Burma aka Myanmar is an extreme country. Isolated for years from the world it recently opened its borders to the world and is featured as in Top 10 travel lists for 2012 and 2013 by many international magazines. The largest country in South East Asia is undergoing big changes at the moment and is becoming a little more transparent. The most famous person in and outside of Burma might be Aung San Suu Kyi, she was raised in Britain and called back to Burma years ago to lead the new political revolution to free the country. She was under house arrest by the government for nearly 20 years, which just ended a couple of years ago.

Today the country still lacks of infrastructure but the people are curious and open for change. “For the first time since long we look forward to what the future has to offer” a guesthouse owner told me in Yangoon.

If you look for information about Burma you will find a lot of information, a lot of good information but also a lot of old information, which isn’t useful anymore.

This is an updated list of things you might want to take into consideration before visiting Burma as of September 2012.

Visa

They want to know, where you are from, where you are going, and your previous jobs. If you are a blogger like I am, I wouldn’t recommend mention that you have anything to do with online journalism. Neither if you work for an NGO or do any governmental work, simply lie and tell that you are a student, or a mechanic, or whatever… anything that doesn’t sound like journalism or communications should be fine. You might risk a rejection.

If you travel to Myanmar from Thailand the best way to get your visa would be at the Embassy in Bangkok. There are two options for the tourist visa.

Normal processing (2-3 days): $30

Fast processing (1 day): $41 or 1290 thai baht

[box type="note"]Attention: If you want the fast processing you need to have a flight ticket for a flight in the next 24 hours. While I was standing in line I saw about three guys who had to run to an internet café down the street to book a flight for the next day to get the visa.[/box]

To get the rush visa is easy. You need:

  • Copy of flight ticket departing next 24 hours
  • Visa Application Form
  • Two Passport Pictures (one paper clipped and one glued to application)
  • Copy of Passport
  • Passport

The embassy opens at 9 AM. Simply show up and leave your documents and come back at 3.30 PM to pick up your passport with your visa.

Info: They are closed on weekends and Thai & Burmese holidays.

The embassy it at 132 Sathorn Nua Road, to get there you can take the BTS to Surasak and walk down Sathorn Rd.

If you shouldn’t have your passport pictures and the copy of your passport there are two little shops down the street from the embassy who are specialized in the process of Burmese visa application. A passport copy costs 5 baht and the photos cost 200 baht. You can also get the official visa application there and glue & clips are for free.

As far as I know, the visa on arrival in Yangoon is only for business visas. When we arrived it wasn’t possible to apply for a tourist visa. So better get it in advance in Bangkok or at any other Burmese embassy.

Currency

One of the most concerns we had before flying to Burma was the money. We heard many things, they only accept crisp bills, no dollar bills older than 2006 etc… I’ll try to clarify some of the rumors out there.

Bring Pristine US Dollars

They aren’t that strict as they used to be, but they still check every single bill. If you want to be on the safe side of things bring new and pristine bills. They shouldn’t have any folds, tears or marks on them. Sometimes you will find somebody who will exchange your used bill for a lesser exchange rate. However, we also experienced the total opposite. We had a couple of older bills that were accepted without a problem. It’s like Russian roulette, sometimes you are lucky and sometimes you are screwed. To be on the safe side, bring crisp bills. The rumor about the 2006 bills is a lie, they accepted all our 2006 bills but try to not bring bills older than from 2000.

Euro is accepted but…

They often also accept Euros but most of the time its like “10 USD or 10 EUR” so you lose a lot of money if you pay in Euro. Better bring US dollars.

Where to get US Dollars in Bangkok

We got our bills at the SuperRich Money Exchange Office. It’s not really far from the embassy and they exchange your money at no charge. You can find the guys at 491/5-7 Silom Plaza Building at Silom Road. The building is in a bright orange with a sign saying “SPR” Superrich. When exchanging money there tell them that you are going to Burma and check your bills when you get them.

USD to Kyat

Burma’s currency is kyat and the rates vary everywhere. The official exchange rate was 850 MMK to 1 USD. There is no ATM’s in the country. Unfortunately, you need to bring all the money you plan on spending with you. We exchanged our money at a blue bank next to the May Shan hotel at the Alan Pya Pagoda Street, which is close to the Sule Pagoda.

Don’t change at the black market

Couple of years ago you might have received a much better rate at the black market but nowadays the banks normally give you the same rates. As everybody, these guys need to make money too and will try to screw you over. Be careful with where you exchange you money. Also be careful of ridiculous exchange fees of 10-20 %. And ALLWAYS recount your bills after you’ve exchanged them!

