You have decided to leave for Myanmar, but your geography professor was often absent so you don’t know much about this country – except that it’s located “bottom right”?
Don’t worry, the same applies to some of us. For example, only after we touched down Miguel understood that Myanmar and Burma are the same country. Yet, here we are with our list of fundamental things to put in your backpack. How do we know they’re are the right ones? As we kept forgetting them, we realized they’re fundamental. So, what will you need?
Sun is very, very strong so you’ll need a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. If you want to leave some space in your luggage for souvenirs, you can embrace Burmese customs and traditions (don’t embrace the locals, though, they might not like it). This way, New Era and Nivea will be replaced by amazing homemade hats and Thanaka (သနပ်ခါး), a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from the bark of Rutaceae trees. It’s used both as cosmetic beauty cream and sunscreen.
If you believe Italian mosquitos – especially the ones around Naviglio – are killers, you have never met Burmese ones: after biting you, they sometimes sit at the table for a cigarette. Malaria exists only in the most rural areas, so don’t worry about that. However, if you don’t want to end up scratching yourself among the pagodas, like Diapone of our marketing team, don’t forget to bring some mosquito repellent (available at any Ostello Bello) and to wear light but long pants.
If you like trekking, you’re definitely in the right place. Myanmar offers a variety of hikes that will take you through small local villages and beautiful sceneries, so you can enjoy the country and meet the population. Don’t forget some essentials: a jacket, since temperatures are lower on the mountains and in the buses to return home; good walking shoes (to our German friends: sandals don’t count as good shoes, not even with socks); some blister plasters (your feet will thank you); a torch, just in case; a water bottle, to avoid wasting plastic (it will save your life when you refill it, because you’ll sweat a lot); a sewing kit in case you ruin your clothes during the excursion.
When you’re not hiking through the mountains, you should swap shoes with sandals and flip-flops (yes, German friends, rejoice! Still, don’t wear socks). This will make things easier any time you enter a temple or a place of worship – sometimes even homes – where shoes are not allowed.
During any day trip you’ll burst with excitement and want to take pictures of everything unique surrounding you. That’s why you’ll need a good camera and memory storage on your devices. As a result, your smartphone battery will not last long, so bring a portable battery with you.
Unromantic piece of advice: always bring with you some anti-diarrhea pills. Unfortunately, you might need them. If you have space, you can also take with you some mineral salts to re-hydrate and toilet paper (it’s hard to find it in less touristic places). Girls, don’t forget tampons.
A book is always a good travel companion. Before going to bed and during a relaxing pause it will keep you company with good stories and set your imagination free. Moreover, books in Myanmar also have another function: they’re a good place to keep your banknotes to avoid any sign of usage (ruined banknotes are not accepted in Myanmar!).
A good deal of patience and a positive attitude to discover and enjoy everything new. You’re about to meet a completely different culture, so keep an open mind and be ready to welcome anything that comes in your way. A Burmese pocket dictionary could be helpful.
It would be nice to bring small gifs – toys or clothes you don’t use anymore – to give to the local children or their parents.
Last but not least, don’t forget to bring a water-resistant cover for your backpack: it will keep it dry during rainy season and protect it from the dust during transfers (no one is happy to have sand in their underwear).