Myanmar Travel Guide

Myanmar is simply amazing. The country of 55 million is rapidly emerging from more than 50 years of military dictatorship, blossoming into as worthy a stop as its popular neighbours. The people are more than friendly; they are thrilled to have tourists after being closed off to the west for so long. And it’s safe; you won’t constantly need to feel for your purse or hold jewellery tight in fear.

States & Divisions Of Myanmar

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Myanmar Guide


Traditional Festivals

Kachin Manaw Festival - 09-10 Jan in Myitkyina, Kachin State

Ananda Pagoda Festival - 04-09 Jan in Bagan

Naga New Year Festival - 12-18 Jan in Lashi, Sagaing Division

Shwemyetmhan Pagoda Festival - 04-09 Jan in Shwetaung

Kyaik Khauk Pagoda Festival - 03-09 Feb in Thanlyin, Yangon

Mahamuni Pagoda Festival - 07-08 Feb in Mandalay

Shwedagon Pagoda Festival - 28 Feb-08 Mar in Yangon

Baw-Gyo Pagoda Festival - 03-08 Mar in Hsipaw, Shan State

Pindaya Cave Festival - 06-08 Mar in Pindaya

Kakku Pagoda Festival - 06-08 Mar in Kakku

Shwemawdaw Pagoda Festival - 02-11 Apr in Bago

Thingyan/Water Festival - 13-16 Apr, Countrywide 

Myanmar New Year - 17 Apr, Countrywide 

Popa Ceremony/ Nat(Spirit) Festival - 21 Apr in Mt Popa

U Shin Gyi Ceremony - 02-04 May in Salt Island & Brown Island, Bogolay

Kasong Full Moon Festival - 06 May, Countrywide 

Thi Ho Shin Pagoda Festival - 31 May-05 Jun in Pakokku

Waso Chinlone Festival - 25 Jun-05 Jul in Mahumuni, Mandalay

Shinbin Sagyo Pagoda Festival - 03 Jul in Sale, Magwe

Martyrs Day - 19 Jul in Yangon

Shwe Kyun Bin Tree Spirit Ceremony - 21-26 Aug in Mingun, Mandalay

Taungbyone Nat Festival - 26 Aug-02 Sep in Taungpyone, Mandalay

Yadana Gu Nat Festival - 10-16 Sep in Amarapura, Mandalay

Bo Min Gaung Memorial Day - 03 Oct in Mt Popa

Bo Bo Gyi Nat Festival - 05-11 Oct in Amarapura, Mandalay

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival - 17 Oct-03 Nov in Inle Lake

Indein Pagoda Festival - 27-31 Oct in Inle Lake

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda Festival - 30 Oct-02 Nov in Mandalay

Thadingyut Festival of Lights - 30 Oct-01 Nov,  Countrywide 

Kyaukse Elephant Dance Festival - 30 Oct-01 Nov in Kyaukse, Mandalay

Kaunghmudaw Pagoda Festival - 22-30 Nov in Sagaing, Mandalay

Taunggyi Hot Air Balloon Festival -21-30 Oct in Taunggyi

Shwezigone Pagoda Festival -26-29 Nov in Bagan

Tazaungdaing Festival of Lights - 28-29 Nov in Taunggyi

Pho Win Taung Ceremony - 28-29 Nov in Monywa

Mount Popa Nat Festival - 29 Dec in Mt Popa




Date: 2016 – 8 th to 14 th November, 2017 – Not specified yet

Where: Taunggyi


The Taunggyi Fire balloon festival takes place in November in the capital of Shan State and celebrates the Full Moon of Tazaungmon with a dazzling array of balloons and fireworks, which light up the sky for the 5 days leading up to the full moon.

Taungbyone Nat Festival

Taungbyone Nat Festival

Date: 2016 – 11 th to 18 th August, 2017 – Not yet specified

Where: Taungbyone


The Taungbyone Nat festival in August provides an altogether different experience, where the world of Myanmar spirits meets gay pride in a small town north of Mandalay.



Date: 2016 – 9th to 24th January, 2017 – Not yet specified
Where: Kachin State
Kachin Manaw Festival  



Date: 2016 – 9th and 10th January, 2017 – Not yet specified
Where: Myitkyina
The Kachin Manaw Festival, a celebration of Kachin culture, takes place in Myitkyina in early January. Dancing, traditional costumes and huge, brightly coloured ‘Manaw’ poles are features of this popular festival.



Date: 2016 – 13 th to 16 th April, 2017 – Not yet specified

Where: Countrywide


The biggest, most exuberant and most famous countrywide festival is the Thingyan Water Festival, which takes place in mid-April (one of the hottest times of year), lasts for several days, and culminates with Myanmar New Year’s Day. The most devoutly religious may spend this time meditating at monasteries, but most people spend the week dancing, drinking, playing music and throwing a lot of water.

