Burma (Myanmar)

Beautiful Burma is stepping out of a chequered past into a new era of hope and optimism. In the nation also known as Myanmar, visitors can expect to be dazzled by shimmering cities of gilded temples, enlivened by emerald green landscapes and humbled by the warm smiles of gracious villagers. Now is the time to contribute to Burma's blossoming future - peaceful pagodas, sacred sites, ancient towns and monasteries await.

Burma (Myanmar) Tours & Travel

All our Burma (Myanmar) trips

Hot air balloon ride at sunrise in Bagan

Best of Burma (Myanmar)

15 days from
USD $1,983.75
CAD $1,912.50
AUD $1,987.50
EUR €1,383.75
GBP £1,158.75
NZD $2,355.00
ZAR R19,593.75
CHF FR1,702.50

Travel to Burma and discover mythical landscapes and amazing hospitality. Visit Yangon and Mandalay, explore Bagan and...

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Fisherman, Burma

China, Burma & Thailand

28 days from
USD $4,150.00*
CAD $4,285.73*
AUD $4,396.05*
EUR €3,165.98*
GBP £2,628.75*
NZD $5,206.55*
ZAR R39,968.20*
CHF FR3,767.84*

Experience contrasts, chaotic metropolises, serene landscapes and enchanting locals on this Asian adventure. Explore...

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Hot air balloon ride at sunrise in Bagan

Best of Burma German

15 days from
USD $2,595.00
CAD $2,765.00
AUD $2,870.00
EUR €1,845.00
GBP £1,715.00
NZD $3,400.00
ZAR R26,125.00
CHF FR2,270.00

Travel to Burma and discover mythical landscapes and amazing hospitality. Visit Yangon and Mandalay, explore Bagan and...

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Kyaiktiyo Golden Rock, Burma

Burma Discovery

15 days from
USD $2,090.00
CAD $2,220.00
AUD $2,295.00
EUR €1,595.00
GBP £1,380.00
NZD $2,750.00
ZAR R20,965.00
CHF FR1,975.00

Take a step back in time on this journey through Burma. Travel through Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake, visiting...

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Hot air balloon ride at sunrise in Bagan

Classic Burma (Myanmar)

12 days from
USD $2,276.00
CAD $2,308.00
AUD $2,396.00
EUR €1,668.00
GBP £1,432.00
NZD $2,840.00
ZAR R21,808.00
CHF FR2,056.00

Travel to Burma, formally known as Myanmar, with Intrepid Travel. Explore the mystic regions of Yangon, Mandalay and...

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Young girl sitting at Bagan

Family - Breathtaking Burma

11 days from
USD $2,995.00
CAD $3,060.00
AUD $3,180.00
EUR €2,195.00
GBP £1,895.00
NZD $3,770.00
ZAR R28,945.00
CHF FR2,725.00

Experience the Asia of old on a family adventure that captures the spirit of Burma. Meet its friendly people and...

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Our sailing vessel, Burma

Burma Sailing ex Phuket

9 days from
USD $1,795.00
CAD $1,825.00
AUD $1,895.00
EUR €1,280.00
GBP £1,135.00
NZD $2,245.00
ZAR R16,145.00
CHF FR1,625.00

Beginning in Phuket, sail around Burma's Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago in the Andaman Sea and get a taste of the Asia of...

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Mt Kyaiktiyo golden rock

Burma Golden Rock Short Break

2 days from
USD $430.00
CAD $455.00
AUD $475.00
EUR €330.00
GBP £285.00
NZD $565.00
ZAR R4,325.00
CHF FR405.00

Travel from Yangon to the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, otherwise known as the Golden Rock, and get a...

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Burma (Myanmar) Highlights

About Burma (Myanmar)

At a glance

Trips Available:
8
Capital city:
Naypyidaw
Population:
53.9 million
Language:
Burmese
Currency:
MMK
Time zone:
(GMT+06:30) Yangon (Rangoon)
Electricity:
Type C (European 2-pin) Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth) Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)
Dialing code:
+95

Best time to visit Burma (Myanmar)

Burma has three distinct seasons, with the hottest and driest running from February to May. During this time, temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius, although relief can be found in the highland areas which, on average, clock cooler temperatures. The monsoon season runs from May to October, while milder and drier weather usually prevails from October to February.

Burma weather chart

Geography and environment

Fishing on Inle Lake
Sharing borders with China, Bangladesh, India, Laos and Thailand, Burma is characterised by a horseshoe of mountains and hills that surround the country from the north, east and west. Subtropical forest is the dominant natural environment throughout Burma, with the exception of low-lying tracts of land used for agriculture. From the coast of the Andaman Sea to the edge of the Himalayas, Burma's landscapes are incredibly beautiful and provide the perfect backdrop for hiking and other outdoors activities, nature photography and relaxation.

