Myanmar was one destination that was super unfamiliar for us so it was hard to prepare considering that the information found on the net are not up to date. Even the brief from our embassy there was not up-to-date either. So in true DiploFashion, I came prepared. Here is a list of what I brought. I don’t think everyone would necessarily need all of these. Just check which one applies to you because you might actually not need it.
For example, we stayed in 2 cheap hotels and 1 expensive one. Some of the supplies were totally used in the cheap and not so nice hotels but were not necessary for the expensive hotel. But we definitely found the flashlights useful in Bagan despite staying in a more expensive hotel, because of the frequent black outs. Also food in expat friendly restaurants was quite expensive so I was thoroughly thankful for the advice from @alwaysthewinna to bring snacks that tided us over between the 3 usual meals. I brought mostly nuts and dark chocolate – trying to be healthy!
- Lysol – We don’t use Lysol at home because the chemicals are harmful to pets and babies (I’m sure it has some long term effects on us too) but for this trip we needed to play it safe. Lysol in Jakarta costs about 8 USD so we asked the MIL to bring from Manila where it is less than half the price. Usually for disinfecting at home I use a water and vinegar solution.
- Natural aromatherapy spray – I prefer using this for the room instead of Lysol whenever it’s possible
- Mosquito repellant – While Yangon is pretty much like any urban city, there have been cases of dengue and malaria in the provinces (i.e. Bagan); We contemplated bringing katol but found a electric insect repellent which repels mosquitos via sound in a frequency that humans can’t hear. I found this all-natural insect repellent from ECHOstore! Doesnt’ only repel insects but moisturizes skin too! ❤
- We brought plenty of immodium. And we totally used it!
- Tons of wetwipes, tissue, toilet bowl liners & sanitizer – useful
- Flashlights – We always had one in our bag and it was useful because they still have frequent black outs (especially Bagan) and there are restaurants that don’t have generator. It was also useful for walking around in Aye hotel at night. I think our best buy was the energizer head lamp. Because it left our hands free (unlike flashlights), it allowed us to continue whatever we were doing (i.e. packing) until the generators kicked in.
- Pack some snacks because the food might not always be great nor cheap. When we arrived we also went to the supermarket to buy water (and some Pringles they have the REAL Original Pringles! Wooohoo!). As a rule, I buy one 1.5L bottle per day for drinking and brushing teeth. I am a water addict and get a headache when I don’t get enough water. Also it is not advisable for visitors to brush teeth with tap water in certain areas like Bagan where the water source is the river – where they get drinking water and wash their clothers. Residents might be used to it but foreigners are not. Better safe than sorry. TD and the in-laws also got a bum tummy so good thing I brought saltines, coz for a day or 2, it was the only thing TD could really eat. =P
- be ready with cold cash here. No credit card or ATM machines available (they only have a few ATM machines for local banks that are not linked to international banks). Make sure your dollars are new, no folds/wrinkles, no marks (i.e. stamps, writing, etc). Just like in Indonesia, they do not accept imperfect dollar bills here.
- Bring a fan, umbrella and tons of sunblock – especially useful if you take a cab. Most of them are not air-conditioned! Would you believe it was so hot, I had to use an umbrella while riding a cab to hide from the suns scorching rays? =P haha! Pinoy talaga ako! Sunblock SPF 50-70 is highly recommended since you spend most of the days out walking around.
- Bring a universal charger like this. We weren’t sure what they were using so this came in handy.
- I travel to shop (as you can see from my new baby diploshop.net) and I always brings bubble wrap (I couldn’t find any so paper had to do) scissors, packaging tape & rope. This helped me transport my horse marionette and Myanmar gong home! =)
- Another thing we found surprisingly useful are these Terry Palmer Multi-way Headwear – I first discovered them from My Mom Friday here and found them in the GrandLucky Superstore in Sudirman in the Terry Palmer brand. It was especially useful for dusty or pungent spots so I always had it in my bag. I have asthma so dust is a big no-no for me.
- Also bring whatever medicine you need because you might not find the exact brand here. I brought astham inhalers, allergy meds, general antibiotics, fever/cold/cough meds, etc.
So far that is all I can remember. Drop me a line if you can think of anything else!
A really useful list – thanks so much for sharing your knowledge, I wish we had read it before we left for Myanmar a month ago. We’ve just spent 4 weeks travelling around and I can confirm you still need most of these items. Blackouts have been pretty uncommon but the torch is still useful for walking anywhere after dark (about 5.30pm) in Dec as the footpaths often have holes or open drains. Umbrella was really useful, even in the “winter” it is 32deg. Have been lucky so far with tummy but have been v careful to eat at places w a lot of through put. The training of catering staff is still v rudimentary, if they have any, at all. Levels of food hygiene and lack of clean water means taking care w food is still needed. Insect repellent also a must as many places to eat are outside or by rivers….thanks again for a great blog!
Dear Wendy I loved hearing your update based on your recent trip to Myanmar. I’m glad you liked the blog! I really appreciate it as I am sure other people planning a trip to Myanmar would too!
Wow 4 weeks is a long trip! Which parts of Myanmar did you go and can you recommend any of the hotels you stayed in?
It was partly a vacation and a volunteering trip, visiting Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Moulmein, Hpa-An and Mt Kyaikhtiyo. The last was pretty special as it was the time of year when many families make a pilgrimage to this holy site. There are many new hotels being built so I suspect the choice will be greater in coming years, but it is still relatively expensive for 3 star hotels of variable building quality. The big difference is in the quality of the service; there is no hospitality training so while staff may do their best, and are very well meaning, they may not have the skills and experience to provide the sort of service travellers may be used to. So patience is a virtue! We used Oway to book and pre-pay our accommodation online, to support a local start-up and avoid having to carry around large amounts of cash to pay for accommodation. They seem to have a good network of local contacts so all of our bookings were confirmed, with prompting. We don’t have any particular recommendations; all the places we stayed in ($60 – $100USD per night) had their pluses and minuses. Trip Advisor reviews were reasonably accurate. I’d recommend booking ahead for Mt Kyaikhtiyo in peak season as accommodation is limited on the mountain top. Staying close to the city centre or places to visit in Yangon is good because the traffic is every bit as bad as the reports say.
Wow your trip sounds like such a great adventure. And kudos to you for supporting a local start-up. It takes guts to do this.
You have such great insight and tips for travelling to Myanmar. It is understandable that their tourism industry and its infrastructure needs time to mature and grow with the greater influx of tourists. In a way because it is not yet polished and sophisticated we are lucky to have experienced it because in the future, it wont ever look and feel the same again.
Thanks again for such great information on travel to Myanmar!