The official language of Myanmar is Burmese, which is Sino-Tibetan. The Bamar people make up the largest part of the country’s population around 68 percent. However, Myanmar is a diverse country and there are easily over 100 ethnicities present. Of these, the largest are the Shan, Karen, Rakhine, Mon, Kachin, and Kayah. However, having been a British colony in the past, English is widely spoken, especially in the cities. If you're headed to the rural areas, it makes sense to learn a few Burmese phrases to get around.
The official currency of Myanmar is the kyat. The kyat in the past was not a freely exchangeable currency and exchange rates were fixed by the government, which made black market rampant and deterred foreign investors. However, in April 2012, the government, as part of its economic reforms, floated the Kyat with an exchange rate set at 818 kyat to the US dollar.
Visitors should exchange money at the airport. Regulations change regularly, but currently each guest can exchange up to US $2,000 in one transaction. ATMs are not readily available and visitors should carry cash. Torn or badly crumpled US dollars will not accepted. Credit and debit cards are only accepted at major hotels and official stores. Travelers’ checks are difficult to cash and not worthwhile bringing.
Myanmar is 6 hours, 30 minutes ahead of GMT (GMT +6.5) and currently does not participate in daylight savings.
Myanmar uses electricity at 220-240 V with two-round prong, European-type plugs. Visitors from North America will need a transformer, if appliances are not compatible with the voltage, as well as a plug adapter.
The dialing code for Myanmar is +95. Major city codes are: Yangon 1, Mandalay 2 and Naypyidaw 67. Visitors should note that there is currently no GSM roaming service in Myanmar. In the past, travelers have had to register or leave their cell phones at the airport upon arrival -- but this may change in the near future. It is also not possible to purchase SIM cards, but this may change, as well. Many leading hotels offer cell phones for rent. Wireless internet is not widely available, although most hotels are equipped and there are a few internet cafés in the cities, with slow connections. Internet access is currently limited outside the major cities. Direct dial international calls can be made from the Central Telephone & Telegraph Office in Yangon.
Duty-free allowances into Myanmar are: two liters of alcohol, two cartons of cigarettes or 100 cigars, and half a liter of perfume.
Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board: +95-1-242-828 or http://www.maynmar-tourism.com
Consulates in Myanmar
Myanmar has limited diplomatic relations with many countries and visitors may have to visit embassies in Bangkok or Singapore to get full service.
Australian Embassy: +95-1-251-810
British Embassy: +95-1-380-322
French Embassy: +95-1-212-520
German Embassy: +95-1-548-951
Japanese Embassy: +95-1-549-644
Singapore Embassy: +95-1-559-001
Swedish Consulate: +95-1-504-068
US Embassy: +95-1-536-509
Emergency services: 199