dunno if it is politically correct to say this, but try not to change your usd to kyat at the airport.. the exchange rates are crazy!! they only give k450 for usd1.. when we were there, we got k1000 for usd1 in town!! in asia global travels & tours company in yangon chinatown to be exact.. ;)
Fun Alternatives: try to carry some small us dollar notes.. they are widely accepted at a decent rate.. and u can buy some time until you find a place with good exchange rates..
Well, Kyat is the currency in Myanmar and every traveller will probably need some kyatts during their
stay in Myanmar. Most of us will be approached by some locals on the street especially near AugSa
Bogyoke Market and they said they could offer you a good exchange rate of kyat.
Don't believe them as they're just a middle men who try to earn some commision from the shop
(jewellery shops mostly), they will bring you to somewhere(shop) where you actually get the kyat
from the shop owner and NOT the guy who bring you there.
Unique Suggestions: But, this TOP Point Shell Jewellery shop owner gave me a good deal during my visit to Myanmar.
Mr .Chan is a nice guy who can provide you some travel infos beside exchanging your us dollars
into kyatts. This jewellery shop located at the Bogyoke market.
When walking trough the temples in Bagan sometimes guys will come up to You asking You to change money (count carefully) or to buy gems. Do not anything, they only have to sell glas. It not worth one Dollar. If You wanna buy gems do it in Rangoon in a official shop.
Unique Suggestions: Just leave them alone.
Fun Alternatives: About one hour from Lake Inle there is the town Tangooi (spelling). Here You can find a real ruby market on some days. Ask You hotel stuff.
When doing a boat tour on the Lake Inle You will have to eat something. One of the restaurants You will be brought to is the "Nice". It is terrible expensive, rude stuff, meals are the worsest we had in 17 days.
Unique Suggestions: Tell You boat driver You won't go there.
Fun Alternatives: There are other restaurants on the lake, also on the markets You can get great food for less.
There are hotels that will accept other currencies other than USD. However, it will be at an unfavourable exchange rate from USD to the currency that you want to use.
For our case, I paid part of the hotel charges in Singapore dollars, since we have run out of USD. The exchange rate at the hotel was 1USD to S$1.9!!! It's a ripped off! This is almost 20% more. I do not know about Euros, Sterling pounds, and others... I do know they do accept, but probably at an unfavourable exchange rate! So the best is to bring USD!
At the airport, the government runs several money changers. The rate was 1USD to 450 kyat. Just outside the arrival hall, there are tour agents who can change money for 1USD to 850 kyat. In the black market in downtown Yangon, near the market, you can get 1USD to 900 - 950 kyat. These rates are what I got when I visit in Mar05.
The requirement for FEC was removed when I visited. Do check before you arrive since the regulations change very fast there.
Fun Alternatives: So the best is to change in Yangon near the market. If you are desperate for Kyat, like us cos we are not going to Yangon city first, then change at the airport outside the arrivals.
There are entrance fees to many popular pagodas where many tourists visit. It is quite intimidating at some places where the counters were manned by uniformed army personnel to collect the entrance fees or donations.
There are many pagodas elsewhere that are similar to those that need entrance fees. We were lucky to have a knowledgeable and well travelled driver who knows where are the similar pagodas, without the entrance fees.
Unique Suggestions: There's no similar pagoda for the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. So do visit the pagoda even with a USD5 per person entrance fee.
Not really a tourist trap as most people will need a visa in order to enter the country. You will need to get this in advance before arriving. Bangkok has a consulate as do many other major cities around the world. You can check this page for the nearest consulate for you http://myanmarvisa.com/embassies.html The Visa Fee is US$20 for the standard tourist visa. There are other visas to get. You can check out this website for more information. http://myanmarvisa.com/index.htm It normally takes one day to get it in person but there are express services available for a cost of course!! There is an online service.....but you will have to be on an organized tour in order to do this and there is an addition US$25 fee on top of the US$20 regular fee.
We've all see those beautiful Tropical Coconut Tree Groves. Furthermore if we are from the Temperate lattitudes, we will be attracted to them like a House Fly to Poo Poo.
Well, I think that these pretty wee Groves are a tourist trap. First we are lured to the grove by its shear beauty. We then relax beneath it, in search of shelter from the Tropical Sun. And then BONK! And we have a lump on our head, or worse.
We all know a good coconut is a picked coconut, or even better a cocnut that is ready to eat, like the ones to your left.
Unique Suggestions: So If you do laze beneath a Coconut tree, Look Up! If you see that the Coconuts are old, and largely unpicked, don't sit there. It may seem silly, but it could save your life.