History and government

Burmese monks

Early History

It has been estimated that the land now known as Burma has been inhabited since 11,000 BC. Archaeological evidence garnered from burial sites indicates early settlements were largely concentrated near the Ayeyarwaddy River, with agriculture and animal husbandry prevailing by 1500 BC. Later, larger settlements or city states were created by the peaceful Pyu people, who migrated from the north sometime around 1 BC, bringing Buddhism to Burma. With the Mon people entering from the south during the 6th century, and sustained attacks from the north occurring up to the 9th century, the Pyu people became absorbed into the general population to shape the face of future Burmese ethnicity. The Bagan Empire ruled Burma from 1044 to 1287 and with a burgeoning agriculture and trade economy, was able to build thousands of Buddhist temples, many of which are still present today. By the 13th century, the Bagan Empire had begun to decline due to economic mismanagement and foreign invasion from the Mongols and the Mon people. Burma's seesawing fortunes continued for centuries, with war, invasion and changes in rule commonplace over the years.

Recent History

By 1886, Britain claimed Burma as a province of India, with Rangoon being named capital. This period of British rule impacted on Burmese society greatly, with the culture, religion, economy and society vastly changing at the hands of the British. The local population saw little of the economic benefits flowing from increased trade and agriculture cultivation, and with many villages being destroyed, this period of history marks a difficult time for the Burmese. World War II saw Burma's movements towards independence grow, and by 1948 Burma was granted independence. Decades of change and political instability followed, with an unstable parliament and several military coups creating uncertainty around the newly Socialist country. Burma seemingly lurched from crisis to crisis, plagued by corruption, inflation and volatility from the 1960s to 1990s. With increasing trade embargoes, protests, sanctions and international pressure, the military government was forced to cease the imprisonment of democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi and instate democracy to the country once again. With elections being held in 2010, Burma could finally be on the road to restoring democracy, peace and prosperity to the population.

Top Picks

Shwedagon Paya

Top 5 Temples of Burma

1. Shwedagon Paya

As one of the most sacred sites in Burma, this glittering pagoda located in Yangon is a must-see for travellers wishing to learn about the Buddhist faith and culture in Burma. The bell-shaped golden stupa is stunning, while the surrounding statues and satellite shrines provide insight into Burmese culture and mysticism.

2. Dhammayangyi

The largest temple in the impressive Bagan complex, centuries-old Dhammayangyi, features elaborate brickwork, dark passages filled with shrines and serene figures of Buddha. With its construction shrouded in historical mystery, the identity of the architect/builder of this unfinished temple is still unknown.

3. Shwezigon

One of Bagan's most popular pilgrimage spots, Shwezigon is a significant place of worship for many Burmese people. With elaborate, gilded stupas, decorated staircases and golden, ornamental trees, this is one of Burma's most beautiful temples.

4. Mahamuni

Grand columns, bright frescoes, peaceful pavilions, reflective pools and a massive golden Buddha statue combine to make this one of Burma's most visually appealing and interesting spiritual sites. As an active monastery, school for monks and place of worship, expect Bagan's Mahamuni to be busy with daily rituals and yearly religious festivals.

5. Ananda

While not the largest or most elaborate temple, Bagan's symmetrical Ananda rises majestically into the sky with a certain sense of grace. Damaged by an earthquake in the 1970s, Ananda has been lovingly restored to former glory and continues to elicit admiration and wonder from both locals and visitors.

FAQs on Burma (Myanmar)

Resuming trips in Burma (Myanmar) isn't a decision Intrepid has made lightly. In 2003, we responded to the call for a boycott on travel to Burma by the then democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party was denied the right to govern the country by the military dictatorship.

After recent positive events within the country including the elections in November 2010, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and the subsequent call to end the travel boycott by the NLD, Intrepid has been prompted to consider returning to Burma.

By reintroducing our grassroots style of travel, we can contribute to improving the circumstances of the Burmese people by way of initiating a two-way exchange. Firstly, resuming trips will give them a chance to interact with visitors from other countries, thus giving a rare glimpse into life and governance in other parts of the world.

