Burma has languished under a military dictatorship for 40 years, and as a result, received just 200,000 visitors last year. The country is safe for foreigners, but there is no outside cell reception, local airlines are prone to delay, and credit cards and ATMs are nonexistent. Sadly, the money the regime gains from tourism is a small percentage of the revenue it earns from Burma’s vast natural resources, so the potential for leverage is minimal. However, the Burmese people themselves welcome the opportunity to share their exceptionally beautiful and culturally fascinating country.
CLIMATE: November-February is the coolest and most pleasant period of the year. The summer monsoon generally begins in late May and brings high humidity.
CURRENCY: Kyat (MMK). Fluctuating rate valued at MMK849 = US$1.00 as of January 2013. Note: Our suggested hotels quote rates in US$.
U.S. EMBASSY: Rangoon, Tel. (1) 536-509, ext. 4240.
DIRECT DIAL CODES: To phone hotels in Burma, dial 011 (international access) + 95 (Burma code) + city code and local numbers in listings.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passport and visa. Individual travel is not permitted; all visitors must be registered with an authorized tour operator in Burma. Visit travel.state.gov, and for travelers’ health information, cdc.gov
Belmond Governor’s Residence
Spacious and comfortable 1920s teak mansion-hotel with 47 accommodations, in the diplomatic quarter. Cozy guest rooms are appointed with prayer scrolls and inlaid hardwood cabinetry.
The Strand, Yangon
Restored colonial grande dame overlooking the Rangoon River, in an ideal location for exploring downtown. The 32 stylish suites come with high ceilings, teakwood floors, ceiling fans and four-poster beds.
As the government of Burma (Myanmar) slowly unclenches its grip, travel in this remarkable country becomes even more of a joy. But the secret of Burma’s beauty is out. The time to visit is now, when the mystery of Bagan and the magic of Mandalay remain unspoiled.