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Myanmar

3,799 bytes added, 14:16, 20 October 2013
Credit cards and ATMs
{{quickbar
| image=Schwedagon2DerFussi.jpg
| caption=Shwedagon, Yangon| location=LocationMyanmarMyanmar in its region.pngsvg| flag=bm-flagFlag of Burma.pngsvg
| capital=[[Naypyidaw]]
| government=unitary Unitary presidential republic
| currency=kyat (MMK)
| area=''total:'' 678,500 km<sup>2</sup><br />''land:'' 657,740 km<sup>2</sup><br />''water:'' 20,760 km<sup>2</sup>
* [[Naypyidaw]] (''formerly Pyinmana'') — newly designated capital of the country
* [[Bago (Myanmar)|Bago]] (''formerly Pegu'') — historic city near Yangon full of wonderful Buddhist sights
* [[Hpa-An]] — the capital of Kayin (Karen) State, with a lively market and nearby caves and mountains
* [[Kawthaung]] — beach town in the far south which is as much like Thailand as Myanmar gets
* [[Mandalay]] — former capital of the Konbaung Dynasty built around the Mandalay Royal Palace and main commercial centre of Upper Myanmar
* [[Mawlamyine]] (''Moulmein'') — capital of Mon State and the third largest city
* [[Taungoo]] — in coffee country, near [[Pyay]]* [[Pyin U Lwin]] (''MaymoMaymyo'') — cool town which is a wonderful former British colonial hill station
* [[Taunggyi]] — capital of Shan State in the heart of the Golden Triangle
* [[Twante]] — a delta town that is famous for pottery
Next-day & 2 day Visas are issued without proof of travel plans. The relative costs are: 1260THB for same-day; 1035THB for next day; 860THB for 2 day (as of 1 April 2013). Note that the Myanmar embassy is closed for all Thai and Myanmar official holidays.
 
The Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur issues 28-day tourist visas. As of July 2013, tourist Visa applications are completed in one day (perhaps more at busy times) and cost 110RM. Official requirements are: original passport, copy of passport, return air tickets and two passport photos (although they will likely only really want one). The embassy is located on Jalan Ampang Hilir. The entry is not clearly marked; look for the white gate with Burmese script. If you have the required passport photo on flash drive, they can print the copies you need in the canteen.
 
The Myanmar embassy in Hanoi issues visas to tourists with a processing time of 4 business days and a $20 USD fee (as of September 2013). It requires: 1) complete application with 2 photos; 2) airline ticket copy; 3) written itinerary / self-plan; 4) hotel confirmations; 5) a letter of recommendation from your employer in Vietnam, this seems to be not terribly important; and 6) return visa to Vietnam if coming back. Visa applications are processed between 8:30am-noon and visa pickup is from 2-5pm. The embassy is at 298A Kim Ma Street in Hanoi.
While ASEAN and PRC nationals may have had visa-free access in the past, the Myanmar Embassy in Singapore declares that "all nationalities" must obtain visas before travel (9 April 2008). Some additional restrictions, requirements or conditions may be applied to applications - reports have included a need for a detailed itinerary, a detailed job history, etc. be prepared for some unusual questions (either on the forms, or from the Consulate staff) when applying for your visa. Though not explicitly stated, it has been reported that the authorities only allow one trip to the country every 6 months.
If you can not find a embassy near you, you can still apply for an approval letter. No trip to embassy is required. Simply upload your photo and a scanned copy of your passport to get the approval letter [http://www.evisaasia.com/myanmar-visa]. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has made a special arrangement with Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow the approval letter to be applied online. The process may take up to two weeks. You must enter Myanmar through international airports and not through the border. Visa sticker will be stamped on your passport on arrival.
 
If you cannot get a visa in advance through the traditional means, many web sites offer services for visa-on-arrival. This is an expensive service (SGD 89, approximately $78 USD) but a very convenient one. [www.MyMyanmarVisa.com] is a good reputable option; they will provide you with visa-on-arrival confirmation, notices to show to the airline, and even a visa-on-arrival name list for you to print out in case you get hassled, but these are typically not necessary. After paying for the service, you'll typically find your visa waiting for you hassle-free upon arrival to Yangon International Airport.
