Burma (Myanmar) FAQ’s

FAQ’s about Burma and our tours to Burma

Q. Do I need a visa to travel to Burma?
A.
Yes, you do need a visa to travel to Burma. Please check out our page on How to Apply for a Visa: Burma

Q. When should I apply for my visa?
A.
The validity of the evisa is 90 days from date of issue, so don’t apply for it more than three months in advance of your trip.

Q. Will bottled water be readily available?
A. Yes it will. However, we strongly urge our tour participants to carry their own reusable water bottle and bring a water purifier, such as a SteriPen, so as to cut down on the number of plastic water bottles that get thrown out daily in Myanmar.

Q. What sort of companies/guides does WanderTours work with in Burma?
A.
We work with an independently-owned tour operator based in Yangon. They are committed to hiring independent English-speaking local guides at each of the destinations on the tour.

Q. Can you tell me about the hotels where the group stays?
A.
The hotels are either 3 or 4 star-rated, always very clean and really quite beautiful. We’ve chosen these based on comfort, how well they can accommodate our group(s), affordability, location, and how unique they are.

Q. Are travelers checks viable in Burma? Are ATM’s available? Do vendors usually take credit cards or do small vendors not have the equipment?
A.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. U.S. dollars are used more often than anything else in Burma. ATM’s are just starting to open but we can’t guarantee their availability as of this writing. Bring cash and travelers checks as a back up.

For your cash, MAKE SURE that the bills are clean and new, without rips, tears, or wrinkles. Bring bills that are newer than 2006.

Depending on your spending habits, consider carrying a couple of 100’s, a couple of 50’s and plenty of 5’s, 10’s 20’s, and singles for smaller purchases. Burma is a very safe country, but you may want to put your passport and cash in a neck pouch under your shirt.

Q. How much should we be prepared to bring extra for tipping?
A. We’ve recently changed our policy on tipping for local guides and drivers and will be handling this on our end. Having said that, if you feel like they’ve done an exceptional job, please feel to tip on your own if you’re so moved. If you are escorted by a WanderTours guide (other than Beth – no tips required for her), then plan on tipping her $5-10/day.

Q: Is it appropriate to wear shorts and tank tops in Burma?
A: No it’s not. Though it is one hot country, it is very conservative when it comes to clothing. You’ll be best off wearing light pants, capris (below the knees), or skirts (again, below the knees).

Q: Do I need to bring extra money for food and drinks?
A:
While your meals are covered on the Burma trip, your drinks are not. You’ll want to bring some cash perhaps for snacks and to taste things at the markets and also for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Q. Can I bring my laptop?
A
. Of course, you will have power at all of the hotels. Power outages may happen but not frequently. But just don’t expect consistent internet access.

Q. Are there hair dryers at the hotels?
A.
Sometimes but don’t count on it. As mentioned above, there will be power at all hotels. Just remember that no one’s going to be looking their finest, so if you don’t have to have the hair dryer, consider leaving it at home.

Q. Do I need any dressy clothes?
A
. Nope.

Q. What sort of power adaptor do I need?
A
. Burma uses the same sort of adaptor as other parts of SE Asia. Buy one from a local travel store and chat with a salesperson to make sure you’ve got the right one.

Q. Should we bring our own toilet paper? Do they have the “squatty potties” of China fame?
A
. No need to bring toilet paper as it will be available at all hotels. All toilets (except for maybe when you’re out walking in small villages) are western style.

Q. What kind of shoes should I bring?
A
. It’s going to be hot so sandals will work well for much of the time. There will be times when you’ll be walking through villages and it will be dusty. If you prefer, bring close-toed shoes.

Something like Keen sandals will likely work well for you.

Q. Will you be sending an updated itinerary with our overnight accommodations so we can leave it with folks at home?
A.
You’ll receive the hotel information and emergency contact info 1 or 2 weeks before departure.

Q. Do I need insurance for this tour?
A
. Although we don’t require trip insurance, we definitely think it’s a great idea – not just for unexpected cancellations, but also for health issues and medical evacuation while you’re abroad.We highly recommend evacuation insurance for this and all international WanderTours. We recommend Insure My Trip. They have a wide range of options, good customer service, an easy to navigate website and they offer numerous affordable options including travel, medical and evacuation insurance.

If you think for any reason there’s a chance that you may have to cancel at the last minute (for a family illness, for example), we recommend travel insurance to protect you against last minute issues that arise. Unfortunately, we can’t issue refunds past a certain point because everything’s been paid for in Burma in advance.

Q. Will I receive a refund if I have to cancel my participation in the tour?
A. Whether or not you receive a partial refund depends on how far in advance of the tour you cancel. Our refund policy is covered in our Booking Terms and Conditions and is also outlined on the Registration form that you’ll receive within 24 hours of booking. Refunds will be sent by check within two weeks of our receiving written notification of your cancellation (email notification is fine). If Beth is traveling when you cancel, it may take longer than two weeks to get your refund check out to you. She’ll mail it as soon as she can upon returning to the U.S.!

Q. Do I need to worry about mosquitoes and/or malaria in SE Asia?
A
. Please check with your doctor on advice about malaria prophylaxes. Here’s an excellent article on TravelFish about malaria in SE Asia and is a good place to start your research.

Q. Do you spray down your clothes with some insecticide? Do you think it is necessary for the areas we will be going in?
A
. You could do this or you could purchase clothes (a number of companies manufacture them now) that have mosquito repellant impregnated into the material. Mosquitoes are pretty fierce in Burma so do come prepared.

