About Myanmar

Myanmar, known as Suvanna Bhumi ( the Golden Earth ) in the olden days for its fertile land and rich natural resources is the largest country in the Southeast Peninsula sharing borders with Bangladesh, India, China and Thailand. With a total land area of 676, 577 sq.km which stretches over 2090 km from north to south and over 925 km east to west. It has a 2832 km long coastline on the Indian Ocean. Over 50 percent of the total land area is covered with forests.

Location

Myanmar is a country in Southeast Asia located at the intersection of Asia's great civilizations of India and China that lies on the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea coast in the south with Bangladesh and India on the west and stretches right up to China and Himalayan mountain range in the north and northeast, and Thailand to the east.

Geography

The country covers an area of 676,577 square kilometers (261,228 square miles) ranging kilometers (581 miles) from north to south. It is the 40th largest country in the world and 2nd largest in South-East Asia which lies between latitudes 9° and 29°N, and longitudes 92° and 102°E. Myanmar is a land of hills and valleys surrounded by mountain ranges in the north, east and west forming a giant horseshoe. Enclosed within the mountain barriers are the fertile plains of Ayeyarwaddy, Chindwin and Sittaung River valleys where most of the country’s agricultural land and population are concerned.

Climate

The location and topography of the country generate a diversity of climate conditions as seasonal changes in the monsoon wind directions create 3 seasons namely summer, rainy and winter. Summer is usually from March to April and can go as high as 37°C. The temperature then cools off during the rainy season which is from May to October. The winter is from November to February which is more favourable with 32°C at noon and 19°C during the night time. Extremes of temperature are quite rare. The directions of wind and depression bring rain and although it is always heavy in the coastal areas during monsoon season, it seldom creates hardships. The higher elevations are subject to heavy snowfall and bad weather.

Population

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is ethnically diverse with 135 ethnic groups of which the main national races are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. Population of the country is estimated to be 60,280,000 in 2010.

Tourism

The government has encouraged tourism in Myanmar since 1992. The people in Myanmar are not to discuss politics with foreigners, under penalty of imprisonment, and in 2001, the Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board issued an order for local officials to protect tourists and limit “unnecessary contact” between foreigners and ordinary Burmese people without deteriorating the traditions, customs and cultures of Myanmar.

Religion

Buddhism (mostly Theravāda) is practiced by 89.2% of the population in Myanmar. Other religions are practiced largely without obstruction such as Buddhism (Mahayana), Christianity (4%), Islam (4%), Hinduism (1%) and others such as spiritualism (2%).

Culture

Myanmar lies on an intersection of two of the world’s great civilization – China and India but its culture is neither that of India nor China exclusively, but a blend of cultures interspersed with Myanmar native traits and characteristics. Theravada Buddhism has a great influence on a daily basis of Myanmar people. This can be seen in stupas and temples throughout the country. Myanmar people have preserved the tradition of close family ties, respect for the elders and reverence for Myanmar social life with its own festive occasion every single month. Myanmar people are well known for their simplicity, honesty, generosity, hospitality, contentment, politeness and friendliness and will treat you at their very best to make you feel welcome in the country.

Economy

Under British administration, Burma used to be the second-wealthiest country in South-East Asia. It was the world’s largest exporter of rice and produced 75% of the world’s teak. Burma was also wealthy of natural and labour resources. It had a highly literate population and was believed to be on the fast track of development. The British destroyed the major oil wells and mines for tungsten, tin, lead and silver to keep them from the Japanese during World War II and Burma was bombed ultimately by both sides. Prime Minister U Nu set out a policy of nationalization after a parliamentary government was formed in 1948 and the state was announced the owner of all land. Since late 1988, Myanmar has replaced the centrally planned economy with a more liberalized economic policy based on market-oriented system. In advancing towards a better market-oriented economy, Myanmar has liberalized both domestic and international trades, promoting the role of private sectors and opening up for foreign investment by setting up the Union of Myanmar Foreign Investment Commission. Foreign Investment Law, New Central Bank of Myanmar Law, Financial Institutions of Myanmar Law and Myanmar Tourism Law has been enacted and “Chamber of Commerce and Industry” 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 foreign investors. Agriculture remains as the main sector of the economy and measures have been taken to increase productivity, diversification of crop patterns and revitalization of agricultural exports.

Currency

Myanmar currency is kyat (MMK). Note: 10000 Kyat, 5000 Kyat, 1000 Kyat, 500 Kyat, 100 Kyat, 50 Kyat, 20 Kyat and 10 Kyat.

