South African passport holders do require a visa for Myanmar. For details please contact our office.
Yangon International Airport in Rangoon
Mandalay International Airport in Mandalay
There is an electricity supply of 220 volts throughout Southeast Asia, in the cities and most towns. 240-volt appliances will work safely with this supply. However, there is no universal power point; they vary not just from one country to the next but from one hotel to another. You can buy adaptors, also known as conversion plugs, from hardware, department and duty free stores. In Burma – round two-pin (Europe) plug or flat three-pin (UK) plug.
We recommend you also check weather conditions before you depart.
Since it is in the tropical region, it is generally hot and humid. But it is cooler in the mountain areas. The location and topography of the country generate the “dry and wet monsoon climate” pattern; with drier weather from February to May and November to January, with wet weather between mid-May and October.
Daily extremes of temperature are rare. The directions of winds and depression bring rain, and although it is always heavy in the coastal areas during monsoon season, it seldom creates hardships. The favourite months to travel are October through January when the days are not so hot.
Suggested Packing Lists
Consider your packing carefully. You will need to bring clothing suitable for sun exposure and mild temperatures, as well as water/windproof clothing for the cooler, wetter weather. Generally, casual clothes are recommended for your holiday. Loose fitting, lightweight cotton materials are the most comfortable for humid weather. The dress code throughout the tour is casual however, it is important that all passengers dress conservatively. Smart casual clothes are highly recommended for evening banquets and shows.
Example packing list:
- Your travel documents and passport- including a photocopy of your passport in case it is lost or stolen while you are abroad. Keep one photocopy at home and take another photocopy on your trip with you.
- Main luggage & luggage padlocks.
- ‘Day bag’ – a smaller bag to carry with you during the day, both while driving and sightseeing. E.g. drinking water, hat, sunscreen, toilet paper, insect repellent, camera and spare batteries, jacket.
- Money belt to carry passport, cash, credit cards, airline tickets, etc.
- Lightweight trousers or shorts/skirts (for women) – please remember to respect local customs (knee length is recommended).
- Shirts or long-sleeved tops of light cotton material. Light jumpers – great for layering.
- Thermals, thick socks, gloves and scarf – particularly if you are travelling during the winter months November – February.
- Walking shoes and socks, or sandals – it is important to have sturdy and comfortable shoes for sightseeing every day.
- Swimming costume. Sun protection – hat, sunscreen and lip balm.
- Personal medical kit including insect repellent.
- Antibacterial wipes or gel to clean hands before eating.
- Tracksuit/similar outfit of soft material is recommended for the overnight train journeys.
- A water/windproof jacket. Umbrella/raincoat/poncho – particularly if you are travelling during the rainy season June – October.
- A ‘modesty shawl’ or sarong to wear in Muslim or conservative areas (for women).
- Torch, conversion plug and spare batteries – batteries available to buy in Southeast Asia tend to be unreliable.
- Scarf or bandana – useful to protect your face against dusty winds at high altitude.
- Spare glasses – it is difficult to get any prescription lenses repaired or replaced in Southeast Asia.
- Small bath towel is useful for overnight train journeys.
- Toilet paper – not all sightseeing public toilets will provide this.
- Snacks – tea bags/coffee, milk powder or sachets, instant soups or noodles, or anything else you can’t live without!
- Camera and spare film/memory card – film available in
- Sleeping sheet & small bath towel – handy for home stays (although linen is provided, it may not always be clean)
- Toiletries (soap, shampoo, lotion) – for personal use during homestays
The official Burma currency is Kyat (pronounced ‘Chat’).
You will need to ensure you exchange all your required currency into US Dollars before arrival. Please be careful when exchanging money from ZAR to USD, as only crisp, new USD notes are accepted; any tears or folds in the note will be rejected. This applies for when you are exchanging money into Kyat and also when you are handing tipping money to your guide. Notes: Kyat 1000, Kyat 500, Kyat 200, Kyat 100, Kyat 50, Kyat 20, Kyat 15, Kyat 10, Kyat 5, Kyat 1.
