Tourist Information

Government-operated Myanmar Travels & Tours (MTT www.myanmars.net mtt) is part of the Ministry of Hotels & Tourism and the main 'tourist information' service in the country. Those who want to avoid using government services should avoid the tours and services offered here, including buying train or plane tickets. MTT offices are located in Yangon (p89), Mandalay (p229), New Bagan (p275), and Inle Lake (pl83). Other than at Yangon, these offices are pretty quiet. The staff is friendly and...

BOAT

A huge fleet of riverboats, remnants of the old Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (IFC), still ply Myanmar's major rivers, where the bulk of traveller-oriented boat travel gets done. Some boats are ramshackle (but certainly lively) government ferries, some date from the British era and others are old-style IFC liners that run luxury cruises. River ferry is, without doubt, one of the most enjoyable ways to cover long distances in Myanmar. See p32 for an itinerary suggestion that goes down the...

Salay

This village, 36km south of Bagan, developed in the late 12th and 13th centuries as the expanding influence of Bagan moved southward along the nearby Ayeyarwady River. Today the village of 7000 residents is much more of an active religious centre than Bagan, with some 50 monasteries (that's one per 140 locals if you're counting). Day-trippers take in working 19th-century wooden monasteries, some select Bagan-era shrines and more untouched British colonial buildings than you'll find in much of...

Itineraries

THE BIG-FOUR FRENZY Seven to Nine Days Yangon to Inle Lake Starting in Yangon (pOOO), stretch your plane legs up the steps to the Shwed-agon Paya (pOOO) at night, when its golden zedi (stupa) glows under the floodlights. Next day, wander around downtown (pOOO) ending at Bogyoke Aung San Market (pOOO), which has the country's best selection of handicrafts and souvenirs. Hire a driver, fly, or take a train or an overnight bus to Mandalay (pOOO), where you can climb Mandalay Hill (pOOO), see the...

Jet Lag Motion Sickness

Jet lag is common when crossing more than five time zones it results in insomnia, fatigue, malaise or nausea. To avoid jet lag try drinking plenty of fluids (nonalcoholic) and eating light meals. Upon arrival, seek exposure to natural sunlight and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep etc) as soon as possible. Antihistamines such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) and meclizine (Antivert or Bonine) are usually a traveller's first choice for treating motion sickness. The main side effect is...

Gay Lesbian Travellers

Most of Myanmar's ethnic groups are very tolerant of homosexuality, both male and female. Generally a local woman walking with a foreign man will raise more eyebrows than two same-sex travellers sharing a room. Muslim and Christian Myanmar communities are the exceptions, but as they form relatively small minorities they rarely foist their world perspectives on people of other faiths. Public displays of affection - whether heterosexual or homosexual - are frowned upon. Although it's difficult to...

Medical Checklist

Recommended items for a personal medical kit Antifungal cream, eg Clotrimazole Antibacterial cream, eg Muciprocin Antibiotic for possible skin infections, eg Amoxicillin Clavulanate or Cephalexin Antibiotics for diarrhoea, such as Norfloxacin or Ciprofloxacin for bacterial REQUIRED & RECOMMENDED VACCINATIONS The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within the six...

Dangers Annoyances

Considering all the bad news that trickles out of Myanmar, it may sound like a rather unsafe country to visit. For the vast majority of visitors, the truth is quite the opposite. Government-operated Myanma Airways has a sketchy safety record. In 1994 a flight missed the runway at Kawthoung, killing 16 in 1998 it took authorities 24 hours to realise one of its planes had crash-landed near Tachileik, while another flight crashed en route from Thandwe (Sandoway) to Sit-twe, killing 10 passengers....

Festivals Events

Traditionally, Myanmar follows a 12-month lunar calendar, so the dates of old holidays and festivals will vary from year to year (see p351 for a list of the lunar months). Myanmar also has a number of more recently originated holidays whose dates are fixed according to the Gregorian calendar. Festivals are drawn out, enjoyable affairs in Myanmar. They generally take place or culminate on full-moon days, but the build-up can last for a while. There's often a country-fair atmosphere about these...

