You may get confused about the 2 names of Burma and Myanmar for one country. Burma’s name was officially changed to Myanmar by the ruling military junta in 1989. The change was rejected by many world governments due to the junta’s messy history of civil war and human rights violations.
However, most people continue to use both names interchangeably without much fuss. Sometimes Burma is just an easier word to pronounce. Both words have the same origin, linguistically. Myanmar is the literary, written name of the country and Burma is more colloquial. One is more formal than the other.
Overview of Burma
Burma/Myanmar is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. It’s located at the northeast edge of Southeast Asia and borders Thailand, Laos, China, Tibet, India, and Bangladesh.
The country has just recently opened for tourism; the local lifestyles and attractions stay authentic and natural like they supposed to be. Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake are the most popular destinations in the country. Travelers usually get amazed by the peaceful air and ancient pagodas covered in real gold.
- Population: 54 mils (as April, 2020)
- Currency: MMK (Kyat)
- Languages: Burmese
- Time zone: GMT+6:30
- International Airports: Yangon Airports (RGN); Mandalay Airport (MDL); Nay Pyi Taw Airport (NYT).
- Weather: Myanmar is considered to have 3 seasons, the cool season (Nov-Feb), the hot season (Mar-May), and the rainy season (June-Oct). The ideal time to visit this country is between Nov-Feb.
- Moving around Myanmar:
Major airlines in Myanmar include Myanmar Airways, Air Bagan, Air KBZ, and Air Mandalay. The destinations are available among Yangon, Heho, Mandalay and Bagan. Most airlines have not offered online booking yet, so booking shall be made through a travel agent, hotel or at the airport.
It is the most common transportation. The drivers are usually willing to go long routes (inter-city) as well.
Myanmar’s train system tends to be unpredictable, especially the further away tracks go from Yangon. Expected arrival and departure times almost always vary, often by hours, so be flexible to get the most enjoyment out of train travel in Myanmar.
The type is the most popular transportation in Myanmar. Different bus options include local bus, the 32-seat minibus and luxurious bus. For long-range bus, the vehicles are usually equipped with great accommodation such as reclining seats, blankets, water, snacks and friendly service.
This is also another economical means of transport. Passengers sit on the back of the trucks. It costs about USD0.5 for an in-town trip and a few US dollars for an inter- towns trip.
Hospital in Myanmar:
Myanmar’s health system lacks the availability of modern medical equipment. Therefore, Myanmar’s citizens and foreigners tend to fly out to neighbor countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, India and Singapore for treatments. Major specialist and international hospitals are available in big cities such as Yangon and Mandalay. We highly recommend that all travelers should purchase travel insurance for peace of mind.
Thingyan Water Festival (Middle April – Nationwide)
Held for 3 days in mid-April, “Thingyan” means the changing, as an annual purifi cation ritual to wash away the past sins. Captive birds and fishes are freed for the hope of good deeds and mercy. Grab a bucket, water gun or garden hose to splash water on people around you and enjoy the relief from the day’s heat.
Thadingyut Festival Of Lights (October – Nationwide)
This festival is held on the full moon of Thadingyut in October marking the end of Buddhist Lent. The three-day Festival of Lights during Thadingyut symbolises the return of the Buddha from heaven while angels are lighting the path of his descent to earth.
Kachin Manaw Festival (January – Kachin)
The Manaw ceremony celebrates battle victories, the tribes’ reunion, and the tradition. The food includes buffalo meat, pork or wild boar, beef, chicken, rice and rice wine. It usually takes months to prepare and everyone is invited.
Foods in Myanmar:
With an emphasis on rich, predominately savory/salty flavors, influences from South and Southeast Asia and a repertoire of ingredients not found in any other cuisine, there’s much to discover. As in most of Southeast Asia, Myanmar restaurants and stalls tend to specialize in a single dish or culinary style.
Myanmar food culture is known for being a mix of different influences. When you come to Myanmar you can sample Chinese, Indian and local Mon dishes and rice is a staple food all over the country. The local Burmese cuisine is known for having quite a strong flavour but if you are used to Indian and Chinese food then you will find a huge amount to enjoy here.
As well as Indian and Chinese food you will also find Burmese regional dishes and different states have their own signature flavours such as Shan or Mon curries. As Myanmar is a coastal country, you will encounter a wide variety of seafood served in areas close to the sea. Due to the hot temperatures across Myanmar, preserved meat is usually served in the centre of the country.
Vegetarians are well catered for as many Indian and Burmese dishes don’t include meat and there are quite a few halal options, too.
A delicacy includes rice noodles, thick chunk of marinated chicken or pork, pickled veggies and broth.
Tea Leaf Salad
A Myanmar specialty made by mixing shredded cabbage, nuts and peas, sliced tomatoes, chilli and bitter leaves.
A special curry contains pork, fish, shrimp, beef or mutton, served with rice, a dish of fried vegetables and a bowl of soup.
A favorite dish of the Shan (one of the country’s Buddhist ethnic groups) combines sticky rice cooked with turmeric and topped with fried freshwater fi sh and garlic oil.
While milk tea is very popular among Asian teenagers, Myanmar milk tea is still unique with a rich flavour of tea and mellow sweetness of condensed milk.