=== By plane ===
Due to economic sanctions from most western countries, international flights into Myanmar are limited. The usual way to get into Myanmar would be to fly into [[Yangon]] from either [[Bangkok]] or [[Singapore]]or Kuala Lumpur, both which have good connections from around the world and have several flights into Yangon daily. As from the 4th of October 2012 Qatar Airways flies direct from [[Doha]] to [[Yangon]] and return three a week. The only other international point of entry to Myanmar is [[Mandalay]], which is served by a weekly flight to/from [[Kunming]].
*[http://www.maiair.com Myanmar Airways International] flies from Yangon to Bangkok, [[Kuala Lumpur]], Hanoi, Siem Reap, Phnom-Penh, Guangzhou and Singapore.
*'''Malaysia Airlines''' [http://www.malaysiaairlines.com] flies between Kuala Lumpur and Yangon 5 times a week.
*'''Air Bagan''' [http://www.airbagan.com] flies from Yangon to Bangkok and (once a week) to [[Chiang Mai]].
*'''Air India''' [http://www.indianairlines.in/index.aspx] links Yangon with [[Kolkata]] and [[Gaya]]
*'''China Eastern Airlines''' [http://www.flychinaeastern.com/] links Yangon with Kunming daily, and Mandalay with Kunming three times a week.
*'''Vietnam Airlines''' [http://www.vietnamairlines.com/] links Yangon with [[Hanoi]] and [[Hochiminh City]] everyday.
*'''Air Asia''' [http://www.airasia.com/] flies from Bangkok Don Meung (DMK) and Kuala Lumpur LCCT Airport to Yangon - two daily return flights, and also links Bangkok DMK to Mandalay
*'''Qatar Airways''' [http://qatarairways.com] links [[Doha]] to [[Yangon]] direct three times a week.
{{cautionbox|As of June 2013, the exit fee doesn't exist anymore, at least at Yangon airport for international flights. There is a US$10 exit fee, to be paid before you check in for your flight out of Myanmar. The fee is paid at a dedicated counter inside the Yangon International airport. Do not forget to ask for the receipt of your payment (blue paper): without this receipt, you cannot check in for your flight. If you're flying with AirAsia, the US$10 exit fee is already included in the flight ticket.}}
=== By land ===
 Situation has changed since the 28th of August 2013, it is now possible to enter Myanmar freely by land from at least 3 Thai/Myanmar border crossings, Mai Sai, Mai Sot and Ranong,and travel into the country see [http://www.myanmargeneva.org/visa/Ministry%20of%20Immigration%20and%20Population%20%C2%BB%20Permission%20of%20Entry%20into%20and%20Departure%20from%20Myanmar%20%E2%80%93%20Thai%20Border%20Gates.htm Myanmar Geneva Thai Border] Some extra paperwork may have to be filled out before getting onto the buses. Hopping across the Thai border into Myanmar's border towns is easy, but crossing into or out of Myanmar proper by land varies between difficult is becoming much easier and impossiblewill get more streamlined the more often it is done. Visa-free entry is possible at some border crossings, but you must then exit Myanmar via the same border crossing, usually (but not always) on the same day that you enter, and fees apply (normally US$10).All land border crossings into Myanmar give only restricted access to the border areas.The only way to visit locations throughout the country, is to enter and exit Myanmar by air.
'''[[Thailand]]''':
* [[Tachileik]] / [[Mae Sai]] - foreigners You can access now cross this crossing from either side, borders and enter and/or exit either country here. As of March 2007, travel beyond [[Kengtung]] to the rest of into Myanmar is not possible, even with a valid tourist visa (can however visit Mongla, but this has become more respectable as the Chinese casinos have cleaned up their act). Travellers wishing to exit Myanmar at Tachileik can only do so with a permit from the MTT office in Yangon.
