Shwedagon Pagoda Guide

Most visitors to Shwedagon Pagoda climbed up the Singuttara Hill by one of four stairways or zaungdans. Shwedagon Pagoda, like most other pagodas in Myanmar, has four stairways or zaungdans, one on each side of the pagoda (north, south, east and west). The stairway that is most used by the foreign visitors is the Southern Stairway, which ascends from the direction of the city center. The stairway starts immediately at the end of the Shwedagon Pagoda Road, which runs straight from downtown Yangon (Rangoon). Shwedagon Pagoda Road starts near Bogyoke Aung San Market, and runs north until it ends at the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda. From here starts the Southern Stairway.

What is the proper way to address to a young lady in Myanmar?

Photo: Sasint | Pixabay

Myanmar is a very conservative and traditionalist country. Ok, I know younger generation is different, and more open to modern ideals, but majority of the country is still quite conservative. Majority of people, even among urban young generation are still conservative about tradition and custom compared to youths of neighbouring countries. In addition, there is a Burmese culture of looking down on people who are not conformed to the traditional customs and traditional ways of life. (Ok, it may read more

Khow Suey – Myanmar traditional coconut noodle

Khow Suey – Myanmar traditional coconut noodle.

I just realised recently that Burmese (Myanmar) “khow suey” is quite popular among foreigners. It was brought to my attention by one of my friends and, true to his words, when I searched for the word “khow suey” in Google, I found hundreds of articles written about this famous Burmese dish. There are even khow suey recipe videos on Youtubes! However, there is one thing in common about most of these videos and articles written about khow suey. Most of them are read more

Where to stay and where to eat in Loikaw, Kayah State

Local people from Loikaw

Kayah State is one of the poorest State in Myanmar. Situated in the Eastern part of Myanmar, it is bordered by Shan State in the north and Kayin State in the west and south. To the east was Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province. The capital of Kayah State is Loikaw, a medium size city in this highly mountainous region. It was recently opened for tourism although several areas outside the capital Loikaw are still off limit to foreign tourists at the moment.

You can reach Loikaw by car or by air. Travelling by air is the most convenient and most comfortable way to go, as well as the safest. Roads are still bumpy in this State, and during rainy season might be a bit dangerous to travel. Myanmar National Airlines flight flies once a day to Loikaw, leaving Yangon in the morning at 7:45 AM. Flight from Loikaw to Yangon leaves at 9:05 AM. Fare is around USD 100 per person per trip (one way). If you prefer to travel by road, you can use the express buses to Loikaw. The express buses leave from the Highway station at around 2 PM, and will arrive to Loikaw the next day early in the morning.

There are several hotels and resorts in Loikaw. For the best resort, we recommend Kayah Resort. It is the only resort in the city with a swimming pool, and is both popular among local tourists as well as among foreign visitors. The hotel staffs are quite friendly, and could arrange for hiring cars or bicycles for travelling in the town. The hotel is also quite close to the city, with only four minutes by car. Several of the places near Loikaw are still off limit to tourists, and require permission to travel. The hotel has some connections that they could arrange to get the permission in a short period of time for its customers. You can contact them at +95 925 888 7070 and +95 925 888 2020.

For a cheaper deal, Kan Thar Yar Hotel is quite popular among tourists. The rooms are clean and staffs are friendly. Number of hotel rooms are quite limited in Loikaw, and during tourist season, rooms may be sold out pretty quickly, so we recommend booking in advanced, rather than find a place to stay after arriving to the city.

If you ride a bicycle from Kayah Resort to Loikaw City centre, there is a market near the bridge next to the airport. The market opens the whole day and is a good place to start your tour of the local customs and meet local people.

Taung Kwe Pagoda
Taung Kwei Pagoda | By MrenglishbenOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

A must see place in Loikaw for any visitor is the Taung Kwei Zedi. Famous for its unique construction, the pagoda complex was built on a mountain that was split into two halves, hence the name “Taung Kwe” (split mountain) in Myanmar. Another must see place in Loikaw is Lwe-ta-mu Cave. Recently discovered, it is quite popular among local tourists. It is actually situated inside the military establishment so may be off limit to tourists, but you could ask your hotel to get permission to visit the cave. The cave goes down deep into the mountain and is quite deep and beautiful inside.

Lwe Ta Mu Cave, Loikaw, Kayah
Lwe Ta Mu Cave, Loikaw, Kayah

While you are in Loikaw, one must try local food is traditional Kayah sausage. The best Kayah sausage is sold at a shop in Mingalar quarter, with the brand name Mingalar sausage. If you prefer a home made Kayah sausage, call Ko Paw Lu at 09778785812.

For dinner, most of the shops and restaurants in Loikaw close at around 7 PM. Loikaw City Restaurant near the city centre remains open until late night, and serve delicious food at a reasonable price. Or you might ask your hotel to arrange for the dinner if you don’t want to venture out during the night time.

