Myanmar, or Burma, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar which is derived from the Burmese Empire (1500-1000BC) is a country in Southeast Asia. It lies on the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea coast with Bangladesh and Republic of India to the west which is part of the same sub-region of Indoasia, China to the north, and Laos and Thailand to the east.
Myanmar’s people and history is a glorious mishmash of settlers and invaders from all fronts. The Mon and the Pyu are thought to have come from India, while the now dominant Bamar migrated through Tibet and, by 849, had founded a powerful kingdom centred on Bagan. For the next millennium, the Burmese empire grew through conquests of Thailand (Ayutthaya) and India (Manipur), and shrank under attacks from China and internal rebellions. read more at WikiTravel.org/Travel/Myanmar.
Myanmar’s culture is heavily influenced by Buddhism. Influence of ancient Indian culture intertwined with local traditions and some Chinese influences can be clearly seen in local architecture and food habits. Various stupas and temples throughout the country bear a distinct resemblance to those in northern India. Like neighbouring Thailand, Theravada Buddhism is the single largest religion, and even some of the most remote villages will have a village temple for people to pray. Other religions which exist in smaller numbers include Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.
When to go
Most of Myanmar boasts of a tropical climate. There are three main seasons: cool, hot, and rainy (monsoons).
Cool: November – February. Temperatures average around 30°C and the weather is less humid. Hot: March – May. Temperatures can peak at 42°C.
Monsoons: End of May – October. Temperatures drop during this time. The rain falls frequently, often in short spurts, but sometimes lasting much of the day. Rains rarely get in the way of seeing the sights and often provide a refreshing breeze. The coast experiences two seasons: dry and rainy. The rainy season runs from April – September during which many hotels andresorts close down; flights are limited during this season. The dry season is from October – March when you’ll enjoy clear skies and temperatures ranging from 30°C-34°C. Temperatures hover around 33°C in the delta and coastal regions. The northern, mountainous region enjoys the coolest temperatures. The dry zone lies within central Myanmar (which includes Bagan and Mandalay) and gets the least amount of rainfall while experiencing the highest temperatures.
The country code is +95. Making international calls from Myanmar is costly both on the landline and mobile phones. Using Skype or other VoIP is recommended.
Myanmar is still a cash economy. However, recently ATMs have been established in some of the major cities and by using VISA or MasterCard, you can withdraw the local currency. Selected outlets accept payment in cash – Myanmar Kyat (pronounced chat), major cards and U.S dollar. U.S dollars must be perfect: no tears, no folds, and absolutely no marks or writing on them. If they have marks, folds, or writing, they will not be accepted.
Myanmar (Burmese) is the official language, though several other languages are frequently spoken as well. Many people speak English but when traveling to a more remote area, it’s helpful to have an English-speaking guide.
Myanmar’s food is diverse and is influenced by its neighboring countries. Ethnic groups have their unique recipes and methods of cooking; for example, food in Rakhine state is often spicy and fish is a main staple. Main dishes consist of rice and a variety of curries. Mohinga, rice noodles served in a fish broth with condiments, is the breakfast of choice.
It’s easy to get around the city by taxi. In Yangon, many taxi drivers speak enough English to get you where you need to go; however, it’s always a good idea to have a card with the address you intend to visit written in Myanmar script. Taxis are not metered, so the price must be negotiated with the driver prior to departure.
You can take a train, boat, plane, bus, or hire private cars to help you reach your destination. We can facilitate all your transport needs.
Electricity is 200 volts AC, 50Hz. There are many different power sockets used in Myanmar including Europe, British, and American style. Bring a few multi-pinned/ universal adaptors.
Most holidays are centered on Buddhism since this is the predominant religion in Myanmar. Buddhist holidays are based on the lunar and solar calendars and include special events like Full Moon Days.
The population of Myanmar is estimated at over 60 million. Though the main ethnic group in Myanmar is Bamar, the country is incredibly diverse; the government recognizes 135 distinct ethnic groups. Theravada Buddhism is the most prevalent religion in Myanmar; however Islam and Christianity are practiced in addition to Hinduism, animism, and Mahayana Buddhism. There’s also a small Jewish synagogue in downtown Yangon.