What To Pack For A Trip To Myanmar

What To Pack For A Trip To Myanmar

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Clothes are a way of deep diving into the cultures of a region. They help us understand the resources and textiles available in a place and they tell us about the craftsmanship of the locals of the area. This is why I like to purchase locally designed/tailored clothing when I am on a trip. It serves as a reminder to a memorable trip every time I wear it and it also adds variety to my wardrobe. But that’s not what I am here to talk about today. Instead, I am going to move the focus to my travel bags and discuss how you should pack for a trip to Myanmar.

When I pack for a trip, I am almost always aiming for comfortable clothing which will allow me to enjoy long day trips with ease. I also plan for special evenings, but most of all, I pack to feel like I am a part of the country I am travelling to and not just a tourist that struts about condoning the fundamental values of that place.

If the same sentiments drive your packing efforts every time you plan a trip, then let us talk about what to pack for a trip to Myanmar.

 

Keeping Up With The Locals

No matter which city in Myanmar you travel to, you will always find the local women wearing beautiful and vibrant clothes that cover their entire body. The men might appear to be wearing something similar to a skirt. Well, this is Myanmar’s traditional attire for both men and women, and it is called a longyi. It is very comfortable and helps the locals stay cool even when the temperatures outside are soaring.

 

With the country opening up to tourism, there is a definitive change in the way people in Myanmar perceive clothing. But like an onion there are more layers to perception than you and I as tourists can explore. On the outer layers, you may see an acceptance for western clothing, but the deeper you look the more you will realize that at their core, the Burmese are a conservative community who slant towards clothing that minimizes the show of body. Following some simple etiquette rules can go a long way to blending into Myanmar.

Women: Burmese women have a strong sense of fashion. They love eye-popping colours, intricate designs and almost always top it all up with pretty smiles. So in Myanmar you wouldn’t have to limit yourself to plain or neutral colours. Try exciting designs and versatile patterns but look for clothing which covers your shoulders and knees. Your stole will come in handy when you are wearing a sleeveless dress/blouse and want to visit a temple. Sarongs are good for covering up your body when walking down the market after a dip in the sea.

Men: Men have a more liberal dress code but all religious sites have an equally strict rule for them. Knees should always be covered when entering monasteries. If you want to pack your shorts for the beach then all you need to do is buy a longyi from a local marketplace to cover your knees before you enter a temple.

 

People in Myanmar are very warm towards tourists, so blending in is not a necessity. But it is nice to consider their cultural ethos in an attempt to resonate with friendly smiles and helpful conversations you have with them.

 

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What The Weather App Tells You To Pack

October – February: Known as the “dry season”. Cotton and linen clothes are the best to pack for this season as you will be looking at pleasant mornings and evenings and a relatively warm day. It gets cold only in the mountain areas {Kalaw or Hsipaw} where you may need a warm afghan or a light jacket during the night.

March – May: Known as the “hot season”. I wouldn’t recommend this season to visit the country especially if you don’t like the strong summer sun. Baggy clothes in airy fabrics are going to help you beat the heat. Carry water everywhere you go to stay hydrated. And don’t forget your shades, your hat and a big tube of sun cream.

June – September: Known as the “green season” or the “rainy season”. My imaginations of rains lean towards the romantic side where I am surrounded by greenery, the raindrops drum on my window ledge, the clouds above play peek-a-boo with the sun and I sit immersed in the beauty of all these elements.

But tourists in Burma seem to perceive rains very differently and I can see why. Myanmar is known to experience heavy rainfall. So there is a chance that you may end up having to cancel certain day trips because of the rains. You may buy a raincoat and an umbrella from the local markets but travelling from one place to another in the rains can be very tedious. And remember to pack airy clothes for your day trips but keep warm clothes for the nights.

