Looking to travel to Myanmar (also known as Burma)? Get all the information you need to have a safe, enjoyable and unforgettable trip while there, courtesy of GoBear Malaysia. We’ll present you with things you need to keep it mind before and during your time there, especially the need to get travel insurance for Myanmar/Burma.
Kyo-tzo- pa-eit! Myanmar, or Burma as it is also called, is an Asian country that borders India, China,and Thailand, as well as Laos and Bangladesh. Predominantly Buddhist, Myanmar/Burma has some mostly-Christian minority peoples, such as the Karen, as well as mostly-Muslim minorities such as the Rohingya. Its capital city, formerly Rangoon (Yangon), is Naypyidaw. Myanmar/Burma has a tropical climate and is affected by monsoons, so check your dates before making any Myanmar travel plans. It observes Myanmar Standard Time (UTC+6:30). While the country has had more than its fair share of ups and downs, most Malaysian travel insurance policies still include Myanmar/Burma in Area 1 (usually the cheapest band), but you should check your specific plan to make sure you’re covered if you decide to go. Its currency is the Burmese kyat (MMK), but the US dollar (USD) is widely accepted here – just make sure your bills are crisp, new, and from after 2006.
As it was formerly part of the British Empire, Myanmar/Burma continues to have English spoken by upper-class urbanites and taught in government schools. The official language is Burmese (or the Myanmar language). Various different tribes speak their own languages as well. Language-wise, you should not have difficulties in contacting the emergency services concierge provided by your travel insurance in Myanmar/Burma.
Burmese food is influenced by the countries it borders, so expect to see some Indian, Chinese and Thai dishes around. Burmese food relies mostly on fresh ingredients, especially fruits and vegetables. Pork is a significant part of their cuisine. Food safety standards here are generally not the best, so GoBear Malaysia recommends travel insurance for Myanmar/Burma.
What to buy in Myanmar/Burma
Given the relative political turbulence it has experienced until only recently in 2015, don’t expect too many international shops or brands to have established themselves here. Instead, look for local Burmese handicraft and other such local specialities, including precious stones like rubies and jade, textiles, gold leaves and lacquerware. As always, caveat emptor, and be prepared to haggle. GoBear Malaysia recommends checking whether your credit card covers lost or stolen purchases while overseas, or you can buy travel insurance for your Myanmar/Burma shopping spree.
Things to do when in Myanmar/Burma
Because it has been relatively undeveloped for so long, Myanmar/Burma remains quite pristine and is a nature lover’s haven. Visit Inle Lake, or any number of the Buddhist temples, stupas and holy sites. Check out some of the natural attractions, like Mandalay Hill, or Saddan Cave. And when you feel the need for civilisation, head up to the capital city and gawk at the future-proof construction that the Burmese government had planned out. Just make sure that you are in good health, and that your travel insurance for Myanmar/Burma covers you for all the things you intend to do.
Myanmar/Burma travel advisory & checklist
Have a hassle-free trip! International travel, especially to Myanmar/Burma, has its own set of issues that you should prepare for, so that you can properly enjoy your holiday overseas. Aside from travel insurance for Myanmar/Burma, GoBear Malaysia recommends you consider the following:
Passport & visa requirements for Myanmar/Burma
Make sure your passport has at least 6 months’ validity after the dates you intend to go; you may not be allowed to travel if your passport is too close to expiry. Myanmar/Burma issues Visa-On- Arrival only for business purposes and only subject to prior arrangement, so it’s recommended instead to apply for an electronic Visa (eVisa). You may only apply online (the fee is USD50 in 2016). eVisas are single-entry visas, with a 90-day validity period, and allow you to stay for tourism or business visits for up to 28 days.
In the event that your passport or other travel documents are lost or stolen, make sure you know the emergency contact details for your travel insurance concierge in Myanmar/Burma, so that you can be assisted as quickly as possible.
Electricity & water in Myanmar/Burma
Malaysia and Myanmar/Burma both use the Type G power socket, but you may also see Type C, Type D and Type F in use. GoBear Malaysia recommends you bring a universal travel adapter just in case. Its 230V/50Hz electrical system is close enough to Malaysia’s that you can otherwise simply plug in your electrical items.
Tap water is not generally available for the majority of Burmese outside of the cities, and even within urban areas is not safe to drink. GoBear Malaysia recommends the use of bottled water throughout your Myanmar/Burma travels.
Myanmar/Burma’s telecommunications & Internet coverage
The telecommunications network in Myanmar is exceedingly behind the times, though it is steadily improving. Do not expect that you will get connectivity outside the major cities, and even within the urban areas, it will not be of the same speeds that you might have come to expect from Internet in Malaysia. The emergency number is 191 for fire, 192 for ambulance and 199 for police – at least in Rangoon (Yangon) and Mandalay.
Healthcare & medical facilities in Myanmar/Burma
While matters are beginning to improve, you are probably better off being treated back in Malaysia in the event of a major event. Hence, GoBear Malaysia strongly recommends a travel insurance policy for Myanmar/Burma with emergency medical repatriation coverage.
Myanmar/Burma’s credit card facilities
International credit card networks that are present in Myanmar/Burma include Visa, MasterCard, and American Express (to a smaller degree). UnionPay is also available at all Burmese bank ATMs and many merchants who accept credit cards at all. Credit cards are widely accepted only within the urban areas; much of Myanmar/Burma is likely to remain cash-only for the foreseeable future.
Ready to start planning your Myanmar/Burma travels? Stay safe and protected while overseas!
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