Foreign Exchange

Visitors are advised to change their foreign currencies only at authorized money changers at the airports, hotels, banks and Myanmar Travels & Tours offices. The use of credit card is very limited and the American dollars are widely used. Thus, it is advisable to change your euro to US$. For the convenience, the Central Bank of Myanmar has issued Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs) in Dollar units. FECs are issued in four denominations: (1) FEC equivalent to US Dollar Twenty, (2) FEC equivalent to US Dollar Ten, (3) FEC equivalent to US Dollar Five and (4) FEC equivalent to US Dollar One. The FECs are accepted in hotels, restaurants and as payment for admission or entrance fees at museums and pagodas. US Dollars are accepted in lieu of FECs. Foreign Exchange Certificates are exchangeable with the following currencies: US Dollar and Pound Sterling. The fractions of FECs calculated at the daily cross rate will not be exchanged. These FECs are acceptable by any person in the Union of Myanmar and can only be used within the Union of Myanmar.

Customs

Foreigners and non-residents can bring any foreign currency to Myanmar not in its equivalence without making a declaration to the Customs upon arrival. All foreign currencies above US$ 10,000, jewellry, electrical goods and cameras must be declared to the Customs upon arrival at the airport. Exports of antique and archaeological valuable items are prohibited. Only gems, jewellry and silverware purchased at the authorized shops are allowed to be taken out.

Duty-Free shops

For visitor’s convenience, there are duty-free shops in the airport arrival and departure lounges.
Allowance is 400 sticks of cigarettes, 250 gm of tobacco, 2 litres of wine, spirit or alcoholic liquor, 100 sticks of cigars and 0.5 litre of perfume.

Quarantine Health

No inoculations or vaccinations are required unless coming from or passing through an infected area.

Communication

IDD telephones, internet and fax facilities are available in most hotels.

Religion

The Buddhist religious titles of Abhidhajamaharatthaguru and Aggamahapandita have been traditionally presented to worthy monks. Since 1992, 20 new kinds of titles have been awarded not only to monks but also to nuns and lay devotees. It is on the 4th January each year that notifications are published.

Theravada Buddhism is the most predominant with 80% of the people embracing it. Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are also practiced among the minority.

If you prefer, you can join meditation groups. Many foreigners are trying meditation. They claimed that it made them more decisive in their corporate management day-to-day decision making. We recommend you to try it as it is also part of stress-releasing therapy.

NO. NAME ADDRESS PHONE
1. Chanmyay Yeikthar Kyaung 55/A, Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd., Ward (10), MYGN (+95 1) 661479, 652585
2. International Maha Si Sasana Yeik Thar Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd., Near Nawaday Cinema Hall, Ward (5), MYGN (+95 1) 664762
3. International Meditation Centre 31/A, Inya Myaing St., Shwe Taung Gyar Ward (1), BHN (+95 1) 535549,
(+95 9 420080612)
4 Maha Si Sasana Yeik Thar Pyay Rd., Corner of Shwe Hnin Si St., 9 Mile, Ward (5), MYGN (+95 1) 661167
5 Maha Si Sasana Yeik Thar (Main) 16, Sasana Yeikthar St., Sasana Yeikthar Ward, BHN (+95 1) 541971, 545918
6. Mogoke Vipasana Dhama Yeik Thar (Main) 82, Nat Mauk St., Bo Cho Ward (2), BHN (+95 1) 541860, 546466
7. Myittar Aye Maha Si Sasana Yeik Thar San Pya 5th St., Sanpya Ward, TGGN (+95 1) 562241
8. Nyaung Kan Aye Kwin Kyaung Sasana Yeik Thar Aung Yadanar St., San Pya Zay Bus Stop, Kyee Pwar Yay Ward, TGGN (+95 1) 560924
9. Nyaung Kan Aye Sasana Yeik Thar 16, Yangon-Insein Road, Insein (+95 1) 642219
10. Nyaung Kan Aye Shwe Pyi Yeik Thar 6, Aye Yar Waddy Patt St. Pabedan, Yangon  
11. Shwe Minn Wun Sasana Yeik Thar 70, Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd., Shwe Gone Daing (Mid) ward (+95 1) 572876

Border Tour

Six border check points are opened in Myanmar–Thailand border and Myanmar–China border in order to attract more visitors.

Useful Tips

• Reconfirm your air tickets before going inland. Visitors are requested to ignore touts who may approach you to offer guide services, for exchanging foreign currency or for selling gems of doubtful nature.

• As there are strict Foreign Exchange Control Regulations, tourists are advised to change the foreign currencies only at the authorized private shops where you will be given a legal voucher with a permit for export.

• Always keep your passport, money and other valuable properties in secure places, especially when travelling by train, by bus or by ship. Report all losses to the nearest police station as well as to your embassy.

• Visitors are requested to dress decently within the precincts of religious and holy places. Footwear is strictly prohibited in pagodas and monasteries. Weather is generally warm and dry, therefore light casual, formal clothing and comfortable shoes such as slippers, sandals, flip-flops are recommended.