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Myanmar 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 as well as British style plugs with two flat blades and one flat grounding blade are used.

Language

Burmese is the official language, yet English is widely spoken and understood. Other languages spoken are Karen, Shan and Kachin.

Travel Health

Malaria and dengue fever are common in Myanmar, especially during the rainy season (May to October) and visitors are usually encouraged to take anti-malaria medication, although there is little 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.

There are basic medical facilities in Rangoon and Mandalay, but for serious medical cases, evacuation is recommended. 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 anything in return, though gratuity is greatly appreciated. Tipping 5 percent on a meal is acceptable. Porters, drivers and tour guides expect a small tip.

Safety Information

Travellers need to exercise caution when travelling to border areas in and around Burma due to heavy military activity, particularly along the borders with Thailand. There are only a handful of legal crossing points. Burma does, however, boast one of the lowest crime rates in the world, making it a safe travel destination. Anti-government demonstrations that took place in 2007 were led by thousands of monks in cities across the country, but were dispelled by a government crackdown resulting in violent clashes between protesters and the police. The recent protests reflect the citizens' long pent-up opposition to the repressive military regime. Visitors are advised to avoid all gatherings and not to take any photographs of the police, military or demonstrations; these kinds of protest gatherings are the most dangerous aspect of travel in Burma. The monsoon season is June to September in the southwest of Burma and December to April in the northeast, and flooding may occur. Severe weather often also precedes monsoon season; a devastating cyclone hit Burma 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. When dining out it is best to keep voices low in restaurants.

Business

Business hours are 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 Burma (Myanmar) 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 military regime carefully controls and monitors all internet use in Burma and restricts internet access through software-based censorship that limits the materials individuals can access online. A loop-hole has been reported by some travellers: add an "s" to the "http" portion of the URL to bypass the blocked site. Several cyber cafes have been allowed to open, but access to the internet is very expensive, and access to most international e-mail services such as Hotmail and Yahoo is prohibited, although Gmail can now be accessed.

Duty Free

Two bottles of liquor, two cartons of cigarettes or 100 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.

Become our Myanmar Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Myanmar travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Myanmar or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.

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