(As of January 2015)
–I recommend an E-Visa. Cost a few more dollars, but it will save hours at the embassy if coming from Bangkok.
–Development is coming quick. Rules and regulations are changing constantly, sometimes on a weekly basis, so try to keep informed.
–The most crucial advice I can offer when traveling Myanmar; patience and preparation. I am serious. With these two factors in mind, one’s holiday will be much more enjoyable.
–Allow for travel time. Myanmar tends to be anything but on time and if one’s transportation is on time, then a delay will most likely come at some point.
–People are genuine and quite friendly! Everyone smiles and offers what they can, whether it is a cup of tea or directions to one’s hotel/hostel.
–Whether trains or buses, a ride will range from uncomfortably warm to freezing cold. In fact, this advice applies to Myanmar as a whole.
–Bus could mean sitting on the top of a truck, piled high with goods. The burlap sacks are more comfortable than the bench seats provided.
–Air Asia offers a free shuttle service to and from the airport out of Mandalay.
–Keep your money in the best condition as possible. Especially with the U.S dollar, many merchants refuse damaged currency, even as minimal as a few creases.
–Opt for the upper class on any long train ride. Yes, one will get a unique, cultural experience when travelling ordinary class; however, after twenty four hours it becomes grueling. With that being said, ordinary class is a worthwhile once in a lifetime experience for the true traveler that yearns adventure, but be forewarned.
–Tourists pay more. This is a common theme in Southeast Asia, so just accept it now.
–Eat at a local restaurant! The food is great and usually costs less than one dollar. With unlimited side dishes (from my experience) and hot, green tea, one is guaranteed to be well nourished.
Currency– 1,000 kyat (pronounced jet) = 1 U.S dollar (give or take)
Ming-la-ba = Hello
Jay-sue-tim-ba-day = Thank you very much (more respectful and much appreciated)
Jay-sue-bay = Thanks (casual)
–Here are a few cheap, clean, and decent spots to catch a snooze with friendly and helpful staff. Breakfast is also included. I am sure there are many other locations, but these are what I found.
Agga Guest House
-Plenty of local restaurants and street vendors are in the vicinity, as well as the river and 19th street (popular vendor/restaurant spot) being within walking distance.
-9,000 kyat taxi fare to/from the bus station
-8-10,000 kyat taxi fare to/from the airport
View Point Inn
-1,000 kyat bicycle rental
-Simple, but satisfying breakfast
-Staff available at 4am when the bus arrives
-8 – 10,000 kyat taxi fare from the bus station
Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse
-Watermelon and juice upon arrival
-Free water refills
-Substantial, great breakfast that keeps on coming
-The family owned hostel takes care of all guests’ needs, including transportation, tours, dining, and information around Mandalay and beyond.
-1,500 kyat motorbike taxi to the train station and Air Asia pick up service
-The only downside is being located outside of the city center, but it’s convenient when heading to Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw by pickup or taxi