn and stained notes are difficult if not impossible to use in Myanmar. Myanmar currently under US economic sanction thus using any type of credit cards and travelers checks is not possible. Some of the International hotels and their outlets may accept credit card for payment against purchase but not cash draw back.
Departure tax for international flights is US$-10 per person, payable in US dollar only.
Inoculation & vaccination:
Medical certificates of inoculations are essential especially for visitors coming from an infected area or yellow fever zones. Vaccination certificate is not necessary.
Overseas calls can be made through International direct dial phones available at Telephone offices and hotels. Internet and e-mail can be available at most hotels and internet cafés in Yangon. Once you are in up country excess via email is getting limited however IDD fax service is available at most hotels in up country. At present the local GSM network does not support global network therefore using your global mobile phone is not possible in Myanmar.
Myanmar is a considerably large country with descent road networking although road are often bad condition. There are several luxury buses plies between Yangon and all major cities in Myanmar. There are three domestic airlines serve all major tourist destinations. Myanmar has a great river system and both express ferries and luxury cruises are plying both schedule and charter basis. Private taxis are available in Yangon and other major cities however, they do not have meter. Be sure to negotiate the fare before getting. Taxis can also be hired for day outings at a fixed price. Hotels can organize taxis or private cars. These two-seater tricycles are a fun way to see the sites but they mostly have limited access with in the cities. Be sure to negotiate the fare before getting on. Bicycles can be rented from bike shops or hotels by the hour or day.
Banks open at 10:30 till 14:00, Monday through Friday. Government offices open at 09:30 till 16:30 Monday through Friday. Most private offices open at 09:30 till 17:00, Monday through Friday and 09:30 till 12:00 on Saturday. Offices are close on Sunday and public holidays.
The same precautions as anywhere else. Drink only bottled or boiled water, avoid eating raw vegetables, and eat fruits that you can peel or cut yourself. It's important to use insect repellent to keep mosquitoes away which could cause malaria and in the worse scenario case dengue fever. Use sunscreen literally when exposed to the intense, tropical sun. A 24-hour, medical clinic, with internationally trained medical staff is available in Yangon. However such facility is limited once you leave the capital city.
Food and drink:
Myanmar has many excellent restaurants specializing in Myanmar, Chinese, and Indian food. European cuisine is available some specialized restaurants or at most of the larger hotels. The basic Myanmar food is mainly rice and curry. The Myanmar style of food is served a large assortment of dishes from which you can pick and choose. Myanmar curries may be spicy and salty to non-Myanmar as the condiment "Nga-Pi" dried and fermented fish or shrimp paste that can be very much an acquired taste. Popular dishes include Ohn-Nnoh-Khauk-Swe, noodles served with coconut milk gravy, and Mohingah, rice noodles served with fish gravy. Another Myanmar favorite dessert is Sanwin-Ma-Kin (Myanmar sweet cakes made with semolina, sugar, egg, butter, and coconut). Myanmar also enjoys tea. Myanmar tea may be in general strong, sweet and over-milked to foreigners. Chinese food is popular among Myanmar and there are Chinese restaurants in almost every town. Indian food like Kebabs, Birani are also popular with Myanmar palate. Myanmar are, like most Asians, great snackers and thus in the evening, there will be many roadside stalls selling various tasty snacks. Remember that Myanmar is a relaxed culture and service is usually much slower than Westerners are used to. The local beer are of very good, though it's not always served ice cold. Locally produced rum, vodka and gin are of good quality. Imported spirits are also available but are rather expensive, so if you have a favorite brand, consider using your duty-free allowance to bring a bottle with you. Imported famous brand name such as Coke and Pepsi are available only in large restaurants in main cities. Diet and decaffeinated beverages are not available in Myanmar. Coffee is usually instant.
