Myanmar (Burma) is one of the largest countries in Southeast Asia, larger than England and France combined. Myanmar is bordered by India and Bangladesh in the west, China in the northeast, Laos and Thailand to the east and the Indian Ocean in the south.

Despite an oppressive ruling junta and the still apparent aftershocks of decades of brutal governing and unrest, Myanmar is trying to increase tourism by promoting new beach resorts along its 1,200 miles of coastline, its ornate temples and shrines (many dating back centuries) and the capital, Yangon (Rangoon), that belies its population of 4 million with pockets of dense forest.

Myanmar is ethnically diverse; almost 130 ethnic groups are represented in a population of nearly 45 million. Burmese is the official language. English is widely spoken particularly in the capitol of Rangoon and in the resorts. Myanmar offers the visitor the rare chance to view a Southeast Asian country and culture largely unchanged since it was under control of the United Kingdom.

Myanmar's tropical climate means the weather is hot and humid with monsoon rains May-October. The November-February dry season provides some relief from the heat. The hottest period is February-May, with little or no rain.

Telecommunication services are poor. Numerous outlets provide temporary business services, but Internet access is limited. The postal system is unreliable, but limited package delivery services are available in Yangon.

Most restaurants and lodging are inexpensive, although star rated hotels can be comparatively expensive. Do not rely on credit cards: Except for larger hotels, most merchants and restaurants accept only cash. ATMs are not available. Kyat is the official currency, but Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs), which are pegged to the U.S. dollar and are geared toward tourists, are also officially accepted, although some merchants may be reluctant to take them.

Avoid public transportation if possible. The crime rate is low and tourists are rarely targeted, but normal common sense security precautions should be observed




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