This is Burma,” wrote Rudyard Kipling. “It is quite unlike any place you know about.”
Since Myanmar (formerly known as Burma until 1989) recently opened its doors to visitors in 2013, it’s been on our travel bucket list. Due to a militant regime, Myanmar’s way of life has been preserved from globalization; residents live much like they did hundreds of years ago, dressing traditionally and in rural areas, using a horse and cart for transport. With over 100 ethnic groups to discover and plenty of glittering pagodas to visit, Myanmar is calling our name. We caught up with Sheri Fazleabas, founder of A & S Signature Journeys, a boutique tour company that offers customized vacations to unique places like Myanmar, Bhutan or Mozambique, for hot tips on traveling to Myanmar.
1. Packing tips for Myanmar?
Depending on the season, light clothing made from natural fibers is useful. Warm clothes are needed when touring hill/mountain areas and the Inle Lake region from November to February. Sunglasses, a hat, insect repellent and sunscreen are also essential. When visiting temples, we recommend wearing comfortable slip-on shoes and long pants to cover the legs below the knees.
2. Safety precautions to keep in mind when traveling to Myanmar?
No vaccinations are officially required for a visit to Myanmar. Travelers should check with their doctor or a travel immunization clinic regarding the advisability of inoculation against typhoid, hepatitis, tetanus and Japanese encephalitis as well as Malaria prophylaxis.
It is a wise choice to use a tropical insect repellent against mosquitoes, especially upcountry and in forested areas. The sun can be remarkably hot and a hat and high-factor sun block cream is advisable.
Take along any prescription medication with sufficient supplies. Myanmar hospitals are not considered to be of international standard; however, there are two private international hospitals, Victoria Hospital and Pun Hlaing Hospital, as well as two medical emergency clinics (International SOS and Leo Medical Centre) in Yangon with rather good facilities.
Never drink tap water – purified, bottled water is available everywhere. Eat at established restaurants and avoid peeled or cut fruit as well as ice cubes. It is wise to guard against sunburn, dehydration and heat exhaustion.
3. What types of papers are required to travel there?
A passport, which is valid at least 6 months beyond the traveling date and an e-visa. Apply for one at this website.
4. What unique aspects does A&S Signature Journeys offer in planning a trip Myanmar?
We use local guides who are trained and know the destination well and are able to share inside details with the clients. The tour is built around the client’ needs and comes with experiential programs.
5. What’s the hotel situation like? (we’ve heard there aren’t many luxury options)
There are a number of new hotels opening up every month but that is correct, many of these hotels are not luxury.
6. Any other insider knowledge to make the most out of your trip to Myanmar?
People should be open and interested in other cultures and understand that life in Myanmar goes by another rhythm than in the West. Using a reliable operator that works with a trustworthy ground handler will ensure that any visitor will have a memorable journey.
Top five recommends for Myanmar’s must-sees?
- Sunrise balloon ride in Bagan over the ruins
- The Golden Rock
- A river cruise down the Irrawaddy River
- A trek to see the various hill tribes
- Leh’s ancient monasteries and floating villages
Top three favorite cuisine or drink specialties to try?
- Mohinga – noodle fish soup (Myanmar’s national dish)
- Lepeth – pickled tea leaf salad
- Mandalay rum sour
More about Sheri and A & S Signature Journeys
A & S Signature Journeys works closely with travel agents, providing them with meticulously planned itineraries that are custom tailored to their clients’ particular interests. Founded by Sheri, a recognized tourism expert and former executive of an internationally renowned tour operator, she brings extensive experience creating luxury tours and has traveled to every destination in which A & S specializes.