What to Pack For a Trip to Burma
Off to Burma soon? Lucky you! If you’re at the stage of writing your packing list, read the tips on top things to take with you I’ve put together below. You’ll notice I’ve left off things like a camera, underwear and your passport on there, since – hopefully! – these are things you’d automatically pack anyway.
So, don’t treat this as an exhaustive list!
1) Lots of cash
Now, some countries you can jet off to and only really think about changing your currency when you arrive (that said, it’s probably not the most wallet-friendly option!). Burma isn’t like that. In fact, there are no cash machines and travellers cheques aren’t pretty much always rejected, so get your currency – and lots of it – sorted well before you leave.
Of course, if you’re planning a frugal trip to Burma you don’t necessarily need to break the bank with this; the reason I’ve said to bring lots of cash is simply because, once you’re in Burma, it’s seriously hard to get your hands on any more. So, err on the side of caution and bring more than you think you’ll need.
The local currency is kyat, but a lot of hotels and tourist attractions charge in dollars, so it’s definitely worth having both. In the case of hotels, you’ll find their prices are nearly always in dollars and, while you’ll probably get away with paying in kyat, it’s worth remembering the exchange rate is very unlikely to be favourable.
2) Sun protection
I’m sure you’re aware that Burma is an extremely hot country – I’m talking 40 degrees C and up between March and May. So, it pays to be prepared for it. Chuck all the usuals in your bag: sun cream, a hat and sunglasses are all essential. Some decent after-sun lotion is also a good idea, just in case you do burn, but you can leave it out if you’re trying to travel light.
3) Wet weather gear
As well as being hot, Burma also gets very wet. Generally speaking, it’s driest (and also coolest) between November and February, but anytime from mid-May to October there is seriously heavy and frequent rainfall. So, a good raincoat or some kind of pack-away waterproof poncho is essential.
It’s also worth taking an umbrella and making sure you pack some footwear that isn’t going to keel over at the first sign of rain. A pair that dries out quickly or is waterproof (but breathable) is best.
4) Mosquito repellent
Unless you’re extremely lucky, Burma’s mosquito population will view your visit as a cause for a celebratory feast – and you’ll be the star dish of the day. Some hotels don’t even have mosquito nets and it can be hard to pick up strong repellents locally, so be certain to pack the best mosquito repellent you can find and use it every day.
5) Portable entertainment
Next on your list should be some portable entertainment. This is because the main way to get from one place to the next in Burma is by taking the bus, and journeys tend to long – and potentially very noisy.
One of the most interesting little tips I’ve come across is to pack noise-cancelling headphones, since the buses here tend to have TVs blaring virtually all the time (including into the early hours of the morning if you’re travelling overnight). I’d also recommend packing some books, though an e-reader might be more sensible if you tend to read quickly, since packing several volumes is likely to weigh you down a bit.
Notebooks and pens, handheld consoles and anything else light that’ll give you something to do is also worth considering.
Other bits and bobs worth stowing away in your backpack/suitcase are:
- A mini torch (just in case of power outages, plus streetlights are few and far between)
- Spare toilet paper/tissues and some antibacterial hand gel
- Bottled water