We do not recommend exchanging money at the airport upon arrival as the exchange rate is not very favourable. There are several authorised money changers in Burma who will exchange USD into Kyat. We suggest exchanging notes over USD$50 for more favourable rates. Your National Escort will advise where you can change your USD into Kyat. Please be sure to keep your receipts as these may be requested by Burmese Customs upon your departure.
As a result of US sanctions credit cards are not accepted at most hotels or banks. A few deluxe hotels do accept them for expenses; however this cannot be relied upon. Instead we recommend you bring enough cash for all expected expenses.
CUSTOMS & DUTY FREE
You can bring in up to 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 1 litre of alcohol; 0.5 litres of perfume or eau de cologne. Prohibited and restricted items include gambling equipment, antiques, archaeological items and pornography.
Jewellery, electrical goods and cameras must be declared; failure to do so may result in visitors being refused permission to export it on departure.
Keeping in Touch
Decades of war and slow regional development have left Southeast Asia’s landline phone system decades behind the rest of Asia so, rather than repair it; the governments are looking to mobile phone networks for the future. In most parts of Southeast Asia, the phone system is quite easy to use, although expensive.
International and national calls can be made from hotel rooms, or from central post offices for a slightly lower charge. The negative aspects are that call rates are expensive compared to South Africa, connections can be unavailable and disconnections can occur mid-sentence.
Phone cards bought in South Africa or in Southeast Asia can be used in most public pay phones, but if you plan to use these to call from your room – always check the costs and procedure with hotel reception beforehand. If the hotel does enforce a call charge, you will be unable to refute it after making your call.
Calling South Africa from Burma can be very expensive. Calls can be made from major hotels and the Central Telegraph Office in Rangoon, Mandalay and Bagan. The service is improving however the connection is sometimes still poor. Burma’s country code is 95. From South Africa: dial 00 95 followed by the phone number.
The telecommunication system in Burma barely meets the minimum requirements and it is still very poor in standards. Burma uses a GSM mobile phone network. If you choose to take your mobile with you, please be aware that international roaming will not function with your own number; although it is possible to purchase a prepaid SIM card in Rangoon. You may need to ask your guide for assistance in purchasing this. The cost for a SIM card is roughly 25,000 Kyat. It will cost approximately 90 cents a minute for an international call.
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate.
Myanmar (Burma) is 4.5 hours ahead of South Africa.
A health certificate is not required for entry into Southeast Asia.
Visit a doctor before travelling.
We strongly recommend that you see a doctor for the latest health advice at least six weeks before your holiday to allow time for any necessary vaccinations etc. Remember to take your itinerary with you to the appointment.
We strongly recommend you do not drink the tap water, and avoid ice in your drinks. There will usually be a kettle or flasks of boiled water in your hotel room and on board trains. Boiled water is suitable for drinking and cleaning teeth. Safe, bottled drinking water is readily available for sale everywhere – from small shops, supermarkets, restaurants and hotels. It is not customary for hotels to provide complimentary bottled drinking water. Always ensure that the seal is unbroken.
Toilet facilities are very basic throughout Asia and it is rare that you will find a ‘western’ style toilet (except in hotels). ‘Squat’ toilets are very common in public places and toilet paper is never supplied. We suggest that you carry toilet paper in your day backpack as well as not turn down the opportunity to use a ‘nice’ toilet when you see one!
Personal Medical Kit
Take all pharmaceutical products that you may require on your tour; do not rely on being able to purchase these during your holiday. You will see pharmacies all over Southeast Asia, but they stock local traditional medicine and many unregulated brands of western medicine. You are also very unlikely to find anyone who can speak English, nor any products with English writing. Consider taking a ‘personal medical kit’ containing any medication or medical equipment you may need during your time in Southeast Asia: All prescribed medication (with a cover note from your doctor), Headache tablets, Anti-diarrhoea tablets, Cold and flu tablets, Travel sickness tablets, Lozenges, Insect repellent and sunscreen, Antibacterial hand wipes and/or hand wash, Spare pair of glasses/contact lenses.