Light casual wear preferably cotton is suitable for all year round. A cardigan or light sweater for the cool season between November and February. An umbrella will be useful during the rainy season. Cotton clothing and a light warp for the evenings during the cool season are recommended. If possible dress modestly at all times. Sandals or slippers are convenient, as all footwear must be removed before entering temples and pagodas. Visitors are required to dress decently on the precincts of religious buildings. Ladies should not wear shorts, briefs or bra-less T-shirt in such places. Shoes and socks or stockings must be removed at Pagodas and Monasteries. Tipping: Tipping is common to drivers, guides, waiters at local restaurants, hotel porters etc. As a general guideline if a hotel porter carries bags to the room, a tip of about US$ 0.50 - $1.00 (either in US$ or equivalent to kyat) would be appropriate, depending on size, weight etc. In restaurant generally a tip of about 5% is appreciated for meal service if service charge is not included in the bill. Driver's tip may be about US$ 2 to $5 per day (either in US$ or equivalent in kyat) for individual or couple. Tips for the tour guide can be varied between US$ 5 to $10 per day, depending on group size and level of satisfaction of the client. Porter fee: Porter are used at public transport base such as airports, boat piers, bus depot and train station etc. Fee varies place to place. Usually you are escorted by a porter at International airport on your arrival (before meeting with your guide/driver) in which case the porter will expect a tip of around 1US$ (preferred in Kyat). A porter will also escort you and your luggage through departure terminal on your departure as guides are not usually allowed into the departure terminal with you and tipping will apply the same as your arrival. NB: when in doubt, the best source for appropriate tipping information for hotels, restaurants, and drivers is to ask your tour guide. Toiletries and medical items: Travelers should bring a supply of personal toiletries and a basic medical kit containing nail scissors, moleskin, Band-Aids, sunscreen, diarrhea tablets, aspirin and a remedy for colds and coughs. Taking Acidophilus tablets a few weeks before travel can help prevent bacterial diarrhea abroad. Cipro, available by prescription, is the best known treatment for bacterial diarrhea. If you are taking any particular medicines, it would be best to bring these with you. Insurance: It is strongly recommend for all clients to take out their own personal travel insurance, which must cover trip cancellation, medical and baggage protection etc. In case of adventure program insurance is compulsory to cover such as emergency evacuation etc. Full contact details of the insurance policy will need to be carried with the expedition. Emergency evacuation: In the event of an emergency you will be taken to nearest airstrip and flown to Yangon for further medical care. If necessary, an onward international medical flight will be arranged. Ensure that your insurance policy covers you for such unlikely eventualities. Medical evacuation and hospitalization fees are to be paid for by guests prior to departure from Yangon. Safety: Myanmar probably is one of the safest countries in Asia. There is very little crime and thefts do occasionally occur in Myanmar. However valuables should always better be protected, carry your passport, money and other valuables document with you, or lock them in a hotel safety box. Photography: We recommend bringing all the camera equipment and film you'll need for your trip. Most people find Myanmar more photogenic than they had anticipated, so bring more film than you think you'll need. However 100 and 200 ASA films are widely available in tourist circuit and are relatively inexpensive. We recommend bringing some extra camera batteries as they may not available in the local market. Always ask permission before taking photos inside any temples, and before photographing any local people. Many villagers are unfamiliar with cameras and are unwilling to be photographed for religious reasons or for reasons of personal modesty. When permission is granted, always be sensitive when photographing people, and non-intrusive when shooting inside temples when prayers are in progress. Generally, photography is allowed Buddhist temples and at religious ceremonies and festivals.
Best buys include lacquer-wares, silver, wood and stone carvings, hand-woven silk and cotton garment or fabrics, gems, 'Kalaga' embroidered tapestries, traditional puppets and tribal handicrafts. Jewelry is generally up to international standards for design and workmanship. All gem and jewelry purchases should be made through authorized dealer who must issue an official receipt, which is required for taking out of the country for such items. Bargaining is essential when shopping on the street. Begging: An unfortunate impact of begging is that it may create dependency. We discourage giving anything to beggars, particularly to children. If you wish to contribute, it is more beneficial to give to your tour leader who will distribute the donation to the local schools. Exceptions are made for giving to the physically handicapped. Electricity: Electricity is mainly available in the Tourist circuit with the current 220 V / 50 Hz. Sockets have either three round pins or two thick flat pins. If you are traveling with any electrical appliances, an international converter kit and a set of adapter plugs will be essential. Off the beaten trek including Putao area you need battery-operated appliances with several extra batteries. Time: Myanmar Standard Time is six and half-hours in advance of GMT.
