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Officially called the Union of Myanmar, Myanma Naingngandaw, the country was known as Burma until June 19th, 1989.
The administrative capital of Myanmar is Nay Pyi Taw; a planned city about 320km north of the previous capital, Rangoon (Yangon).
The coastal region is known as Lower Myanmar, while the interior region is known as Upper Myanmar.
Myanmar Maps and Travel Guides
Weather in Asia:
Local weather forecasts for destinations around Asia.
The seven-day visa seems to be a thing of the past, and you should be able to travel more leisurely with the thirty-day visas now on offer. The situation could always change overnight though.
You are officially required to change $300 into Foreign Exchange Certificates at the inflated official rates; similar to the system once used in China.
Getting to Burma
An isolated and remote country, unspoiled by mass tourism, Burma is for the traveller, not the average tourist.
Airlines and Airports:
Getting to Burma means flying. Myanmar Airways fly to and from Bangkok daily. There are also flights from Hong Kong and Singapore.
Thai and Biman also fly from Bangkok and Dhaka, and if you're coming from China, Air China will fly you in from Kunming.
Aeroflot also have connections in the region through Bombay, Vietnam and Laos.
Getting Around Myanmar
As the seven-day visa seems to be no more, there is no real need to fly with the Fokkers around the Yangon - Bagan- Mandalay - Heho circuit.
Buses and pick-ups can get crowded, and road is not the preferred way of travel from Yangon to Mandalay.
Daily Yangon to Mandalay express trains leave in the evenings for the 14 hour journey. There are other trains, but just getting the tickets can be an ordeal.
You could spend a week of your thirty-day visa getting up the Irrawaddy. Most people prefer to go by train to Mandalay, and take the boat down to Bagan.
The former capital city of Myanmar is still known in some circles by the British name of Rangoon.
Yangon is located in the southern part of the country, in the Irrawaddy delta.
King Alaungpaya, or Alompra, founder of the last dynasty of Burmese kings, chose the site as the administrative capital of Lower Burma in the mid-1750s, and named it Yangon - the end of strife.
Rangoon was captured by the British in 1824, but they relinquished control two years later.
It again come under British rule at the end of the Second Anglo-Burmese War, in 1852, and was occupied by Japanese forces during World War II.
When Burma gained independence in 1948, Rangoon became its capital.
The World Peace Pagoda was built here in 1952; in honour of the 2,500th anniversary of the death of the Buddha.
This ancient Buddhist shrine, the most sacred temple in Myanmar, is almost 100 m high and coated in gold leaf that shimmers in the sunlight.
The Sule Pagoda, in the centre of Yangon, is also over 2,000 years old.
Mandalay is Mayanmar's second city. Its many monasteries and pagodas attract almost everybody up the Irrawaddy from Yangon.
Mandalay was the last capital of the independent Kingdom of Burma, until it was captured by the British in 1885.
Formerly called Pagan, this deserted city had thousands of temples scattered around the area, before Kublai Khan rode through in 1287.
Known as the city of four million pagodas, Bagan is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia.
Most of the important sights have been restored and reconstructed.
Burmese Culture and Language
The official language of Myanmar is Burmese - Myanmar, with the Myanmar alphabet based on Sanskrit.
The Burmese are racially akin to the Tibetans and the Chinese.
Learn Burmese by listening to common words and phrases spoken by real Burmese natives.
Getting the squiggles and swirls right in Burmese writing might be a little harder.
Ethnic Groups in Burma
Indigenous minorities have their own languages and cultures and each minority group has its own state.
Traditionally, most Karens are farmers who farm the nutrient rich soils of southern Burma and eastern Thailand. The religion of the Karen majority is Animism and Buddhism although there is a sizeable population of Christians among the Karens.
Related to ethnic groups in neighbouring Assam State, India, and live in the north-western mountainous region. They are mostly hunters and fishermen and are often ruled by head priests.
Hill people concentrated in the far north of the country and ruled by hereditary leaders.
Believed to be the first major ethnic group to have migrated to the area live mostly in the delta region.
Related to the Thai, live mainly in the hills along the Thai border.
Myanmar's principal river, also called the Ayeyarwady, is formed in the north of the country by the confluence of the Mali and Nmai rivers.
The river is navigable by steamers all year as far north as Bhamo, and smaller boats can travel up the river to Myitkyina even during the low-water season from October to February.
One of the few areas in the Shan states that foreigners are allowed to visit.
The Inlelake-area is one of the nicest areas to stay a while longer when you are travelling through Myanmar.
Get more out of your visit to Myanmar by planning to coincide with one of the many cultural festivals around the country.
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