Skip to navigation Skip to content
Search
  • *
  • *
  • *

Step into an undiscovered world where gilded pagodas and elegant temple spires rise up amidst verdant canopies of green.

The former British colony of Burma, now known as Myanmar, is a beautiful and spiritual land where tourists are only just beginning to tread. With its multitude of ethnic groups and a traditional way of life that remains largely untouched by the 21st century, travelling through this mysterious realm is like stepping back in time.

You’ll see colourful traditional dress all around during holidays in Burma, and you’ll find the people gentle and inquisitive. Buddhism is the main religion in Myanmar, and this is very much in evidence, from the thousands of sacred temples scattered across the plains of Bagan to the impossible Golden Rock stupa teetering on the edge of a cliff – quite a sight when bathed in the warm glow of sunset, and the holiest of Myanmar’s many shrines.

 

Top holidays in Burma

Culture and history

Shoes and socks must be removed before entering any religious building or private home.

Food-wise, the cuisine in Myanmar is usually hot and spicy. Common staples include fish, rice, noodles and vegetables that are spiced with onions, ginger, garlic and chilli. The Burmese love to drink tea, but that too is spiced! Tap water is not safe to drink so use bottled water, even for brushing your teeth.

Please note that your mobile phone may not work in Burma – it’s best to check with your provider before you set off.

Looking back at Myanmar’s history, archaeological evidence suggests that the country was inhabited as early as the 11th century BC and that it was one of the first places in the world to start domesticating animals and growing rice in around 1,500 BC. Several kingdoms ruled over different parts of present day Myanmar, but it was in the 9th century AD that two in particular rose to power – the Himalayan Bamar people and the Mon from the Tibetan Plateau.

After much wrangling the Bamar prevailed and in the 11th century the country was fully converted to Buddhism. This is when the ruler of the Bamar began to build the thousands of temples that can still be seen today in Bagan.

The 16th century saw the arrival of the Portuguese and then the British. Having colonised India they were on the lookout for further territory and took control of Burma in the mid-18th century. Colonisation saw great changes in the country, with the arrival of many Indian and Chinese, the construction of roads and railways and commerce in rice and teak.

The Burmese launched a nationalist movement, which didn’t prove successful until World War II when the world’s fortunes shifted again. Burma gained independence in 1948, then in the early 60s there was a socialist coup leading to the gradual decline of the economy. In 1988 the people took to the streets to oust the government who in the end, after bloody reprisals, conceded a democratic vote.

The opposition won outright, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, now a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but the government refused to give up power placing her under house arrest for many years. It wasn’t until 2012, after making a sustained and peaceful stand for democracy that Suu Kyi finally became an MP in the Burmese Parliament.

Experiences

On our tours to Myanmar you’ll marvel at ancient Buddhist temples in Yangon, visit stilted villages on the shores of the lovely Lake Inle, and even take the road to Mandalay (cue the sing-along).

Take a pony and trap through the lanes of Bagan’s spine-tingling spiritual plain of pagodas, gaze out of the window on a scenic mountain railway journey and browse the jade and handicraft markets of Sagaing.

Flight time

Flights to Burma usually take a little over eleven hours.

Currency

Kyat -

The official currency is called Kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).

However, travellers cheques are not recognised here and you certainly won’t find any cash machines.

Our advice is to take as much money in US dollars as you think you will need.

Please make sure though that you only carry good-condition US dollar bills, as any which are torn, marked or even folded will be refused.

Passports and visas

It’s a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport. You will need a tourist visa to enter Myanmar, but we’ll sort all that out for you as part of your booking.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

Hello – mingala’ba

Pleased to meet you – twéyáda wùn-thabadeh

Good morning – mengla ma-net khin ba

Where’s the toilet – ainta beh ma leh?

I do not understand – namleh ba-bu

Thank you – cèzù tin ba-deh (or just smile)

This person will pay for everything – di lu pasan akong shin meh

Timezone

Myanmar is six and a half hours ahead of GMT.

Electricity

Most sockets are designed to take a three round-pin plug or the Continental-style flat two-pronged plug, so you’ll need an adaptor to use British appliances. Voltage is 220-230 AC, 50Hz.

Please be aware that the power supply in Myanmar can be unstable.

Hotels should have back-up generators but don’t be alarmed if there are power cuts at your accommodation or elsewhere.

Language

Myanmar - The official language is Myanmar – formerly known as Burmese – although more than 100 dialects of the language are spoken. English is the nation’s second language.

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory in Myanmar. Mind you, it is customary, so you may like to leave a little extra something to hotel staff, taxi drivers and local guides.

Climate

Myanmar has a monsoon climate with three main seasons.

The hottest period is between February and September, when there is little or no rain.

The rainy season is generally from May to October with dry, cooler weather from October to February.

You’ll need to be prepared for some very high temperatures: it can reach up to 40 ºC during spring and early summer, although some evenings can be quite cool.

Health

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

The population of Myanmar is on a par with that of South Africa: around 53 million.

At 676,578 square kilometers, Myanmar is roughly the same size as France.

Smoking

Smoking is banned in all public places.



)