I sit here at the end of our trip to Myanmar (I’m actualy writing this from the Yangon Airport – we were to supposed to have access to the lounge through the Priority Pass from the Citi Prestige Card, but they wouldn’t let us in as they said they no longer take credit cards…my attempts at negotiation failed. Our next stop is Bangkok for a day or two of proper relaxing. As I sit here in horribly uncomfortable chairs with birds flying around, I reflect on the past week. How were my expectations exceeded, met or not. My impressions of Myanmar are more complex than I anticipated.
The weather was much cooler than we anticipated. It was supposed to be 40C each day, but the hottest it got was around 37C and most of the time it was in the low 30s. At night it cooled off very quickly just before the sun set, making walking around in the evening a breeze. You definitely didn’t need a jacket though.
I thought the food would be a nice blend between Indian and Thai, but it wasn’t. The food was quite bland, actually. We tried to visit local places and if we pushed we could get extra chilies to had additional heat to the meal. Our best meal was the last night in Myanmar, in the Inle Lake Region. I love Shan Noodles. I now need to find them in the US. Speaking of, what is your favorite Burmese / Myanmar restaurant in the US? Exactly…you can’t think of one, can you? The food was fine in Myanmar, but nothing to write home about. You likely won’t see a big uptick in Myanmar restaurants now that relations are better with the US.
We were told of rolling black outs in the cities, no access to ATMs and how every transaction was cash only (except hotels) – credit card use was almost unheard of. We had no power issues, in fact a the outlets we encountered had hybrid plugs – you could use your UK, US or mainland Europe electrical plugs. ATMs weren’t as ubiquitous in Myanmar as they are in the US, but we had no problem finding cash. The only issue I had was at the Airport where the machine just didn’t communicate with the outside world. Credit cards weren’t taken everywhere, but many bars and restaurants did take cards. We took out about 100USD and used that for meals where cards weren’t taken and for souvenirs. You should still plan on bringing crisp, clean, new USD – in $100 increments, but expect to be redepositing most of what you took out upon your return.
Everyone we met was so nice and genuinely helpful. I didn’t feel that anyone was trying to scam you. Yes, the vendors are trying to get the best price, but they weren’t picking your pockets or blatantly lying to you. Everyone we interacted with spoke at least some English and were very excited to show it off. Most people had a good command of the language and with proper hand gestures (or a calculator to show prices) you could get by without a problem.
Myanmar was much less “off the grid” than I expected. It can be done without a guide, but there are lots of little things that would make a guideless trip a lot more work and less relaxing. I’d recommend hiring a guide.
There were tons of cats and dogs running around Myanmar and they are all better behaved than all the wild dogs in the US and many of the pets here too. The Burmese Cat Village was a home for dozens or beautiful Burmese Cats.
More details on our trip including airline, hotel and site reviews will be coming out in the next few weeks. If you want to know anything about the trip, let me know and if you want help planning your trip just email!