Tips for traveling to Myanmar

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My adventure to Burma was amazing. I would like to say that there is nothing that I would change,  but there are a few things that I would do differently if I could.  On reflection, I would think more about how to pack properly for Myanmar.

Until this trip, I had a very bad habit of assuming that everything will sort its self out. I didn’t think I have to rush to get bug spray. I presumed that would purchase it there, that English bug spray would probably not even work well on Asian bugs.  I thought I would buy the nice Asian bug spray in Burma and then I wouldn’t get any bites.

I also presumed I would not need an umbrella or waterproof clothing.  Please, I live in London I thought. I know rain and can survive it!

Oh how wrong I was. Through trial and error this is my advice when packing for Burma.

Pack bug spray and insect bite/sting treatment.  I really did think I could do without it.  By day two, the insects had proved this was not the case. It was as if all the mosquitoes in Asia had heard that I was coming and were at the ready. By the time I arrived home to London, I had so many bites that I ended up in the hospital. The doctors couldn’t believe I had gotten so many mosquito bites. They thought I must have picked up some strange disease while traveling. To give you an idea, I had over 70 on one leg alone. It was just me.  Everyone else on the tour had the bug spray and they were all fine. At least we know the bug spray works.

Pack an umbrella.  Rain or shine this is very handy. The rain in Yangon during the green season is so bad that having an umbrella will save you-ish, well you will be better off at least. It’s a real monsoon. If its not raining, the sun is beating down and if you burn easily an umbrella will make a world of a difference. I spend as much time basking in the glory of the sun as possible but I still found my umbrella very useful.

Multiple pairs of sandals. I suggest this based on an experience my group and I had in the rain. Within a 10 minute span in Yangon it had rained so much that the rain was at least a foot deep. Because of this, three of the seven people in the group had their sandals destroyed. Usually this is an easy fix but it seems that the Burmese people have much smaller feet than the average westerner. The unfortunate few were left with very few shoe options for the next two weeks

Waterproof money bag. They are particularly picky with the condition of the money you exchange in Myanmar. Being caught in the monsoon, one of the guys we were traveling with happened to have all this American dollars on him to be exchanged and it all got soaking wet. He actually had to spend the next 3 days airing out his money and then had to iron it to get it into the condition that the currency exchange would actually accept. Crisp, high value American dollars is what they are looking for and what you will get the best exchange rate with.

Modest clothing for temples. There are about a million and the last thing you want to be doing is throwing more layers on yourself when you are visiting them because it is hot enough without that.

Although some of this may sound like logic I still felt the need to point them out as they should not be looked at as options when packing, but as musts. Trust me, you will travel a happier person and come back a MUCH happier (and hopefully less itchy) traveler.

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