General Information

Official Name: Union of Myanmar

Area: 676,577 sq miles (or) 1 098 581 km2

Population: 60 Millions

Administrative Capital: Nay Pyi Taw

Economic Capital: Yangon (Rangoon)

Location

Myanmar is the largest country in the South East Asia, situated at the West of Indochina Peninsula and sharing borders with Bangladesh and India in west, China, Laos and Thailand in east. The Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal also surround the Myanmar costal region. Myanmar is composed of seven States and seven Divisions, containing eternal snow-capped mountains ranges at the far north, the high plateaus at east and fertile central plains of paddy fields along the great Ayeyarwaddy River valley, the biggest river with the length of 2000 km, silver-sand beaches along the west costal region and many islands and beaches at the south.

People & Population

Myanmar is a union of many nationalities: speaking over one hundred languages and dialects. The term "Myanmar" embraces all nationalities. The population of Myanmar is at present about 60 millions; Myanmar (65%), Shans (10%), Karens (7%), Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Mon and more than 100 different minor ethnicity groups. The nationality is Myanmar. A new complete national consensus is planned for 2015. Some of the Ethnic groups are listed as Akha, Palaung, Padaung, Naga, Taron, Eng and many more near extinct tribes. The religions are Buddhist, Christian and Muslim. Average house hold size is estimated at 3 or 4 people. The literacy rate stood at 93.3% according to 2004 figures.

Religion

Over 80% of the Myanmars are Buddhists. There are also Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and even some animists. The everyday practice of Buddhism is a well-developed culture of animism, the worship of spirits known as Nats. This culture provides a basis for many Nat festivals and for much of traditional medical practice.

Climate

Myanmar has tropical climate with three seasons: the hot season is from mid-February to mid-May; the rainy season is from mid-May to mid-October and cold season is from mid-October to mid-February. The temperature varies in accordance with seasons and especially location. The annual average temperature ranges from 22 degrees Celsius (72° Fahrenheit) to 27 degrees Celsius (81° Fahrenheit) year-round. The best period to visit Myanmar is from mid October to beginning of April. During that period, the climate is mild and dry. Temperature can however be very low in altitude (Inle Lake) and especially during night times. Months to avoid are May and June, which are hot and humid. In July, August and September, it rains a lot in Yangon, but relatively less in the North (Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake). The advantage of the rainy season is there are very few tourists on the site and you will enjoy the green landscapes. It is also the best period for those looking for deserted tourist sites, the sound of tropical monsoon rains. Discounts may consider also a visit during the rainy season.

History

The history of what is now Myanmar has been made by a succession of peoples who migrated down along the Ayeyarwaddy River from Tibet & China, and who were influenced by social and political institutions that had been carried across the sea from India. First came the Mon, perhaps as early as 3000 BC. They established the centers of settlement in central Myanmar, in the Ayeyarwaddy delta, and farther down the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal. Myanmar history dates back to the early 11th Century when King Anawrahta unified the country and founded the First Myanmar Empire in Bagan. The second Myanmar Empire was founded in mid 16th Century by King Bayinnaung. King Alaungpaya founded the last Myanmar Dynasty in 1752 and it was during the zenith of this empire that the British moved into Myanmar. Like India, Myanmar became a British colony but only after three Anglo-Myanmar wars in 1825, 1852 and 1885. During the Second World War, Myanmar was occupied by Japanese from 1942 till the return of the Allied Forces in 1945. Myanmar has become a sovereign independent State since 4th January 1948, after 62 years under the colonial administration. The Burmese, who came into Myanmar from somewhere in the eastern Himalayas around the 8th or 9th century, crossed the country from north to south and settled at the lower part of Myanmar some 15 centuries ago. Bagan was founded on the banks of Irrawaddy River in AD 849. Two centuries later, the decline of Bagan coincided with the invasion by the Mongolian armies. Wars against Siam (Thailand) and numerous internal fights weakened the country then. Later in the 19th century, after two wars between 1825 and 1885, the British dominated Burma. That was the beginning of the British colonization. In 1857, King Mindon founded Mandalay which was the last royal city before its integration with British India. After the 2nd World War, Burma became an independent country on 4th January 1948. After a few years of prosperity, rivalries between different ethnics, particularly the Karen and the Shan, resulted in a coup d’état allowing General Nay Win to take the power in 1962 and announcing that the county would be heading towards Socialism, the Burmese way. After 25 years, the great general revolution has been exploded in 1988 because of extreme poverty under socialism. Again, the Junta, State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), took the power for the reason to restore order. The military government announced a change of name of the government from SLORC to SPDC, State Peace and Development Council in 1997. It was just changing the name, not changing the policy. The government continued to abuse his military power till 2010. During the last decade, many political changes were happened in many countries around the world, the dictatorship leaders were removed by their anti-government protest. And the SPDC has decided to reform the country into democratic way. Now a day, our people can enjoy Democracy’s ways of living

