Only recently opening up to the world and mercifully untrampled by mass tourism, Myanmar has a sincerity that makes it transcendent. In this country of soft slopes and imposing monuments, intricate Buddhist monasteries are still the center of gentle village life. Absorb the unperturbed harmony of Myanmar as you enjoy a stretch of powdery sand to yourself on the idyllic Bay of Bengal or take a charming old steamship down the still waters of the Irrawaddy River.
Backyard Travel’s private Myanmar tours include adventures as diverse as beach retreats, adventurous trekking, and eco-lodge expeditions — complete with wine tastings in caves and guided tours of the country’s archeological treasures. Wherever your adventurous spirit calls you, our Myanmar travel agency team is waiting to craft a bespoke Myanmar holiday just for you.
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Stretching across the western coast of Southeast Asia, Myanmar runs from a jagged, mountainous north along the Himalayas to its sun-kissed southern coastline on the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. While its rugged mountains and mostly undeveloped coastline make for some impressive natural scenery, most travelers come to Myanmar for the country’s archeological treasures. Across the plains of Bagan, the tangled Buddhist stonework and slender golden spires of nearly 4,000 sacred stupas punctuate the hot, hypnotic landscape. In the ruins of Mrauk U, once one of Southeast Asia’s greatest cities, immense, fortress-like stone temples hold countless chambers of sacred Buddhist statuary.
Myanmar’s contemporary wonders are equally unmissable. Tailormade Myanmar tours can take you to the colorful floating gardens and placid rural villages of Inle Lake, through tiny villages in the Shan hills, or to one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites, the glimmering golden temples of Shwedagon Paya in Yangon.
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We just arrived back home and wanted to thank you so much for organising the best holiday imaginable for us both! From the moment we arrived in Yangon we were overwhelmed with the organisation of backyard travel, we didn't have to think, just enjoy our holiday!
Stephanie & Dannielle (Myanmar, Jan 2016)
Backyard Travel was an amazing experience from start to finish. Excellent communication and customer service. I have traveled around the world and through 90% of all Southeast Asian countries. This was my favorite and most memorable holiday.
Michael Kelley (Myanmar, Sept 2015)
The vacation was really great and we enjoyed it very much. Actually it was one the best holidays we had! Everything was perfectly organised by you and your colleagues and I would like to thank you very much for that.
Dr. Christian & Edith Maria Schaller (Myanmar, March 2015)
Thank you so much for all your wonderful efforts in making our daughter’s visit to beautiful Myanmar so fabulous and memorable. Your attention to every detail was very special.
Stephanie and Edward Pellegrini (Myanmar, May 2014)
Our recent trip through Burma was one of the highlights of my life. Our guides were excellent and met our needs with care. Thank you for all of your help - Everything went very easily.
John and Loretta Wortley (Myanmar, Oct 2012)
Private travel in Myanmar is safe, but being prepared and informed is paramount to being a respectful visitor. Before you hop on the plane to Asia, review our travel guide for useful information and our recommendations on what to see, do, and eat on a bespoke Myanmar vacation.
Yes, most foreign nationals except ASEAN members and a select few countries are required to obtain a visa before visiting Myanmar. Citizens of the European Union, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. among others, are eligible for a tourism eVisa, which is valid for three months from the issuing date and allows a single-entry stay in Myanmar of up to 28 days. The cost of the eVisa will depend upon your nationality. There’s one catch: an eVisa will only allow you to enter the country through Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, or Mandalay international airports, but these are how most visitors enter Myanmar anyway. You can get more detailed information on this article about Myanmar Visa: the Essential Guide for Travelers to Burma
We typically categorize the weather in Myanmar into three seasons: dry, wet, and wetter. The dry season, from November to February, is pleasant, with temperatures hovering around 25 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). It does, however, get cold in the north during these winter months, and if you plan to visit Inle and Bagan during this time, pack appropriate clothing. The pre-monsoon season starts around March and lasts until May. This is the humid time of year when temperatures are at their hottest, soaring to the mid-30s (90 degrees Fahrenheit) and even surpassing 40 (100 degrees Fahrenheit) in some regions. Monsoon season in Myanmar stretches from May to October.
