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.
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:
AIRLINES: 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.
TAXI: It is the most common transportation. The drivers are usually willing to go long routes (inter-city) as well.
TRAIN: Myanmar railways are less comfortable than others in Southeast Asia. Tickets range from USD10-15 for long distance journeys and can be purchased at the station. Classes on a train are divided into ordinary class (simple wooden seats), upper class (comfortable, large seats), standard sleeper (including four-berth and two- berth compartments) and special sleeper (a separate compartment with four berths, a toilet and entrance door).
BUS: 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.
PICK-UP TRUCK: 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.
- Main festivals:
THINGYAN WATER FESTIVAL (MIDDLE APRIL – NATIONWIDE) This is the most expected national festival is expected for the year. 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 typically held for 3 days in October to welcome Buddha returning to mortal land from heaven. During these days, there are many light shows and music shows on the streets to be enjoyed. Also, the famous temples in each area will be illuminated by thousands of sparkling lights and candles, creating a truly awe-inspiring sight. Buddhists usually visit pagodas to pay respects to the monks and offer food.
KACHIN MANAW FESTIVAL (JANUARY – KACHIN) The Manaw ceremony celebrates battle victories, the tribes’ reunion, and the tradition. Manaw poles are established for people to dance around. 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.
- Food in Myanmar:
Shan-style Noodles 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.
Burmese Curry A special curry contains pork, fish, shrimp, beef or mutton, served with rice, a dish of fried vegetables and a bowl of soup.
Shan-style Rice 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.
Myanmar Tea 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.