Which Bills Do I Need In Burma

Mostly 100 Dollar bills but it’s handy to bring 100 dollars in small bills. When using taxis they often will only accept dollars. It is handy to have 1, 5 and 20 Dollar bills to negotiate a lower price. If you negotiate a lower price and end up paying with 100 dollars your driver might get a little angry on you if you told him you have no money… You often can pay in kyat though too.

In Which Currency Do I Pay in Burma?

You can pay in either US dollars or in kyat. You will probably find the best rates in kyat though since they round up in US dollars. Except for flights you should try to pay everything else in kyat.

Don’t exchange too much, you can’t change back to USD

Unfortunately, exchanging Kyat to USD is very difficult. If you’ve exchanged your money at an unofficial place and didn’t keep your receipt it is impossible to exchange your money back. Therefore better budget your money and spent the rest before leaving the country. You won’t be able to exchange your money back outside of the country either.

Travel costs in Myanmar (Burma)

So far there isn’t much information out there about the cost of travel in Myanmar. This is a detailed list of all the costs on a daily basis. We stayed in Burma for 7 days. All these costs occurred on our trip in July 2012.

Day 1  2012  2014
Taxi Airport to City $10 for 4 persons ($2,5 p.P.)  $5 for 3 persons
Room at Humble Footprints $15 per room ($7,5 p.P.) Tokyo Guesthouse single and double: both $11
Airfare Yangon-Bagan $111
Ticket Pagoda I $3 $3,5
Ticket Pagoda II $5 $8,50
Taxi Pagoda I->Pagoda II $2 ($0,5 p.P.)
Lunch (street food) 1000 kyat
Coffee 250 kyat
Dinner (2 lamb, 1 chick curry +rice) 8000 kyat
Total Day 1 $ 133000 kyat ($155,25)
Day 2
Taxi Guesthouse to Airport 5000 kyat
Cappuccino + Croissant at Airport 4000 kyat
30 minutes Internet at Airport 2000 kyat
Water at Airport 500 kyat
Chicken Sandwich at Airport 2000 kyat
Bikes at Guesthouse in Bagan 1500 kyat
Dinner in Bagan (pork sweet sour, rice, wine) 20 000 kyat
Total Day 2 35 000 kyat ($40)

Note: We were stuck at the airport for 9 hours due to a technical problem on hour plane.  Yangon Airways paid the accommodation for us on the first day in Bagan and took care of the transfer to the Hotel.

Day 3
Tourist Fee Bagan Area None $15
Accommodation at Mya Thida Hotel $20 ($10 p.P.) $10 p.P.
Bike rental at Hotel 3000 kyat 1000 kyat
Waters 5000 kyat
Bus for next day to Inlay 11000 kyat
Lunch (Fried chicken with 3 cokes) 2100 kyat
Dinner (chicken cashew nut) 3800 kyat
Total Day 3 34 900 kyat ($40)
Day 4
Snacks at bus stop 1000 kyat
Accommodation at Inlay Lake (Remember Inn) $7,50 3 Bed Dorm at Aquarius: $10
Lunch 2000 kyat
Taxi from bus stop Inlay lake 1500 kyat
Tourist Fee at Inlay Lake 5000 kyat 9860 kyat
Dinner 1800 kyat
Total Day 4 16000 kyat ($18,80)

 

Day 5
Accommodation at Inlay Lake (Remember Inn) $7,50 3 Bed Dorm at Aquarius: $10
Breakfast 4500 kyat
Dinner (Pork Sweet & Sour + Rice + Coke) 5000 kyat
Beer + Cigarettes 2500 kyat
Total Day 5 17000 kyat ($20)
Day 6
Boat trip on Inlay Lake 6000 kyat 15000 kyat for one boat
Lunch on Lake 3000 kyat 4500 kyat
Souvenirs on Lake $40
Overnight Bus to Yangon 16000 kyat
Dinner 2500
Total Day 6 60000 ($70)

Note: We talked to other travelers. The bus normally costs 14 000 kyat and there are some very modern buses. Ask before you buy a ticket.

Day 7
Breakfast in Yangon $4
Accommodation at Golden Guest Inn $10
Taxi to Airport 2000 kyat
Total Day 7 14000 kyat ($16)

In total I’ve spent 309.900 kyat ($360) in 7 days, which makes an average of $52 per day

Note: I carried $500 with me during this trip just to make sure that I would have enough. Luckily, because not all my notes were accepted.

