yangon myanmar

Interesting Facts You Need to Know About Yangon Myanmar Before You Leave

Beautifully chaotic, interesting, simple and petty is how to sum up visiting Yangon, Myanmar. Its favorite pastime is to eat, socialize and eat some more. No wonder you can find more foodie articles on the internet than how-to-travel-guides to this country, that for centuries, I found out during my visit here, is hiding an effective beauty regimen. You cannot blame Yangon for its incredible fusion of flavors and aroma either.

Packing up for Yangon, Myanmar? Here are the essential things you need to go before you go.

Yangon city is the city capital of Myanmar formerly known as Burma. Yangon is your entry point by way of Yangon International Airport. However, it’s a totally different story if you have been backpacking around Southeast Asia for a while and stopping by Yangon. There are border crossings at China borders, Thailand borders and India side all by land and requires visa on arrival (VOA).

yangon myanmar

Visa Requirements

Myanmar requires all its visitors to possess visa on arrival (VOA). You can visit this website to check if you will need one before your entry and how much. There is also a downloadable application form at the bottom of the page.

Language Barrier

English is as simple as it can get. Yes. No. Maybe. I have. No I don’t have.

Nothing more complex than that or you’ll get a blank stare. Simple as that.

Beauty regimen

Known for its valuable beauty and sunblock qualities, thanakha powder made from the pulverized bark of thanakha trees. This ancient beauty regimen has been around for centuries and is currently competing with the onset of modern cosmetics housed in modern shop houses.

yangon myanmar

Burmese women, young and old, applies thanakha powder before going out in the morning and before bedtime. Your strange looks is the least of their concern. The women of Myanmar will this powder and until the day they die. I am close to trying this product out because their senior citizen women look not a day old and they swear that they look young by using natural sunscreen since birth.

Aside from its natural sunscreen qualities, the Burmese also swears that it can cure fever and headaches when ingested.

Money Matters

Myanmars’ currency is kyat, pronounced as chat. Finding money changers and bank ATMs around Yangon is not a problem. But if your final destiny is outside Yangon, say Bagan or Mandalay, make sure to bring enough cash with you as the money changers and ATM are scarce outside the city capital.

When heading to money changers, make sure you have crips dollar bills in denomination of 50 or 100. Money changers are very strict about not accepting crumpled dirty dollar bills.

Eating, shopping and commuting around Yangon is cash basis only. Rarely will you come across an establishment that accepts plastic.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Yangon houses most of the oldest, biggest and most sacred pagodas in Myanmar. One of them is the biggest and the most spectacular 2500 year-old Shwedagon Pagoda.

From wikipedia, Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas of the present kalpa. These relics include the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama.

 

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Include a modest piece of clothing when planning to visit pagodas and religious sites while in Myanmar or for the whole of Southeast Asia. Anything that shows of your shoulder and your thighs is frowned upon and regarded as disrespectful. As a responsible tourist and obliging visitor, just be aware and heed this warning.

Read: A travel guide to visiting Shwedagon Pagoda

Getting around Yangon

Putting your best foot forward is the best way to get to know the city’s characteristic. Everything is walking distance from the city center. You just have to brave the dusty roads, the food stalls and the taxi drivers who are always on the rush to something. Crossing the street is a major feat here. Nobody stops for a pedestrian in Yangon. You cross the street at your own risk or better yet make use of the elevated side walks in some areas.

Planning to visit other pagodas and tourist spots will require you to flag a taxi. There are metered taxis everywhere and you can flag them anywhere too. The strategy here is to make sure you have an agreement with the taxi driver on where you are going and how much before you even close the door. Put your haggling skills to the test when negotiating a decent price. I usually ask the lodge receptionist on how much is the usual taxi fare to where I’m going. This helps me where to start on my bargaining.


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I never attempted to take the bus around. Aside from boarding it and getting off from it is a death-defying stunt, the signboards are never in English so I really don’t have an idea where it’s headed. So take the taxi instead, it’s already cheap as it is. Buckle up for the ride because you will get a feel of taxi drivers’ love for racing in the streets of Yangon.

yangon myanmar

If you do decide to rent a car while in Yangon, there is an english website that can help you. Be warned though, this can be an expensive option but also can be a wise decision if you are going outside Yangon and going with a group.

