Travel Tips & Useful InfoAll the useful information you need when travelling to Burma (The Union of Myanmar)
Burma is 6 hours 30 minutes ahead of Greenwich Meantime (GMT) and does not observe Daylight Saving.
Standard voltage is 220 - 240 volts. Primary sockets generally require 2 flat prong plugs, 2 round pin plugs, and 3 fat round pin plugs. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor. Most of the international hotels have their own generators. Other places may experience power cuts and voltage fluctuation so its best to pack a voltage regulator or stabilizer to protect electrical items.
The official currency in Burma is the Myanmar Kyat.
Euro, British Pounds, US Dollars and other major currencies can be exchanged locally at the airport, bureau to changes and banks. However, the official rate is often very different to the market rate and some exchange booths (especially at the airport) offer a very poor rate. We recommend you wait until meeting our representative or your tour guide for advise on the best places to exchange. Alternatively ATMS can be found in all major town and cities, allowing you to withdraw Myanmar Kyat.
If exchanging USD bills they should be of the new series (‘big’ heads rather of ‘small’ heads) and any notes that are old, torn or marked will not be accepted.
It's advisable to request bank notes in smaller denominations, as it can sometimes be hard to get change from large notes and smaller notes are handy for smaller purchases and gratuities. Traveller's Cheques are not recommended as they're often difficult to exchange and incur high fees.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Burma from your local health practitioner and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio and Tetanus are strongly recommended.
Malaria in Burma
Areas with Malaria: Present in rural areas throughout the country with altitudes of 1000m or more. None in the cities of Mandalay and Yangon. Estimated relative risk of malaria for travellers is moderate.
As tap water is not safe to drink in Burma, only drink bottled mineral water which is readily available in hotels, shops and restaurants. You should also avoid salads which may be washed in unhygienic water./p>
The traditional breakfast is varied, composed of fried rice and peas, nan pya (Indian bread) and cream or goat-leg soup, monhingar, nangyi, coconut noodles, assorted fried vegetables, steamed glutinous rice and peas, traditional snacks or bread and butter. It is usually washed down with Chinese or strong green Burmese coffee or tea.
A typical lunch or dinner consists of a main dish, a side dish, a sweet or sour soup and a form of fish paste or shrimp paste. The main dish typically features pork, chicken, mutton, beef, fish, shrimp, duck, eggs, or catfish, that’s cooked, stewed, fried, steamed, roasted, broiled, boiled or simmered in various ways. Ngapi, which means pressed fish, is a speciality present at most meals. Another common dish is balachaung, a fried shrimp paste with crushed garlic, onions and chillies. Side dishes are usually a salad made with vegetables combined with meat, fish or shrimp. Soups are either sweet or sour and mostly vegetables with meat or fish. A popular finish to a meal is the betel chew. The dried areca nut is wrapped in the betel leaf with a lime paste. Sometimes tobacco, peppermint or other spices are added.
Traditional ethnic specialities include the Khauk-Swe that is composed of wheat noodles in a broth made with chili-marinated chicken; it is typical of Shan cuisine. Other Shan dishes are ttamin chin, a rice salad made with turmeric and khauk sen, rice noodles with fish. The Mon food usually contains chillies and curry. The Rakhines cuisines enjoy spicy curries and seafood is popular. Talapo is a Karen dish made of rice and bamboo shoots, lemon grass and fish paste that is certainly worth a try.
Ethnic dishes such as Chinese and Indian foods are popular as well, but these can only be found in the larger cities and towns. Burmese are lovers of snacks and you'll find plenty of street stalls selling these towards the evening.
For desert try, Shwe Kyi, a rich semolina pudding or Kyauk Kyaw - a seaweed jelly with a layer of coconut milk layer on top.
Fresh lemon/lime juice mixed with water is one of the most refreshing drinks in the tropics as is tea. Chinese tea is generally preferable to the over-strong, over-sweet and over-milky Burmese tea. Sugar-cane juice is a popular street-side drink and stronger refreshments include orange brandy, lychee wine, white liquor or the local jungle liquor, fruit juice, water-buffalo milk and Mandalay beer.
Burma offered a grand assortment of gifts and souvenirs. Most are handmade and specific to a particular geographic region. Among local souvenirs, Pan Yoon (Lacquerware) is the most admired. Lacquerware made from bamboo, wood and thick black varnish often depicts scenes of the landscape and local life. Lacquerware from central region i.e. Mandalay and Bagan possesses legendary drawing styles of 11th century. Craftsmen pay tremendous attention to the each and every details that they sometimes claim their products were not crafted with hands, but with their hearts.
Gems and jewellery can be found everywhere. Burma’s ruby, diamond, cat’s eye, emerald, topaz, jade and pearls gain reputation in the world market. Burmese puppets are elaborately costumed and bejewelled, used in the old epic puppet performances and are beautifully crafted in the Burmese style with gilt, sequins and glass jewels. Hand-woven silks and fabrics are also popular purchases.