Myanmar / Travel Information

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Myanmar / Immigration Regulations

Myanmar is one of the countries most difficult to travel in Southeast Asia, also considering the manifold regulations which have to be observed. There are, for instance, complicated regulations concerning financial transactions (see currency), many parts of the country are restricted from travel due to rebel activities.

All travellers to Myanmar are required to have a visa. In order to attract more foreign currency into the country by tourism the validity of the visa has in the meantime been extended to 28 days for decades only twoweek visa had been available. A Burmese embassy only issues a visa, if you can provide proof, that you have booked at least a few days accommodation in advance from abroad.

As the Burmese principally prefer tourists to book "complete travel arrangements" from abroad, visa seem to be easier and faster to obtain by a tour agent than by independent travellers.

One of the most important international travel agents for Myanmar has for decades been in Bangkok.

1. Name of the applicant according to the passport.
2. Number and validitydate of the passport.
3. Date and place of birth.
4. Nationality and profession.
The Burmese embassy requires the applicant's passport for one working day in order to stamp the visa.

You don't need a vaccination certification for a Myanmar visa.

Visas for a stay exceeding 28 days are extremely difficult to obtain. They require a sound reason, like for instance participation in religious or language seminars.

Offers Myanmar arrangements from 3 to 15 days duration. Most travel agent arrangements start with a flight to Yangon (Rangoon), the Burmese capital. For those, who have not booked a "complete arrangement" by a travel agent, there is no other alternative to enter Yanong, either way.

Beyond that, also offers arrangements from North Thailand into northern regions of Myanmar even a threeday cross country tour by fourwheel drive vehicles from North Thailand to the northern Burmese provincial capital Ken Tung.

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Myanmar / Currency

Myanmar's currency is the Kyat (pronounced "Chud"). There are bank notes of 1 Kyat, 5 Kyats, 10 Kyats, 15 Kyats, 45 Kyats, 90 Kyats and 200 Kyats. Officially the Kyat is divided up into 100 Pyas. There are Pyas coins, but you will hardly come across them, as they are practically worthless.

Exchange

The official exchange rate of the country's currency in the middle of 1994 was only about 6 Kyat for one US $. But on the black market you could get exchange rates of up to 120 Kyat per Dollar. Nevertheless, money transactions on the black market are also in Myanmar illegal.

However, in the past, owing to the large discrepancy, many tourists chanced their luck and changed money on the black market. Therefore the Burmese government introduced compulsive exchange, forcing every tourist to now exchange a minimum of 300 US $ into socalled Foreign Exchange Certificates. Unused Foreign Exchange Certificates can be reconverted into US Dollars.

In order to avoid payment of touristic services in illegally exchanged Kyat, which would make the services unrealistically cheap, foreigners are more-over required to pay for instance hotel bills, flight tickets and even train tickets in Dollars.

The banks are usually open from Monday through Friday (except on holidays) from 10 am to 2 pm.

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Myanmar / Celebrations and Holidays

January 4 Independence Day; national holiday in memory of gaining independence from the British colonial reign. The celebrations last for a full week.

February 12 Day of the Burmese Union; national holiday including parades in Yangon and dances performed by hill tribes in traditional dress.

March 2 Peasants Day; national holiday with parades in memory of General Ne Win seizing power on the same day in 1962.

March 10 Dry Season Celebration; national holiday.

March 27 Day of the Army; national holiday with parades.

April Thingyan; traditional Burmese New Year celebration equalling the Songkran celebration in Thailand; during the festivities people douse each other liberally with water; in Mandalay the celebrations are the most exuberant. The festival is celebrated according to the moon calendar and therefore occurs on variable dates.

May 1 Labour Day

May Kason; mobile national holiday in remembrance of the birth and the first sermon of the Buddha.

Religious rite



















Photo: Depiction of religious rites


July eginning of the Buddhist Lent; the exact date depends on the moon calendar. This date is preferred by Burmese and Buddhist men of the neighboring countries, who intend to enter monkhood.

July 19 Martyrs Day; national holiday in memory of the murder of Aung San on the same day of 1947.

October End of the Buddhist Lent; the date of the finale celebration of the Buddhist Lent depends on the moon calendar, as well.

November 11 National Holiday

November Tazaungmon; mobile celebration day, as it has to coincide with a fullmoon night; in that night there are competitions of unmarried young women in weaving cloth.

December numerous minor festivals in honour of various spirits.

December 25 Christmas Day