Secondly, taking passengers to Burma will help to build awareness of the complex issues this country continues to face, as well as positively contributing to the economy.
While tipping isn’t customary in Burma, setting aside a small amount for restaurant staff, porters and other service workers is considered polite. With most Burmese people earning a low wage, a modest tip will be accepted graciously by most.
Internet availability and service is generally not reliable in Burma. While internet access can be found in some cities and large towns, the speed may be slow and popular websites like Gmail, Facebook, Skype and Yahoo are usually blocked. When travelling in Burma, be prepared to have a break from technology for a while.
Mobile phone coverage is unreliable in Burma. Depending on the service provider and handset, your mobile phone may or may not work. Many travellers choose to leave their mobile phones at home and surrender to a simpler way of living while in Burma.
You'll have to adjust to different standards of hygiene and sanitation whilst in Burma. The standard toilet is of the squat variety and this may take some getting used to, although western-style toilets can be found in large hotels and some tourist areas. Carry your own supply of toilet paper and hand sanitiser as these are rarely provided.
Street food snack = 300-400 MMK
Bottle of beer in a bar or restaurant = 1500-2000 MMK
Banquet in a small, locally-run restaurant = 2000-3000 MMK
Dinner in a high-end hotel restaurant = 10,000+ MMK
Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Burma. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found; some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Credit cards aren't accepted in Burma. As a cash economy, credit cards and travellers cheques aren't acceptable forms of currency. See below for more information on accessing local currency.
Burma is largely a cash economy and ATMs are virtually non existent. Bring cash (fresh, unmarked US dollars) before arriving as accessing cash is difficult (if not impossible) upon arrival in Burma.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 4 Independence Day
Feb 12 Union Day
Mar 2 Peasants' Day
Mar 26 Full Moon of Tabaung
Mar 27 Armed Forces Day
Apr 13 Maha Thingyan (Water Festival)
Apr 17 Myanmar New Year
May 1 Labour Day
May 25 Full Moon of Kason
Jul 19 Martyr's Day
Jul 22 Full Moon of Waso (Beginning of Buddhist Lent)
Oct 21 Full Moon of Thadingyut (End of Buddhist Lent)
Nov 18 Full Moon of Tasaungmon
Dec 8 National Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/myanmar/public-holidays
BURMA (MYANMAR):
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance

If your country of residence has a Burma embassy the process should be straight forward. But for some nationalities you may be requested to provide a letter of invitation from a local Burmese ground operator. In such cases please contact Intrepid to attain this letter and we will forward to you.

Visas on arrival to Burma are currently unavailable. You should obtain your visa prior to departure. In special circumstances, Intrepid can help to provide a visa on arrival, and only if there is no Burmese Embassy in your home country. We also cannot help with a visa on arrival if you are within a month of departure. If you would like us to help with visa on arrival, please contact us. BURMA (MYANMAR):
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance

If your country of residence has a Burma embassy the process should be straight forward. But for some nationalities you may be requested to provide a letter of invitation from a local Burmese ground operator. In such cases please contact Intrepid to attain this letter and we will forward to you. BURMA (MYANMAR):
Australien: Ja - im Voraus
Belgien: Ja - im Voraus
Kanada: Ja - im Voraus
Deutschland: Ja - im Voraus
Irland: Ja - im Voraus
Niederlande: Ja - im Voraus
Neuseeland: Ja - im Voraus
Südafrika: Ja - im Voraus
Schweiz: Ja - im Voraus
Großbritannien: Ja - im Voraus
USA: Ja - im Voraus

Sofern in Ihrem Aufenthaltsland Burma durch eine Botschaft vertreten ist, sollte das Antragsverfahren kein Problem darstellen. Bei manchen Staatsangehörigkeiten wird ein Einladungsschreiben von einem in Burma ansässigen Reiseveranstalter vorausgesetzt. Setzen Sie sich in so einem Fall mit uns in Verbindung. Wir werden Ihnen dann ein entsprechendes Einladungsschreiben zukommen lassen.

Das Visum ist bei Einreise erhältlich, aber offizielle Gesetze ändern sich oftmals plötzlich – somit empfehlen wir Ihr Visum bereits vor Einreise rechtzeitig zu beantragen. Unter speziellen Umständen kann Intrepid helfen ein Visum erst bei Einreise zu beantragen, aber nur wenn es keine Burmesische Botschaft in Ihrem Heimatland gibt. Bei kurzfristigen Abreiseterminen (weniger als 1 Monat) können wir Ihnen bei der Beantragung nicht behilflich sein. In diesem Fall wenden Sie sich bitte direkt an das Konsulat oder einen Visa-Expressdienst. Bitte kontaktieren Sie uns, falls Sie Unterstützung bei der Beantragung eines Visums bei Einreise benötigen. For this Burma sailing trip visas will be obtained by the group during the trip on arrival (at border crossing between Thailand/Myanmar).
Please bring:
2 photocopies of the front page of your passport.
2 passport photos.
Crisp USD for fees.
The cost of a 30 day Tourist Visa is US$30 and all travellers must pay an additional US$20/day Mergui Archipelago park fee. Please allow approximately US$200 (which should cover any unforseen increases.)

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Burma (Myanmar) Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Burmese children

Top responsible travel tips for Burma (Myanmar)

1. Be considerate of Burma’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.

3. Burma's political situation is sensitive. Respect the wishes of locals at all times and avoid starting conversations involving politics or the government. Seemingly innocuous questions or comments could cause offence.

4. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

5. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

6. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

7. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

8. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

9. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

10. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

11. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Finding George Orwell in BurmaEmma Larkin
Under the Dragon: A Journey through BurmaRory MacLean
The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of BurmaThant Myint-U
From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese OdysseyPascal Khoo Thwe
Burmese DaysGeorge Orwell
Burma: The Longest War 1941-1945Louis Allen