We think autumn and winter (during the months of November to February) are the best times to travel in Myanmar. During these months, the weather is cooler, drier and more pleasant than the heat and humidity that remains fairly constant the rest of the year. We love, however, visiting ‘up country’—Inle and Bagan—between June and September, when the crowds have gone and you can have the temples and lakes mostly to yourself. Bagan is also lovely and green during the wetter seasons. When you can view the temples of this ancient capital city without the dust of this dry region, it is simply stunning.
The Myanmar New Year, which falls in April, is also a fun and vibrant time to visit. Called thingyan by locals, people across the nation wage citywide water fights, all while wishing each other a happy new year!
Myanmar is still not a heavily touristed country, making it a fantastic destination if you love to travel but hate the crowds. The biggest tourist hubs in Myanmar are Yangon, Mandalay, Inle, and Bagan, all of which offer amazing historical and cultural sights. But if you’d like to venture into lesser-known and little-visited Myanmar, you may want to consider cycling through Myanmar, which will allow you to see villages and local life off the beaten path. Or, our adventure tourS of the Putao region in Kachin State are fully customizable and will bring you face to face with the Kachin people, river islands, and jungles of this beautiful and remote part of Myanmar. To mingle with locals who reside in the mountains, you can trek into Hsipaw in Shan State, an enchanting town where you’ll be welcomed to immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle of the Shan people. Hpa An, the capital of the ethnic minority state of Karen, also makes for a captivating trip to remote and mountainous Myanmar, with the karst peaks surrounding the picturesque town.
Myanmar is a great destination if your family shares a spirit of adventure. Burmese hospitality is truly heartwarming, and after years of political repression and isolation, many Burmese people are now welcoming foreign visitors with open arms. When you combine this with some of Southeast Asia’s most unspoiled and undeveloped countryside, you can expect your family holiday in Myanmar to abound with friendly people, a variety of outdoor activities, and plenty of opportunities to share an authentic Southeast Asian experience.
Children will also love thingyan, the Burmese New Year festival that falls in April. Traditionally, water blessings were given to family, friends, and statues of the Buddha to start the year right. This long-time cultural tradition has evolved into a fun-loving celebration, where entire villages and cities throw a multiple-day water fight!
Although the difficulty of buying a SIM card may have plagued previous travelers to Myanmar, we’re happy to report that things are changing. MPT, the state-owned mobile service provider, is getting some competition with the arrival of Ooredoo and Telenor, two foreign-based companies providing cheap, local SIM cards with 3G. While Ooredoo and Telenor offer cheaper prices, MPT tends to offer the better coverage due to how established they are. You can find Myanmar SIM cards and pre-paid data plans at the airport on arrival, or at operator offices and mobile phone shops in all the major urban centers, such as Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. Depending on the service provider, a 3G SIM will cost you somewhere between 1,500 to 5,000 kyat (US$1.50 to $5).
Most domestic carriers in Myanmar only allow bookings to be made from within the country. But not to worry—our ticketing team will book your flights as part of your Myanmar tour package.
Cash is still king in Myanmar, where the credit card system collapsed in the financial crisis of 2003. Although local banks have plans to reintroduce credit cards to Myanmar’s citizens, it’s still a cash-dominated country, and you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of kyat on hand. ATMs are becoming more common in major cities, especially in Yangon where they have popped up like mushrooms after the monsoon rains. You’ll find plenty of banks and exchange counters in the major tourist hubs, but don’t rely too heavily on ATM access when heading into smaller towns.
Depending on where you visit, Myanmar can be a culinary melting pot, with the regional cuisines of Shan, Rakhine, and Kachin states being among the best in the country. “Bhamar” curries are the national staple, with juicy chunks of meat or fish stewed in a rich curry gravy. A typical Burmese meal will come with rice, a curry, and a few smaller dishes of mixed salads, fresh greens, and cooked vegetables, often with hingyo, a hot, clear broth, on the side.
