You have decided to go to one of Southeast Asia’s most spectacular and undiscovered country: Myanmar.
Formerly called Burma, the country is rapidly developing as it’s opening to tourism and travellers flock to see the highlights such as the temples of Bagan, the awe-inspiring Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and picturesque Inle Lake.
Yes, Myanmar has some fine characteristics you should know about before you go so you can plan and pack accordingly.
Related Article: 13 Surprising Things You Should Know Before Travelling To Myanmar
The Weather In Myanmar
In Myanmar you can generally find three different seasons:
- Summer = hot
- Monsoon = rainy
- Winter = cooler
Summer typically goes from March to mid-May when the heat across the country is really intense. Be prepared for up to 40°C in some areas, including Bagan and Mandalay as they are one of the driest regions. It’s not a great time to visit then.
The rainy or monsoon season is from mid-May to October, with the most rain pouring down in July to September. Even though you will see rain, it’s a good time to travel, especially since Bagan and Mandalay typically see less rain than other parts of the country and temperatures are still bearable.
Rain mostly pours down in the late afternoon. Be aware that some resorts along the western coast of Myanmar, including Ngapali Beach shut down completely, so check ahead of time.
Finally, Winter is from November to February and is probably the most comfortable time to travel throughout Myanmar. The average temperatures then range from 25-27°C. The Shan State with its mountainous areas is then generally cooler which means bringing some warmer layers wouldn’t be a bad idea!
Myanmar Is A Very Buddhist Country, Dress Accordingly
With the majority of the population of Myanmar practicing Buddhism, it is important to dress appropriately. Yes, there are dress codes for when you visit the temples of Bagan and the Shwdagon Pagoda and they are very conservative. Make sure you cover your knees and shoulders at all times, so you can gladly leave those spaghetti tops at home.
Shorts are okay, but I would recommend you to buy a sarong ahead of time, there are some very light-weight ones you can get online, opt for something not too crazy coloured and rather modest and simply carry it in your day pack with you, so you always have it handy and won’t be denied entry when you stumble across a temple or sacred site you want to visit.
And don’t worry about shoes, you will have to take them off at the pagodas anyways so it’s best to opt for something simple and sturdy you can easily slip into, such as sandals. If you don’t want to walk barefoot throughout the temples, bring an old pair of socks to slip over.
Other Things To Consider
Of course you can buy many beauty products in Myanmar, however for some products you may have to shop around as western products are not stocked in abundance. It is therefore highly recommended to stock up on things like sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and women’s hygiene products. The same goes for medication you need. I always take a small first-aid kit, be sure to add diarrhea tables like Imodium to it, because the likelihood, no matter how careful you are with food and water, to get sick is very high in Myanmar. I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t at least had a tummy rumble. Hopefully, it will stay like that for you too!
Safety deposit boxes are not available in every hotel yet as you would generally find in western standard accommodation. Just keep that in mind, don’t take valuables or jewellery you do not need. A padlock might come in handy to lock passports and important travel docs into your luggage.
Related Article: The Best Budget Accommodation In Yangon, Myanmar
The Best Luggage For Your Trip In Myanmar
Myanmar is not the easiest country to travel around, so you will want to pack as light as possible because it really puts a damper on your trip experience when you have to roll your heavy 25kg luggage over sandy dirt roads because there are no taxis to be found or the minibus simply cannot hold bulky items. Good thing, the temperatures will be warm if not hot so you won’t need a whole lot of stuff anyway.
A backpack such as the Osprey Fairpoint with a comfortable hip belt and harness system is a great way to go! I recommend a backpack because many times you will have to walk over gravel or sandy, unpaved roads and rolling a suitcase is not very fun. The 55l version will be sufficient as I don’t recommend packing more than 15kg as it will just weigh you down and consequently slow you down.
If you really need to wheel your luggage around because you cannot carry a heavy backpack, check out the Osprey Sojourn wheeled luggage which comes in 45, 60 or an 80l version.
It’s also a good idea to have a day pack with you, which you will want to take exploring.
Essentials To Pack
- Travel Documents & Passport: Of course, because they are the most important thing! It is always handy to have a copy of your passport on paper as well as saved (and synched) in your Dropbox, in the unlikely case that you loose it and need to get a replacement.
