This comprehensive packing list for Myanmar will help make sure you remember everything you need to fully enjoy your trip to this fascinating and fast-developing country
Myanmar has changed rapidly over the last few years since the advent of mass tourism to the country. While the country is fast-developing, it’s important to remember that everything you’d expect at home is often not available in Myanmar. Pack accordingly and you’ll be able to travel stress-free.
Medicines And Toiletries For Myanmar
Having a well-stocked toiletries bag will make your trip much more comfortable and enjoyable. Packing the items listed below will cover you for most situations.
Remember that Myanmar is a developing country and their hospital care while adequate is not the same as Western standards. If you have a serious accident, you’ll want to evacuated out of the country to an international hospital in Bangkok. Be sure you have travel insurance to cover you in such an eventuality.
Toilet bag: get a well-designed bag to store everything in that lets you find things easily without having to empty it on the floor first.
Suntan lotion: an absolute essential, make sure you liberally apply suncream to all exposed areas of your skin, not just your face. I like Banana Boat as it goes on easily. Ensure you have at least SPF 30.
Mosquito Spray: this should be part of your daily routine along with applying sunscreen. Mosquito bites can be aggravatingly itchy and lessen your enjoyment of your trip – it’s worth taking the time to prevent them. (See also the Clothes section below).
Hat: also essential to help protect your face – a baseball cap is handy, a wider hat that provides protection for your neck even better.
Sunglasses: invest in a pair of decent sunglasses that properly block harmful UV light from your eyes, rather than the super cheap coloured plastic. The sun in Myanmar is incredibly strong; you will feel the benefit of good shades
After Sun: if you still manage to get burnt, after sun helps sooth and protect your skin.
First Aid kit: plasters, antiseptic ointment – all the classics to treat rashes, cuts and scratches
Indigestion tablets: Gaviscon is my go-to if my stomach’s feeling odd after trying new food. Remember that most cases of upset tummies are usually due to a major change in diet rather than food poisoning per se. Drinking plain soda water is also helpful and enables you to have one of those epic belches which are near-mystical in the relief they provide.
Diarrhoea remedy: also a byproduct of a change of diet, use diarrhoea tablets sparingly and drink lots of fluids plus eat bland food like rice to help restore your guts.
Quick Dry Towel: one of those clever travel gizmos, a quick try towel folds away into a small, easily packable size and doubles as a blanket, pillow and numerous other uses.
Camping Toilet Paper: toilet paper is not universally used in Myanmar (the locals prefer the bum gum, essentially a jet of water you use to clean yourself with, like a bidet). Therefore if you want the comforts of home this ingenious invention allows you to take toilet paper wherever you go. You’ll probably want hand sanitiser too.
Painkillers: always good as a general antidote if you’re feeling under the weather. Note: if you’re getting frequent headaches, ensure you are drinking enough water per day (at least 2 litres, better 3). Golden rule: If you’re peeing yellow, you’re dehydrated. (Golden, yellow…I’ll get me coat)
Condoms: there may be holiday romance and it’s important for you and your partner to always be protected.
Travel Pillow: If you’re planning travels by bus around Myanmar you are going to need one of these to try and get some sleep. Plus of course for the flight over.
Hoodie: surprisingly important for keeping you warm in arctic aircon conditions, typically on planes but also in some over-zealous shops, hotels etc. Doubles as a pillow and blanket too.
Luggage For Myanmar
Backpacks: If you are doing a big trek across Myanmar (see our 1 week and 2 Week Myanmar Itineraries for ideas of where to spend your time) then a backpack is a must. Osprey have some excellent backpacks – it is worth spending the extra money to ensure you are comfortable and not hurting your back – plus of course the backpack should last many years. Having a daypack as well is also useful.
Packing Cubes: a huge time saver, packing cubes help you easily find stuff rather than having to waste time hunting for one thing in your pack.
Luggage Locks: keep everything in your bags safe. If you’re travelling from the USA, you’ll need to ensure they are TSA-approved luggage locks.
Clothes For Myanmar
Myanmar has three seasons – hot, hotter and hot and wet. Whatever time of year you go, you’ll want to lightweight breathable fabrics that are easily machine washable.