Thalat Om Yim Thai Farmers Market in Ratchaburi

First thing we noticed is the market was just next to the Buddhist temple. It is likely the market is actually on the premise of the temple. It was built along the bank of the small lake full of lotus flowers. All the shops were built in the traditional way using only bamboo and a few woods. Roofs were made of thatched leaves. The sellers usually wear traditional Thai dress

Get a mobile SIM card in Myanmar

Although call rates within country are quite cheap, data rate are quite expensive. 1 GB of data will usually cost you around 5 US dollars, and the speed is still quite slow, even if you are using 3G or 4G network. At evening times when a lot of people are using social media, speed can be painfully slow and unreliable. All incoming calls and SMS area free of charge.

Health Situation in Myanmar – Demographic and Health Survey

The survey was conducted in 2015 all over Myanmar by the Ministry of Health, with the aids from DHS foundation and USAID funding. A total of 12,885 women and 4,737 men aged between 15 – 49 years old in 12,500 selected households were interviewed. The sample is nationally representative and findings give better results than previous estimates. And the findings from this survey paint a grim picture of the health situation in Myanmar.

Myanmar Restaurant in Bangkok

There is one Myanmar restaurant near Bumrungrad International Hospital near Sukumvit Soi 1. The restaurant does not have a special name – simply called “Myanmar Cuisine”, and serve authentic and delicious Myanmar food to customers. Each set meal consists of one serving of rice and one dish and cost around

Myanmar Election 2015 in Numbers

Myanmar election in numbers

Myanmar will hold its first nationwide free and fair election (sort of) in 25 years on 8th of November 2015. The main opposition party led by the Nobel laureate Aung San Su Kyi is poised to win a landslide election. It is interesting to see the election in the numbers.

Myanmar Kyat US Dollar exchange rate over past six months

Here is the graph that shows the Myanmar kyat exchange rate versus US dollar  since it was floated six months ago. We at Myanmar Today track the exchange rate everyday and plotted it against 1 US dollar. It shows the performance of Myanmar kyat against US dollar.

As can be seen from the graph, as soon as it was floated, the Kyat value drops rapidly from 830 kyats a dollar  to 855 kyats a dollar within two months. From then, kyat value gradually rises and finally it was stable at around 850 kyats per US dollar since around middle of October.

Performance of Myanmar Kyat over US dollar
Myanmar Kyat US dollar exchange rate over past six months

Living with Electricity Outage in Myanmar

Electricity outage is a regular event in Myanmar. The electricity produced in Myanmar is not enough for domestic use. As a result, even in Yangon which is the largest city in Myanmar, electricity outages are quite common. The outage frequently occurs during the rainy season when hydroelectric turbines can run at full. However, when the dry season approaches, these hydroelectric power plants cannot produce enough electricity, and outages become a daily event. In fact, during summer months and early rainy season, electricity supply has to be rationed. In large cities like Yangon and Mandalay, electricity is supplied in a half day quota (12 hours off, 12 hours on). This can sometimes get worse to the point where power on time is down to 8 hours a day in some months. In smaller towns, the electricity supply can even less than 6 hours a day in some dry months.

If you are a foreign expatriate intending to live in Myanmar, you should be well prepared to deal with constant electricity outage. The following advice will be valuable to you if you are one of the foreigners intending to come and live in Myanmar. This advice is mainly the city of Yangon but it can also be applied to other cities and towns to a certain extent.

1. Back to the ancient times – use candle

Well, this is the easiest way to fight back electricity outage although not the most convenient way. Candles are easy to buy and even if you have other means of supplying your own private electricity, it is wise to keep a pack of candles at your house in case.

2. Use DC-AC Inverter

This is the most convenient and the most cost effective way of supplying your own electricity. You can buy different brands of inverters with different power and function at any electric store in Yangon. They range from small 500 watt inverters up to a few kilowatts units. The more powerful inverters will need a larger capacity battery. If you intend to watch TV and light a few light bulbs at your house, choose the inverter unit with at least one kilowatt (the larger, the better). However, you cannot run air condition using the inverter but you can run one or two fans using the powerful inverter. Choose the inverter with automatic charging and voltage control function as it can also be used as a voltage regulator when the electricity is on.

DC-AC Inverter
DC-AC Inverter

3. Your own power station – Electric generator

This is not the cheapest option. However, when the electricity outage is too frequent, there is not enough time to recharge the inverters so your own electric generator can become quite handy during these times. You can buy different sizes of generators, up to the large capacity ones that can produce enough electric power to run your fridge and a few air conditioned units. Choose the generator depending on your budget and your intended usage.

4. Rent a serviced apartment

Alternatively, you can rent a serviced apartment where electricity is guaranteed (either by special VIP power supply or by own generator). There are only a few serviced apartments available in Yangon and you need to be really quick to get one room as the remaining vacant rooms are quickly filling up.

5. Rent a house in one of the VIP areas

If you are fortunate enough to be able to rent a house in one of the VIP areas, you are guaranteed to have regular uninterrupted supply of electricity 24/7. Ask your agent to find a house in one of these VIP locations. However, prepare to pay high price for a house in these areas. Please remember that even in these areas, there might be occasional outage so always keep a pack of candles and a few pieces of torch light or emergency lights.