- Visa: Make sure you get an eVisa to Myanmar ahead of your trip. Depending on your citizenship, but most western countries get a stay of 28 days.
- Money Belt: Very handy for a day out exploring! Even better, when it’s water proof in case you happen to be outside when it starts pouring. Get one with RFID blocking sleeves like this one to prevent your credit cards getting scammed. Better safe than sorry!
- Headlamp: It will come in handy, promised! No matter if it’s a blackout or a dark unlit road at night.
- Padlock: It’s best to get a combination lock so you don’t go searching for your keys to the lock.
- Sunglasses: Because it’s sunny and you’ll need them! Make sure you choose a decent one that really protects your eyes, sometimes you don’t know what you get when you buy cheapies at markets in Southeast Asia. I don’t like wearing them but consider a sun hat too if you get burned easily.
- Mosquito Net: Because they will be coming!
- Microfiber travel towel: Even if you accommodation provides you with a towel, you will most likely need one anyway! To shelter from rain, dry off dirty and wet feet, wipe sweat or to use as a blanket on the bus.
The Right Clothes For Your Trip To Myanmar
- Comfortable long and short pants: Preferably not jeans but material that breathes, is anti-stick and dries quickly. Think Aladdin pants and you’re on the right track!
- Water-/windproof Jacket: Especially in the monsoon season, also handy when riding on a windy motorcycle.
- Sandals: Make sure they are easy to put on and take off and comfortable as you will walk in them a lot. Consider bringing two pairs as well as some enclosed shoes like light sneakers or Toms.
- Hiking Boots: Needed if you’re going trekking to Kalaw region for example.
- Sarong: Very important, to cover yourself up when visiting temples. If you forgot to bring yours, buy a longyi in Myanmar, it’s their own version of a sarong.
- Jumper: While it’s warm throughout the day, you will need a warmer layer for the early morning hours when you get up to watch the sunrise at Bagan or the sunset on Mandalay Hill. A warmer jumper comes also handy when riding an overnight bus in an air/conditioned bus. Alternatively, I have an ultra lightweight jacket that I can always roll up and squish in the last corner of my luggage.
A note on washing in Myanmar: Laundries, where you can bring your clothes to be washed, do exist, but firstly they are not cheap, and secondly, many of them actually still wash by hand!
You may be better off to get a portable laundry which can be rolled up into a small package that fits easily into your backpack and comes out when needed. This way you can be sure that none of your clothes get holes or you loose them all-together.
Beauty & Medication
- Sun Screen: At least 20 SPF to protect you from damaging UV rays.
- Insect Repellent: Check ahead the areas you are travelling to, as especially there are many high-risk areas for Malaria as well as Dengue Fever. The best way to go about this is to cover up and spray yourself regularly.
- Tissues & Antibacterial Wet Wipes: Because not all public toilets have toilet paper or running water and soap, sometimes all you find is a bucket that gets refilled with rain water every once in a while, and everyone dips their hands in there, which maybe isn’t the smartest idea.
- Medical Kit: Bring a basic kit like this one, which fits in your bag. Also, think about bringing Malaria tablets if your GP recommends it to you. Don’t forget your glasses as you may not want to wear contact lenses all the time, also because some places get quite dusty and I then prefer to wear glasses. Tampons are hard to find in Myanmar, so better get them in advance. And stock up on any other medication you are taking or may need on the trip.
- Foot scrub: I am not kidding! You will get really really dirty feet, so scrubbing your feet at the end of the day is not only a great relief but probably very needed.
- Travel Adaptor: You will most likely need a power adaptor and should be able to use all your electrical equipment as usual as the standard voltage in Myanmar is 230 V. Get an international one which you can use anywhere in the world, I have a really cool one.
- Portable Charger: Some regions may turn the power off for certain times of the day, there are also frequently blackouts, so it’s good to have a power bank with you to stay charged when you need it most. I recommend you buy one with at least 10,000m
- Camera: You will not want to miss all the amazing photo opportunities in Myanmar, so you better equip yourself with an awesome camera. I love the Sony Alpha range, their mirrorless cameras are super compact and take DSLR quality photos, even in low light!
- Memory Card: To capture and keep all your photo memories.
- E-reader: For those long bus journeys that not always have entertainment directly on the bus.
- Go Pro Camera: I cannot travel without my GoPro which I make a lot of videos with and