* [[Myawaddy]] / [[Mae Sot]] - foreigners You can only access now cross this crossing from the Thai side; neither onward borders and travel into Myanmar (ie beyond the border town) nor overnight stays are possible. No visa needed; instead there's an entry stamp fee - US$10 if paid with US$ notes, more (500 baht) if paid with Thai currency. As of August 2009, only Thai baht is accepted.
* [[Three Pagodas Pass]] ([[Payathonzu]] / [[Sangkhlaburi]]) - foreigners can only access this crossing from the Thai side; onward travel into Myanmar (ie beyond the border town) is not possible; entry/exit stamps are NOT issued here, and foreigners passports are held at the Myanmar checkpoint, where a fee is levied - US$10 if paid with US$ notes, more (500 baht) if paid with Thai currency. However, as of November 25, 2008, this crossing is temporarily closed. Note: It was reopened in December 2010.
* [[Kawthoung]] / [[Ranong]] - foreigners You can access now cross this crossing from either side, borders and enter and/or exit either country here. If entering without a visa, maximum stay is 3 days / 2 nights, travel beyond Kawthoung is not permitted, and there's an entry stamp fee - US$10 if paid with US$ notes, more (500 baht) if paid with Thai currencyinto Myanmar. As of March 2007, the only way to You can continue onward from here appears to be by bus, boat or plane to [[Mergui]] or [[Yangon]], although there have previously been ferries on these routes as wellinto the rest of the country.
'''[[China]]''' - foreigners can enter Myanmar at [[Lashio]] via [[Ruili]] (in [[Yunnan]]), although a permit (as well as a visa) and a guide are needed. You will most likely need to join an organized tour, costing 1450 RMB as of January 2009. As of April 2009, it is impossible for foriegners to cross over from Ruili, even for the day, without first getting a visa in Kunming, ie a tour group. Crossing in the opposite direction is more difficult to arrange and details are uncertain; however, it's possible to fly from [[Mandalay]] to [[Kunming]], and there's even a Chinese consulate that issues visas in Mandalay.
6) Remote Asia Travel [http://www.remoteasia.com]
7) All Points East [http://www.allpointseast.com]
8) Luminous Journeys [http://www.luminousjourneys.net]
===By plane===
Old Toyota pickup trucks run everywhere in Myanmar, inexpensively ferrying men, women, children, and monks from one place to another. The rear of the truck is converted into a canvas covered sitting area with three benches, one on each side and one running along the centre of the truck (some smaller trucks have only two rows), and the running board is lowered and fixed into place providing room for six or more people to stand on (holding on to the truck frame). Pickups are ubiquitous in Myanmar and every town has a central point somewhere from where they depart to places both near and far. Tourists who go off the beaten track will find them indispensable because often the only alternative is an expensive taxi or private car.
The basics of pickups are fairly straightforward, wait till it is reasonably full before heading out. On well traveled routes ([[Mandalay]] - [[Pyin U Lwin]], for example), they fill up quickly and the journey is quick. On less well-traveled routes ([[Bhamo]]-[[Katha]], for example), passengers arrive (early, usually around 6AM), mark their place, and then hang around drinking tea and chatting until the truck fills up. When the pickup does get moving, it may linger or go out of its way in the hope of picking up more passengers. The inside of a pickup can be hot and uncomfortable - passengers, packed in like sardines, face away from the windows (which are tiny) and into the truck - and standing on the running board can be tiring and tough on the arms! On the other hand, the window side seat next to the driver is very comfortable and well worth the little extra that you have to pay, so it is best to go early and reserve that seat. On larger pickups, the seats directly behind the cab are hotter, as heat rises from the muffler.  On dusty roads, protect your camera; retracting the lens with dust on it can cause damage.
=== By car ===
* Mrauk U - Largely unknown to the Western world for much of its tur­bulent history, Rakhine played a pivotal role in the exchange of cultures and religions between India and Southeast Asia. For over a thousand years the region which now forms the Rakhine State, Myanmar was an independent state whose rich history is only slowly being paid the attention it deserves.
