Internet is now widely and cheaply available in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan, but more limited elsewhere. However access is very slow and many sites are inaccessible. Rates are around 300 kyat/hour in Yangon and 1000-3000 kyat/hour elsewhere. Some hotels, although rare, allow free access to the internet.
A list of proxys to circumvent blocks can be found at proxy.org (http://www.proxy.org).
Webmail: most free webmail providers are blocked, however many Internet cafÃ©s circumvent this - jot down the workaround in case it's still unknown in the next cafÃ© you visit. If one Internet cafÃ© can't connect you, the next one probably will the next day. As of January 2012, Hotmail , Yahoo Gmail are available now.But some place is until block.
As of May 2006, the following workarounds worked:
Yahoo - use wap.oa.yahoo.com - the WAP mobile phone gateway, which gets you the basic interface.
Myanmar has two ISPs, MPT and Bagan. Proxy sites are blocked by MPT, but may work with the Bagan ISP.
As of 2011, mobile data services are available.
The price of computers and a home internet connection is prohibitive so most people surf at Internet cafÃ©s. Web-based email websites such as Yahoo! or Hotmail are usually blocked, though G-mail is usually available. The government records screenshots every five minutes from PCs in Internet cafÃ©s to monitor Internet usage. If you don't want your privacy violated in this way, save your surfing for Thailand or wherever you head next.
Modest clothing is highly appreciated everywhere except nightclubs, and practically required in religious places such as pagodas, temples and monasteries of which there are thousands. Miniskirts, shorts and sleeveless shirts are not allowed in consecrated areas, where you also have to remove your footwear, so prefer loafers and flip-flops that can slip on & off at the entrance--Myanmar has some of the most stunning temples in Asia and you will be tempted to visit more than you think.
Both men and women wear a longyi, a sort of sarong sold everywhere, and it is not unusual to see Caucasian foreigners walking around in them. They are wrapped in different ways for men and women, so find out how to tie yours. If you turn up at a temple in inappropriate dress, you can always rent a longyi for a pittance.
Also avoid t-shirts with images of Buddhas or Buddhist imagery, which is considered highly disrespectful. Folks are forgiving about it, but one should not look like a bigger fool than is necessary.
Give generously at temples and monasteries but women are not allowed into some sacred areas--actually the restriction should cover only women in menstruation, but since it would be rude to ask and unthinkable to verify, they keep all ladies out. You will often see monks begging for alms in the streets in the morning they are not allowed to eat after noon. Note that monks are not allowed to come into physical contact with the opposite sex, so be careful not to touch hands if offering a donation. In addition, you should only donate food to the monks, as they are not allowed to accept money under any circumstances and giving money to a monk is considered a sign of disrespect - those that accept money are almost always fakes.
You can also purchase little squares of gold leaf to apply to consecrated statues.
When praying or paying respects, it is important to ensure that the *soles* of your feet do not point towards the Buddha or anyone else. However, statues are arranged so that won't happen unless you get acrobatic about it. Tuck your feet underneath you when kneeling at shrines and temples.
When receiving business cards, use your left hand to support your right elbow, and receive it with your right hand.
Tourists of Caucasian descent are commonly referred to as bo, which translates "leader", as a sign of respect. Address elders with U pronounced "oo", as in soon or "Uncle" for men, and Daw or "Auntie" for women.
Generally speaking, despite the common negative perception of the government, most ordinary Burmese people are incredibly friendly and polite as long as you repect their local customs. Customer service is in general very good some say better than in Thailand but customer service staff are invariably poorly paid, so you might wish to tip service staff generously to ensure your money goes into the right hands.
The official language of Myanmar is Burmese known by the government as Myanmar. A majority of Burmese pronunciation is derived from the ancient language of Pali at the time of the Buddha, but the language is a Sino-Tibetan language related to Chinese and hence tonal word pitch matters and analytic most words are one syllable long. It is written using the Burmese script, based on the ancient Pali script. Bilingual signs English and Burmese are available in most tourist spots. Numbers often are also written in Burmese script.
There are also many other ethnic groups in Myanmar such as the Mon, Shan, Pa-O and many others who continue to speak their own languages. There is also a sizeable ethnic Chinese community mostly of Yunnan descent, most visible in the city of Mandalay, and many of whom speak Mandarin. Some areas are also home to various ethnic Indian communities who continue to speak various Indian languages. However, with the exception of the elderly, it is rare to find any locals who do not speak Burmese.
Myanmar is a former British colony, and as a result - and because English is still compulsory in kindergartens and primary schools - many Burmese understand at least some rudimentary English. Most well-educated upper class Burmese are fluent in English, while in the main cities like Yangon and Mandalay, many locals will know enough English for basic communication. Hotel and airline staff, as well as people working in the tourism industry generally speak an acceptable level of English. You may find more English spoken in Myanmar than in Thailand.
International mail out of Myanmar is reportedly quite efficient. As elsewhere, there is always a risk if you send valuables as ordinary parcels.