Q. What is the WanderTours Giving Program?
A. This is a program we have developed for all of our international tours, where a portion of your tour cost goes towards supporting a project or non-profit organization in the country where the tour is taking place. Read our blog post on this topic.

Q. I’d like to bring small gifts for our guides, how many will we have?
A.
There will likely be one female guide. Small gifts from your hometown are always appreciated. For example: coffee, chocolate, or a coffee mug with your city’s name on it.

Q. Do you recommend bringing small gifts for the children we will encounter?
A.
No, it’s best not to bring gifts such as candy, chocolate, etc. If you want to interact with the children you could consider bringing a bottle of bubble liquid and you can entertain them by blowing bubbles for them. Remember to put in your checked luggage, though.

Q. Will the hotels have a laundry service so that I can pack light?
A.
Hotels will definitely have laundry service at a reasonable rate. You’ll want to consider having it done at one of the hotels where the group is staying for more than one night. You might rinse and dry your clothes out when/if it’s warm. Consider bringing clothes made from quick drying material.

Q. Do I need to learn the local language?
A.
It isn’t necessary as many people speak English but it might be fun for you to learn a bit of the language in advance. Being able to say “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” will go a long way. Lonely Planet has a handy phrasebook that you can pick up, and we’ve gathered some of the most useful phrases in Burmese, too.

Q. Shall I bring a bathing suit?
A.
Definitely. Some of the hotels will have pools and it should be very warm. A swim might be quite nice.

Q. I read in your notes that you always survive with a carry-on only. This I can’t do because of before and after commitments. I hope I won’t be the only one with checked luggage.
A.
While you may be more comfortable moving around with fewer bags, there will likely be others with more than just a carry-on.

Q. Is there internet service in Burma?
A.
Yes there is internet at some of the hotels but it is usually painfully slow. If you have a laptop and want to tap in to WiFi, sometimes it is available but, again, it can be so slow and it’s more frustrating than it’s worth.

Q. Can I use my cell phone in Burma?
A.
You’ll want to check with your cell phone provider about coverage in Burma. If they do offer service there, it can be quite expensive, upwards of $4/minute. It’s best to not expect to use yours while you’re traveling in-country.

Q. How much should I bring for spending money?
A.
It really just depends on your spending habits. We often find that even those who say they don’t like to shop, end up falling in love with some of the unique crafts in Burma and end up bringing back more than they planned. Souvenirs are not as cheap as you’ll find in Thailand but they aren’t super expensive either.

Q. Will someone meet me at the airport upon arrival and take me to the hotel or do I make my own arrangements?
A.
Yes, we arrange to have a guide and/or driver meet you at the airport. All you have to do is find your name among the signs in the arrivals area.

Q. Do you know if anyone else might be going early and we could connect during our flights?
A.
One of the things we do prior to WanderTours trips is to make a list of everyone’s arrivals and departures, which we then send to you about a week prior to the tour so you can arrange to share rides to and from the airport (or just recognize friendly faces on the plane).

Q. Should I arrive early or plan to stay late in Yangon – either to try to beat jetlag, or to enjoy the city?
A.
We’ll have a welcome dinner in Yangon on the first night of the tour, but whether you arrive early to explore is up to you. You might also choose to arrive in Bangkok a day or two in advance. If you do decide to arrive early in Bangkok, know that it is a very safe city, even for women traveling solo. In fact, the most common crime is being shortchanged by a money changer.

Q. What immunizations should I get for Burma?
A.
Definitely a question for the Travel Clinic, but this page has great information too. You’ll definitely want to have your DPT updated and perhaps Hep A and B. Both Hep A and B are a series of shots, so you’ll want to get the process started early in case it takes several months to finish the round.

Q. I really like to travel light, but I’m not sure I’ll have enough room in a carry-on for souvenirs and clothes. And, I’ve read the sidewalks are in horrible condition, so a rolling bag might not be as convenient. Should I take a carry-on?
A.
You won’t be dragging your luggage around so I wouldn’t worry about the sidewalks. The planes in-country are going to be pretty small so you will likely have to check your bag(s). Even the 22″ carry-on will be too big for those flights. I still plan to bring a carry-on size bag (with wheels) but mine also has an expansion for souvenirs. Even with that, I might pack an extra bag for souvenirs.

Q. What is the FREE checked baggage allowance allowed on flights within Burma?
A. On flights within Burma, Kanbawza Airlines allows one checked bag with a maximum weight of 20 kilos (44 pounds). One piece of hand baggage – with a maximum weight of 7 kilos (15 pounds) – plus one personal item, such as purse, are allowed.

Q. What tricks do you use to fit all that stuff into a carry-on? And still have room somewhere for souvenirs?
A. It’s true that if you pack light, you’ll have to do more laundry. But I’d rather live with rinsing out some clothes every 4 or 5 nights than lugging around a big bag. Check out this article I wrote on my secrets to packing light.
Q. I’m planning to take my iPad with me, and it’s so expensive that I’d hate to have it stolen. Should I carry it with me everywhere?
A. Nowadays, I often travel with a laptop, but I’d hate to haul it around with me everywhere we go on the tour. What I recommend is that you put your iPad inside your luggage, lock the luggage closed with a padlock, and then use a cable lock to secure the luggage onto a bedframe or other immovable object. If you’re counting, that means you’ll need 1 padlock and 1 cable lock (and when I travel solo, I always carry a rubber doorstop with me too).