- Most important: Carry new, unfolded crisp US dollars. Even if it is torn a bit or something written on the currency, it will not be accepted in most of the places. Carry small Dollar bills.
- Take ear plugs if you are traveling by bus, the peace loving Buddhist Burmese seem to enjoy the Chinese
- Avocado juice in Myanmar is amazing
- Go to Shwedagon Pagoda at night, it is much more beautiful and also you will be able to see the reflection of the diamond on the top of the pagoda. You will be able to find the rays of the diamond closer to the area where the bell that British couldn’t steal. You can see the color markings on the ground.
- Shwedagon pagoda goes through maintenance exactly every five years and during that time they scaffold with bamboo and palm leave sheets for cleaning purposes. They started the maintenance at the end of 2014 for year 2015, so after this year, the next maintenance will be on 2020, schedule your trip accordingly.
- Circular train in Yangoon is nice and after sometime you’ll be bored because there’s no interesting scenery but you can people watch. It’s a long 3.5hr ride. Nice place to take a break and take a power nap.
- Hard to get the taxis in Yangoon, so pre-arrange your taxi if you can. Number of taxis are limited and at certain time they don’t want to go to certain places because of the traffic jam.
- In Shwedagon, you will notice that there are Buddhas for every day of the week at every corner of the direction ( East, NorthEast, etc. - two for Wednesday - one for morning and one for the evening) that you should bath with five cups of water and each cup signifies the following per. the guide: Buddha, his teachings, his followers, your teachers and don't remember what the fifth one is. When you ring the bell by hitting with the stick, you are supposed to do it five times too.
- In Shwedagon, except the Buddha on the West side, all of the Buddhas are in stone and the Buddha on the west side was damaged due to fire and he’s in Marble.
- In Bagan, there are new electric cycles with better seats and better power available, so shop around if you
- Don’t miss the sunrise in Bagan and it is one of the best experiences. If you have time and money, do the hot air ballon in Bagan. IMO Bagan and Capadoccia are the two places where you can really enjoy the ballooning experience with beautiful scenery (I didn’t do it either place)
- In Bagan, always carry the entrance tickets with you, you will be asked for it in some important pagodas or during the visit for the sunset.
- There are buses as well as mini-buses between big cities, enquire your hotel and use the one that you are comfortable with. If you book the bus, the bus company normally picks you up from your hotel. So make sure that you enquire/confirm before buying the ticket
- Don’t ride the bus from Bagan to Inle for the reason of enjoying the scenery. If you want to save money, use the bus. The scenery is not that great to spend 8 hours in the bus.
- There are two different final stops for the bus to Inle, one is right in the Inle market area (Nyaung Shwe) and the other one is about couple of miles away. So when you book the tickets, enquire and make sure that you can get off in the market area. From here, you can walk to your hotel very easily, all you got to do is to ask people in the market for directions.
- Inle Lake is pretty awesome, in addition to boating there, rent a bicycle from the town and ride down to the Mine Thauk village to have a lunch in one of the restaurants in the lake. You can try riding your bike in the wooden bridge. The Forest Monastry doesn’t seem to worth the walk and this’s what I heard from few people we met in the village
- The winery is pretty good and nice view of the city. No age limit to get alcohol there.
- A lot of mosquitos in Mandelay, so take the mosquito repellent with you.
- You don’t have to carry bundle of cash, ATMs are available in cities. Not many places accept credit cards yet.
- One surprise in Myanmar is the laundry cost, where in most of the Asian countries the laundry cost is by the weight but in Myanmar you have to pay by each piece of cloth.
- Very safe country with very friendly people. The people of Myanmar have a lot of hope regarding the future and the American government (especially President Obama’s visit) has provided the hope.
- If you are a Lungi (sarong) person, take it with you and you can wear the lung anywhere and everywhere
- Despite being isolated from the rest of the developed world for the last 30+ years, it is not as bad as I expected - decent roads and spotty internet. Friendliness of the people compensates for whatever you may be missing.
VOA desk at the arrival area, but I have applied and got my eVisa, before leaving India, that took less than 3 hours to receive. There is a Money Exchange counter in the baggage claims area and if you have US dollars (may be Euro too), it is accepted almost everywhere. We got the taxi near the arrival gate for $10 to get to the city center and it is the expected price. Our taxi driver completed a degree in Chemistry in 1988 but driving taxi because of lack of opportunity in Myanmar and he was not interested to go out of the country either. He mentioned that the country had changed a lot in the last 3 years in the positive direction - the average new car price was $30K had reduced to $15K now and a lot of new tourists now. He credited President Obama for all these changes. Also, ATMs and SIM cards were not easily available before, now huge change in these too. He’s not the last person who was talking highly of Obama and heard the same thing from at least from 3 other people.
Roadside Vendor's Knowledge
Public Transport and Traffic
walking distance but wanted to save the energy for later. Since we couldn’t find any guides in the pagoda, we asked the person in the ticket counter to get us a guide and they’re very helpful in finding us a guide. The guide charged $15 for 3 of us and provided us some history on the temple, the guide was an average guide. After spending a lot of time in the pagoda, we decided to experience the public transportation experience in Yangoon and took the bus#15 to the market. The traffic jam is really bad and we could have reached market in 10 minutes but the bus took more than 20 minutes to reach that place. The people in the bus were really friendly and we were the only foreigners in that bus. It is designed to have more space for the standing only crowd.
Market and Marketing
Circular TrainAfter walking around the market for sometime, we decided to take the circular train and the scenery from the train
is average. After 3 hours, we reached the central station and the way we found out is because it has more platforms. In most of the train stations we didn’t find any station names or any signs so you have to keep tracking the stations on the map to see where you are. The train moves very slowly with a lot of shaking and the ticket master comes in the train to check the tickets. There’s Golf Course station but we didn’t find any golf courses nearby. Within 10 minutes from Central station, you can see the scenery changing from urban to rural, and the circular train mostly travels on the rural side.
Riding with Russian
Bus Pickup TensionWhen we enquired about taxi to go to the bus stand, the hotel manager advised us that the bus company would
Bus Ride to Inle
Bus to Mandelay
Buddha's Face Washing Ceremony
in the taxi ’til 615 before started to walk around to take pictures and to enjoy an awesome sunrise. There are a lot of locals come there to do exercise on the bridge, a lot of monks walking along the bridge as well as fishermen at the lake. After walking on the bridge for some time, we left to the hotel to take rest.