One of our favorite dishes that can be found anywhere in Myanmar is tea leaf salad, or lahpet thoke, which combines pickled tea leaves with chopped tomato and crunchy, toasted beans. Foodies shouldn’t leave Myanmar without trying a bowl of mohinga, the nation’s favorite breakfast food. Although it looks deceptively simple—rice noodles in a fish-and-tomato-based soup—you’ll find that mohinga has a bold and complex flavor that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world.
Indian cuisine enthusiasts will also delight in the South Asian influences in Burmese biryani and the Burmese flatbread, which is made in a clay oven, much like naan. But, if you tend to be a little more conservative in your culinary choices, don’t worry. Myanmar offers a wide variety of international foods in tourist hubs, and dining in Yangon is offering more and more of an eclectic culinary scene that will make any gourmand happy.
As with any Asian country, it’s customary to tip your Myanmar tour guide and driver. We recommend giving each about US$10 per group per day. As for tipping at hotels and restaurants, in Myanmar it’s not expected but appreciated. If you want to tip your hotel porter, we suggest giving US$1 per piece of luggage carried, and for restaurant staff, about 5 to 10% of the bill.
Hotels in Yangon are pricier than hotels of the same category in neighboring cities such as Bangkok or Hanoi, and they also tend to be pricier than properties in Inle and Bagan. There has been a rush in hotel development in Myanmar in recent years, but options are still limited, especially in remote areas. We advise booking in advance during peak periods. For the best deals on the best accommodations to suit your tastes, contact one of our Myanmar-based Travel Specialists, who have personal relationships with Burmese hoteliers and innkeepers.
When you travel to Myanmar, you should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A and B, tetanus, and polio as these are all present in the country. We always recommend having good medical insurance that covers evacuation flights. Check your government’s travel advisory on Myanmar for the most up-to-date information.
Please dress modestly and respectfully, covering any bare skin from the shoulders to below the knees, especially when entering places of worship. Some temples and pagodas will provide you with a longyi to tie around your waist before you enter the sacred site.
Myanmar has a wonderful heritage of local and traditional handicrafts. Supporting artisans by shopping for local gifts and products helps keep traditional crafts alive.
Religious iconography is everywhere in Myanmar in the form of temples, pagodas, and religious imagery. You’ll also notice the image of Aung San, the famous general who is considered the ‘father of modern Burma,’ and his daughter, Nobel Peace prize–winning Aung San Suu Kyi, displayed everywhere in Myanmar. Please show respect for these cultural sites and images by avoiding sitting or posing in front of them. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
Sights & Experiences
MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATIONS & INSIGHTS
Dignified and direct, the Burmese are quick to make personal connections, welcoming strangers into their home as “brothers and sisters.” For emphasis, cheerful Burmese are known for giggling as they speak, but they also take their traditional customs seriously.
Myanmar’s climate is marked by the monsoon cycles. The months between May and September see heavy rains in most areas. Without the respite of showers, temperatures from March to May can be sweltering but drop considerably in winter.
Bars and nightlife options are flourishing in emerging tourist centers like Yangon. To soak up some local Burmese culture and art, the National Theater in Yangon also puts on impressive music and dance shows by local performers.
Myanmar preserves a diversity of indigenous cultures, many with customs and beliefs that predate the introduction of Buddhism. The majority culture is ethnically Bamar and strongly influenced by Theravada Buddhism. You’ll especially note this on tours to temples and pagodas.
Burmese is the national language of Myanmar and the mother tongue of the Bamar ethnicity. Minority languages, however, including Karen, Kachin, and Mon, are widely spoken. A colonial legacy, English is also spoken.
Meet the Myanmar Team
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"THIS IS BURMA, QUITE UNLIKE ANY LAND YOU KNOW ABOUT"
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