Preparing your trip to the beautiful country of Myanmar? Well, it is time to fill up your smartphone with new apps! Here is our survival kit to make sure your vacations are peaceful and relaxing while traveling to the Golden Land.
If you decide to spend a few days visiting Yangon, Grab is a no-brainer.
Grab is the equivalent of Uber in the western world, the ride-hailing app entered the country in 2017 transforming the way Yangonites commute.
Locals have rapidly embraced the app, it is easy to use, there is always a promotion around and the wait is non-existent except in peak times where it could take a few minutes to lock a ride. The service is so far limited to official taxi drivers.
Grab is super useful for tourists and foreigners living in Yangon. The main reason is communication. The first time you will hail a cab in Yangon’s busy streets, you will understand. It takes time for a foreigner to capture the correct pronunciation of places in Myanmar. And don’t bother with the writing, some taxi drivers will simply not read an address in the English language.
Grab makes things much easier as the app will translate the address you type in and display it in a map to the taxi driver, limiting the overall conversation to the strict minimum.
That is the theory. Remember that technology is still quite new to Myanmar and it can happen from time to time to bump into a driver who does not know how to use a GPS. But this is becoming less and less frequent. In general, if you feel that the situation is not right with the ride, just remember that it is probably just a communication issue. Taxi drivers in Myanmar are honest and helpful, they are not trying to scam you. So keep your calm and try to communicate to the best of your abilities.
Another upside of using Grab: fixed fare.
Keep in mind that Myanmar taxis have no meter. If you do not fancy a good negotiation in sign language, Grab is the best solution for you as it applies a fixed fare that will be displayed on your phone before your booking.
To our experience, Grab is cost-effective compared to negotiating a ride yourself. Locals will certainly disagree on this, though.
Have you booked your stay in Yangon? Otherwise, take a look at our top 10 Hotels in Yangon.
Mandalay, Myanmar’s religious heart
Mandalay as the former capital is the religious epicenter of Myanmar with 600+ pagodas. The most famous pagodas are Mahamuni Pagoda with its four-meter bronze Buddha statue, Kuthodaw Pagoda known as the world’s largest book and Sandamuni Pagoda built as a memorial for Crown Prince Kanaung in the 19th century.
In Mandalay, Grab Thonebane (three-wheel taxis) is a new and popular way to explore the city. The service is super convenient as taxis are scarce and pricey in the old Burmese capital. Using Grab App will make your whole traveling experience in Mandalay hassle-free.
Oway is one of the most well-funded startups in ASEAN according to CB Insights.
The local company offers a wide range of services from online travel agency, ride-hailing services, corporate fleet services.
Oway Travel can help you to arrange all your bookings for your next holiday in Myanmar. You can use their platform to find hotels, flight tickets, bus tickets, and even obtain your tourist visa.
Oway is also the largest ride-hailing service available in Myanmar. Oway Ride services include 4-wheel Car Taxi, Bike taxi, and Mini Oway (3 wheeler) across Mandalay, Yangon, Bagan, Pwin O Lwin, and Mawlamyine. Oway Ride app is available both on Android and IOS.
Oway also offers tourists the possibility to book a car with insurance from ten major cities in Myanmar including Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, and Heho.
Self-Driving in Myanmar
Self-driving in Myanmar is not for the faint-hearted but it could be an enjoyable experience. To be allowed to drive in Myanmar, you would have to hold an international driving license. When renting a car in Myanmar, make sure the rental comes with insurance.
Do you have plans to visit South Shan State, one of the top destinations in Myanmar? If so, a good plan could be to book a flight or bus ticket from Yangon to Heho and reserve a car at the airport to travel around.
Roads in South Shan State are in good condition and the scenery is stunning. From Heho, it will take you one hour to drive to Nyaungshwe and the world-famous Inle Lake where you can set your base.
In your road trip itinerary, don’t miss a ride to the old-British town of Kalaw up-hill where you can enjoy the cool and relaxing atmosphere and visiting beautiful houses from the colonial era.
Take another day to travel to Pindaya Caves, home of more than 8,000 Buddha statues.
Viber is a messaging and Voice Over IP platform similar to WhatsApp, Line, or Wechat. Viber is operated by a Japanese company named Rakuten and is without a doubt the most popular messaging application in Myanmar. The platform has more than 1 billion users worldwide and 18 million in Myanmar as of 2015.
One of the main reasons Viber is so popular in Myanmar is the company focus to localize or to re-use the word of Anubhav Nayyar, Viber’s head of business development for the region to “glocalize”.
Whether you like to plan and book everything ahead or you are more a free spirit that enjoys dipping into the unknown, you will certainly find useful to download Viber before your arrival. The communication app will be a solid asset to keep in touch with the people you meet. Find yourself a local sim card, activate your data plan and you are ready to go!
By the way, have you read our piece about how to use your phone in Myanmar?
Are you not sick of looking up TripAdvisor for your next lunch or dinner option? And the result could be deceptive, it is hard to find your way through this avalanche of reviews which are -let’s admit it- mostly biased or faked. Google Maps will not treat you better. You will be left alone with your guts or a quick tip from a taxi driver which is not the worst choice you could make after all.
Myanmar is nowhere near Thailand when it comes to finding genuine sources of information on the web. Those living in Yangon know how hard it could be to find tips on the food scene beside the good old word of mouth.
An exception to the rule, Myanmore is a decent source of inspiration for both locals and visitors in Myanmar. The dining category is regularly fed with reviews and news about restaurant openings. This is unquestionably a website you should check out during your trip to Myanmar.
iDiscover offers a new way to discover Asia’s historic cities. The Android app is available in Hong Kong, Colombo, Bali, Bangkok and lucky us: Yangon! The digital guide offers a series of 2-hour neighborhood walks or rides to discover the city.
So far, five neighborhoods are available: Sanchaung, Downtown, Chinatown, the Secretariat, and the Yangon Circular Train. iDiscover tours are designed and developed by locals and as such will be a faithful companion to explore local places, traditional food places, and unexpected sightseeings.