Know What to Pack for Myanmar: The Ultimate Packing List
Updated on March 19th, 2020
Deciding on what to pack for anywhere can be a challenge. Especially when it’s a new country and you don’t know exactly what the weather will be like or about the cultural norms. I’ve been living in Myeik, Myanmar for over 3 months now and want to help you take the guesswork out of what to pack for Myanmar.
Packing for anywhere in Southeast Asia requires a bit of foresight into packing for the heat, the rain and culturally sensitive clothes for visiting religious temples. What many travellers don’t think about however is you need a few warm clothes for the higher elevation areas. Myanmar is actually a very diverse country and that means you need to be well-equipped for all types of weather patterns.
I’ve been travelling long-term for a few years now and know what staples need to be in my bag. There’s rarely a time when I come inadequately prepared and I can fit that all into my 65L backpack. If it’s your first time to Asia, you will want to ensure you have a few essentials that may be hard to find locally.
It’s also very easy to overpack and there are a few things you just won’t use when in Myanmar. So read on and discover the best packing list and what to wear in Myanmar.
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In a rush?
If you don’t have time right now to read the Myanmar travel essentials, why not download the checklist.
Things to know before travelling to Myanmar
Myanmar is a very unique country and relatively undiscovered when compared with its neighbouring Southeast Asian countries. One of the wonderful things about the country is the authenticity of the people and the culture. A few things to consider before visiting Myanmar are:
The easiest way to find out which vaccinations are required for visiting Myanmar is to go to your local travel-specific GP. Make sure you do this at the earliest date possible as certain vaccinations require multiple doses weeks apart.
You can check the Passport Health website for their recommendations. However, many listed on here like Japanese encephalitis is only necessary if you are travelling in remote areas.
Passport and visa
Something that can easily be overlooked is the length of validity on your passport. Make sure your passport expires more than 6 months after your intended entry date otherwise there is a possibility of being denied entry.
Most travellers will require a visa to enter Myanmar. You can check your visa eligibility on iVisa. Head to the Myanmar government website to obtain a 28-day tourist visa. Alternatively, you can apply for a visa on arrival (VOA) at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw International airports. The VOA takes up an entire page in your passport, whereas the eVisa is just a stamp. Something good to keep in mind for the long-term travellers who are conscious of space. Both visas cost $50 USD.
Unlock your phone
It’s always a good idea to unlock your phone before travelling internationally. You can do this by contacting your service provider and assuming you aren’t locked in with them they can do this free of charge.
Once your phone is unlocked you are able to put in a local Myanmar SIM card. These are really affordable and means you have the ease of the internet with you.
This should go without saying but never travel without insurance. Over the years I have heard so many horror stories and met people who will be in debt the rest of their life because of a minor illness. Make sure you use a reputable insurance agency like World Nomads.
These are just a few things you cannot forget when planning your trip. Although there is so much to know before visiting Myanmar that I have dedicated a whole post to things to know and Myanmar travel tips.
Myanmar dress code
Myanmar has a strict dress code for visiting temples and other religious sites. Shoulders and knees must be covered and shoes are not to be worn. So make sure you pack conservative clothing.
In the cities of Myanmar, Western attire is more widely accepted but I wouldn’t go around wearing mini skirts, tight clothing or cropped tops. While it’s unlikely anyone will say anything you will draw unnecessary attention to yourself and many people may find this offensive.
In the smaller remote towns where foreigners are quite rare, I would do my best to wear longer skirts/pants and to cover my shoulders. When trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake the dress code was pretty relaxed and everyone wore leggings and shorts.
Best time to visit Myanmar
The best time to visit Myanmar is during the winter months. October to February has the mildest temperatures, March and April the weather begins to get very hot and the summer months are the wet season.
Depending on when you travel you should pack some seasonal specific clothing. It is common to get heavy downpours up to December and warmer clothing is required in northern parts of the country from December to February.
How to choose a backpack
Before you can start packing for Myanmar you will need to make sure you have a backpack best suited to travelling in Asia and one that meets your personal requirements. There are so many backpacks on the market that it can be a bit intimidating at first, however, it also means there will be something suited to your exact needs.
