Hopefully, you’ve been tempted to visit Myanmar by now, before tourism changes it too drastically the way it does to popular destinations. Before heading to Myanmar (Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake) in Sept 2016, I was especially concerned about outfits and what I need to bring. Now that I’m done with the trip, I can share with you better. Here’s what to bring for your next Burmese trip!
Packing List for Myanmar!
* = must bring!
1. * Modest, airy clothing: Sleeved tops and 3/4 or long, preferably loose pants.
I’ll go as far as recommending Tshirts and Uniqlo cotton pants, or whatever makes you the most comfortable within the ‘dress code’. To enter temples and pagodas, you have to keep shoulders and knees covered. Locals are dressed conservatively wherever, despite the heat. Sometimes, I play cheat by wearing Uniqlo Airism sleeveless tops, then cover my shoulders with the next item below when I get off the car. If your yoga pants are of too thin material, sheer, and/or reveal too much of parts (even the shapes), it’s considered disrespectful.
If you’re intending to wear sleeveless in the car, you can drape a scarf over your shoulders outdoors, before entering any temple/pagoda. I generally feel a little uncomfortable (too much attention, when we already stood out for being obviously none-Burmese) for wearing sleeveless outdoors, hence my scarf is always ready.
* 3. Cheap slippers that can be washed
You have to remove shoes (and socks) before stepping into temples, therefore slippers/flip-flops will be your most ideal form of shoes to wear in Myanmar. Bagan especially, can feel like a very ‘raw’ place with dirt roads, you don’t want to be sitting on the ground trying to put on your sneakers for each temple you visit, ending up dirtying your pants. Wear slippers that can be easily removed and worn back.At the end of the day, you might wanna wash the slippers too, so be sure they’re water-resistant.I alternated between a nicer-looking pair of sandals for Yangon (going to restaurants for meals) and slippers for the other states!
4. Shoe bags
Or plastic bags to contain your shoes if you like. Shwedagon Temple in Yangon is huge and has different entrances/exits, so it would be smart to put your shoes in a bag and carry them with you, so you can exit from another door if you like.I came and left using the same exits, so this was not required for me.
5. USD dollar notes, in mint condition
If you’re changing currency in Myanmar, your USD notes need to be in mint condition — as good and crisp as NEW. Other currency notes need to be in good condition. At some attractions, they accept payment in USD, such as at Bagan Viewing Tower, the entrance fees were in USD (we paid USD$5/tourist, now it’s USD$10 (source)).
* 6. Hand sanitizer
* 7. Wet wipes / Antiseptic wipes
For cleaning cups, plates, utensils. Don’t worry about offending, the locals will take tissue paper and clean the plates and glasses too.You can also use the wet wipes to clean your feet and hands too, or if you step on wet bird poo (I did -.-“)
8. Body wipes
..to freshen up after a day out.
* 9. Medicine, supplements, first-aid supplies
Paracetamol pills, gastric pills, pills for diarrhoea, Vitamin C tablets, plasters, etc. Pharmacies aren’t readily available in at least Bagan and Nyaung Shwe.
* 10. Torchlight
Blackouts happen often in Myanmar, even in Yangon. A torchlight will help you navigate the pavements along dark roads. You can use it to make out the wall murals inside dim temples in Bagan. If you’re going to chase sunrises in Bagan, a proper torchlight will help you lit the road. If you ask me if your handphone’s torchlight function suffice, I would think not really.
* 11. Mosquito / Insect repellent
12. Sunscreen (for the face)
13. Sunblock (for body)
14. Paper fan or hand-held fan
To combat the heat. Also, not all hotels come with air-conditioned rooms. I stayed at La Maison Birmine Hotel at Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake). It turned out to be an eco-resort and the rooms were equipped with only ceiling fans. Thankfully, it was a cool period (September) in Myanmar so we didn’t feel the heat.
16. Umbrella in
in case of rain, depending on the season you go.
In case of flat hair after long bus rides, or for the sun.
* 19. Travel adapter.
20. Bedroom slippers
Because they don’t provide them at hotels.
Where I stayed: Oasis Hotel in Bagan
21. Foot scrub
If your feet is sensitive to dirt, you’ll need a foot scrub to clean your feet at the end of the day.
What to Pack for the Overnight Bus Rides
(if you’re getting from state to state via coach.)
Fun fact: Myanmar is bigger in land size than France.
There are domestic flights, train rides, as well as bus (coach) rides in Myanmar. During my short stay in Myanmar, we took coaches from state to state. Journeys are often overnight, as my bus rides were from Yangon to Bagan, Bagan to Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe), then back to Yangon. Coach rides in Myanmar are known for bus-drivers playing loud music overnight (perhaps for keeping awake?). Thankfully, my friend managed to book quiet bus rides for us. We had comfortable long journeys, often even being able to sleep on the bus. This will be your list to get ready for those bus journeys:
- * Ear-plugs. To block out people talking, or the bus honking (I woke up to see a herd of buffaloes blocking the road in the middle of the night), or the crazy loud music if you booked the wrong kind of buses.
- * Neck pillow. I don’t know how people can sleep without this! For one of my bus-rides, there were already a neck pillow in each seat – really considerate of the bus company =D
- * Eye-shades / Face handkerchief. I always have at least eye-shades ready, even going as far as packing a Japanese face handkerchief (which is a kind of hood that you wear over your face to block light, or prevent others from seeing your unglam sleeping face)
- * Jacket. It gets freeezingly cold on these buses. Although they would provide blankets, a jacket would do you good, trust me on that.
- * Socks, because of the coldness, and because you can remove your shoes and still not have your feet touch the floor.
- Motion-sickness pills. I tend to get carsick so I’ll pop two pills and I’ll be fine. The roads can get very bumpy, especially from Bagan to Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe).
- Handphone cable. Our coaches come with an entertainment screen and we could charge our phone using our USB cable (just like being on international flights)! Check this post for the bus companies I went with!
- Earphones, for watching movies on the bus, or listening to Podcast, or guided meditation via Headspace, etc.
- Water bottle. You’ll probably get a small bottle of mineral water free from the bus company though (we did), but I always must have water with me. Be smart and limit your water intake though!
- Snacks, for hunger pangs on the bus, though you probably will get 1 or 2 bus breaks. Some bus companies will also provide a small snack.
- E-reader, such as a Kindle, if you really can’t sleep.
- Facial wipes for removing makeup on the bus, then skincare after removing the makeup.
Hope you enjoyed this post! Did I miss out any essentials that you should pack for Myanmar? Let me know in the Comments!
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