Myanmar Travelogue: 10 Things To Do/Know Before Traveling to Yangon

So I flew to Myanmar, Yangon on 8 Aug - 11 Aug 2015 during the Jubilee long weekend!

It's such a last minute trip that I confirmed with my SG friend who is over there for Business in August, and with the package of free tour guide and accommodation, it's hard to reject the trip although I have to deal with the fare hike during the long holiday! Although I'm not in Singapore for SG50, I had an amazing time spending my National Day with other fellow Singaporeans in Yangon!

So here's what to do before traveling to Myanmar!

1) APPLY VISA
From 1 Dec 2016 onwards, Singaporeans with a valid Singapore Passport no longer requires a visa if you are travelling for less than 30 days!
There are two ways to apply visa to Myanmar.
(There's a possibility that your Visa will not be approved, or your approved Visa is not recognised by the Myanmar Immigration, and get deported back to your home country. Reasons: UNKNOWN

- Apply at the Myanmar Embassy of Singapore (S$ 35)
For application by person at the Embassy, you would need to book an appointment online, visit the Embassy at 8am on the appointment date, and collect the Visa at the Embassy between 4.30pm - 5.30pm on the same day.

Go to http://www.mesingapore.org.sg/visa.html and follow the steps below:
- Download, print and fill up the form for Tourist Visa
- Book an Online Appointment Reservation for Visa Service



Book your appointment.
Get ready a coloured passport photo with white background in digital format (JPEG). Scanned photos are not allowed.


Bring along your Passport, duly filled application form and proceed to the Embassy at 8am on the appointment date. The collection can be done on behalf of the applicant. But seriously it's too much travelling and hassle just to save S$35, as the taxi fare to and fro to the secluded location might cost you more. And the long waiting hours at the Embassy might kill your motivation to travel!

Here's how secluded the Embassy is:

EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE UNION OF MYANMAR
15, St. Martin's Drive, Singapore 257996

- Apply e-visa online (US$ 50)
e-visa might take up to 3 days for approval, but I got mine approved the next afternoon I applied. The approval will be sent via email. So do enter the accurate email address. Print the PDF visa approval and present it during check-in.

Go to http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/ and follow the steps below:


Select Tourist Visa (USD 50) and your port of entry accurately.


Get ready a coloured passport photo with white background in digital format (JPEG). Scanned photos are not allowed.


Make payment with your credit card, and wait for the email approval.

2) BOOK TICKETS

I'll recommend you to book your tickets after the approval of your Visa as the application might not be approved without any reason given.

Recommended affordable airlines that flies to Yangon from Singapore are: TigerAir, JetStar and Silkair. Tickets from Singapore are around $200 and above.


3) PLAN ITINERARY


I started planning my itinerary by watching Youtube videos and reading travel blogs about Yangon. Depending on what type of travellers you are, you may want to skew your travelling itinerary towards Burmese cuisines, culture, architecture, religious visits, charity, or even for Business market research.

Read more about my blog entry on "10 Great Food and Places Of Interest In Yangon, Myanmar"!

4) WEATHER

Yangon has a tropical monsoon climate with short period of dry season. The temperature ranges from 19 to 37 degree celsius throughout the year.

Coldest Months: November to February
Hottest Month: March to May
Rainy Season: End May to October
Heaviest Rainfall: July and August

5) PACK YOUR BAG


Outfits
Yangon can be very hot and humid, so bring along comfortable and loose clothing which kept you out from the heat. However, do take note that Myanmar is a very conservative country. When visiting temples and cultural sites, it's best that you follow the following:

A common signage outside Myanmar's temple.
credits: Keri Pickett
Recommended outfits to bring:





- Shirts/ Tees with sleeve
- Pants or Skirt below Knees
- Sandals or Slippers
  Myanmar is like Land Of Slippers, where the locals matches almost ALL outfits with slippers!

Protection
Recommended products to bring:
- Sunglasses and Sunblock (I was lazy to apply sunblock for my 3 days trip, and my arms became 2 shades darker!)
- Umbrella (For rain or shine)
- Diarrhoea (Charcoal) pills in case you are not used to their food, and have a tummyache after (Don't drink tap water!)
- Insect Repellent

6) PAYMENT

Get your cash ready as most retail shops, transportations, restaurants accepts cash only. USD are widely used too, but the exchange rates might be of a disadvantage to you, so use them only for big purchases such as hotel bills. Save your Kyats for your usual transactions. Do note that your notes should always be unmarked, un-creased to be acceptable.

7) TRANSPORTATION
You can get your way around via taxi easily, or if you are adventurous enough, feel free to rent a bike to explore the city!

Yangon's taxi are mostly clean air-conditioned sedan cars which are quoted based on your destination. You can try bargaining for USD2-3 if they are plenty of taxis around. But if you are in a secluded location with not much traffic, I suggest you pay more to be safe.


8) WIFI/ COMMUNICATION
Wifi are available in some restaurants, but are not popular nor high-speed. It's recommended to purchase your Tourists SIM card at the airport of Telco shops if you wish to remain connected.

9) CULTURES

- When entering religious places such as temples and pagodas, remove your footwear, and take note of the dress code
- Never point your feet at the Buddha or any forms of religious statues
- Use your right hand when eating or passing things (ie. when making payments)
- Common Burmese phrases (according to my own suggested English pronunciation):

Hello: min ga la ba
Thank you: zee zu tin ba leh

10) THINGS TO TRY (OR NOT)
- Try out 
Thanaka! The Thanaka cream is used by Burnese women for more than 2,000 as cosmetics to cool sunburn or act as an anti-inflammatory for acnes. Thanaka powder is grounded from a tree bark, and it can be turned into a cream by mixing with water.



- Releasing birds to earn good karma (In Buddhist tradition). I personally thinks that purchasing these caged birds for blessings might encourage the locals to capture and cage up more poor birds for money. So it's up to you if you think it's worth trying.

- Don't try the 
betel nut. It is a chewing tabacco that is highly addictive, and leaves your teeth/mouth all red! 

I hope these tips will be useful in planning your trip to Yangon, Myanmar!

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