1) You MUST fly in and out of Burma – no overland travel is permitted at all.
2) There are ATMs available at banks throughout Burma, it is recommended you bring with you. US Dollars as hotels ask to be payed in US Dollars (paying by credit card can have a surcharge of over 5%). US Hundred Dollar notes will get you the best exchange rate. Change money at your guesthouse – the banks will give you an exchange rate literally three times lower. There are a few US dollar ATM’s at Bangkok Airport – one is past security once you check in, located at one of the pink exchange kiosks.
3) Getting a visa is compulsory for all nationalities, and it must be obtained in advance. Most people elect to get theirs in Bangkok, and it is quite straight forward. The best directions I have ever found to anywhere – hands down – come via this link explaining how to get to the Myanmar Consulate in Bangkok.
You will need:
- *2 passport photos
- *1 photocopy of your passport
- *3 forms (all available day-of at the consulate) filled out, one of which is a detailed work history. DO NOT indicate any jobs involved in journalism/photography etc
- *800 Baht
- *A rough itinerary (they will grill you about where you want to go and why)
It will usually take 2 full business days.
4) Bagan is amazing, yes – but it is very hot.
5) Internet can be sporadic (and is controlled by the government – at some computers there are problems logging on to gmail and facebook) and international phone calls are obscenely expensive, if the phones are working. Let your family know that you may be out of touch and unreachable – they can contact your embassy in Yangon if there is an emergency at home (your guesthouse registers you with local authorities each night.)
Burma is an unbelievable place to visit – well worth an addition on to any Southeast Asia travel itinerary. Enjoy!