Communication in Burma
As in the case of transport infrastructure, communication infrastructures in Burma are in full development. People are increasingly having access to mobile phone and the Internet, even though digital device is more important than in the surrounding countries. For new technology enthusiasts and those who cannot stop using emails during their Burma visit, here is the best Myanmar travel guide to useful communication and addresses in Burma.
Before going on some trips to Burma, make sure that your mobile phone is unlocked; you can use a local phone card. The three largest operators in the country are Telenor, Ooredoo and MPT. Ooredoo and Telenor have 4G coverage.
You will find SIM cards in Myanmar, running on a credit basis to charge for about 1.1USD. They are easy to buy in the small street stalls of Yangon and Mandalay, as well as at Yangon Airport and other major Myanmar tourist sites. To buy a SIM card, you need to have a photocopy of your passport, your Burma visa, as well as a passport photo.
It is increasingly possible to have access to your own network coverage from Burma. Be careful though: like any international communication, it may cost you a lot. In case of fixed telephone, there is very little development in Burmese. Telephone booths are easy to find on the street, and in general, each store has a telephone. It costs $0.07 per minute for a domestic call and about $5 per minute internationally.
The Internet in Myanmar
Wi-Fi in Burma is quite widespread, even in the most remote places; generally, almost all cafes and hotels provide this kind of service. However, the speed of connection is much slower than what you have been familiar with in your country. It costs 0.35USD per hour in an internet cafes on average.
The speed also varies according to the day. Before you travel to Burma, try to download an offline version of your mailbox if you have to work on your emails. There are no longer any restrictions on websites such as Facebook or Twitter.
Phone numbers and useful addresses. Here is a list of contacts in Burma that may be useful to you when staying in the country.
• Embassy of France in Burma
102 Pyidaungsu Yeikhta Rd, Dagon
Tel: 01 21 21 78
• Embassy of Burma in France
Address: 60, rue de Courcelles, 75008 Paris
• Burma Tourist Board
Maha Bandula Park St, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Tel: +95 67 406 061
• Police emergency number: 199
• Tourist police emergency number: 01378479/01379701
• Health service emergency number (Yangon): 019000716/098612421
• Health service emergency number (Nay Pyi Taw): 095363181/0931471550/0931471850/09428152844
• Emergency number of the health service (Mandalay Region): 0943100961/0274365
• Emergency number of the health service (Kachin State): 09491552925/07423501
Also remember to keep the contact details of a trusted person, your bank (in the event of theft or loss of your credit card for example) and your travel insurance.
Languages in Myanmar
The most widely spoken languages of Burma are Burmese and English. English is normally enough to cope with the most touristy places in the country. For the other places, it is necessary to disentangle yourself with great reinforcement of English, French and body language.
Sometimes you can meet a guide speaking a few words of French or English. Do not hesitate to inquire in the tourist places. For the others, well, the Burmese speak Burmese and, if there is, the local dialect (there are more than 100!).
As for place names, thanks to the colonial past and the diversity of Burma, most places have more than two names. Here are some examples of popular Burmese phrases:
• Hello → Min-ga-la-ba
• How are you? → Ne-kaun-there (Pronounce Ne-Kaoun-la)
• Fine, thanks → Ne-kaun-ba-deh (Pronounce Ne-kaoun-ba-de)
• Nice to meet you. Twé-ya-da wùn-tha-ba-deh (Pronounce Twé-ya-da wouéna-ba-dé)
• My name is Pierre (male) → Kya taw ka Pierre bar (Pronounce Tché tow ka Pierre ba)
• My name is Marie (female) → Kya ma ka Marie bar (Pronounce Tché ma ka Marie ba)
• You speak English? → ìng-guh-lay loh byāw da’-thuh-there? (Pronounce Ingulè loh byow té la)
• Thanks • cè-zù tin-ba-deh (Pronounce Tchè zou tin ba dé)
• Yes → Ho of
• No → Ma ho bu (Pronounce Ma ho bou)
• The addition → shin-meh
• How much does it cost? → beh-lau-leh
• Where are the toilets? → eain da bae ma lae? (Pronounce èn da bé ma lé)
• A bottle of water → yè tan (de boo)
• Tea → lae pae ye (Pronounce lè pè yé)
During your Burma tours, try not to be discouraged by the communication problems that may arise. With a determined effort and patience, you will get out of most situations, and have an unforgettable journey.