Every trip demands preparation. Especially when you’re travelling to Asia. Everybody has a hard time waking up early to pack the perfect suitcase, imagine doing it for a country full of surprises like Myanmar.
So today we’re making it simple: we selected the ten fundamentals you should know before leaving. Less is more: travel light, travel safe, travel with your soulmates (if you’re alone with yourself: be your soulmate!).
1 – ECONOMY
Kyat is the local currency, but USA dollars are accepted almost everywhere. You need to keep in mind that people in Myanmar are obsessed with the integrity of foreign bills. What does this mean? Whatever notes you use, they shouldn’t show any sign of deterioration, so make sure they aren’t folded or ruined in any way. If you’re used to fold notes into your socks, please think twice: bringing a book with you is the best way to lay out your notes while bringing the cultural level to the top. Otherwise, don’t panic: in Myanmar there are many exchange offices and ATMs. Just remember to check with your bank if your credit or debit card is accepted abroad.
2 – COMMUNICATIONS
Myanmar’s first language is Burmese. You won’t find many locals who are willing to speak English, so take this opportunity to learn the universal code: body language. Italians are already pros at it, you can learn some tricks from us. If you want to test yourself with Burmese, you can learn some basic terms before leaving or ask our staff for some help. People will reward your efforts with bright smiles. One last piece of advice: don’t touch people’s heads, especially children’s: it’s considered rude.
3 – CULTURE
Get ready to see people, landscapes and non-ordinary things (in any sense). Myanmar culture is incredibly fascinating, so don’t miss the chance to observe everything and try to understand it. While doing so, however, don’t forget that your are a guest in this country and need to show respect of customs and traditions. People are very calm, polite and respectful, so don’t raise your voice: this will embarrass them. For the same reason, keep in mind that Myanmar is not a “party destination”: days start and finish early. If you’re looking for some nightlife, stay with us in Ostello Bello, we know how to make fun happen. Enjoy a cocktail on our terrace, after a long day spent exploring the surroundings. More generally: explore, have fun and avoid running naked among the pagodas (yes, somebody did that for real).
4 – MEDS
Asia stops at nothing, when it comes to creating intestinal problems. Now that you know, keep some of the bag space for the meds you need (while leaving your hypochondriac side at home) and take a round of probiotics before you leave. In case you expect to stroll around Southeast Asia for a while, however, you better get health insurance.
5 – TECHNOLOGY
Unplugging for a while never hurts, and here you will have the chance to unplug big time: forget Wi-Fi, there simply isn’t. In case you miss your life online, however, you can always buy a local SIM.
6 – TRAVEL
You don’t need to plan every detail of your Myanmar vacation. You can simply go with the flow and let yourself be guided by the opportunities you will encounter along the way. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re keen to explore the wilderness of this country, you may need special permits. However, if by chance you happen to visit our hostels in Myanmar we will be more than happy to give you all the tips you need.
7 – TRANSPORTATION
Planes in Myanmar behave like subway trains: they stop a lot of times along the way, so you have to be patient. That said, travelling by air is still the fastest way to move inside Myanmar. If you get plane-sick, you could give a chance to more down-to-earth solutions such as trains or buses, or to more down-to-water means like boats. In case you choose the bus, make sure you have some clothes to repair yourself because the air conditioning inside is freezing cold. If you prefer to get your hands on the steering wheel, make sure you have all the necessary documents to get a car and drive in Myanmar.
8 – CLIMATE
Myanmar has a tropical climate. The rainy season runs from May to October, while the “green season” starts from December to March. The hottest months of the year are March and April: temperatures exceed 40° C. In the inner part of the country, during winter, temperatures are cooler and often in the early morning and in the evening you’ll need a jacket.
9 – RELIGION
Myanmar is characterized by a profound religious feeling and a spirituality that pervades its inhabitants. The country is mainly Buddhist and monks are the most important social personalities. About that: remember there are precise rules to follow in their presence. When you visit a place of worship your shoulders and tights need to be covered and you need to enter the space barefoot (not even socks are allowed).
10 – FOOD
Food is always a good thing, although you have to think twice before eating the first food on which you’ll stop by in Myanmar. Here everything is spicy, so if you don’t go crazy for this kind of flavors you better become a ninja of packed lunch: you can use our kitchen to cook yourself a meal before every day-trip.