* '''Ngwe Saung Beach Resort''', opened in the year 2,0002000, is one of the loveliest and most pleasant beach resorts in Myanmar. Located in the Ayeyarwady Division, some 48 kilometres from the town of Pathein, Ngwe Saung, with a beach frontage on the Bay of Bengal with its clear blue waters, its white crested waves, sandy beaches and unspoiled and pollution-free natural surroundings, is indeed one of the best places to select for a holiday interlude of rest and relaxation.
* '''Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock)''' - This mystical pagoda built in the enshrinement of Buddha relic stands on a gold gilded boulder, precariously perched on the edge of the hill over 1100 km m above sea-level.
==Do==
===Tour===
In Myanmar most travel agencies don't have a website, the ability to purchase online affordable tours to Myanmar destinations remains a challenge faced by most tourists. Due to a sharp increase in the number of visitors, there is a current shortage of hotel rooms making tour packages looking expensive compared to neighbouring [[Thailand]].
* <do name="Birma online booking" alt="birma" address="Building No. 38 room (21), Yankin Palm Village, Yanshin Road,Yankin Township, Yangon" directions="" phone="+95 1 555363" email="[email protected]" url="http://birma.com/en/" price="from $300/pax"></do>
== Buy ==
{{cautionbox|At 24. May 2013 the exchange rate at Yangon airport was 946 kyat for 1$, 1240 kyat for 1€.}}
{{infobox|Burma is still predominantly a cash economy, largely due to the lack of ATMs. In a misguided attempt to fight rampant black marketeering, the Myanmar government has an unfortunate habit of '''declaring notes to be worthless''': this happened for the first time on May 15, 1964, when the 50 and 100 kyat notes were withdrawn. On November 3, 1985, the 20, 50 and 100 kyat notes were withdrawn again and replaced with new kyat notes in the unusual denominations of 25, 35 and 75, possibly chosen because of dictator Ne Win's predilection for numerology; the 75-kyat note was introduced on his 75th birthday.
=== Foreign currencies ===
As of writing (January 2013), Visa and Mastercard are now accepted at ATM's ATMs throughout the country, especially in all the major tourist areas. As a result, you may now need only bring sufficient USD to pay for major expenses that the government may have a hand in (hotels, planes, tourist tickets, boats, etc.)[http://www.cbbankmm.com/] Note: Myanmar is still classified as a high-risk country by many banks, so bring extra cash just in case.
The currency of choice in Myanmar is the US$ nationwide, though you can readily also exchange euros in Yangon , Mandalay, Bagan and Mandalay but perhaps not beyondInle lake. Other options are the Chinese Yuan (CNY) and Thai baht (THB). The best rates are in Yangon the large cities and Mandalaythe airport are nearly identical, though smaller denominations get a worse rate.
Be sure to bring a mix of US$ denominations when visiting Myanmar because money changers will not give change and 20/10/5/1-dollar notes are useful for some entry fees and transportation. Nobody seems to have any aversion to accepting $2 notes, and these are often easier to find in excellent shape than $1 or even $5 notes.
====Official and black market rates====
US$100 bills give you the best exchange rate. Changing US$50 or US$20 bills gives you a slightly lower rate (10-20 kyat/dollar less)
Rate as of August 12 2012 May 2013 at bank money changers at Bogyoke Market and at the Airport were 866kyat 946kyat to a USD 1$ to buy kyats and 873kyat to a USD 1240kyat to sell back dollars1€. These were the rates for changing a USD100 / USD50 bill. Rates for USD20 and lower ranged between 820 920- 840940. Summit Hotel in Yangon offers better rates than the bank exchange counters for changing lower denomination bills if they are in mint condition. They will also change non-mint bills for a much lower rate.
Warning: Do not trust citizens on the street who ask to change money with you. As of Feb2013, there is no restriction at any bank or official moneychanger to transfer kyat-dollars in either direction, and the rates good. Anyone you meet who asks you to change with him individually on the streets is likely attempting to scam you.