Availability Of Health Care Costs

Local medical care is dismal, and local hospitals should only be used out of desperation. Contact your embassy for advice, as staff will usually direct you to the best alternatives. Be aware that getting Western-style health care may not come cheap. Self-treatment may be appropriate if your problem is minor (eg traveller's diarrhoea), you are carrying the appropriate medication and you cannot attend a recommended clinic in Yangon or Mandalay. If you think you may have a serious disease,...

Contents

Around Twante Letkhokkon Beach Pathein Around Pathein Chaungtha Beach Ngwe Saung business. Lonely Planet writers do not accept Seinnyet Nyima Paya & Seinnyet Ama Pahto Sleeping Eating Drinking Entertainment Gay & Lesbian Travellers 342 Jet Lag & Motion Sickness 371

Glossary

See p81 for some useful words and phrases dealing with food and dining. See the Language chapter (p379) for other useful words and phrases. KHLA - Karen National Liberation Army MHT - Ministry of Hotels & Tourism MHLF - Mon National Liberation Front Slorc - State Law & Order Restoration Council SPDC - State Peace & Development Council acheiq longyi -longyiwoven with intricate patterns and a-nyeint pwe - traditional variety of pwe bama hsan-jin - Burmeseness also myanmahsan-jin Bamar-...

Stic Travel Mayanmar Airwasys

All international flights arrive at Yangon (Rangoon) airport (RGN), except flights originating from Chiang Mai (Thailand) that go directly to Mandalay airport (MDL). Both airports can land DClOs, but only Mandalay's airport (far more modern and impressive than Yangon's) can land Boeing 747s. The most common route to Yangon is via Bangkok, though flights also connect Yangon with Calcutta and Delhi (in India), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Kunming (China) and Singapore....

Activities

See p33 for an itinerary in Myanmar that features a number of activities. The nation's best bird-watching is to be found on the hike up Mt Victoria in Chin State, presently accessed only through expensive government-sponsored tours (see p329). Some cycling groups have made it on tours to Myanmar. But you don't have to be on a tour to enjoy cycling here. The most popular route is between Mandalay and Bagan, via Myingyan. This is a fairly flat route that keeps to the east of the Ayeyarwady...

Traditional Medicine

Throughout Myanmar traditional medical systems are widely practised. There is a big difference between these traditional healing systems and 'folk' medicine. Folk remedies should be avoided, as they often involve rather dubious procedures with potential complications. In comparison, traditional healing systems such as traditional Chinese medicine are well respected, and aspects of them are being increasingly used by Western medical practitioners. All traditional Asian medical systems identify a...

See Seim Hotel Chaung Tha Beach

Chaungtha Oo Beach Hotel 22888, in Yangon 01-254 708 r USS25-35 Popular with UN and foreign-embassy staff, this hotel at the quiet northernmost end of the beach has large, bright blue-and-green chalets, each with delightful private porches. The more expensive rooms have hot water, and the complimentary breakfast is served in a pleasant all-wood wraparound porch. Grand Hotel Chaungtha Beach Resort 23001 s US 18-25, d USS20-30 It has nice, clean, well-kept rooms, modern bathrooms with bathtubs,...

TOP END

Treasure Beach Resort in Yangon 01-501 565 www .myanmartreasurebeach.com cottages USS85-100 mains US 8 S 6 The nicest of all the resorts and occupying the best location just one minute's walk from the village, the Treasure Beach is also one of the oldest. It's very well managed, the grounds are meticulously manicured and the spacious bungalows have satellite TVs and porches ideal for sunset viewing. Reminiscent of a private, high-end Balinese resort, the Treasure Beach is sophisticatedly laid...

