My husband and I have been wanting to go to Myanmar since the first time we went to Thailand. We haven’t had an opportunity to go until this Summer 2017. We are very excited to go. The following is what I have learned to get ready for the trip.
It is necessary to obtain a visa before arriving to Myanmar if you are a US Citizen. Filling out the e-visa was very easy. You will find the application here: Myanmar e-Visa. The processing of our e-visas only took one day. The fee is $50. The website that will pop up for you to pay the visa fee is an honest website. I had to make 20 e-visa applications for our group, and all of the transactions went through fine. You will have to upload a passport picture on your application. I simply took a picture of my passport picture on my iPhone, then cropped it to only fit the passport photo, then uploaded that picture. It worked perfectly and I didn’t need to resize it again.
Four things to know before applying for your visa:
- As of now (2017), you can only arrive in to Myanmar via Yangon, Mandalay, or Nay Pyi Taw International Airports, or overland at Tachileik, Myawaddy, or Kawthaung Land Border Checkpoints.
- You have to stay at a registered hotel, motel, inn, resort, or hostel. No residential or home addresses are accepted under any circumstances. This rule is stated in RED on the application. We almost reserved an Airbnb residence in Yangon, and I am so glad it didn’t work out because I wouldn’t have been able to put the address on the e-visa application. I don’t know how people are able to stay at Airbnb’s in Myanmar; definitely something to ask an Airbnb host if you are thinking about staying in an Airbnb in Myanmar.
- If you are traveling with children, you need an individual e-visa for each child who has their own passport. This does not apply if the child shares an adult passport.
- The visa approval letter is valid for 90 days. Once in Myanmar, you have 28 days on your tourist visa.
After you submit and pay for the application, you will receive an acknowledgement letter via email confirming your application submission. Once the visa has been processed and accepted, you will receive another email (it only took us a day of processing) that includes your approval letter to enter Myanmar.
On arrival in to Myanmar, you need 4 items (these are listed on the approval letter):
- Printed copy of the approval letter (e-visas).
- Passport with at least 6 months validity.
- Have sufficient funds for the period of stay in Myanmar (I am bringing a bank statement to show sufficient funds, I’m guessing that is what they want).
- Have confirmed onward/return air tickets (I am bringing a copy of our flights to Thailand from Mandalay, Myanmar).
***UPDATE: When I went through immigration at the Yangon International Airport, I actually didn’t need hard copies of a bank statement (#3 above) and air tickets (#4). I only gave the agent our passports and e-visas.
We decided to have a tour company arrange a tour for us because we have a large group–14 adults and 5 children. I usually arrange all our tours myself, but early on I figured out that you need a tour company to purchase our air tickets for us so I decided that it would be easier just to have a company arrange it all. I contacted three tour companies. I found these three companies while reading good reviews on them on TripAdvisor. I was surprised that all three tour companies were very good at emailing. I was planning to go with the tour company that communicated the best, but since they all had great communication, I went with the company that was the easiest to work with, meaning the company that took all of my thoughts and wants and made it happen at a reasonable price.
The three companies I contacted were:
Myanmar Delight Travels and Tours. (+95 9 5012519). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Zin is the contact person.
7 Days Travel and Tours. (+95 9 73060308). Email: email@example.com. Kuang Si Thu is the contact person.
One Stop Travel and Tours. (+95 1 537522). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thiri Thaw is the contact person.
All three of these companies were great at communicating via email and each was priced relatively the same per person. I sent each company an email telling them where we wanted to go with transportation options and I ultimately picked the company that catered best to what we wanted. I went with Myanmar Delight Travels and Tours. Dr. Zin has been great at emailing me; she would always reply the next day whenever I email her, unless it was a weekend. She was very patient with me because our schedules changed a few times and a few people in our group had to drop out at the last minute. She was very understanding with thoughts and changes. Dr. Zin also found nicer quality hotels that didn’t cost us any more than the price she quoted us. We are very excited with our trip. Dr. Zin asks for 30% of the tour price sent to her once the tour has been agreed on. She prefers it to be paid via Western Union, but we did a bank transfer from our bank to her bank (which is in Thailand). She then wanted the remaining 70% paid with brand new US cash in Myanmar at the beginning of the tour. Since our group cost is quite a lot, we did not want to have that much money on us while traveling so we will send her 50% the week before the tour starts, then we will pay the remaining 20% in US cash when we meet her at the beginning of the tour.
***UPDATE: Dr. Zin was fantastic!! I am so glad that we went with her because she was wonderful. She was very honest, organized, and professional. She is actually a family doctor, but now focuses on her tour business. I would recommend everyone to book a tour through her company!!
My family and I are arriving four days earlier than the rest of our group. We want to take an overnight trip to Bago and the Golden Rock. I thought that the cheapest way to do this was to find a driver to accompany us those two days, then we would reserve a hotel at the Golden Rock. I found the following drivers on Tripadvisor forums. Each of them replied to my emails quite quickly. I decided to go with the driver that was cheapest, though the difference was only $50 between them. I went with Zaw Hein. He has confirmed our trip via email, and we are to pay once we meet with him in Myanmar at the beginning of our trip.
Tun Naing Lynn (Tony). Email: email@example.com. Tony’s Website
Kyaw Naing. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Kyaw Naing’s Website
Zaw Hein. Email: email@example.com Zaw Hein’s Website
***UPDATE: Zaw Hein picked us up at our hotel on time. He did speak English well. He was very watchful and protective over the children, and I even left my two youngest in the car while they were sleeping to check out a few sites; he would leave the air conditioner on and stand close to the van. The van was not new, but that is what you should expect in Myanmar. There was an ant problem in the van the first day, but whatever was attracting them, was gone the next day so the ants weren’t a problem the second day. We paid Mr. Hein at the end of the 2 day tour and added a tip. I thought Mr. Hein was a fine, safe driver. If I had to get another driver, I would be fine to hire him but I would be open to try one of the other two drivers above as well. I would have paid an extra $50 for a nicer van.