General Information


Historical Background

Myanmar history dates back to the early 11th Century when King Anawrahta unified the country and founded the First Myanmar Empire in Bagan more than 20 years before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The Bagan Empire encompassed the areas of the present day Myanmar and the entire Menam Valley in Thailand and lasted two centuries. The Second Myanmar Empire was founded in mid-16th Century by king Bayintnaung. King Alaungpaya founded the last Myanmar Dynasty in 1751 and it was during the zenith time of Myanmar Empire and then the British moved into Myanmar. Like India, Myanmar became a British colony but only after three Anglo-Myanmar Wars in 1825, 1852 and 1885. During the Second World War, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese and had become the independent state since 4th January 1948. After that Myanmar run unstable and critical period and the country was closed almost 6 decades. Finally the chief of the military regime held an election to the path of Democracy in 2011.Nowadays the new constitution is set up.


Recent President:      Mr.Win Myint

Political system:         Parliamentary Democracy

Capital:                           Naypyidaw

Commercial Capital: Yangon (Rangoon)

Land area:                 Total area of 676,577 square kilometer and Sharing borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand.

Total population:       53 million people

Telephone code:        + 95

Religion:                     Buddhism is the devotion of the majority. In fact, 80 % of the people admit Buddhism. However, there is full freedom of worship for followers of other religions, Thus, we find Christians, Muslims, Hindus and even animists, living together peacefully in Myanmar.

Nationality:                There are altogether 135 groups of ethnic races in Myanmar, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan are regarded as the major groups. Among them, Bamar is the majority: 69% of the total population.

Official Language:    Myanmar (Every ethnic groups speak their own language or dialect. But the official language is Myanmar, which is spoken all over the country. English is also widely spoken and understood especially in the major cities.)

Climate:                      Myanmar enjoys a tropical climate with three distinct seasons. The best time to visit is from October to February, within these periods in mountain region temperatures can go down below 10°C (during night and early in the morning.) The dry season runs from mid-February to mid-May, when the humidity builds up before the rains begin. The rainy season comes with the southwest monsoon, which runs from mid-May to mid-October. Temperature varies from 38 C to 19 C, humidity from 82.8 % to 66 %.

Business Hours:       Banks are open Monday to Friday from 10 AM to 2 PM and Government offices on weekdays only from 9 AM to 4 PM. Shops are generally open longer but their hours may vary.


Currency:                  Myanmar Kyats ( MMK )

Kyat notes are issued in values of 1, 5, 10, 15, 20,50,100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10000. Visitors are advised to change their foreign currencies only at authorized moneychangers in banks, airport and hotels.

Please note: Banks accept only new notes in good condition. (US Dollars are most preferred currency and Euro also can be changed easily). If possible, bring all the foreign bills have to be very new without any fold, spot, stain and being torn.

Credit Cards & Traveler’s Cheques

International credit cards (more widely VISA and MASTER cards) are accepted quite widely around Myanmar. This new tradition of cards is more compatible with modern traveling. But we’d like to recommend that US citizens should bring cash if possible for the reason that cash machines don’t let money go out for US credit cards sometimes.

Economy:                   The country itself under prodemocracy and period of transition to a free market economy. The figure of country’s economy index had improved paralleled to earlier times. A lot of Business sectors are still struggling. But it is also true that some economic sectors had developed.

Time Difference:       6 hours and 30 minutes ahead of GMT, and one and half hour difference from Singapore and 30 minutes from Thailand.
Entry Requirements:      Four weeks visas are obtainable for a fee at Myanmar foreign missions. Three photos are required. Visa on arrival with pre-arrangement of local tour operators is available currently.

Customs:     At the port of entry, all foreign currencies, jewellery, electrical and electronic articles and cameras must be declared to a customs officer. Export of antiques and archaeological objects is prohibited.

Sight-seeing:         Entrance fees are collected at well-known pagodas, temples, monasteries, museums, palaces, and archaeological sites. The ticket office is at the entrance.

Shopping:   You are advised to buy gems, jewellery and silverware at the Myanmar Gems shop and other authorized shops, where you will be given a voucher with a permit for export. Ignore touts who may offer guide services, foreign currency exchange or gems of a doubtful nature.

Duty Free Shopping:      There are duty free shops in the airport arrival and departure   lounges. The duty free allowance is two bottles of liquor, two cartons of cigarette, 100 cigars and half a litre of perfume.



Books to read

  • Myanmar Guide Book – Lonely Planet
  • Free from fear – Aung San Suu Kyi
  • History of Burma – George Orwell
  • The valley of the rubies – Joseph Kessel – Editions Gallimard
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