Upper Sagaing District

North of Sagaing town p252 near Mandalay, the Sagaing District sprawls northward to the Indian border. Few tourists visit here, which is part of its appeal. Monywa is near some top-shelf attractions historically key Shwebo p260 kicked off Myanmar's last dynasty. Further north - and only reachable by air - Kalaymyo p262 is a quiet valley town with a sizeable Chin community. During the 17th century, when the Portuguese adventurer Philip De Brito was defeated at Thanlyin, all the Portuguese and...

TRAIN

There are as many opinions of Myanmar's oft-maligned train service as there are people riding it. For some a train ride on narrow-gauge tracks is like going by horse, with the old carriages rocking back and forth and bouncing everyone lucky enough to have a seat on the hard chairs others dig it, as some routes get to areas not reached by road. One local said, 'It's not as bad as some people say, not as good as you hope'. What's known for sure is that train trips along the same routes as buses...

Getting Started

Read the discussion on p 17 regarding whether you should boycott My-anmar or not. The best time to visit Myanmar is between November and February. During these months it rains least if at all in places and it is not so hot. March to May brings intense heat TS Eliot described April as 'the cruellest month' . At this time, Yangon's daily temperatures often reach See Climate Charts p335 40 C, while areas around Bagan and Mandalay go a few digits higher. The for more information, cool hill towns of...

History

A preview of the past life in Myanmar has rarely been smooth. Squabbling kingdoms plagued the area for centuries, till the British took it in three waves in the 19th century. For its own economic benefit, Britain managed the mountainous border regions home to many ethnic groups and the fertile plains and delta of central and lower Myanmar where most Bamar live separately, festering a rift between cultures that lingers in full force today. After a rocky independence from Britain from 1948,...

Bago Pegu

Shwegugale Paya

The logical first stop after leaving Yangon, Bago feels like an amusement park of fascinating Buddhist religious sites. It's very easy to do a day trip to Bago from Yangon, but shuttling from one site to the other makes it difficult to do any of them any justice. It's best to take your time and spend the night, although there's a lack of quality accommodation here. An early start to visit the sites is probably the best idea, as Bago can get very hot around noon. Bago is only about 80km from...

Where To Stay

Lofthellir

Old Bagan p273 In the heart of the old palace walls high-end hotels on the river cost from US 50 to way more. There's little life outside the hotels, but they are closest to the big-time temples. New Bagan Bagan Myothit p275 Here are popular riverside restaurants particularly for lunch , and the biggest choice of midrange hotels that charge from US 20 to US 40. Nyaung U p269 It has the liveliest restaurant options, tons of shoestringers guesthouses for about US 5 and comfortable bungalows for...

Language

Conversation amp Essentials 381 Myanmar's official language is Burmese, the language of the Bamar majority. Speakers of Burmese and related dialects comprise nearly 80 of the population. Making up another 10 of the population are speakers of Tai languages, which include the Shan, Khun, Tai Lii and even a little-known group of Lao living near Payathonzu - descendents of refugees from Lao-Siamese wars in the 19th century. Linguists estimate that there are 107 languages spoken within Myanmar....

Baganera Monuments

Little of Salay's history is known outside a small circle of Myanmar archaeologists working with limited funds. So details on the 103 ruins - most of them known only by number rather than name - are sketchy. It is said that most of the monuments in Salay weren't royally sponsored but were built by the lower nobility or commoners -thus there are no structures on the grand scale of Bagan's biggest ones. In the pagoda-filled area across from the Youqson Kyaung, you can see Payathonzu see p308...

Shopping

There are some good bargains to be had in Myanmar, particularly for textiles and handicrafts. It's a good idea to seek out local artisans and buy handicrafts directly from them, rather than directing profits towards government-owned shops. See p28 for a list of top souvenirs. In larger towns and cities, bargains are usually found in the public markets, called zei, or zay, in Burmese. The main central market is often called zeigyo also spelt zei-gyo or zay-cho other markets will be named after...