Tricks and tips : Myanmar
Stopover in Myanmar, or Burma. Those infos are pulled out two different trips in the country, one with the backpack a few years back and the other one on a bike a few months ago. A few addresses, not heaps, but mostly some impressions seen from a cold perspective of what my life was back there.
Visa : Is everything simplified nowadays, but remains quit strict. Visa is available in the traditional way, embassies, for 40 euros and a bit of administrative craps. But here as well, easy and efficient, it's all doable online. Just head to this website, and follow the instructions. Which are super easy. 50USD, 2 or 3 days and it's done. Further on I'll write down the borders where you can go across with. Good to know : Visas are available for 28 days length of time and can't be extended. And it's valid for 3 months after being validated. So no extension, but you can overstay a bit, about a week I reckon, and it will cost you an extra 3USD per day. As you're not suppose to be in the country any more expect to pay slightly more at the borders, especially the remote ones. And to be fair it's not a country where I want to play fool with police and army.
Borders : Make sure you going across the right one. They can be remote and hard to access, make sure you don't travel all the way there for nothing. To be taken in consideration : evisa borders allowance, independent tourist crossing, remoteness. You can exit the country at any borders with an evisa, entering is an other question ! ` Currency : Kyats Time zone : GMT+06h30
Border crossing : Myanmar - Thailand : - Mae Sot - Myawaddy - Mae Sai - Tachileik - Ranong - Kawthaung - Phunaron - Htee Kee : Can't enter with an Myanmar evisa ! - Three Pagodas and Singkhorn : Not open to tourists ! Myanmar - India : - Moreh - Tamu - Zokhawtar - Rikhawdar Those two borders allows tourists coming with an evisa and they are in areas where you don't need any special permit to go across. Myanmar - China : - Ruili - Muse : Currently closed to tourists, and even, sounds quit difficult to go across anyway although it would be open. Permit, guide... And it's the only one who could potentially be open for tourists. Myanmar - Bangladesh : No land border for tourists as far as I know.
Myanmar - Laos : No land border for tourists as far as I know.
Where to sleep : A quick word about the solutions to sleep in this lovely country : it's not as easy as at the neighbours. And even maybe harder than most countries. So to be clear, camping is prohibited. And forbidden for the locals to host aliens as well. And on top of that, hotels need a special and super expensive licence to host travellers. Here we are. In facts : If you stay around touristic places, no problem at all. Otherwise, it starts to be problematic. A few hotel, and a very few who accept tourists. The language barrier being not really helpful at all, it's sometimes a struggle to find a bed. And it's the southern part of the country, where I rode, it's very hazardous as the touristic places are not legion. You can try to camp as well. But locals take some risks at letting you sleeping around, and they most likely to denounce you. This is what some travellers report... So it's doable, no question, as it remains quit wild. Well, that will be in fields more than bush. No as easy as I wish. And police is not really arranging. We've been followed a few times and in a very coarse way, as much as it turns to be shabby. Too shabby to be true, which actually made me take the closest border option to Thailand after a week. So what you'll find here it's not necessarily the best and fanciest options you could find in the country, but more an anti struggle guide if you decide to go across the southern part of Myanmar. - Breeze guest house, Moulmein. THE meeting point for all the traveller passing through. A cool spot. Cheap, which I forgot, and a brekkie included upstairs at their terrace. Don't expect too much from rooms, but clean and efficient. Does the job. You can also leave you bike there for a couple of days/weeks if you want to explore more on a bus perspective. - Family resort hotel, Thanbyuzayat. The cool surprise of this day back then. Such a struggle when entering the charmless city, every hotels were pushing us out without nor smile or explanation. We got the fact that it was probably because of a lack of tourist licence thing, but still, was rough. Anyway, this place is cheap and clean. Cold beers and pool tables. Lovely owners as well with a tiny bit of English. They technically even have a swimming pool, with a very doubtful water but kids of the surroundings seemed to have fun anyway. Such a peaceful place after having struggling for a couple of hours in town. Good to know : Is two addresses on maps.me GPS application. The one who's indicated in the middle of a forest doesn't exist. I swear, I've been all the way there for nothing. We really didn't feel at the right place to be fair. People seemed to be surprise from our presence, so did we.
- May Shan 2 hostel, Ye. Nothing more banal than this accommodation. A bit of the classic of what you'll find here out of touristic areas. Well located and fair price tho. - Pin Si yeik guest house, Kaleinaung. Our saviour. Popping from nowhere, and drive here by the police, we ended in a super cool room with AC, Time to drop our bikes and the cold beers were already on the table. A bit of a pain with the police as the informations questions turned into a sort of interrogatory. But if you're around and in a search for a place to sleep, it's the place. A peaceful, cheap and cosy place.
- Best house guest house, Moulmein. Cool hotel. Nice staff, clean rooms and nice atmosphere. Bunch of options in this city, so let's say we just stopped at the first without digging too much. - Temple, Myitta. As it's finally possible to camp in temple, here we are. But it seems to be pretty random. Depends on the place, the moment, and the people's wish. Many things yep. Although this one is literally in the middle of nowhere and if they had for plan to keep an eye on us, allowing us to sleep there was the most clever option. All good overall, and we even had breakfast. Very quiet and nobody bothered us at all.
Coffee shop : To know : I've been in none of them, I just searched to potentially help you out. Didn't like coffee that much the first time I've been there, and in the south part this time I didn't find much.
- Sensation coffee roaster, Yangon. Seems to be a good place with a decent choice of beans, and not only Burmese coffee but also Africa and south America. I guess they have decent cup to drink there as well ! - Easy specialty coffee, Yangon. Same same. Probably one of the best option to get fresh beans in Yangon. - Goffee coffee, Mandalay. Looks cosy and able to offer good quality coffee. Also, not easy at all to find a place who look that "cool" in the area. That also what I love and search for in the coffee shops, an atmosphere.
Bike Shops :
Same observation than in Laos. No idea what you can find to be honest, but in big and major cities you might find basic needs.
- Bo Bo bike shop, Yangon. Seems to be the most famous option in Yangon. Probably the place where you should have a leek.
Foooooooood : A sensitive subject : Not crazy at all. Not a single souvenir of tasty food in the northern part, even less in the south. Sometimes even getting close to a struggle to find out. And in contrary at the neighbours, even on the side of the road it's a bit of a pain to find a bowl of noodles sometimes, so don't really expect more than this. I mean, you'll find out, but it doesn't look good at all and my belly was already complaining just a the first look. - Le bistrot, Dawei. If I would pick one, fore sure would be this one ! Food is good and price reasonable, but we also had load of fun. Fun fun fun. This place and the chef/owner gave so much sens to my presence in this area. I even almost pushed my departure further away to stay longer. Nice place with lovely team. Romain if you read this someday... - My Mawlamyine, Moulmein. Cool place on the pier. Reasonable price and a few good pastries as well. Cold beers and live music on evening time upstairs on their terrace. A place among others in this promenade, but the music adds something special.
To be considered : I wasn't necessarily in my best mood when cycling there. Which would influence my point of view and way to perceive the country.
So yep, a very few infos for those reasons. I send you to the podcast on radio bamako where you'll find more infos and clearer words on the situation. And for the little cultural point : no idea where to start with as is a lot to say about the country. Although have a look at the Rohingyahs situation, at the creation and movement of the capital city a few years back, or again at the crazy story of the road's side change. Worth it ;)