Myanmar history dates back to the early 11 th century
when king Anawrahta unified the country and founded the
First Myanmar Empire in Bagan more than 20 years before
the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The Bagan Empire
encompassed the areas of the present-day Myanmar and the
entire Menam Valley in Thailand and lasted two
The Second Myanmar Empire was founded in mid 16 th
century by King Bayinnaung. King Alaungpaya founded the
last Myanmar dynasty in 1752 and it was during the
zenith of this Empire that the British moved into
Myanmar . Like India , Myanmar became a British colony
but only after three Anglo-Myanmar Wars in 1825, 1852
and 1885. During the Second World War, Myanmar was
occupied by the Japanese from 1942 till the return of
the Allied Forces in 1945.
Myanmar has become a sovereign
independent state since 4 th January 1948 after 62 years
under the colonial administration. It is remarkable to
note that Myanmar is the country that regained her
independence first though she was the last country
occupied by the British in this region.
Since late 1988, Myanmar has replaced the centrally
planned economy to a more liberalized economic policy
based on market-oriented system. In moving towards a
more market oriented economy, Myanmar has more
liberalized domestic and international trade, promoting
the role of private sector and opening up to foreign
Foreign Investment Law, new Central Bank of Myanmar Law,
Financial Institutions of Myanmar Law, and Myanmar
Tourism Law has been enacted and Chambers of Commerce
has been reactivated.
Myanmar is richly endowed with renewable and
non-renewable energy resources which are being exploited
by the State sector with the participation of local and
Agriculture remains the main sector of the economy and
measures have been taken to increase productivity,
diversification of crop patterns and revitalization of
Myanmar has the total area of 676,577 sq. km, it is
about the size of Texas and the size of United Kingdom
and France combined. Geographically, Myanmar is the
largest country in South-East Asia Peninsula sharing
borders with Bangladesh , India , China , Laos and
Myanmar is forest-clad mountainous country. Three
parallel chains of mountain ranges run from north to
south: the Western Yoma or Rakhine Yoma, the Bago Yoma
and the Shan Plateau. They begin from the eastern
extremity of the Himalaya mountain range. The
snow-capped mountain Hkakabo-Razi at 5,881 meters
(18,000 feet) is the highest in South-East Asia . Most
of Myanmar 's snow-capped mountains are located within
the state of Kachin, either near the borders of China or
India . It may take 40 days for tourists to complete the
tour to the base camp, thus let us recommend you to try
the snow mountains of Mt.Pongkan on the Indian border
where trekking and soft adventure tours are also
available. These mountain chains divide the country into
three river systems: the Ayeyarwaddy, the Sittaung and
the Thanlwin. The Ayeyarwaddy , the most important
river, about 2,170 km (1350 miles) long, and its major
tributary, the Chindwinn, 960 km (600 miles) long,
constitute the greatest rivering system in the country.
As it joins the sea, the Ayeyarwaddy forms a vast delta
of 240 km (150 miles) by 210 km (130 miles). According
to these mountain chains and river systems, the country
can be divided into seven major topographic regions: the
Northern Hills for trekking and mountaineering, the
Western Hills, the Shan plateau, the Central Belt, the
Lower Myanmar Delta, the Rakhine Coastal Region at
beaches and Tanintharyi Coastal Strip.
Myanmar has the effects of the Monsoon in different
parts of the country. Temperature varies from 38C to
19C; humidity from 82.8% to 66%. Generally, Myanmar has
three seasons, The rainy Season (June to September), The
cold season- (October to February), The hot season
(March to May). The ideal time to visit Myanmar is
during the cold season. However, rainfall in Bagan and
Mandalay is very low, even in the rainy season.
Myanmar is a union of many
nationalities; speaking over one hundred languages and
dialects. The term Myanmar embraces all nationalities.
The major races are the Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin,
Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. Padaung races with long
neckes are very popular and attractive for tourist.
