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Yangon Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT +6.30

Electricity

Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European plugs with two circular metal pins are most common.

Language

Burmese is the official language, yet English is widely spoken and understood.

Travel Health

Vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are recommended for all travellers. Malaria is common in Myanmar, especially during the rainy season (May to October) and visitors are usually encouraged to take anti-malaria medication, although there is no danger if you are only visiting the cities of Yangon and Mandalay. Travellers from yellow fever infected areas require a vaccination certificate to enter Myanmar. If you will be spending a lot of time outdoors in rural areas you should also consider getting vaccinated for rabies and Japanese encephalitis.

MSG (monosodiumglutomate) is added liberally to many dishes and travellers sensitive to this ingredient should specify 'no Ajinomoto' when ordering. The tap water should not be drunk unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected.

There are basic medical facilities in Yangon (Rangoon) and Mandalay, but in general medical facilities in Myanmar are poor and evacuation is recommended for serious medical cases. Payment in cash is usually required before any treatment. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.

Tipping

The Burmese offer their help freely and genuinely, and don't expect much in return, though gratuity is greatly appreciated. Tipping 10 percent on a meal is considered quite generous. Porters, drivers and tour guides expect a small tip.

Safety Information

Due to the ongoing risk of armed conflict, travellers are advised to avoid some parts of Myanmar, including most of the states of Rakhine and Kachin and the north of the state of Shan. Special care should be taken in border areas; there are only a handful of legal crossing points. While Myanmar does boast one of the lowest crime rates in the world, violent political protests are still common and should be avoided at all costs. Visitors are also advised not to take any photographs of the police, military or demonstrations.

The monsoon season is June to September in the southwest of Myanmar and December to April in the northeast, and flooding may occur. Severe weather often also precedes monsoon season; a devastating cyclone hit Myanmar in May 2008, killing thousands of people.

Local Customs

It is rude to step over any part of a person or touch an adult on the head, and hugging and kissing in public is frowned upon. Most Burmese families don't wear shoes in their homes and if visiting it is advised to remove shoes before entering the house. Monks should be treated with respect, even if they are children, and women should not speak to or touch monks. Religion practices, beliefs and sites should be treated with respect; insulting religion is a prosecutable offense in Myanmar. Homosexuality is technically illegal but the law is seldom enforced.

Business

Business hours are generally 9.30am to 4.30pm from Monday to Friday. Lightweight suits are recommended during the day and jackets are needed for top-level meetings. Most commercial business transactions will be conducted in English. Business cards in Burmese script can be useful. It is important to maintain trust, honesty and friendship in a business relationship. Favours received, such as a reference, should be repayed later in the future.

Communications

The international dialling code for Myanmar (Burma) is +95. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code. The area code for Yangon (Rangoon) is (1) and Mandalay is (2). Internet cafes are widely available in Mandalay and Yangon and public telephone booths can be found on nearly every street corner as well as at railway stations and airports; however, international calls are expensive. The government has been known to monitor and censor internet usage and some websites may not be available.

Duty Free

Two bottles of liquor, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, and half litre of perfume are allowed per person. Valuables including jewellery, cameras, electronic equipment, etc, should be declared at customs upon arrival. Purchases of locally bought goods may require receipts upon departure.

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