Local time

Myanmar is 6 hours 30 minutes ahead of GMT (+5h30 in winter time).

Currency

The local currency is the Kyat. US Dollars and Euros are accepted at markets, restaurants and in tourist hotspots. The current usable bank notes are: Kyats 10000, 5000, 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. We recommend visitors to bring US Dollars in cash. US Dollars are widely accepted throughout Myanmar and are easily exchangeable for the local Kyat currency. Please note that all bills must be in crisp condition with no marks, stains or folds. Most of the establishments throughout the country refuse to accept even slightly fatigued bills. For your own convenience please bring “like-new” U.S. Dollars bills. A local meal in an average restaurant will cost you 10-12 USD, while in a luxury hotel it is from 25 USD and above.

Customs

All foreign currencies (above US D 2000), jewelleries, electrical goods and professional video cameras must be declared to the Customs at the Airport. Export of antiques is totally prohibited. Only gems and jewelleries purchased at the licensed dealers, or who can issue an export permit are allowed to be taken out of the country. Visitors may bring in duty free 200 cigarettes, one quart of wine and one pint of perfume.

Health

No vaccination certificate is required unless coming from infected area. Visitors are advised to receive inoculations against hepatitis A & B, typhoid and tetanus. Inoculation for yellow fever and tablets for malaria are not necessary although doctors still usually recommend them. Diarrhea and gastric troubles are the most common problems one can encounter. Do not eat raw vegetable and fruit without pealing it. Beware of ice cubes and water (not in bottles) sold in the streets. Use efficient repellants. Dengue fever and malaria are present in Myanmar. However, most of the hotels provide mosquito nets or air-conditioning.

Luggage

Luggage allowance on domestic flights is limited to 20 kg. One cabin luggage only is allowed (maximum 10kg).Excess luggage will charge US$ 2/kg but one golf set per person is not chargeable. Moreover you can leave the extra baggage in Yangon and collect it end of the trip. Burmese air space is now open to many private companies; the linking network is becoming more efficient.

Shopping

Bargaining is a common practice while shopping. Prices might be fixed in some shops. Beware of bank notes; whether with handwriting on it or torn, merchants will refuse them. Myanmar arts and crafts, mostly pure hand-made, are best souvenirs and prices are reasonable. Lacquer-wares, wood and ivory carvings, tapestries, silverware, brassware, silk and cotton fabrics and shoulder-bags are some of the favorite items. For jewellery, there are Myanmar rubies, sapphires, jade and pearls available at Myanmar gems shops. All gems and jewellery purchased should be made through the government licensed dealers, who can give a voucher for export.

Tipping

Tipping is not mandatory although appreciated by the local population. 5-10 USD a day for a guide, 3-5 USD a day for a driver, might be a good tip from a group composed of 3-5 people. Small gifts are also highly appreciated.

Water

Never drink tap water; only use bottled water, and avoid ice cubes sold from the streets.

Testimonials

  • Spent 15 days in Myanmar superb month of February 2015, among multiple offers, our choice fell on Serenity for its speed and efficiency in responding by email to all our pre-trip questions. Onsite our French-speaking guide, a great culture, always available and up to our expectations...

    Catherine et Edouard Thamin
    Paris , France
  • The trip was a marvelous experience, thanks to excellent organization and the warm, polite and courteous people and services that were provided. What is more, there were many pleasant surprises and experiences of a once in a life time nature. I would strongly recommend Serenity Travels and Tours and especially Wah Wah Tin. I cannot thank you enough.

    Dr. David F. Perry