There are seven States and seven Divisions in Myanmar .
The population of Myanmar is at
present over 52 million with the Bamar, the majority
race, making up about 70 percent. The average household
size is estimated at 3 or 4 people. As regards education
in Myanmar (according to the figure of 1993), the
literacy rate stood at 81%. Yangon is the capital of
Myanmar and has a population of over 5 million. Other
cities with a large population are Mandalay ,
Mawlamyaing, Bago and Pathein.
Myanmar is the lingua franca. English is widely
understood in cities like Yangon, Mandalay , Bagan,
etc., Cantonese, Flukiness and Mandarin can also be used
in the business circles here.
Over 80 % of the people embracing Theravada Buddhists.
There are also Christians, Muslims, Hindus and even some
animists. However there is full freedom of worship for
followers of other religions. Christian missionaries
have been active in Myanmar for over 150 years. Among
them, the American Baptists were first on the scene.
Myanmar lies on the crossroads of two
of the world's great civilizations – China and India .
Its culture is a blend of both interspersed with Myanmar
native traits and characteristics. Buddhism has great
influence on daily life of the Myanmars . The people
have preserved the tradition of close family ties,
respect for the elders, reverence for Buddhism and
simple native dress. Myanmars are known for their simple
hospitality and friendliness.
The dominating color of the national
flag is red. The rectangular space at the upper left
corner is blue. In it could be seen the figure of a
paddy stalk and a pinion encircled by 14 white stars of
uniform size. The paddy represents the peasants while
the pinion stands for the workers who form the majority
of the people in the country, 14 uniform white stars
symbolize the equal status and union spirit of the 7
States and 7 Divisions that constitute the Union of
The white in the flag signifies purity; the red
indicates bravery and upright nature of the people; and
the blue stands as a symbol of peace and stability in
TIME IN MYANMAR
Myanmar Time is 6:30 hours ahead of
Greenwich Mean Time. For example on a Monday at midnight
in Yangon , it will be:
New York (Eastern Standard) 1230 hours on Monday
London (GMT) 1730 hours on Monday
Bangkok 0030 hours on Tuesday.
Myanmar currency is known as " Kyat "
which comprises 100 pyas.
Notes : Kyats 1000, Kyats 500, Kyats 200, Kyats 100, ,
Kyats 50, Kyats 20, Kyats 10, Kyats 5, Kyat 1.
Coins : Kyats 100, Kyats 50, Kyats 10, Kyats 5, Kyat 1,
Pya 50, Pya 25, Pya 10, Pya 5, Pya 1.
Visitors can change their dollars into FEC (Foreign
Exchange Certificate which is equal to US Dollars), and
then can change their FEC legally into Kyat at the real
market rate at licensed money changer shops.
Travelers cheques are NOT normally accepted and are
difficult to transact. Travelers are advised to bring US
Dollars in cash (small denomination notes). British
Pounds, French Frances, German Deutsh Marks and other
currencies are difficult to change. Bring US Dollars
cash. Major hotels and a few restaurants will accept
The voltage throughout Myanmar is 220-230 Volts AC. Most
of the international class hotels in Yangon have their
own generators. However in other places, voltage varies
greatly and power often goes out. Valuable or sensitive
electronic equipment like stereos and computer should be
protected with the appropriate electronic protection
Drink only bottled or boiled water.
Bargaining is an art long practiced in Asian countries
including Myanmar . So feel free to ask for a proper
discount when shopping in places where prices are not
marked. Be careful in dealing with sidewalk vendors who
may not offer genuine goods at fair prices. Myanmar arts
and crafts , mostly pure hand-made, are best souvenirs
and prices are very reasonable. Lacquer ware, wood and
ivory carvings, tapestries, silverware, brassware, silk
and cotton fabrics and shoulder bags are some of the
favorite items. For jewelry, there are Myanmar Rubies,
Sapphire, Jade and Pearl available at Myanmar Gems
Shops. You should only buy from licensed Government
Light causal wears for all year round. A cardigan or
light sweater for the cool season especially when
visiting upper Myanmar , like Mandalay or Bagan. An
umbrella will be useful during the rainy season. Sandals
or slippers are convenient as all footwears must be
taken off when entering the precincts of pagodas and
monasteries. Visitors should not wear shorts or briefs
when visiting pagodas and monasteries.