I go into detail about how to choose a backpack in a post designed for Europe. Although, there are some great pointers in there that explains the different specifications and features. To sum it up, you want to pick the smallest size possible without having to cram everything in. I think this 65L bag is perfect. You’ll want to make sure the design fits what you intend to put inside. Whether that’s camera or hiking gear or something else.
I wouldn’t recommend a suitcase as you will likely be moving between places quite frequently. Rolling a suitcase down the uneven street would be quite a challenge. It’s much easier to pop your belongings on your back and go for it.
There are a few things you need to remember when packing for Myanmar
- Important travel documents
- Copies (either hard or digital) of documents
- Travel money card
- Fee-free debit card
There are a few things you can buy once you’re in Myanmar like elephant pants and flip flops, but you’ll mostly have to rely on what you bring in yourself. Because the overall temperature is hot and tropical you’ll want to have loose-fitting warm weather gear. Leave any heavy fabrics at home.
Take into consideration when choosing the below items that nothing should be too revealing. The following list should be enough clean clothes to last you 10 days.
What to wear in Myanmar:
- 2-3 short-sleeve / t-shirts
- 2-3 tank tops
- 1 long-sleeved shirt
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 1 hiking shorts
- 1 breathable hiking shirt (bonus points if you can include this as one of the above shirts)
- 1 pair of long loose pants or skirt – or buy some when you arrive
- 1 light flowy dress
- 1 compact and lightweight waterproof jacket. I love this one.
- 1 lightweight sweater for cooler areas/bus trips
- 1 sarong. Seriously my favourite travel accessory. I use it for everything, but great in Myanmar to wrap around shoulders when visiting temples
- 1 joggers or hiking boots – you only need one, pick what you are most comfortable in
- 1 pair of flip flops
- underwear. I take enough undies to last at least 10 days
- bras and sports bra – I pack 2 of each and find that’s plenty
- 2-3 pairs of socks
- 1 pyjamas
- 1 set of swimwear
- 1 hat
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo/conditioner – travel-sized packs. You can refill these in some hotels and hostels
- Face wash
- Deodorant. I prefer the stick kind when travelling. No chance of spillage and they last forever.
- Compact mirror
- Painkillers – for days after one too many drinks. You can also buy these in Myanmar, but who wants to go looking for them when they’re hungover.
- Hand sanitiser
- Lip balm
- Sanitary products. These are a good idea to stock up on. You can buy them over here, but everyone prefers their favourite brands
- Eye mask
- Nail clippers
- Mosquito repellant – the strongest repellants have DEET in them and are great for keeping mozzies at bay. I find my natural mosquito spray keeps them away and is better for your body.
- Minimal makeup – You’ll find you rarely wear it.
- Face cream
I know it’s hard for people who are used to straightening their hair and wearing lots of makeup to leave home without it. Although I can promise you, you will rarely use those products. Most backpackers travel makeup-free and it’s really liberating.
This will vary greatly depending on your level of photography or videographer skills and the equipment you own. Although the essential electronics you need are:
- Camera equipment
- Thumb drives – pop your photos on to these or keep extra SD cards
- Smartphone lenses
- Portable power bank. I bought Ben a 20,000 mah charger for Christmas and honestly don’t know why we didn’t get one sooner.
- Laptop – only if you need it for work, otherwise leave it at home
- Universal adaptor. Myanmar is a strange place for power outlets and the outlet varies throughout the country. It’s best to buy a universal adaptor to be sorted wherever you go.
- Selfie stick
Accessories & miscellaneous items for Myanmar
- Day bag – collapsible backpacks are perfect
- Crossbody bag – Myanmar is a safe place, but petty crime is possible everywhere.
- Packing cubes – My packing saviour
- Reusable water bottle. Lifestraw bottles filter 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites
- Luggage lock
- Headlamp – Myanmar has frequent power outages. I use my Black Diamond headlamp all the time. You’ll also use a headlamp in Bagan when you are getting up early to watch the sunrise over the temples.
Travelling to Myanmar soon?
Make sure you check out my full travel resources for Myanmar
- 3 Days in Yangon Itinerary
- Top Things to do in Yangon