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| Updated on Aug 25, 2016

Myanmar for beginners

Moving around Myanmar can be a bit of a daunting experience for any first time traveler. The poor infrastructure of the country and the few local roads can make any distance look insurmountable. However, traveling through Myanmar is an insightful combination between the old and the modern. Taxis, rickshaws, horse carts and bikes merge in a vibrant and fascinating jumble of eras and traditions. Larger towns in Myanmar offer a great variety of city buses, called ka as well as bicycle rickshaws, horse carts, three wheel vehicles (similar to Thai Tuk Tuk and all sorts vintage taxis. Buses are probably the most affordable and reliable mean of transport. The rate is always fix and they vary from K25 to K100. When taking the local bus, be sure to discuss with your guesthouse as to which bus is best to take and how to identify it, especially if you are not familiar with Burmese. For long distant trips, buses are still the best option, although most stations are often poorly located, and you may need to take a taxi to access them. If you are travelling long distance, bring a jacket and a blanket. The air conditioning is usually very strong, and it is easy to catch a cold due to the contrast of hot and humid Burmese air and the dry air conditioning atmosphere.

The best way of moving through small towns is relying on horse cars and local trishaws. Trishaws consist of a bicycle with a wood and metal sidecar. Although it is widely used by locals, especially those from older generations, it can feel like a very tedious and outdated choice for most western travelers. Prices are normally arranged at the moment, and visitors will probably have to bargain a bit, as the prices are usually boosted for foreigners. Private rides are significantly more expensive than state buses ranging from K5000 to K1500. Make sure you know precisely the distance you want to cover in order to get a fair price.

To visit Myanmar, you are required to have a visa and a valid passport with a minimum of six months validity from the time you enter the land. The visa for Myanmar requires an application fee of US$50 and it can be obtained online via Myanmar’s ministry of Immigration and Population website: http://evisa.moip.gov.mm. Once your application is processed and accepted, you will receive an approval letter attached to an official email, which will allow you into the country. The single entry tourist Myanmar visa has a duration of 28 days from arrival, and it is valid for three months. Unlike in other countries of this area, there is no requirement to purchase an onward ticket out of the country in order to enter Myanmar. If you are travelling to South East Asia in the coming weeks and you did not apply for a valid visa on time, it is possible to obtain a short notice visa to Myanmar for US citizens in the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok.www.myanmarembassybkk.com.For further information, tips and practicalities about Myanmar, you are always welcome to visit the different embassies and consulates around the world.

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