 

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What Your Itinerary Tells You To Pack

Cultures and traditions are followed more intensely in the remote areas while developing cities are beginning to embrace modern ways of living. So depending on your travel plans you can pack clothes according to the destinations you will be visiting in Myanmar. I’ve listed the most popular ones below, and what to expect:

Yangon and the South: Being the hub of all business and most large scale industries in the country, Yangon has beautifully intertwined itself between modern lifestyles and the traditional ways of Myanmar. There are a number of monasteries in the city which is proof that religion is deeply rooted. At the same time you will find fine-dining restaurants, pubs and bars where you can spend the evening without having to worry as much about covering those knees and shoulders.

Bagan and Mandalay: These two regions fall in the dry zone so pack fabrics that can help you stand the summer sun. Bagan’s temple visits will require you follow simple etiquette rules around conservative clothing so be careful how you dress on those days. And remember to pack your hat and sunnies because you will need them all the time.

Shan State: When you enter Shan State, you will notice a substantial drop in temperature when compared with the rest of the country. It is located on higher grounds and has beautiful views of the surrounding areas. But if you are planning an overnight trek or want to get up early to enjoy the sunrise, then you must pack warm clothes because nights can be cold here.

The Beach: Generally at beaches its fine for women to wear bikinis as locals are beginning to get accustomed to seeing tourists in swimwear. Carry long sleeved cover-ups that you can wrap around yourself after a dip. It will protect you from the sun and insects.

 

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Packing The Right Footwear

My rule for packing shoes to travel is to pick a comfy pair of flip flops, my favourite trainers and a classy pair of heels. They have worked for me no matter where I travel to. From hilly regions and beaches to modern cities and remote areas these will help you travel without feeling limited when it comes to footwear.

Here’s how my choice of these three helped me tour Myanmar:

Flip Flops {Thongs}: My trusty flip flops saw me through all my temple visits because they are so easy to put on and take off. All religious sites in Myanmar require you to take off your shoes and socks, so flip flops are your best bet when you don’t want to get caught in the constant rigmarole of taking off sandals or laced up shoes.

Trainers/Walking Boots: My trainers were perfect for early morning hikes, and since even in the cities Myanmar can be a rugged country, they were great in helping me navigate my way through the streets and down dirt paths of Yangon. They let me walk without getting tired and keep the dust off my feet.

Smart/Casual Shoes: There were times when Vikram and I decided to have dinner at one of the popular fine dining restaurants in the city we were visiting. That’s when I took out my heels and a lovely dress worthy of date night.

 

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Giving The Longyi A Try

I know what you are thinking. How would I look in it? How do I wear it? Is it worth trying? For me, it was the perfect souvenir for my Myanmar trip. I loved the airy longyi that somehow brought me closer to the locals as I walked down the streets in one of them.

They are available at almost every marketplace in the country. You will see smiles brighten and widen when you take to the streets in a longyi. I loved the attention and even more, I enjoyed the comfort it provided.

 

 In A Nutshell

Packing for every trip requires an understanding of the cultures and philosophies of the locals of the area you are travelling to. I believe that respecting people and their culture is especially important and it speaks volumes about you. This is why I am careful and specific about picking my clothes according to the places I visit.

In Myanmar, I found that lightweight, airy clothing allows you to enjoy sweat-free day trips. A set of warm clothes for the cooler night time climate is also helpful. I admire the Burmese for the beauty with which they wrap themselves in lovely fabrics and out of respect I chose to wear clothes that upheld their cultural ethos.

 

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Tips and Warnings

  • Dazzling pieces of jewellery are best left at home.
  • Perfumes tend to attract insects. So pack perfumes that have lighter notes rather than intense ones.
  • Either carry insect repellents with you or buy them when you reach the country, but make sure you use lots of it all the time because Myanmar is considered to be a high-risk Malaria country.
  • Travel with a first-aid kit. Pick a small one from the chemist or the pharmaceutical store that fits neatly in your cabin luggage.
  • Go through all rules and regulations for the airline you are travelling with. Check in all items that you feel may not be allowed as hand luggage. It will help you avoid last moment panic situations.
  • Our sunrise and sunset escapades needed us to carry a torch so that we could easily find our way, especially down dark and steep staircases of the temples.
  • I carried spare batteries and memory cards for the trip and I will suggest that you do the same if you love clicking away at everything that catches your eye.
  • Keep all your travel documents including your passport, tickets and money in a safe place. 🙂
  • My last piece of advice is that when you start packing your stuff, be sure to ask yourself ~ do I really need this ~ before you add it to your luggage.

