Myanmar wrap-up

We spent 9 days in Myanmar. It was exciting to finally visit this country that I’ve dreamed of seeing for so long! Here are my parting thoughts and advice for anyone who wants to take a trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma).

  • At this time of year, Myanmar felt very hot – in the 90s (except Inle Lake). Having A/C in our lodging was pretty important and it became a requirement.

  • One of the main reasons we wanted to visit Myanmar was that it’s newly open to tourism, and we hoped that we wouldn’t feel squeezed for money all the time. It lived up to those expectations! Most Burmese were either friendly and curious or indifferent to us, which was great. I don’t expect this will last for many more years, though.
  • 20160620_125034It’s advised that tourists’ clothes cover their shoulders and knees. After a couple days of suffering in convertible pants, Ruby and I bought some breezy Burmese pants to be more comfortable. I was especially short on t-shirts and couldn’t wear the tank tops I brought. Next time I’d pack different clothes. NOTE: in touristy areas like Bagan, we saw some tourists who weren’t following the guidelines and they stuck out but nobody stopped them. We felt more comfortable following the local style, though.

  • You will need a lot of kyats (Burmese currency) because most places only take cash, guesthouses included. We ended up visiting ATMs, which are fairly ubiquitous, on an almost daily basis when we could have just gotten or exchanged more money up front. The reason we didn’t was because the highest bill they have is 5000 kyats (a little less than $5) so you end up carrying around giant piles of cash like this stack of 440,000 kyats (~$372):

  • Internet/wi-fi in guesthouses is good in Mandalay, but spotty elsewhere. In Inle Lake we bought a local (Ooredoo brand) SIM card and should have done it sooner.

  • In Myanmar, I never once worried about my physical safety or the safety of my belongings. We were still careful out of habit, but felt safe the whole time.

  • I worried that Burmese food would be too spicy for me or Ruby, but many dishes were not spicy at all. Overall we all enjoyed the flavors used in Burmese cooking.

  • We never felt out of place pulling out our cell phones because the locals all seemed to have one too!


Cell service available everywhere, even on Inle Lake itself

  • The order we visited places in Myanmar turned out to be ideal and I’d recommend doing it the same way. That’s because each one was better than the last. Mandalay was good at first because it was an introduction to the country and everything was interesting. Then, Bagan added the beauty of all the temples and a more out-in-the-country feel. Finally, Inle Lake offered cooler temperatures which were very welcome, and even more lovely scenery.

  • Myanmar seems to be in the beginning of a new modern era. It felt like there was a general sense of optimism and growth with the new democratic government and openness to global culture.

Kate’s book recommendation: I like to read books set in the places I visit for additional context, history, and color. For Myanmar, I recommend Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin.

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  1. Jealous Elaine says:

    Kate: Am learning so much from all your posts and very happy living vicariously via your trip. (The geographer in me, maybe?) It’s so obvious all the planning it took just to get out of Seattle never mind finding all the wonderful things you all get to do and see once you get settled. Photos are great, too. One down; 2 months to go. Hope it doesn’t go too fast!