Inle Lake Watercolour
 

 

time zones

 

While most of the world is familiar with time zones that differ in increments of an hour, there are many places in the world that use offset time zones. These time zones are offset by a half-hour or even fifteen minutes off of the standard twenty four time zones of the world.

Myanmar is one of the countries that use the offset time zone. Myanmar Standard Time is GMT+6:30. For example, it is 12:30 in the afternoon in Myanmar when it is 6:00 am in the UK in the winter and 7:00 am in the summer due to daylight saving time or British Summer Time.

 

language

 

The official language is called Burmese or Myanmar. It is written in a script consisting of circular and semi-circular letters, which were adapted from the Mon script, which in turn was developed from a southern Indian script in the 8th century.

Pali is the sacred language of Buddhism and it is used for worshiping. Most people do not understand the meaning of the prayers and the monks translate it to be understandable.

As Myanmar is ethnically diversified, there are several ethnic minority languages and dialects, approximately one hundred languages are spoken all over the country.

English is the secondary language taught in the schools since kindergarten. However, students are just good at reading and writing skills and not fluent in listening and speaking.

 

Hello

min ga lar bar

How are you?

nay kaung lar

I am fine

kaung par dal

I am not fine

ma kaung bu

Thank you

kyay zu bae'

Beautiful

hla dal

 

visa application


Every national visiting Myanmar needs a visa. Sanctuary Retreats Myanmar can assist in applying for a visa by sending an invitation letter to the clients but the visa still needs to be processed at the Myanmar Embassy of your country. The visa fees and processing period will vary from 3 days to 2 weeks according to the country of origin. 

 

visa on arrival

 

Sanctuary Retreats Myanmar may be able to process a visa on arrival for a limited number of nationalities (this is updated every few months, no fixed list) through the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism. We need to send all necessary documents to the Ministry at least 14 working days before arrival. Once we receive the approvals from the Ministry, we will send the soft copies of the visa on arrival to the clients. This document is to be shown upon arrival at Visa on Arrival Counter at the airport. Visas on arrival are available in Yangon International Airport and Mandalay Airport. 

 

visa validity


The tourist visa is valid for 3 months from date of issue. Once the clients enter into Myanmar, they are eligible to stay 28 days in Myanmar.

*** The above mentioned information is the standard process for the clients from all different countries of origin. 

 

tipping

 

The following guidelines are general local standards and are based upon the number of travellers in your party. (Note: for half-day touring, reduce the below amounts by 50% per person). Suggested gratuity;

Local Guide US$5 per person per guide                 

Airport Transfer Drivers: An amount equivalent to approximately US$2 per person per transfer

Room Service/Restaurant servers will be happy to receive US$2 per person per meal.

Taxi drivers will appreciate it if you round up the fare by a few units of local currency.

Hotel porters will expect a tip equalling US$1 per bag.

Hotel maids will appreciate the equivalent of $2 per person per night.

These tipping guidelines are suggestions only and are at your own discretion. Tips are usually awarded on the last day spent with the staff member.

 

money

 

The unit of currency in Myanmar is Kyat ("chat"), divided into 100 Pyas.

Please be aware that Myanmar is a cash based economy. Traveller's cheques are not accepted in Myanmar. Visa and MasterCard's are accepted in few hotels/restaurants only. There are few ATMS in the main cities of the country.

As US Dollars are widely accepted, we advise travellers to pay for their purchases in US currency (small denominations are best because change will be given in Kyat).

Be sure to carry new, crisp bills in small denominations. Worn or soiled notes may not be accepted.

The import and export notes of Myanmar Kyats is strictly prohibited.

You can change currencies in few hotels, but the best rate will be in currency exchange offices in the main cities of the country.

 

food and drink

 

Myanmar Food has a variety of tastes combined from Indian, Thai and Chinese due to its geographic location. Although it draws on its' neighbours, it is neither as hot as Thai, as spicy as Indian nor does it resemble Chinese cooking. The diversity of Myanmar's cuisine has also been contributed because of various ethnic minorities.

Seafood is a common ingredient in coastal regions such as Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, Mawlamyaing, Myeik and Dawei, while meat and poultry are more commonly used in landlocked cities like Mandalay.

Mohinga is the most popular food that Myanmar people have all day long, especially for breakfast, and it is the unofficial national dish of rice vermicelli in fish broth with onions, garlic, ginger, lemon grass and sliced tender core of banana-stem, served with boiled eggs, fried fish and deep fried gourd.

A typical Myanmar meal includes steamed rice and meat or fish curries with plenty of oil as the main dishes, fried vegetables, and veggie salad as side dishes, a bowl of light soup and fresh or boiled vegetables to go with a salty fish sauce. Burmese cuisine also includes a variety of salads (a thoke), centered on one major ingredient such as noodle, vermicelli, potato, baked eggplant, ginger, tomato or pickled tea leaves, mixed with garlic oil, peanuts, coriander, and dried prawn. These salads are always popular as fast food.

Drinks are not often served with the meal and, instead, the usual liquid accompaniment is in the form of a light broth served from a communal bowl. Outside of the meal, Myanmar beverage of choice is light green tea or still water.

Myanmar has a wide range of fruits, and most are of tropical origin. Durian, pineapple, mango, banana, avocado, papaya, pomelo, water melon, mangosteen and rambutan are commonly served as desserts. These fruits are also made into fresh fruit juice which is also very popular and tasty due to its freshness.

 

packing guide

 

Clothing - Light clothing such as pure cotton is recommended to bring as Myanmar is a hot country almost all year round. However, visiting Shan State including Inle Lake and the northern regions are much cooler than other regions in summer. Travelling in the winter - November to February - might need some warm clothing for the morning and the evening.

Summer Accessories - Sunglasses, umbrella or hat, light summer scarf, etc.

Sunscreen Lotion - Due to very hot and sunny weather, sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from the UV rays.

Mosquito Repellent - As Myanmar is a tropical region, there are mosquitoes and flies. Therefore, we do suggest you to apply mosquito repellent on the uncovered part of body, especially in the evening, to prevent irritation and tropical diseases carried by mosquitoes.

Slippers or Sandals - You will make a good use of them as it is needed to take off shoes and socks when visiting to the pagodas and monasteries.

Have appropriate dress for entering a temple or monastery - please avoid sleeveless tops, too-short shorts or skirts (the pants or skirts below the knee are fine).

Medicine - It is recommended to bring the medicines you usually have such as vitamins, aspirins, hydration tablets, tablets against diarrhoea. However, local medical doctors can assist if you are not feeling well.

 

religion and etiquette

 

Myanmar is a multi-religious country as different religions can be practiced without any obstruction. Although there is no official state religion, the government shows preference for Theravada Buddhism, the majority religion. Among 60 million people, there are over 53 million Buddhists, over 3 million Christians, over 2 million Muslims, over 0.3 million Hindus and 1 million of those who believe in other religions.

As most of Myanmar people believe in Buddhism, you will see many pagodas, temples and monasteries all over the country. Therefore, most of your sightseeing will be definitely such kind of attractions and it is a must to take off your shoes and socks as well when you enter to those sacred sites. Wearing slippers might be easier for the clients.

Please remember the sacred and taboo parts of your body are head and feet. For the Asian, the head is the most sacred part of the body, while the feet are the lowest and the filthiest. Touching a person's head is totally out of line, especially with elders. At the same time, you must never show the soles of your feet to anyone, or use your feet to point at something as it would be the direct insult to someone.

Giving and receiving things with two hands is a way of showing respect to the contact person and a polite manner.