 

Have you been to Myanmar or do you plan to visit it when in South East Asia? Let me know your opinion in the comments blow!

 

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* Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the Ministry of Tourism, Myanmar. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review.

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

30 Comments

  • I reside in Alaska and will be taking my first trip abroad to see my mate living in Shan State. I am really apprehensive and researching the country before I leave in six days. I thought that your post was extremely helpful. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Extraordinary source of information, thanks Tanya! I’ve discovered your blog just in time, as I will be heading to Burma for 2 weeks later this month. Much obliged for the tips!

  • Great apparel tips. I’ve heard many awesome things about Burma – it truly appears like the place to travel to right now. Also, comfortable cotton pants seem the kind of thing you require, and that’s usually what I like wearing.

    • Myanmar is a truly incredible place ~ with a beautiful mix of beach, city and landscape. Enjoy my favourite country, Ciaran!

  • Amazing post, bless your heart! I would love to visit Burma. What’s more, comprehending what to take with you and what to leave behind when packing for a trip of this nature won’t just relieve stress, it will likewise keep your suitcase light!

  • Great tips here, Tanya! I love wearing lightweight, airy clothes on my trips too. Additionally I always carry a stole in case I need to cover-up which, as you noted, is essential.

  • Extraordinary post and delightful photographs! I will need to bookmark this for when I get around to planning a trip to this amazing country! 🙂

    • My most random adventures were from random chats and trying to see what was out there. I have many more posts on Myanmar if you need further inspiration on where to visit, Nitin. 🙂

  • So happy we discovered your post. We are in Laos right now and have our flights booked for Yangon. We are super eager to venture to every part of Myanmar before every other person chooses it as the next Bali. Thanks for all the greats tips!

    • I hope it NEVER becomes like that. It’s much too beautiful to become that. However, it’s only fair they are given a chance to grow too ~ Enjoy!

  • Thanks Tanya, just beginning to assemble our SEA schedule for April/May this year, and you have helped move Myanmar to the top of our list!

  • Great tips here – much obliged for sharing. I have yet to decide if I will incorporate Myanmar in my forthcoming visit to SE Asia, but will be sure to allude back to this post on the off chance that it makes the cut!

    • If you want to experience a country that takes you back in time ~ I would definitely recommend Myanmar, John. 🙂

  • Thank you for your most informative guide, Tanya! We are considering going in late September for about 14 days, and found your post really helpful.

    • You are going at a popular time of the year, Sara. I have no doubt you will meet plenty of travel buddies. 🙂

  • Great tips! Although I’d like to add that comfortable trousers are an unquestionable requirement, especially as I experience considerable difficulties travelling in jeans. I have worn them possibly twice when travelling in the last couple years… they simply make me wanna get naked – haha!!

  • This is one of those exceptionally rare posts composed by a tourist and I totally agree with your suggestions. No misrepresentation, no insults, no absence of local knowledge. Very well done!

  • Great tips, Tanya! With regards to comprehending what to pack or not – helps enormously. One good thing is regardless of whether you pack light; you can for the most part dependably purchase what you need at your destination anyway.

  • I’m living here up in Shan state and it’s so nice to read a well written article that mentions covering up! It’s becoming a problem here seeing travelers in hot pants and tank tops even at temples! I love your article, practical and reflected the joy of people in this country.

    • Myanmar is an authentic slice of SE Asia, and no matter what city or town you get to, you can wander and explore further than the standard tourist highlights. And in all honesty, I only write from my own experiences after travelling there for two weeks, Holly. Myanmar is in my heart and I think of it often. I will be back <3

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