Transportation

The following prices have been collected by Carina from TravelRunPlay.de while traveling through Myanmar in January 2014:

Bus Yangon-Inle (night bus): 17000 kyat
Bus Inle-Bagan (night bus): 10000 kyat
Bus Bagan-Mandalay: 7000 kyat
Bus Mandalay – Yangon (night bus): 10000 kyat

Flights

Flights cannot be booked online. You need to do this when you are in the country. We ended up at a place where some locals brought us (I forgot the name). As you can see we paid $111 a price, which I think is too expensive. However, we had no idea and had no option anyways.

Posts about Myanmar

So far I’ve written two post about Myanmar:

TEMPLES, PAGODAS AND TEMPLES AGAIN – WELCOME TO BAGAN

A DAY ON THE LAKE – INLE LAKE IN MYANMAR

Books

Here are some books that might be helpful when traveling or informing yourself about Burma

 

 

Did you find this post helpful? I’m looking forward to read your opinion in the comment section below!

Burmese Visa in Bangkok and a detailed cost break-down for traveling in Burma
Safe77%
Transportation55%
Value for Money83%
Friendliness89%
Cost80%
77%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (5 Votes)
59%
Sebastian Canaves

Sebastian Canaves

Publisher & Marketing Consultant at Transit Media
Sebastian is the main contributor of Off The Path. He has been writing here for more than three years. Until today he has traveled to more than 60 countries and lived in more than 7 countries around the world including Australia, The Netherlands and Thailand.
Sebastian Canaves

@offthepathcom

✈ Travel Blogger ★ Marketing Consultant ☆ Social Media Expert ★ Co-founder @TransitMediaNET & @BlogCampDE ⚑ Tweets in German and English ⚑
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Sebastian Canaves

This post is also available in: German, French

62 Responses

  1. Ayngelina

    Great details here, it is actually much more expensive than I would have expected but I guess if you stayed longer the costs would go down.

    Reply
    • sebastian

      It’s actually not that expensive. If I would have taken the bus instead of flying and wouldn’t have spent $40 on souvenirs on the lake I would have saved another $150! Then I would have only spent about $200 in 7 days…

      Reply
  2. ellie

    Very helpful! It’s true, there is so much outdated information when searching for traveling info about Burma. Really great visa info and good tip that they don’t exchange the money back to usd! looking forward to reading more before our visit in December! Cheers!

    Reply
  3. Federico

    I thought that it took much longer to get the Visa…even weeks! I think I read this in an LP guide (though I’m not sure) and decided not to venture in case I had to spend so much time in Bangkok.

    Reply
  4. julep

    I just got back from Burma last week and it is extremely easy to change kyat back into dollars. You can do it at any bank or at the money exchange at the airport which I did. There is one in the gate area so you don’t have to change before immigration. You do not have to show a receipt and the rate was 855 which was the same rate as I would have gotten in the city.

    I spent 3 weeks there and the entire cost of my trip was about $1,500. This included roundtrip airfare from Chiang Mai, Thailand and 3 internal flights. The flights have gotten much more expensive but all the airlines charge the same.

    Reply
    • sebastian

      That is very interesting… you either been very lucky or they have changed the rules about exchanging the money back to USD…

      Reply
    • Lissie

      That was my understanding too – a friend just got a back about a week ago and she said she could exchange kyat to dollars at banks including the airport.

      Reply
  5. Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    Great tips and information. I am sure many travelers to Burma will find this very helpful.

    Also good caveat about not disclosing that you are a journalist. We have a friend who visits Burma frequently and has actually been turned away at the border for having written about the country!

    Reply
  6. Erica

    I really must have been spoiled with prices for Latin America because I swear to God everything seems so expensive. :X

    Reply
  7. ALEX México

    Definitely the most up to date blog about Myanmar. I’m planning a trip in November for my honeymoon. I have al the services and accommodation arranged by Oreient Express but they don’t offer any help for VOA. And There is no embassy at Mexico. I’m planning to have the visa at Bangkok. I only have one day to do this, since my flight is next day morning. Your comments about rush visa is “the same day”? As I mentioned I all ready have all the arrangements and flights booked. You think I could get the visa?

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  8. Alex Mexico

    hi, excellent blog and especially the most current. I am planning to visit Myanmar in November for my honeymoon. I have all the services, air travel and hotel contracted with a company, but they do not help or do paperwork for VOA. The service of a day at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok is “for the same day”? I’ll be in Bangkok only a full day with the possibility of the visa process. Think you can get? I get 14 in the afternoon, I have the full 15 and 16 at 7am is my flight to Yangon.

    Reply
    • sebastian

      Hi Alex,

      you can definitely get the visa on that day. Simply be at the embassy at 9 when it opens and tell them you need the express visa. Remember to bring a copy of your itinerary and then simply go shopping and come back at 3.30 PM to pick up your passport with your visa!!