Phaung Daw Oo Festival

Phaung Daw Oo Festival

Date: 2016 – 8 th to 14 th November, 2017 – Not specified yet

Where: Taunggyi




Myanmar has a new online e-visa system.  Please go to the official Myanmar ministry of Immigration e-visa website to complete the application.  The visa is only valid for entry into Myanmar via Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, is valid for 28 days, and costs $50.  This will take 4 working days to authorize.  Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after your departure.  It is possible to enter Myanmar overland, but a visa must have been arranged beforehand through a Myanmar Embassy.

The main language of Myanmar is Burmese, although many people in cities and tourist areas also speak English.  Outside of these areas there are many different ethnic and language groups.  

It is now possible to purchase a SIM card for as little as 1,500 kyat ($1.50) from many local shops.  Cards work on a top up, pay as you go basis.  

The internet is now widespread in Myanmar, where you will find many cafes and hotels have a Wi-Fi connection.  Due to bandwidth restrictions however, internet speeds can vary dramatically, according to demand through the day.

Myanmar voltage is 220-240 volts.  It is advisable to bring a universal adaptor, which fits multiple socket types.  The electricity supply in Myanmar is unreliable, which can lead to blackouts.  All major hotels will have back up generators

Myanmar has a tropical monsoon climate.  A cool season, from November to February, a hot season, from March to May, and a rainy season, from June to October.  The most comfortable time to travel is in the cool season.  Temperatures range from around 28 degrees in the cool season, to 38 degrees in the hot season.  

With generally high temperatures in the popular locations around the country, lightweight cotton and linen clothing is recommended for most of the year; warmer clothes may be needed for the evenings, which can sometimes be cool. Even outside the rainy season there can on occasion be downpours, so it is advisable to pack a light raincoat. Travelling to higher altitudes and further North, it is advisable to take warmer clothes, particularly in the cool season, when temperatures can drop significantly.

The main religion of the country is Buddhism, which you will notice in all aspects of everyday life.  Monks and nuns hold a very important status in society and should not be touched.  Revealing clothing is often frowned upon, and not permitted in pagodas, shrines or monasteries, where shoes and socks must also be taken off.  

The official currency of Myanmar is the “kyat” (pronounced “shat”).  As of November 2015, businesses in Myanmar are no longer permitted to accept or trade in USD.  It is possible to exchange dollars to kyat at an official currency exchange, which are located at airports, and at local bank branches.  Dollars must be brought into Myanmar in perfect condition, with any blemishes resulting in a worse exchange rate, or the money may not be accepted.  There are now over 600 ATMs in Myanmar as well, which accepted Visa or MasterCard.  These charge a 5,000 kyat transaction fee, and have a withdrawal limit of 300,000 kyat.  

Buses will cost you around $7 to $30, depending on the length of your journey and what class of bus you use. Luxury ‘VIP’ buses, available on most popular routes, command a premium. Domestic flights typically cost between $40 and $200 for a single journey.

Taking the train can be more fun, but it is also slower than the bus – tickets range from $10 to $25 when booking online for ‘Upper Class’ seats or sleepers, again depending on how far you are travelling (tickets can be bought more cheaply at railway stations in kyat, and ‘Ordinary Class’ seats are cheaper still, although it usually make for an uncomfortable journey).

Travelling by boat is a unique way to experience Myanmar, and can be used for long-distance trips on the Irrawaddy River, with prices from $10 to $70, depending on the distance you are travelling and the speed of your boat.

Having a car and driver for the day usually allows you the greatest flexibility; taxis or car hire starts at around $50 per day.

Food and Drink
Eating out in Myanmar is, in general, inexpensive – you can expect to pay K1000 to K3000 for a simple meal at a local restaurant or teahouse, and for something more sophisticated, or for well made western food, you should pay no more than K4000 to K8000. Upscale restaurants in cities and major tourist spots will cost more.

Tap water is not safe to drink so you will need to buy bottled water, which costs around around K200 to K300 per bottle. Domestic-brand Coke costs around K800 for a bottle.

In some locations, hiring a guide can offer real benefits. A professional English-speaking guide will typically cost between US$30 and $50 per day, depending on your location. But you can often find locals who are willing to show you around for free; you should give them a small amount of money – or gift – in return.

Tipping is not customary in Myanmar, but a small contribution may be expected for hotel staff and guides. The country does have a custom of ‘tea money’, which is given for volunteered services, such as a local showing you around a market or gaining you entrance to a locked temple. These contributions should usually be around K200 to K500.

Personal security
In all the areas that foreigners are allowed to visit, Myanmar is very safe in terms of personal security: incidents of crime against foreigners are extremely low and Yangon is considered to be one of Asia’s safest large cities, with no areas that need to be avoided.

You may sometimes be approached by ‘money changers’ and people trying to sell things (their statements should not always be taken at face value), but this will usually be done in a good-natured manner. In fact, you will often find that people approaching you simply want to take the opportunity to talk to a foreigner and maybe practise their English.

Travellers Tips

Patience Is Important

Wake Up Early

Laugh At Yourself

Meet Local People

Pack A Scarf

Observe Daily Life

Back Everything Up

Take Lots Of Photos

Smile & Say Hello

Keep An Open Mind