Do's And Don'ts at Myanmar
If you happen to be one of the visitors to the land of Golden Pagodas, there are some things you should know about the customs and beliefs of the Myanmar people that will go a long way toward making your stay more pleasant. A key concept for Myanmar people is "Cetana". Although the word has no exact translation in English, it is generally employed in the sense of goodwill, good intention or benevolence. Cetena is manifested in a thousand ways. In the life of a Myanmar, it is applied everywhere and all the time. It is practiced in both his religious duties and daily dealings with others. Any act performed out of true Cetana is greatly appreciated in Myanmar society, you also should never hesitate to ask for help whenever you feel the need for it. Anybody would be happy to help you, without harboring any selfish desire for material gains. Belief that merits, i.e. doing good deeds for others, especially strangers, will accrue is widespread. It even makes us feel enraptured. Thus, gift of money or things should, if at all, be given courteously to a Myanmar who helps you. You should be aware that the help is Cetana, regardless of whether it actually involves expenses. Most Myanmar feels that Cetana can be repaid with gratitude rather than money. Tipping as a system thus confined to such service people as taxi drivers, porters, bellboys and waiters, since they expect a small extra payment if they are indeed, of service to you. Feeling of Respect In Myanmar, feelings of respect are spontaneous in almost any situation. Deeply rooted in hearts. People pay respect to whomever honor is due. Yadanar Thone Par-literally meaning the Three kinds of Gem, refers to the venerable trinity of Buddha, Dhamma [his Teachings] and Sangha [members of the Buddhist Order]. Among the Three Gems, Buddha is the most exalted. So much so that each Buddha image must be treated as reverently as a living Buddha himself. Also to be revered are shrines housing the images, and precincts where in shrines, stupas, temples, monasteries and any other religious edifices stand. Which is why footwear is strictly prohibited on sacred religious grounds.
Social Etiquette Like other Buddhist Asian countries, Myanmar adheres to a se5t of acknowledged cultural rules that can cause problems for the uninitiated. Here's a guide to what you should not do on your trip to Myanmar :
i. Never wear shoes and socks inside a pagoda or monastery as they are not allowed, although some monasteries allow footwear in the grounds. When visiting someone's home, shoes should always be left at the door. You should also remember that carpets, mats and other kinds of floor covering are meant to be sat upon, so should avoid walking on them especially with your shoes on.
ii. Myanmar dress is conservative; therefore visitors should avoid wearing anything unsuitable in public. In a pagoda, men and women should avoid wearing sleeveless or revealing clothing.
iii. Women should not sit on the roof of buses or boats out of politeness to the men or elder sitting underneath. Nor should anyone sit in chairs on the same level as monks or nuns and certainly not higher.
iv. Do not step over the body of anyone else. But if you must, always ask to be excused first.
v. When you offer something to a monk or nun or an elderly person, use both hands. With others, apart from casual transactions at shops or food stalls use your right hand or both hands in order to be polite in the case of giving or receiving gifts, etc.
vi. Monks and nuns should not be touched. Women should be careful not to let any part of their body touch a monk's robes.
vii. Men should not offer to shake hands with a Myanmar lady unless she offers first, and should not touch them even in friendliness. Also, couples should avoid displaying affection in public.
viii. Do not sit with feet on tables or sprawl yourself on the floor. If you happen to be sitting and your feet should, however unwittingly, be pointing toward, say, a Buddha image or a monk or an older person, it would be considered offensive.
ix. However aggravated you are, do not lose your temper in public as it will cause everyone involved to lose face. Furthermore, touching someone older than you on the head may also be interpreted as an act of aggression and should be avoided. It is also worth bearing in mind that, apart from the religious persons, age, rather than wealth or professional position, is the most important criterion of social standing. In short, respect for elders above all.
Introduction and Greetings
Mingalarbar, literally means an auspicious occasion! probably is the first word, which you will hear from a local when you visit Myanmar. Unlike any other language-greeting phrase, Mingalarbar can be used at any part of the day. The originally western custom of shaking hands when introduced has become something of a vogue among urbanized Myanmars. But this applies only to men. If you were introduced to monks, you would bow or bring your palms together. If you, a man, are introduced to a Myanmar lady, you should not stretch out your hand to shake hers unless she does so first. As demure and shy as a Myanmar lady might appear at first to a foreigner, she is the upholder of centuries-old traditions that make up the fabric of Myanmar society. Thus a proper Myanmar woman will most certainly be reluctant to have any sort of social intercourse with a man who is not intimately related to her. In urban areas, once again, better-educated, well-exposed ladies are less likely to adhere rigidly to such a conservative code of behavior.