Burma officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, commonly shortened to Myanmar. It lies on the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea coast with Bangladesh and India to the west, China to the north, and Laos and Thailand to the east. Myanmar is the world's 40th largest country and the second largest in Southeast Asia. It is also a country rich in jade and gems, oil, natural gas and other mineral resources.
Official name: The Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Population: over 60 million people
Total Area: 676,578 square kilometers
Major religion: Buddhism
Monetary unit: Kyat
International dialing code: +95
Time Zone - Standard time zone: UTC/GMT +6.5 hours
Myanmar is considered to have 3 seasons. The hot season is usually from March-April, and temperatures then cool off during the rainy season from May-October with frequent short rainstorms and humidity. The peak tourism season is the cool season from November-February.
Temperatures can climb as high as 36°C in Yangon in the hot season while in the cool season, noontime temperatures are usually a more bearable 32°C, with night temperatures falling to around 19°C. Mandalay is slightly cooler in the cool season, with temperatures falling as low as 13°C, while temperatures in the hot season can go as high as 37°C. In the highlands such as Inle Lake and Pyin U Lwin, winter temperatures can fall below 10°C at night, while daytime temperatures tend to be very pleasant. Even in the summer, temperatures rarely climb above 32°C.
The national language is Burmese, of which there are over 80 different dialects. In the cities the majority of people speak good English with a growing number learning in more rural areas.
The local currency in Myanmar is the kyat (pronounced 'chat'). US Dollars are accepted in most hotels and some tourist shops and restaurants, although it is recommended to carry kyat for other purchases, local restaurants and tipping. Moneychangers are found in the main tourist cities. It is advisable to change your money in Yangon as it is easier and there are better rates than in the other cities. ATMs are difficult to find in rural areas and smaller towns, so plan accordingly.
Over 85% of the Burmese population is Buddhist, so most of the holidays are religious based. The biggest celebration is Thingyan, or the Buddhist New Year, which occurs in mid-April and lasts for several days. Almost all restaurants and businesses are closed during this period, but it does not have a big effect on travel plans.
Anyone wishes to enter Myanmar must have a visa and a passport with at least 6 months validity. Visas must be arranged prior to traveling to Myanmar. Pre-arranged Visa on Arrival is available for all travelers but must be applied for at least 2 weeks in advance through your closest embassy and cannot be 100% guaranteed. Tourist Visa is valid for 28 days within the country. You can overstay your visa for 3$ fee (payable to immigration when you exit). However, if you wish to come back to the country, it may be more difficult to get another visa if they see that you already have one overstay. It's best to stay within the 28 days limit.
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