      Reply
      • Alex Mexico

        GREAT to know your confidence on this. I was trying to arrange a deal with a local agency. I can’t one by mail and offer the service for $400, expensive and also I have to give them our passports for what I was nervous. I’ll get al the copies and pics now so Ill be ready. Just know trying to get the visa application with no success by now. I’ll le you know.

      • Alex Mexico

        Hi Sebastian. Not yet. Ill be at bangkok til 14 nov. Still havent found any visa aplication on line.

  9. Agness (@Agnesstramp)

    Great info Sebastian. I was planning to go to Burma and I was looking for something like this. It’s weird you can’t book any flights while being in the country and I agree with Ayngelina that it’s Burma is more expensive than I though.

    Reply
    • sebastian

      To be honest, we didn’t pay that much attention to the money we were spending! We went out for dinner and ate well, bought souvenirs and drank more wine than beer. I think that you can travel with much less than we did. I guess you could cut it down by another 25-30 %.

      Reply
  10. Emily in Chile

    Great tips! It’s always good to know what currency is better, in Cuba recently we knew it was important to bring Euros rather than dollars, so it’s helpful to know that here it’s the opposite.

    Reply
  11. Abby

    I must admit that I’m not entirely sure why I found this so fascinating to read, since I won’t be visiting anytime soon, sadly. I was rejected from a Chinese visa many years ago because I naively admitted I worked at a magazine. Luckily, I was at the bustling Manhattan Embassy, so I just got into another line and wrote “student.”

    Reply
    • sebastian

      Did you try to get back to china since then and been rejected? I have the feeling that I won’t get back into the country after writing about it…

      Reply
      • mabaydar

        I think current situation for Myanmar. You may be able to come back in. It’s not problem for blogger to write about travel post about it and your opinion. I have seen many travel blog written about Myanmar and they still can able to go in. There are even some black listed reporter last time granted entry now.

  12. tickets to ghana

    Although they have opened doors for the tourists but they have a lot more to do because their are some safety issues here in Burma in the recent months.

    Reply
  13. Susi

    Did I already say thanks for this super helpful post?? It’s the no. 1 resource on getting an express visa in Bangkok for us – we’re gonna try on Monday, keep your fingers crossed! ;-) I like that you included the info with the money exchange and the copyshops along the road from the embassy. Do you also know where we can take passport-sized photos?

    Reply
    • sebastian

      Thanks Susi, much appreciated your comment! I thought I included it in the post… you can get the passport sized photos at the copy shop down the street from the embassy!

      Reply
  14. Kathryn

    Thanks for sharing this. Even if not planning to go to same country, these detailed costs lists are really useful for figuring out what costs I’ve not considered yet.

    Reply
  15. roman

    HI Sebastian.

    I am planning to visit Yangon next year mid of January, i would like to know about the myanmar visa, all the required papers are same for Indonesian as well? is that convinient if i apply the myanmar visa in Bangkok?

    Roman

    Reply
    • sebastian

      Hi Roman,

      I’ve checked the web quickly and as far as I could see you can get it in Bangkok but I would double check and maybe call the burmese embassy in Jakarta!

      Enjoy Burma!!

      Reply
  16. Kerry

    This is super helpful as we’ll be going in January. Curious to hear how easy it was to book transportation and accommodations – did you do any of that prior or did you work with a travel agent? We’ve heard it’s tough to just rock up and get a room, and we’re a bit concerned about how to get around cheaply and on our own. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • sebastian

      Hi Kerry,

      The only thing we booked with a travel agent was the flight from Yangon to Bagan. For the rest we just showed up and got a room straight away. However, this was back in August. I have heard that there are many visitors now and that it is harder to find rooms. Not sure how much they are using the internet for accommodation bookings. Let me know how it went. Would be helpful to other travelers who inform themselves here!

      Reply
  17. zgred

    Just a comment.One can arrange for Burmese visa in their embassy in Berlin;its takes about 2-3 weeks and costs 20 Euro per person.If there is no Myanmar Embassy in your country- like for example in Poland where I live- there are special visa service operations which at some 20/30$ will arrange visa to this and other “exotic” destinations !

    Reply
  18. ric

    Good overview. Bagan is one of my favorite places to visit.

    You can arrange a tourist visa on arrival in Burma. I worked with a Burmese travel agent via email who arranged it on my behalf. I think cost was around $40.

    Reply
  19. Alex Mexico

    HI Sebastian and all the visitors. I just return from Myanmar. First of all I have to say I LOVE THE COUNTRY THE PEOPLE THE PLACES…ALLL!!!

