If last 3 weekends ago I got nothing to do and decided to make a website, the next weekend (15/6) I decided to do Yangon trip. Well, I wouldn’t go if it wasn’t a “spontaneous” decision made by me and my office friend, T. Myanmar (or Burma) was never on my bucket list but a few months ago, T, who is a Traveler, told me Myanmar was her last “unticked” country in Southeast Asia.
And so we booked our hotels and flight for our little Yangon trip, I think around a month before. It was quite cheap, SGD288.25 each person to be exact for 3d2n.. return flight and hotel in Yangon included. Although, now if I think about it, it wasn’t really that cheap, compare to my Krabi trip, which ticket I bought just days before.
Well, I think it the flight is more expensive than the hotel, considering it was Silk Air and the hotel was just a small boutique hotel. Anyway… it was finally D-day. I stayed over at T’s crib and we left like at 5am, because our flight was at around 7am. We didn’t bring much money, I brought only SGD150 (USD112). Oh, we decided to change our money to USD because T researched that they use USD too in Yangon. Anyway, if you too decided to change your money to USD you have to be really take note on the USD note you receive, for reason I will tell you soon.
After 3 hours of flying, we arrived at Yangon International Airport. Me being Indonesian, part of ASEAN, I went straight ahead to ASEAN line for immigration, which line actually was longer than foreigner, where T queued. T is a British and she had to have her visa before she arrived at Yangon, Myanmar.
My first impression of the airport.. it was quite modern. A small airport reminds me of perhaps Soekarno Hatta’s T2 or T1 but smaller? When I queued for the immigration, things happened. The lights went out for about 5-10 minutes? Kinda funny as I never experienced something like that before in the airport. After finished with the immigration, we went out straight away and then I noticed something that really stood out. Myanmar men, they wear sarong to the airport like so casually.
I was so impressed so when T away for the loo, I googled it and it was actually something called longyi. Very traditional and I love that. Then we decided to change our money to Kyats, to the money exchange stall at the airport. This is why you need to pay attention to the USD note you change. Burmese, they don’t accept old USD banknotes. They only receive crisp, fresh USD banknotes, latest series. I knew that after I tried to change my old and kinda ugly USD50 note, they rejected it right away. I could only change my USD10 (because it was later series and very neat note) to around 15,000 Kyats.
I thought it would be enough until I got to the next stall to buy sim card and I need to pay around 10,000 Kyats for tourist deal sim card by MPT for 3 days. Man, I know Myanmar is not as expensive as Singapore but, still you couldn’t live with only 5,000 Kyats (around SGD5) for 3 days… So I tried to dig in to my wallet and found a few SGD, I think, perhaps SGD9 and thankfully they did accept Singapore Dollar.
I got like 14,000 Kyats more but that was better than nothing. Lesson learned. If you want to do Yangon trip yourself, perhaps it’s better to change your money to SGD better that USD since SGD note is made from plastic so it would always be prettier and crisper than paper-based money. Also, I noted lots of Singapore tourists there. Maybe that’s why they accept SGD and don’t even bother to check the series or whatever.
But thanks for T, she decided that she would help my finance when in Yangon so.. I’m saved. Tbh I think it could be a real issue if you don’t bring enough money or only bring cards. Bear in mind, Myanmar is a developing country. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think they’re just started to open to “outsiders”. Yes I saw KFCs inside the shopping malls but do you really just want to hang around shopping malls for the whole trip?
Anyway, time to step out from the airport. T was the one who made the itineraries for this Yangon trip, and she was amazing. We did our research based on her clippings and internet and found that basically most of things you can do at Yangon is visiting pagodas. So, right after we arrived (around 9am), we went to the best pagoda in Yangon, Shwedagon Pagoda, while waiting for our hotel check-in at 12pm.
What’s it like the Shwedagon Pagoda? I could tell you it was almost surreal.. I’ll tell you more about this on part 2 of my Yangon trip post.