1. You can’t travel Myanmar in rainy season
Well, it put me off a little bit but I still went, right in the middle of rainy season. Sure, some places are off-limits in wet season but with my horrendous pink, knock-off, North Face waterproof I was ready for the rain, and a lots of it. It might just be a fluke but over a week in and the jacket stayed safely in my backpack. The odd shower here and there was easily avoided and I got to avoid wearing the constant reminder of the hungover rushed purchase I’d made in Hanoi a few month previous for the majority of the time. The best bit about the not so rainy rainy season – hardly any tourists AND cheaper accommodation. Hooray!
2. Myanmar is really expensive
I suppose it’s all relative, so in comparison to the more popular SEA countries, yeah it’s a bit expensive but you can still do it on a shoe string budget. If you’re tight on cash you can easily eat for $1, avoid drinking (never an option for me especially when a litre of rum is $3), a find some travellers to split the cost of accommodation. Luckily, I met two lovely French Canadians, we squeezed three in a double bed whenever we could making accommodation as low as $6 in some places. And when we did splash out on somewhere fancy for $30, $10 each it was more than worth it. But, if you’re an unsociable solo travellers, dorms set you back $8-$15 a night.
3. It’s difficult to get transport places
If you choose to use the 2010/11 lonely planet as a guide to plan your trip then Myanmar is really difficult. Truth is, there are buses everywhere at all times and all standards, from the normal, cheap, crammed seated buses, to ‘VIP’ sleeper buses which are ALMOST as good as those in Vietnam. Some even come with blankets, water, a can of coke and complimentary durian cake, which, for me couldn’t be further from a compliment because it’s the one fruit on earth I think we could do without (there’s a reason they’re banned in Singapore)
4. There’s no ATM’s
Maybe 2/3 years ago, getting cash out was difficult, well actually there’s no maybe about it, it was hard! But Myanmar is developing fast and there are ATMs in most major towns. They do, however charge a huge $5 for each withdrawal.
5. There’s no wifi
It doesn’t work often, but it’s there! Most hostels and guesthouses have Wifi now. So panic not, serial instagrammers can still post their amazing temple pictures (which by the way, are the best I’ve seen in SEA). Just don’t rely on it, if you’re planning Skype interviews and trying to organise flights etc. best plan on doing them somewhere with better connection before arriving in Myanmar.
6. It’s unsafe, especially for girls travelling alone
This ones a tricky one and I can only write about what I experienced, which was nothing other than feeling completely safe. I was, however, lucky enough to travel with two other girls so perhaps this ones a little bit unfair. However, I met plenty of solo travellers in Myanmar, most of which were women and they all assured me they hadn’t run in to any unsafe situations. Like anywhere else, keep your wits about you and be careful – especially when getting taxi’s alone. The only horror stories I heard were of solo female travellers getting taxis alone at all hours of the night.
7. The food is rubbish
I’m a HUGE fan of food and spend a lot of my time travelling seeking out local dishes to try (hence the weight gain in Asia). My introduction to Myanmar food when I landed in Yangon soon put the ‘food is rubbish’ comments to rest. 19th street in Yangon was full of bloody delicious food and, with the exception of a few places, the food continued to be just as delicious in the rest of the country I visited. The samosas are to die for, the sides of chillies meant I could always reach the ridiculous level of spicy I love, and there’s never a lack of fruit and veg. I ate Shan noodles three times a day sometimes in Shan State…Oh and the Inle Lake stuffed fish….
So, DON’T GO TO MYANMAR – it’s rainy, unsafe, it doesn’t fit in with our cyber obsessed society, you can’t withdraw money and you can’t get anywhere on public transport…OR go and discover one of my favourite countries before it gets ruined by us demanding travellers!