I’ve been really excited to visit Myanmar ever since I decided to come to South East Asia. Maybe it’s because it’s probably the least Westernised country in the area. Or maybe it’s because Rudyard Kipling wrote so passionately about it. Or maybe I’ve just heard great things about it from everyone who’s visited.
Whatever the reason, Myanmar has a complicated history and has only recently elected a new government. This is why I’ve planned my trip to Myanmar more thoroughly than to other countries.
The Visa Situation
Myanmar gives out 28 days tourist visas, which cannot be extended. The visa must be obtained prior to travelling to Myanmar. This can be done either at a Burmese embassy or online. If you get an e-visa, you must fly into Myanmar. A visa obtained from an embassy allows you to enter via certain land borders. I got mine from the embassy in Bangkok, for 800 baht, simply because I was in the area and it’s the cheaper option.
Where Am I Going to Visit?
Myanmar only has a 28-day visa for tourists. I’ve done more planning as to where I want to go than I have done for any other South East Asian country. It looks like most tourists visit the same places, with destinations like Bagan and Inle Lake the most popular. I’d like to visit Mrauk U but I’m unsure whether that will be possible because the UK Foreign Office is currently advising against travel to this area. There’s a festival in Mandalay whilst I’m in Myanmar so I hope I’ll be able to see some of it.
Let’s Talk About the Weather
South East Asian countries have rainy/dry seasons so it’s important to check what season you’ll be heading there. From a quick search on average rainfall, it looks like I’ll be swimming through Myanmar, as August has the most rainfall of any month.
The UK Foreign Office website is a good starting point for safety and security tips. There is still political unrest in Myanmar between ethnic groups, so the Foreign Office advises to avoid those areas and even includes a handy colour-coded map.
Should I Take Anti-Malarials?
The choice to take antimalarials should always lie with the individual after taking advice from a travel nurse or doctor. I haven’t taken antimalarials in any other country but I intend to in Myanmar. This is because the risk of malaria seems to be higher there than in any other country in the region. The reason I haven’t taken antimalarials anywhere else is because I perceive the risk to be low and it would be expensive for me to take antimalarials for 8 months. Not to mention that many antimalarials come with undesirable side effects, such as additional sensitivity to the Sun, something my skin definitely does not need.
The generic version of Malarone can be bought at ASDA Pharmacies in the UK and are a lot cheaper than a prescription. Mine cost £45 for 35 tablets. You need to tell the pharmacy the exact dates you plan to be away.
Check Fit For Travel if you want any further advice on health abroad.
Myanmar or Burma?
The military changed the name to Myanmar back in 1989. Some Burmese people disagree with the name change because the military, as an unelected power had no right to change the name. The UK and the USA still use Burma as the official name, whereas the UN and most of the world use Myanmar. From looking through a couple of guide books, it seems that most Burmese people don’t really mind which name is used. More can be read about this here (I know the article is quite old).
Is anyone else planning a trip to Myanmar? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share in the comments below.