One of the latest crazes in Southeast Asian travel, Myanmar with its sprawling temple complexes, bustling streets and melting pot of cultures is a must do when you find yourself in this region. Its quirkiness is something to be admired but does take some pre-reading to understand.
Here are our top 7 tips to know before you begin your Burmese journey.
1. Kissing noises
While it may be weird and certainly not recommended in any western culture, blowing kisses in the air is how you get someone’s attention in Myanmar. If sat at a local café simply purse your lips tightly and make kissing noises and someone will appear to take your order. Much preferred to the Chinese method of screaming out the word “waiter”.
When you get money exchanges in Myanmar you must have crispy fresh dollar bills. If there are stains or they are particularly old notes then you’re not going to be able to change them to the local Kyat. The airport exchange kiosk does offer quite a decent rate unlike nearly every other airport in the world. You will also be able to exchange, Euros, Thai Baht and Singapore Dollars. However, just as is with USD make sure your notes are in good condition.
3. Beeping taxis
With the Chaotic traffic in Yangon, the car horn is a commonplace feature. When trying to cross the road you will be honked at almost incessantly. This is not because they want you to move out of the way though, they are most likely a taxi driver looking for your business. Don’t think of it as rude, simply wave them down or wave them off.
4. Pronouncing foreign brand names
You may be in a restaurant or café and want to order something on the menu you have seen from back home. The way you pronounce it however needs to change to fit a more Burmese style. If you say something like “Nescafe” too quickly it may not be registered, instead, pronounce similar to how southeast Asian languages sound. This may seem strange and you might think you look like some kind of weird racist, but trust me it works! For Nescafe try saying it like: “Ne – ka – fe”.
5. Bring long pants or buy a longyi
Yes, its always hot, but you still have to bring long pants to visit a lot of the temple sites such as the S Shwedagon and some of the larger temples in Bagan. If you’re like me and you hate to wear pants in general then opt for what the locals have, the longyi. Similar to a sarong, it’s cool and provides you with freedom that only ladies truly understand.
6. Don’t forget to print your e-visa
Upon arrival at the airport you will need this print out to be able to get that stamp in your passport. The online visa form is dead easy, but if you forget it then you most likely won’t be allowed to board your flight.
7. Internet is cheap, but it sucks
As Myanmar develops things are improving, internet is 1000 times better than it was a few years ago but don’t expect countrywide 4g or even reliable wi-fi in the capital Yangon. This change will come soon enough but is to be noted that right its lacking.