    The visa was very difficult to get it from Mexico. After all I manage to get an VOA. Funny because after all the paper work I thought I just can leave. At hotel they send me back to airport since I didn’t go in line for immigration. I just came back, and do the thing. Not a big deal. Myanmar Embassy at Bangkok was very busy those days that’s why I take the risk for the VOA.

    The driver from the hotel get me to a place to change money, not a problem.

    I can the visit to Myanmar was very very cheap!

    I recommend Governor’s Residence hotel.
    Opera and Leplanteur restaurant.
    Balloon over bagan a must.

    GREAT COUNTRY!!!

    Reply
  20. Lyin

    Hi Sebastian! Great info. We’re heading there in Feb. Can you or anyone here recommend some decent guesthouses for Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Pindaya and Inle Lake? Big concern about just showing up cos’ sleeping on the roadside is not exactly my idea of fun. Can’t seem to find any info on Guesthouses on the net. Much appreciated.

    Reply
  21. Lyin

    Thanks, Sebastian, for the quick n informative reply. Those were some great blogs! I can’t believe how lucky I am to have tracked you down here. I’m so going to STALK you on your path! LOL! Danke!

    Reply
  22. Jo (The Blond)

    I loved Myanmar but was really surprised that it was so expensive. The price for a room i higher than in Thailand and most of the times the standard is much lower, but it was worth going anyway:)

    Reply
  23. Adam

    Very helpful. Thank you for the tips.

    I just left the embassy and wanted to add some info for readers.

    The requirements for normal 2 day visas, next day and same day are the same, except that for next day and same day visas state that they require a flight reservation.

    You don’t need a letter of recommendation as stated on most sites. They do ask you am address in Myanmar. It’s best to at least know the name and address of a hotel but we wrote something like Hotel Yangon.

    The same day visa costs 1290 baht. The next day visa 1 day costs 1035 baht. When we asked for the next day visa they didn’t even ask us for our flight itinerary. I guess it depends on the desk clerk and their mood.

    As mentioned by Sebastian, there are two places down the street that do copies and photos. When I went to the closest one (with the yellow sign) the owners of the place were charging people to produce fake copies of flight itineraries on Microsoft word. They may work but use this information at your own risk.

    PS Air Asia’s website is riddled with bugs. Its horrible. You click submit payment and you’re left hanging or are directed to an error page. For all I know my credit card may be been charged several times.
    Be forewarned.

    Reply
  24. Alison B.

    Thanks for such a thorough post. I’m flying to Thailand next week and I will only be in Bangkok one day, so I would need to do the same day visa, however I’ve read that you need to show them proof that your flight leaves the next day. I do have a flight that leaves the next day, except I’m going to Koh Phangan, then from Southern Thailand I’m flying to BKK then to Yangon (haven’t booked it yet) so I don’t have any other time to get the visa. Do you think if I show them my flight to Koh Phangan leaves the next morning I can still get the same day visa?

    Reply
  25. Alex

    Great article! Do you have any info about traveling into Burma by bus? Perhaps from Chiang Rai to Mandalay?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  26. Giselleandcody

    Great post Sebastian! We are heading to Burma for the month of October and a lot of your tips will come in handy for sure. Really excited to go and explore Burma. Thanks!!

    Reply
  27. Grant Lucas

    Great post and helpful overview. The place is definitely on my top list for taking pictures of great view and scenery. Been to Myanmar a couple of times and it never fails to amaze me. Everytime I’ve been in the country can’t help but fall in love with it over and over again.

    Reply
  28. Ingrid

    Hallo Philipp,

    Ich bin gerade in Myanmar.
    Punkto Flug buchen weiss ich nicht, habe ich nicht probiert.
    Hotel war bei mir immer ok ich fand immer was fuer max usd 15 (mit 1 ausnahme) indem ich einfach nach ankunft irgendwo hin bin, da war immer platz. habe aber von anderen gehoert die probleme hatten in inlay, bagan und hpa-an. die hauptsaison startet halt gerade jetzt, vielleicht hatte ich gerade noch glueck. ich bin 31 oct bis 25 nov da und eben, es war ok.
    im reisefuehrer steht man muss taxis und hotels mit usd zahlen und dafuer kleine scheine mitnehmen, das stimmt aber nicht mehr man kann eigentlich alles ausser zug und einzelne einritte in kyat zahlen.
    die restricted areas werden immer weniger, es lohnt sich vor ort nachzufragen, wenn man irgendwo wos restricted war hin will. vieles ist ok im moment ist glaube ich nur noch rakhine state geschlossen. natuerlich wird es in 1 jahr anders sein, in welche richtung laesst sich aber kaum sagen…

    Ingrid

    Reply

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