'''Kyat banknotes'''
The Most kyat notes of 50,100, 200 and 500 kyat nowadays are most of the time in a horrible good condition but are generally accepted when making small purchases. The 1000 kyat When accepting dollar notes are slightly better, and when exchanging dollars into kyat, check that the banknotes you receive are in a general good condition.
====Exchanging money====
When changing money, be sure that, after any money is counted, it is not touched by anyone until the deal is sealed. Also do not allow your dollars to be removed from your sight until all is agreed; in fact, it is not even necessary to pull out your US dollars until your are paying for the kyats you received. It sounds extreme, but ending up in a country where you cannot access whatever savings you have, and having a good portion of your budget rendered useless (until you get to more relaxed changers in Bangkok) can really put a dampener on your plans.
 
In June 2013 best exchange rate was at Yangon airport arrivals hall. Also convenient, because taxi drivers prefer kyats. No need for dollar bills at all during visit (hotels, taxis or sights).
{{infobox|Is it safe?|So, you're travelling around carrying hundreds, if not thousands, of US dollars stuffed into your pockets in a country where most people subsist on a few dollars a day. Everyone around you knows that if they could get their hands on the money in your pockets, they will be rich for life. What, you may ask, are the odds that someone will try to relieve you of your money? The answer: almost nil. There have been very few instances of a tourist being mugged and only the rare pilferage. Myanmar is an extremely safe country for travellers. Some say it is because of the nature of the people. Others say it is because the punishment for robbing from a foreigner is draconian. It is more, however, because of their Buddhism, which bans people from taking what is not given.}}
Outside of Myanmar, your kyat is almost worthless but do make nice souvenirs. Make sure to exchange your kyat back to U.S. Dollars before you leave the country. Rates at the airport are surprisingly good for switching Kyat back to USD, SGD, or EUR.
=== Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs) ===
=== Credit cards and ATMs ===
After lifted EU and US sanctions, some hotel and restaurant start accepted credit cards since February 2013. Visa card is more common to use than master card. You can also take out cash from As of May 2013 in Yangon are more than 50 ATMs, even in Nyaung U (Bagan) is one, with another two large bank building being built. For Visa cardHowever, many are out of order, you so it can take out from KBZ bank and for master card from CB bankyou a while until you find a working one. There is usually an ATM fee of 5000 kyat ($5) associated with the transaction with maximum withdrawal amount being 300 000 kyat.
=== Travellers cheques ===
=== Costs ===
It's not possible to be comfortable on less than US$2025/day. Foreigners will likely be charged fees, including video camera, camera, entrance, parking, and zone fees. Most managed tourist sites will charge you for carrying cameras of any sort into the area.Double rooms with private bathroom are nearly always more or equal 20$, in Yangon you get a double room without bathroom for 20$. While you cannot save on accomodation, you can save on food. Streetfood can get as low as 0,3$ for 2 small currys with 2 indian breads, 1$ for a normal (vegetarian) dish. Even in touristy places like bagan you can get dishes for under 1$ (vegetarian) and 2$ (meat).A draft Myanmar beer (5%) is around 600 kyat, a bottle of Myanmar beer (650ml) is around 1700 kyat, a bottle of Mandalay beer (6,5%, 650ml) around 1200 kyat.
=== What to buy ===
* '''Black Canyon Coffee''' Found in Mandalay (Next to Sedona Hotel) and in Yangon (next to International Hotel) offers air-conditioned dining and Starbucks-style coffee for all those yearning for caffeine.
 
Most Burmese restaurants are served cafeteria-style where you go to a counter of pre-cooked items and pay for what you select (tourists pay a higher price than locals, but still in a reasonable $10/meal range). Burmese cuisine itself is very unhealthy with a lot of deep fried items swimming in oil, so Thai and Chinese restaurants will be a good option to look for a break.
== Drink ==
'''Tap water''' in Myanmar is not safe to drink, likewise ice may be contaminated. '''Bottled water''' is readily available at many tourist sites. As of 18 August 2012May 2013, the standard going rate is 300ks for a 1L bottle of mineral water.