Fun Alternatives: If tree gazing is annoying perhaps you could wear a helmet. Hehe!
In Bago you have to pay 10$ entrance fee to visit the several sights in town. This is ridiculous, considering that most of them are mildly interesting at best, esp. if you have seen other parts of the country. Even if you only want to visit one of the monuments you still have to pay 10$.
To visit all the sights in and around Mandalay you will have to fork out almost 40$, 3-6$ for each place. Many sights of similar or higher quality, however, can be visited elsewhere for free.
Unique Suggestions: The most important thing is to chose between the good and the bad. Which of the monuments are worth your $$$ and which are not?
My subjective list :
In Bago : none; admire the Shwemandaw and Mahazedi Pagoda from outside, and enjoy the atmosphere of a typical Burmese town.
In Mandalay : definitely visit Mingun(3$) Amarapura (free), Mahamuni Paya (usually 4$,but we were not checked); climb up Mandalay Hill to the penultimate platform (great views already!), you only have to pay for the highest platform. Instead of Shwenandaw Monastery (5$), visit Shwe in Bin Monastery, just as beautiful, less touristy and free!
I'm leaving on a jetplane..... don't know when I'll be back againnnnnnnnnnnnn..... sighhhh...
guilty! guilty! guilty!
Unique Suggestions: Get married to a local sweetie?
Fun Alternatives: Become a nun / monk?
Latest - Apr 2K3: There's a meditation visa!!!
OHHHHHH yesssssssss we're the great PREEEETENDERS.....Ahhhhh.... we leave Myanmar with a HEAVY heart......
Unique Suggestions: NO CURE
Fun Alternatives: Hang on to the FEC exchange counter at Mingaladon Airport & refuse to let go?
(I wasn't exactly sure what category to put this tip in ???? )
When arriving at Yangon International Airport you will have to change U.S. Dollars into F.E.C.'s. You will be asked to change $200 but you need only change $100 if you offer a $5 present.
I Personally think that it is VERY IMPORTANT to change as few F.E.C.'s as possible as this money ALL goes Direct to the Government !!! Besides if you only change the $100 and then change the rest of your " Spending Money " into Kyats you will actually get a better deal !! I changed mine at Yangon, Theingyi Market and got $1 =1050 Kyat, and if you pay a $ bill in Kyat then the exchange is $1 = 1000 Kyat so you even recoup some of the " Present " !!!
Part of the Governments Scheme to get the $$$ out of you is to make you change $200 per person right at the airport into FEC's (Foreign Exchange Certificates). If you are going to be there for a while or are a higher end traveller that is not going to be a real problem spending those FEC's. But for those of you that are only going to be there for a short stay or are going on the very cheap you might have a tough time spending the $200. You can find people that will buy the FEC's back from you at a little unfavorable rate but not to bad so you won't really have to be stuck with them. And I've heard about slipping a $5 bill into your passport at the FEC counter and not having to change as much. For me and my son they only made us change the $200. We spent that because I wanted to make sure we utilized our 11 days as best we could so a couple of times I rented a taxi for the whole day.
You will want to exchange FEC's into Kyat on the Black Market in Yangon! The further you get away from Yangon the the rate is lower.
You can keep 10 FEC's to pay your airport tax on your way out. And the FEC's can be used to pay for buses, trains and hotels. You get a better rate with the US Dollar on the Black Market. When I was here in March the rate had really come down from where it was a couple of weeks prior as I thought I was being ripped off but I asked at several Black Market exchangers and they all gave me the same quote.
Unique Suggestions: One problem with exhanging to much Kyat at a time is carrying it! The biggest note that they currently have is the 1000 Kyat! Which is about $1.20 and you need lot's of smaller notes like the 100's and 200's for buying small stuff as alot of people don't have change for the big note! LOL I had a big Ziplock bag that I kept in my backpack with my Kyat and kept some in my pocket for spending.
The Insight guide says that if you go to Kaungdaing (on the perimeter of Inle Lake) you might see some women from the Padaung tribe, famous for their long necks. The truth is, you can see them, IF you pay $3 per person at the Hupin Hotel to be admitted to a sort of human zoo. The Padaung themselves reportedly don’t see any of this money.
Kandawgyi Palace hotel is located on the shore of Royal Lake. I hope these pics will help you to...more
Myat Lay Road, New Bagan, Bagan, Myanmar
Good for: Couples
Great hotel, arguably our favorite in Myanmar. You can tell the owners put a lot of thought into...more
More Regions in Burma