Whitney Warstler has prepared a little packing and tips guide for travelers heading to Myanmar. See all packing list posts here.
Myanmar. It’s one of those places that seem so far away. So different. The kind of place I’d read about in National Geographic. I had to go there.
The things that make Myanmar irresistible to travelers like myself are also the things that make it difficult to travel to. There are virtually no overseas banking systems or online booking software. Being a lady that relies heavily on Google, Kayak, and hotels.com, Myanmar held its challenges.
I’m not certain if this piece is to be considered an advice article or a cautionary tale, but I’ll try my best to cover both.
Our Travel Plans:
I was planning on staying in Myanmar for 28 days. My travel partner and I both brought $1200 thinking that would be plenty of money, especially considering we were sharing accommodation. We ended up leaving early after 18 days. Some of the places we wanted to travel to were banning foreigners, and we ran out of cash much quicker than expected.
Things to Pack:
Baby wipes. Nothing’s worse than smearing on sunblock and bug spray over sweaty skin already slathered with sunblock and bug spray.
A mosquito net and tidbits to hang it – most hotels didn’t have them.
A few pairs of longer shorts (short shorts do not bode well for long, sticky, public transport trips).
Lots of memory cards for your camera and extra batteries
A headlamp. Streets are dark at night and if you want to ride a bike to see the sunrise in Bagan (trust me, you do) a headlamp will come in handy.
Layers. Even in the “cool” season, it’s pretty freakin hot, but for times like early morning bike rides and trips on Inle Lake it’s nice to have your arms and legs covered because it can be cool before the sunrises.
I always pack ziplock bags and find a use for them.
I always pack protein bars and at some point thank myself for it.
A variety of over the counter medicine would be advised or a mini first aid kit.
Little packets of tissues to use as toilet paper. You should have these if you travel anywhere in SE Asia.
I like to pack powdered sports drink to add to water. Myanmar is an extra sweaty place.
A sarong or towel. I like to pack a large, lightweight scarf and use it as both.
On a trek we were told we should buy some sweets to give to children in the villages we passed through.
A few other thoughts…
Internet and Computers:
As you’ve probably heard, Internet is hard there. I brought a laptop but found wifi unbearably slow and the computers at Internet cafes much faster. If you don’t need your laptop, don’t bring it.
Accommodation is tricky. Because there’s no online system or way to pay beforehand, people often don’t keep their bookings. This results in a lot of running around and checking back to see if a room is available. I generally paid between $25-50 a night for a room. They were on par to rooms that are $10-25 in Vietnam and Laos.
Myanmar is under equipped to handle the tourist boom it’s having. I talked to lots of people who couldn’t find any accommodation and had to pay to sleep on the floor of monasteries. They said there were 20-30 other people (unconditioned and sharing one toilet). One day I was ill and the only room I could find was over $100. I paid for it because I was sick, but it took a day out of my budget.
Money needs to be in perfect condition. No folds, tears, creases, ect. Get this before you leave home. It’s a freakin mission to try to do in Bangkok. Be careful where you exchange it. I had $90 stolen trying to exchange illegally on the streets. BUT I talked to two different people that had this happen to them as well. They both went to the police and both got their money back.
Getting laundry done wasn’t very cheap. If you’re going to need it done, I would estimate at least $10 a load, as you are charged per article of clothing.
I used to stick up my nose to tourists that traveled on tours in large groups, but honestly, after going to Myanmar and having such struggles with accommodation and bookings, I see the appeal. Regardless, I have no regrets and would advice any interested in going to take the plunge. And pack carefully.
About the Author: Whitney likes to explore and take pictures. She shares some travel tips on her site: The Blonde Godzilla.
Book a Viator Tour Before You Go
Rural Myanmar and Pottery Tour from Yangon – $77.00*
Leave Yangon on a 5- to 6-hour tour that takes you to the potter artisans of Twante and the Shwesandaw Pagoda and provides a taste of rural Myanmar along the way. With a knowledgeable guide, catch the ferry from the city and travel along the Twante Canal. Stop at traditional pottery workshops and try your hand at working with clay, and then walk up to Shwesandaw Pagoda to soak in breathtaking views. Relax over lunch at a local restaurant, and browse the local market before hopping back on the ferry.