Linen and cotton are ok, but they retain moisture so you end up with unsightly damp patches on your outer garments, and for underwear they can cause chafing which can be extremely uncomfortable.
The best solution I found is to use moisture-wicking sports clothes like UnderArmour T-shirts and UnderArmour underwear. These clothes are made of synthetic fibres that keep you dry – or, at least, much dryer – and are much more comfortable. While the underwear in particular can be more expensive, it is definitely worth the investment.
Invest in a decent pair of lightweight but quality shoes as you are likely to be doing a lot of walking – make sure it’s something that won’t fall apart.
If you’re going to be spending time on the beach, having a couple of pairs of bikinis or board shorts is a good idea so you can wash one while the other’s being worn. A sarong is also useful for multiple beach uses.
A lightweight foldable rain jacket will be useful if you are doing long journeys across the country, just in case the heavens open.
Myanmar SIM Cards And Internet Access For Tourists
Myanmar SIM cards are available in Yangon Airport on arrival in the country. It’s worth picking up one there as the staff are used to dealing with tourists and speak good English. There are two main mobile networks: Ooreedoo and MTP. MTP has the best coverage, working well in Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay, but it will get more flaky as you move away from the major cities.
Myanmar’s internet has come a long way in the last decade but it’s still slow and unreliable by western standards. Have suitably low expectations and you might be pleasantly surprised. Golden rule: don’t rely on the internet as your sole source of information. Have paper backups of your flight tickets, hotel reservations and so on. Get a Myanmar guidebook to have maps available to you in case your phone’s connection does crap out so you won’t be completely lost.
Numerous hotels and cafes offer free wifi of widely varying quality (or simply not working). Getting a SIM card is the best way to avoid frustration if you want a guaranteed connection
Universal power adapter: one of these is essential to power all your electronics – get one with a surge protector built in.
Power bank for mobile phones: if you’re planning to use your phone a lot on a daily basis, a power bank is useful to ensure you don’t run out of battery while you’re out and about
Protective phone case: as your phone will likely be the most expensive item on you, it’s wise to swop over to a rugged phone case during the trip that will protect it fully from being dropped on stone floors and so on. Otterbox has an excellent range of protective cases for phones and tablets
Selfie stick: be the centre of the action with a selfie stick – just be mindful of other people around you so you don’t whack someone in the face
Kindle: if you like reading, a Kindle is a godsend on long journeys – super lightweight, hundreds of books and the battery lasts for weeks.
Passports, Tickets, Vaccinations Etc
Ensure you have at least six months validity for your passport and at least one blank page free
You MUST apply for a Myanmar visa online before you fly into Myanmar. You cannot enter the country simply by showing up (unless you are a citizen of an ASEAN country). See the official Myanmar visa application site. You can apply for a Myanmar visa in person at the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok.
Ensure you have all relevant vaccinations at least six weeks before you travel. View FitForTravel for the recommended vaccinations.
Make sure you have travel insurance. Seriously. Myanmar’s health care system is not up to Western standards and you will want to be evacuated to international facilities for any serious injuries.
Find the cheapest flights to Myanmar for your travel dates on Skyscanner which compares the prices and timings of multiple airlines, letting you easily find the cheapest and most convenient.
Book your accommodation in Myanmar at Booking.com – at least get your first night in Yangon booked ahead as there is often a shortage of rooms during peak season and prices can be correspondingly expensive.
Check your credit cards are cleared to work in Myanmar with your bank so they don’t block them. Visa and MasterCard are accepted but be prepared to access cash if needed.
Take photos of your passport data and credit cards with your phone and store the images in an online email account like Gmail. That way you have access to all the details if you should lose these items which will make it much easier to cancel and replace them.
See the Travelhappy Myanmar 1 Week Itinerary and Myanmar 2 Week Itinerary for ideas on how to plan your time – and have a browse of the guides and advice in the Travelhappy Myanmar Travel Guide section
Finally, visit HolidayPackingList.com for more tips and ideas about packing and making sure you’ve got all the essentials.