I only have a week and plan to fly into Yangon from Singapore.
1) is it a bad idea to go there in May considering the weather? (May is the start of monsoon season so there should be quite a bit of rain? Or is May still pretty hot?)
2) Can I rely soley on US$ in Mynmar to pay for food, lodgings and travel fares? I thought it too much trouble to change into Kyat (besides I might not be able to get rid of the extra kyat?)
3) Since I only have a week, I plan to just see Yangon and its surrouding. What are some of the must see? I am more interested in cultural stuff.
Thanks in advance!
#1 wombatfuz has been a member since 30/12/2009. Posts: 38
1) It's going to be very hot with high humidity, and unless you're fortunate, there will be a lot of rain.
2) It's no trouble to change money there, and you can change as much or as little as you like. It is possible to use only U$, though you will be limiting yourself to where you spend your money and what you spend it on. For example, if you want to buy a bottle of water the cost is far less than 1 U$ and you're going to end up getting kyat as change. So, you are going to end up getting kyat regardless unless you try hard not to (which means you'll be spending far more than you need to.) Most guest houses/hotels/inns, cabs, and restaurants will take U$, though.
3) Of course, the Schwedagon Pagoda should not be missed, at that is worth the better part of a day itself. A day or two wandering around the city is worthwhile. You can also visit Bago and tour the temples there. I highly recommend a visit to the Golden Rock near Kyaiktiyo. If the weather is good you should seriously consider walking up to the rock along the pathway leading out of the pilgrim village of Kinpun and possibly spend the night on top of the mountain in one of the hotels. The weather will probably be a bit cooler, and you can be there for sunset and sunrise. Incredible place!
You could also spend a couple of days down in Mawlamyaing. It's a really nice town that's reachable by bus and train. Worth a couple of days, anyway.
When I was in Burma there was no nightlife per se in any of the places I visited. At night the streets were practically deserted. People might have been out strolling, but not for very long after dark. Candlelit markets in alleyways, restaurants, and bars were open, but everything was pretty much closed up tight well before 11:00.
I went to a couple of bars bar in Yangon (ABC and My Guitar Cafe) and was one of 5 or 5 people in each of them. At the ABC Bar some long-haired guy was singing Bee Gees tunes an almost empty room. Apparently, he was one of Burma's biggest pop stars. I felt kind of bad for him, but he and his band were having a great time. At least they had someone to play to, and seemed to be doing what they wanted. And I was being treated like royalty.
Probably many reasons for this besides the obvious ones anyone would and should expect with a brutal military junta (oh, sorry ... a democratically elected government now ...) running the country. Most of each city and town I went to were blacked out for the majority of each night. Plus, there were curfews, etc. Not very conducive for getting out at night.
But, still, at around 3:30 am the biryani and tea shops would be opening because so many people would be going to prayers at around 4:00 am. The biryani places would be packed! Then it would be quiet again. I found that markets didn't open before sunrise, like in Thailand. Even in Yangon, the place was anything but bustling in the early mornings.
Really, Burma was nothing like any other place I've ever visited. I'm still knocked out by all the stuff I saw and did. Can't wait to go back in a year or two.
I should add that when I was in a place where a festival or celebration was going on, people were out and about until fairly late at night. But no nightlife of the type found in, say, any middle to large sized city in Thailand.