Intro to Myanmar
Myanmar is a very interesting part of Asia that still maintains its rural roots and traditions, but is incorporating some ways of the more developed world.
However, when you get to Bagan, you see horse drawn carts carrying people and their wares. It isn’t uncommon to see oxen carts pulling straw or bamboo through the towns either. Besides the sun burnt tourists, it really is a step into the past.
Yangon was then another different world as the dusty roads of Bagan were replaced by tall buildings, traffic noises and paved streets.
General advice for Myanmar
Using booking agents like Agoda, Asia Rooms or Booking.com will help cut down your costs on accommodation. Unfortunately, hotels are still relatively expensive, in comparison to other places like Thailand and Cambodia. You can find some guest houses, but hostels are relatively new here and only really an option in Yangon.
Where you spend on the hotels, you will save on the food. So long as you eat locally, a filling meal will be 2-3500, without alcohol. Of course the more touristy places and hotels will up that amount.
Some friends who had traveled previously swore that you needed to take crisp US dollars, however we found that many people accepted local currency and it was best to have a bit of both.
It is handy to pack some gluten free snacks as there will be occasions when you’re stuck on a long journey – bus, train or both!
Pack a torch or flashlight in the off chance you are stuck walking at night or your room loses electricity.
Try not to travel during the Thingyan festival as this is when people celebrate new year and travel from the cities back to their hometowns. Many shops, businesses, banks and restaurants close for this holiday (usually in the middle of April). Similar to Songkran in Thailand, locals hook up pipes to the water supply and spray everyone that passes by. It is a great party and the main events happen around the Shwedagon Pagoda. This is a huge celebration as the government allows people to associate freely on the streets of Yangon. **This holiday cut my trip short as I admitted defeat after a day of the festivities and retreated back to Thailand to dry out!
Helpful websites for more information:
- Beijing Hao Chi (Beijing, Good Eats) “Travels in Burma: The Best of Street Food”
- Myanmar.com’s “Traditional Foods”
- Migrationology’s “20 Scrumptious Burmese Foods: Take a Bite of Burma (Myanmar)”
- CNN’s “10 Meals Every Myanmar Traveler Should Try”
- On Our Own Path’s “An Introduction to Food in Myanmar”