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BURMA TRAVEL AND TOURS - BURMA TRAVEL INFORMATION

Thank you for joining us in Myanmar! We're looking forward to sharing what past traveler's have remarked is one of the most fascinating places they've ever traveled. Once you arrive, we'll ensure your vacation is a pleasant, safe, and enjoyable one. Until then, please review the tour preparation information below, paying special attention the initial, "important" section.

IMPORTANT TRAVEL INFORMATION:
* A visa or visa authorization form issued in advance is required to enter Myanmar (see below for visa procedures)
* Credit cards and traveler's checks are not accepted in Myanmar; only US and local currency is accepted for all transactions. (see below)
* Only local mobile phones work within Myanmar (we can arrange a local rental with international capability)

ENTERING MYANMAR
Myanmar may only be entered by air from Bangkok, Singapore and Kolkata, India.

VISA PROCEDURES (effective June, 2011)
A visa may be processed through the Myanmar embassy in Washington D.C (ask us for procedures). However, the embassy has made several mistakes in the past and we do not recommend using them. Rather, we can process a Visa on Arrival (VOA). Please submit the following information to us for your Visa on Arrival at least one month before departure:

1) Copy of passport (with photo and personal details page)
2) Ethnic origin (e.g., Chinese, Spanish etc)
3) Religion
4) Place of Birth
5) Occupation (do not enter reporter or journalist)

Once we receive this information our staff will fill in the visa on arrival form on your behalf and these visa forms will be given to immigration services at the airport in Yangon. After arrival, you will need to go to Visa on Arrival counter to be processed.

You will still need to bring 2 passport photos (b/w or color) to give to immigration.

We will inform your arrival airline that the you are having visa on arrival so that they will be allowed to board the flight to Yangon. We will also send a visa approval letter for the clients to show (if needed) when boarding the international arrival flight.

Fees: There is a fee of USD 30-35 that the you will pay direct to Immigration Services at the airport upon arrival. 

Our charge for processing the visa on arrival is USD 25 per person (group traveler). This cost will be included in your invoice. You will receive your VOA form letter about one week before you arrive in Yangon.  

** Please confirm dates on your visa authorizatin form are correct for your dates of travel.
** To board your flight into Yangon, the airline will locate your visa-on-arrival permission in their computer system. If there is any issue with locating your permission, please show them your hardcopy visa authorization. If there is still an issue, ask the airline to immediately contact the Yangon office (contact below).

PASSPORT EXPIRATION RULES
All visitors to Myanmar must arrive with a passport that does not expire within six months after the date that you depart Yangon. If your passport expires in less than six months from the start of your trip, you will need to renew your passport immediately or you may not be allowed entry into Myanmar.

HEALTH INSURANCE & TRAVEL INSURANCE
Medical and air evacuation insurance is provided to all Indochina travelers through International SOS with an office and clinic in Yangon. This insurance is for emergency treatment and air evacuation only and should be supplemented by standard medical insurance.

MEDICATION AND CONTACT LENSES

If you are taking medication, we recommend that you bring enough medication to last for the entire time that you expect to be in Myanmar. It can otherwise be difficult to obtain a prescription for pre-existing conditions once in Myanmar. We also recommend that you pack your medication as part of your carry-on luggage in case your main luggage is delayed. If you have a notable medical condition, please inform us in advance; no one likes surprises, and just remember that this is all for your safety. All medical records will be kept strictly confidential.

VACCINATIONS
No special vaccinations are required in necessary in Myanmar. It is recommended you have Hepatitis A and B, and an up to date Tetanus shot.

MALARIA
Data for malaria infections has yet to reach the accuracy of Thailand and Indochina. The CDC and U.K. Health authorities (TRAVAX Scotland) lists malaria as occurring throughout the country outside Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan. However, local staff also consider Inle Lake a safe area (perhaps because of altitude). Guides have also stated they do know malaria occurs, but only sporadically with locals but have never had a traveler infected. Please carry out your own research and consult with your medical doctor whether you should to take a malarial prophylaxis. Of course, you should pack a repellent such as 3M's Ultrathon (we like the spray) and hotels will have mosquito nets or air conditioning.

MONEY MATTERS
Aside from visas, exchange is the most common problem for travelers. There are no ATMS, Western banks, and credit cards and travelers checks are not accepted. Moroever, for exchanging euros or dollars, the Burmese are  some of the most strict about what bills they will accept, often rejecting even newer issue US hundred dollar bills that are creased or may have a simple pen mark or tear. Change money through your guide, or in hotels or shops, rather than on the street. In rural areas, odd denominations such as tens or twentys may be harder to cash as locals are reluctant to accept them (although your hotel and merchants in larger cities such as Mandalay will). Instead, bring hundred dollar bills to cash into the local currency, kyat, which of course gives you maximum flexibility. In a pinch, we will provide you with a cash advance from your credit card.

Government-run places and services (such as museums, archaeological sites,and transport) and airport fees are to be paid for in US dollars or FEC notes, not euros. Items such as meals, bus tickets, trishaw or taxi rides, bottles of water or beer and market items are usually quoted in the local currency, kyat.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Myanmar now has very good coverage for cell phones. However, almost all mobile phones will not work in Myanmar (unless you have an iridium phone) and charges for overseas calls and faxes at hotels may be expensive. Travelers should always check the rates before using IDD lines. We recommend that you have a local cell phone in Myanmar and you make arrangements through us for a discounted group cell phone rental. We can provide your mobile number before you depart so you may provide it to others in advance. Internet, with sporadic performance, is available at most hotels or nearby providers. Wifi capability is still not common.

WEATHER NOTES
Myanmar is typically dry and hot on the plains. However, during the cooler months temperatures in Inle Lake can be chilly at night. Please pack thermals and a fleece shell if you are visiting Inle or the Kalaw Highliands during the cooler months.

CRIME
Crime against foreigners in Myanmar is very rare. Like Vietnam, Cuba, and other police states, commiting crimes against travelers is a serious offense few locals will take a risk on (simple theft can bring a multiple-year jail sentence).

SLOWING DOWN
"Time is a Western Invention" ~Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum. At some time during their trip, many travelers to Southeast Asia may be apt to believe this. And nowhere is this sentiment more true than in Myanmar, where Buddhism and a non-existent economy apparently leave little motivation to syncronize daily life with a clock. At least in part, we hope that's why you come, but please do prepare yourselfand expect a sharply diminished sense of urgency than where you are coming from.

PRE-FLIGHT
An excellent checklist for pre-flight information and to-dos can be found on this Web page:
http://samarabeach.com/hints.htm

On-time reliabilty of your flight? http://www.flightstats.com

* If you are delayed en route to Myanmar, please contact our San Francisco, Yangon or Bangkok offices (below) so we can reschedule your airport transfer or adjust any other arrangements as necessary.

GENERAL DEPARTURE NOTES : MYANMAR CYCLING TOUR GUIDE
Further notes about Myanmar and your trip, such as money matters, recommended packing list, reading recommendations, and country information can be found in our Myanmar Tour Guide.

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