Similar to '''''Chinese''Tea''' ''Yenwejan'' is usually provided free at restaurant tables. While not flavourful, it is boiled water, and so safe to drink (do not drink plain water - even in restaurants - unless it is bottled water). However, an overwhelming number of restaurants have extremely poor sanitation and do not necessarily wash the cups properly. Dried tea leaves similar to Laphet thote's tea leaves (except these are wet) are added to the boiled water to give ''Yenwejan'' Be sure to order it with Laphet thote (Customary/Good combination).
Myanmar's rich and creamy '''milk tea''' (very similar to that you find in India or southeast Asia) is an absolute must. This is normally to be had at cafes rather than restaurants (you'll see them packed full of people drinking milk tea). Milk tea is often served with samosas and other condiments which you will be charged for if you eat, and passed on to others if you do not eat them.
'''Alcohol''' is frowned upon by conservative Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, but consumed widely, mostly among men. Myanmar Beer is most popular in the country. Other variants, including Mandalay Beer exist. A draft Myanmar beer (5%) is around 600 kyat, a bottle of Myanmar beer (650ml) is around 1700 kyat, a bottle of Mandalay beer (6,5%, 650ml) around 1200 kyat. However, many of such companies are government-owned and/or have links to the drug trade. '''Toddy juice''' (''ta-YEI'') is popular in central Myanmar, and is made from fermented palm sugar. An alcoholic drink popular in the Shan State is '''Shwe le maw''', and is reportedly very strong. It is also possible to buy full strength Beer Chang imported from Thailand; exports to most countries are not nearly as strong.
Beware of alcoholic drinks served in the far northern states. The locals refer to it as '''alcohol which does not burn''' when lit, and it is widely suspected to be an opiate concoction rather than a fermented beverage.
===Begging===
Despite traditional taboos against it, begging has become a major problem in the main tourist areas such as [[Bago (Myanmar)|Bago]] and [[Bagan]]. Children and "mothers" carrying babies are often the ones who beg as they are more effective at soliciting pity. Note that most beggars are part of larger begging syndicates or just after easy money, as tourists are usually seen to be rich. In addition, the poor can always obtain food for free from the nearest monastery if they can't afford to pay for it, so begging is not necessary for their survival. If you really must give, note that most Burmese earn only US$40 a month doing manual labour; giving US$1 to a beggar is ''very'' generous.
=== Corruption ===
However, in recent months, liberty in general has increased by a small but perceptible amount under the new government. A few politically critical articles have been published in government newspapers and a satirical film deriding the government's film censorship policy has been released, neither of which would have been possible in 2010. Returning visitors to Myanmar may find that locals have become ever so slightly more open to discussions regarding politics.
However, under any circumstances avoid doing things that might make the military or police feel uncomfortable, such as taking pictures of police and police buildings or vehicles. As of Feb2013, the state of the country has changed dramatically with the opening of the country. You'll find locals all around open to discussing politics (does not mean that you should join them in discussion openly) and plenty of shops proudly showing a picture of Aung Sang Suu Kyi and their support of the NLD. The turnaround from a repressive police state in only a few years has been truly remarkable.
== Stay healthy ==
=== Internet ===
Internet is now widely and cheaply available in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan, but more limited elsewhere. However access is very slow and many sites are inaccessible. Rates are around 300 kyat/hour in Yangon and 1000-3000 kyat/hour elsewhere. Some hotels, although rare, allow free access to the internet. As of Feb2013, most all of the hotels catering to tourists now have free unrestricted wifi available.
mmRev.com Myanmar Reviews for Travellers http://www.mmrev.com/
As of 2011, mobile data services are available.
 
== Getting out ==
 
Some guidebooks say you can over-stay a visa, and merely have to show up at the airport a little early to complete the required paperwork, however there have been several recent reports of individuals having their boarding passes confiscated on their way out of the country. ( Tourist visas can not be extended; work visas can be extended in theory, but in practice those on work visa usually fly to a neighboring country to get a new visa.) Probably not a good idea to book a hotel in your destination city until you know if you can get out.
[[Wikipedia:Burma]]
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