Our trip to Myanmar was last minute, we were on holidays in KL for a week, visiting friends when we received an email with flights to Myanmar for $50 return, it seemed like to good an opportunity to miss, so we jumped on a plane for a whirlwind visit.
Myanmar (pronounced Mee-in-mar not My-an-mar) is part of Asia, just up from Thailand and below China. And if you ever get the chance I would recommend a visit. The people were lovely, and genuinely very helpful. English is not a common language, but we never had any issues with hand signals and general pointing for directions or instructions.
We only had time to visit the one area of Myanmar, so we visited Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon) it is the largest city in Myanmar.
Quite a few countries require visa’s but they were extremely easy to organise, we had them within 24 hours of applying. The site we used was https://evisa.moip.gov.mm/NewApplication.aspx
The currency is the Kyat (pronounced ‘chat’) – abbreviated as ‘K’ or ‘MMK’ when we were there 1000 kyat = $USD0.75 or $AUD1
We used one ATM, my card worked in the machine not a problem. All the machines I found dispensed the local currency, not $USD, although in some areas they will only deal in USD. In saying that the notes have to be crisp, clean, no markings or tears. We tried to change a few USD that were in what I thought was good condition, but they wouldn’t accept them (hence why I tried an ATM) so just be wary, even if they are just old they may choose not to take them
Buddhism is the major religion in Myanmar, and there are many pagodas throughout the city to visit, the Shwedagon Paya is one of the largest, and definitely worth making the journey for. For things to visit and do click here see my post on Things to do In Yangon, Myanmar.
The temples/pagodas or payas as they are locally known are amazing, if you are flying in during the day make sure you get a window seat, you will be able to see some of the different temples from the sky. When visiting temples or religious sites you will need to be very observant of their dress code, this is for males and females, as they are very strict. Most places you will need to remove your shoes, so make sure they are easy to slip on and off. For females it is preferred to wear a long skirt, we saw a lady with leggings on that was asked to hire a sarong to wear into the pagodas (it was very cheap only a couple of dollars, but just be aware). And shoulders and knees must be covered as well.
Whilst you are walking around Myanmar you will notice people with a white chalky substance in swirls on their faces. This is called Thanaka, and is made from ground up bark. We saw it mainly on children and women, it is said to protect their skin from sunburn. Some of the younger girls seemed to have very pretty swirls on their faces, others seemed to put it on in a more random fashion.
We only connected to the internet when we were in our hotel, the internet wasn’t great, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I didn’t try to download a movie or watch you tube, but I did check social media, and read the news, and for just general surfing the internet, I didn’t have a problem with the speed or connection.
Food & Cocktails
This was my biggest disappointment about the trip, unfortunately I got sick before we even got to Myanmar, so I couldn’t eat anything, I was rationed to dry biscuits and water, but it looked amazing. Walking past the street vendors and little restaurants I was sad I was missing out on what looked to be a culinary experience. I am going to have to return just to try out some of the food I missed out on. For this reason as well I didn’t manage to go cocktail hunting, (except our last night from the hotel bar) which also left me very upset.
Whilst leaving our hotel we overheard some tourists asking about where the local Starbucks is located, and they were shocked when told there was no Starbucks in Yangon, whilst I was quite satisfied with the coffee at the hotel, if you are someone who needs a specific western coffee fix, rest assured, we drove past a Gloria Jeans attached to one of the big shopping malls, I’m sure they will be able to whip you up your treat.
If you have any comments or think I have missed something please let me know in the comments below.