A hotel in Yangon has claimed postcards mailed in the country had less than a 1 % chance of being delivered abroad, though this is contradicted by the experiences of many visitors.
International phone calls can be arranged at the Central Telephone & Telegraph Office at the corner of Ponsodan and Mahabandoola Streets in Yangon. International Direct Dial calls are also available at most hotels and at many public call offices often a phone in a shop, but they are expensive, e.g. a call to the US costs US$6-7 per min. As of 2010, the only mobile telephone network is the MPTGSM network provided by the Myanmar Government's Post and Telecommunication agency. This works on the GSM900 band, so is visible to multi-band GSM phones. However, MPT has no international roaming arrangements, so manual attempts to connect to the network are refused. If your own mobile telephone can detect the MPTGSM network, then you may be able to buy a US$20 SIM card which will work for 28 days.
The government punishes crime, particularly against tourists, severely; it has a hard enough time convincing tourists to go there due to its international reputation. In addition, many locals, being devout Buddhists, are wary of retribution in their next life should they commit any crimes against others. As a result, as far as crime and personal safety go, Myanmar is extremely safe for tourists, and it is generally safe to walk on the streets alone at night. In fact, you are less likely to be a victim of crime in Myanmar than in Thailand or Malaysia. However, as with anywhere else, little crime does not mean no crime and it is still no excuse to ditch your common sense. As a foreigner, the most common crime you should be worried about is petty theft, so keep your belongings secured. Physical and verbal harassment towards foreigners is uncommon, even on urban walks near bars.
Since 2005, Yangon and Mandalay have seen a barely perceptible rise in the very low level of street robberies. Several years ago, there were isolated bombings: 26 April 2005 in Mandalay; 7 May, 21 October and 5 December 2005 in Yangon; 2 January 2006 in Bago.
Myanmar is one of the world's most corrupt countries. Officials and other civil servants may discreetly ask you for a bribe, or invent issues missing forms, closed offices, etc in order to get you to suggest one. Pretending not to understand or asking to speak to a superior may work. However, visitors of Caucasian descent are rarely targeted, while those of Asian descent including South Asians and East Asians may be forced to give bribes, but the brunt of the problem hits normal Burmese.
Again, Westerners are very rarely asked for bribes. Then too, most bribes are in the order of a US dollar or less and requested by people earning as little as US$30/month.
Various insurgent groups continue to operate in the Shan, Mon, Chin Zomi, and Karen States of Myanmar, along the Thai and Chinese borders. Travel to these regions generally requires a government permit. The government also restricts travel to Kayah State, Rakhine State and Kachin state due to insurgent activity. However travel is entirely unrestricted to the districts of Yangon, Bago, Ayeyarwady, Sagaing, Taninthayi, Mandalay and Magwe.
Despite traditional taboos against it, begging has become a major problem in the main tourist areas such as Bago and Bagan. Children and "mothers" carrying babies are often the ones who beg as they are more effective at soliciting pity. Note that most beggars are part of larger begging syndicates or just after easy money, as tourists are usually seen to be rich. In addition, the poor can always obtain food for free from the nearest monastery if they can't afford to pay for it, so begging is not necessary for their survival. If you really must give, note that most Burmese earn only US$40 a month doing manual labour; giving US$1 to a beggar is very generous.
Myanmar's healthcare system is poorly funded. If you should fall sick in Myanmar, you can visit the doctor in major cities for minor ailments such as coughs and colds. However, for more serious medical care, hospital conditions tend to be unsanitary and there is often a shortage of medical supplies due to economic sanctions. The only hospital that comes close to modern developed standards is Pun Hlaing Hospital, a privately owned hospital which is in a remote township of Yangon called Hlaing Thar Yar, and one should expect very high expenses there. Most of the hospitals are government owned, which means poorly funded. Most of the government officials and rich locals head to Thailand or Singapore for more serious medical treatment and hospitalisation and you will be better off doing so too. Just ensure your insurance is in order as arranging to be airlifted in an emergency can be rather costly.
Myanmar has been under strong military rule for the past 40 years, with a reputation for repressing dissent, as in the case of the frequent house arrests of democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi, and currently has more than 1,500 political prisoners sentences of 65 years and hard labor in remote camps were given to leaders of the Saffron Revolution. When in Myanmar, abstain from political activities and don't insult the government.
Discuss politics, if you must, with people who have had time to get a feel for you. The danger, however, is primarily posed to those you speak with, and thus you should take care with their safety. Let them lead the conversation. Also, realize that many phone lines are tapped. And if you absolutely must wave a democracy banner in front of a police station, you'll simply find yourself on the next outbound flight.
However, in recent months, liberty in general has increased by a small but perceptible amount under the new government. A few politically critical articles have been published in government newspapers and a satirical film deriding the government's film censorship policy has been released, neither of which would have been possible in 2010. Returning visitors to Myanmar may find that locals have become ever so slightly more open to discussions regarding politics.
However, under any circumstances avoid doing things that might make the military or police feel uncomfortable, such as taking pictures of police and police buildings or vehicles.