Driving in Yangon is left hand drive. No sorry, right hand drive. No, left. See for yourself when you get there, because it’s both!

yangon myanmar

Foodtrippin’ in Yangon

If you have been backpacking in Southeast Asia for a while or been living in the region for a while, you may be well aware that food on this side of the planet is an incredible fusion of the many member countries with different cultures and traditions. That goes the same here in Yangon too. In a single bowl of noodles, you get the spicy taste and aroma of India, Thailand and China. And its cheap too.

Foodtrippin’ #yangon #myanmar #southeastasianfood #southeastasia #femaletravelblogger #gltinstagramphotos

A post shared by carla abanes (@justtravellingsolo) on


yangon myanmar

There are street food stalls everywhere. Each maze of street you walk along, there’s a wafting of different smells from food stall to the next. Each extra-large size skillet is wrapping up crepe enveloping different kinds of vegetables or concocting up samosa, Yangon’s staple and favorite pastime in a bowl of chickpeas, cabbage and potato. Walking along the side streets is difficult that I decided to walk on the pavement.

Finding a place to eat around is not problem if you are not picky about where you will sit or the food. I totally enjoyed the experience of eating in make shift stands set up along the streets with its kindergarten square table with plastic chairs with short legs. Afternoon tea time Yangon style will immerse you in no time to the city’s personality.

Read: Affordable Recommended Places to Stay in Yangon, Near Downtown Area

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Comments

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    • Veronica
    • March 7, 2017
    Reply

    Do you know if one can rent a scooter? This is what I prefer doing instead of taking a taxi. Thank you!

    1. Reply

      You ask the lodge to help you with the rentals. I had difficulty with so little english. But there are rentals everywhere, finding one is easy.

  1. Reply

    Oh wow, it feels like you took us with you on your adventure! Your photographs look amazing, and I could feel the vibes! Crazy how golden the religious temple was….
    xx finja | http://www.effcaa.com

  2. Reply

    I’ll put my hand up and say that this is the first time I’ve ever heard of this destination! Your guide is really well written and clear. Love your photos too – very pretty.

    • Sima
    • March 9, 2017
    Reply

    I definitely want to check out that powder. I love finding new beauty products abroad.

  3. Reply

    Myanmar is definitely high on my list to visit. I was born and grew up in the region (Indonesia) but yet still need to explore my own native region. Thank you for sharing – your pictures are beautiful, and the information is useful 🙂

  4. Reply

    I feel like I have everything I need to be successful in Myanmar. Great guide! I really enjoyed it. I want to visit Southeast Asia one day. The food experience you described, as well as the Pagodas make me want to go sooner.

  5. Reply

    This is a great and detail guide to Yangon and the cities beyond, with all the info about transport, currency exchange and the food. I have never visited Yangon and the food there really looks like a mixed of Chinese food and Thai with different ingredients. I would also love to try the street food too, the Yangon style crepe sounds tempting.

  6. Reply

    This is definitely a stop when visiting Myanmar. I will not be staying for longer period in a city. The real beauties lie away from cities.

  7. Reply

    will bookmark this page! thank you! all the tips are helpful for when i go and visit Myanmar. It’s been a dream of mine!

  8. Reply

    I will bookmark this page for when i visit Myanmar! thanks for sharing these! Myanmar is on my bucketlist!

    • anna
    • March 11, 2017
    Reply

    I’m glad you enjoyed your food experience in Myanmar. I’ve only heard mixed reviews but I am definitely eager to try out all the local dishes!

  9. Reply

    Loving the walk through you gave us on Myanmar. Great post and loving the photos, now I wanna go there 🙂

  10. Reply

    Great tips and I love that you touched on all aspects of visiting Myanmar

  11. Reply

    I am impressed with your very interesting read and tips. I don’t know much about Myanmar but I feel a bit educated now after reading your post. The thanakha powder story is very cool. I’ve seen photographs with the locals wearing it before but never knew what it meant or was for. The triple border Visa issue going into the country outside of a typical airport visit is nuts.

  12. Reply

    This article is super helpful, and I would love to go to Myanmar! I love the beauty regime, and those little blue chairs to pull up and have a bite – too cute!

    • Chrysoula
    • March 14, 2017
    Reply

    Amazing photos they make me want to visit the city. Very helpful tips especially the money exchange one. How many days do you think are enough ?

  13. Reply

    When I was in Thailand I wanted to visit Myanmar but didn’t have much time. Myanmar is definitely on my list. Great tip, I think in the most parts of the Asia people don’t speak English

  14. Reply

    Gosh, there is so much to explore in the world. Great tips! Getting cash can be such a hassle while traveling, I was even more shocked to experience ATM issues while in Japan so I can imagine how much worse it would be in Myanmar

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