Hats and sunglass are recommended, and an umbrella for
the rainy season is a must. Rainy season days often
start out sunny but outbursts of rain can be heavy, even
if short and frequent.
Government Offices & private and foreign company:
09:30-16:30 hrs Banks: 10:00-14:00 hrs
It is now quite easy to make international direct phone
calls and to send faxes, email to worldwide. Internet
access is available in most tourist destinations in
Radio Myanmar is on the air in English from 8:30 hours
to 9:00 hours in the morning, 13:30 hours to 14:00 hours
in the afternoon and 21:00 hours to 22:30 hours in the
Myanmar & Myawaddy TV
TV Myanmar & Myawaddy TV with NTSC
system, T V programmes start from 7:00 to 8:20 hrs and
16:00 to 22:30 mid-night. Satellite News at 20:45 hours
in the evening. On every Saturday and Sunday, T V
Myanmar starts from 08:30 hours to 09:30 hours as
programs in English . In the afternoon from 12:00 hours
to 14:30 hours.
There is a new TV line MRTV-3 starts
from 9:00 to 10:00, 13:00 to 14:00 and 18:00 to 19:00.
The New Light of Myanmar and Asia
Times are the newspapers in English. The Myanmar Times
Magazines are also weekly published in English. Four
newspaper in Myanmar – Myanmar Alin, Kyemon (The
mirror), Myodaw (evening tabloid), and Yadanabon.
The quickest and most comfortable
mode of domestic travel is by Air Bagan, Air Mandalay
which is truly first-class regional air carrier flying
the latest in ATR – 72 turbo – prop aircraft and Yangon
Airways ATR – 72 aircraft. Myanmar Airways operate
Fokker aircraft through the country.
Trains, ferry boats and buses are all available for
those who want to experience local transportation and
meet Myanmar people as they travel.
While no immunizations are formally
required, malaria prophylaxis is often recommended by
traveler's personal physicians. Occasionally, typhoid,
hepatitis, tetanus and Japanese encephalitis
vaccinations are also recommended.
It is suggested that only bottled or boiled water be
drunk. Hotels all supply bottled water as well as a good
selection of Asian and Western foods. It is better not
to purchase food from street vendors to eat local food,
choose only large, clean and busy restaurants.
Insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites is
particularly recommended, especially if you are
traveling outside Yangon .
There are now at least two good international standard
medical centers clinics in Yangon . It is recommended
that you take out health insurance before traveling to
Myanmar food is a cross between
Chinese and Indian – with traditional Myanmar curries
and soups being the local favorites. Visitors will more
commonly be offered Chinese cuisine because it is better
suited to the Western palate. However, you can choose
Myanmar specialties from menus at international hotels
and local restaurants.
All foreign nationals are required to
have entry visas to travel to the UNION OF MYANMAR.
Myanmar entry visas can be obtained at local Myanmar
Embassy or Consulate.
Visas are valid for 28 days can be issued the same day
(sometimes within 20 minutes) they are applied for.
Proper “visa stamp on the passport” or specially
authorized "Visa on Arrival Approval Letter" is
If you have pre-booked your holiday to Myanmar through a
tour Operator, a letter can be obtained through a local
agent in Myanmar .
There are Myanmar Embassies in the following countries.
South Africa –
As is the case at most
international airports, there is a departure tax. In
Yangon, US$ 10 per person is payable, in either US $ or
FEC, for departures on international flights. There are
currently no airport taxes for domestic flights.