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An update from Evaneos

What to put in your suitcase when travelling in Burma

It gets very hot in Burma, so don't over pack your suitcase: fill it mainly with light clothing and the essential things you need to protect your skin from the sun. If you forget your sunscreen, you can always try thanaka: a yellowish-white paste of vegetable origin used by the Burmese (especially the women) to protect themselves from the sun.

It can also get quite cold in some areas, especially Pwin Oo Lwin, Kalaw and Inle Lake. Temperatures fall to around 5 °C to 10 °C at night between November and February. It is therefore advisable to take some items of warm clothing, especially if you are staying around Inle Lake, where most of the hotels stand on stilts.

When visiting Burma, it is especially important to dress appropriately for the local culture: women should avoid shorts, sleeveless tops and short dresses. If you are wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt when about to enter a pagoda, you should place a piece of cloth over your shoulders. Nobody will comment if you don't, but it may make people you speak to feel uncomfortable. One possibility is to buy a traditional Burmese "longyi": a kind of wraparound skirt worn by both women and men. These offer the advantage of being both practical and cooler than trousers.

Consider taking a good quality camera with you: the scenery in Burma is wonderful, and you won't want your photos of Bagan and Inle Lake spoiled. It is difficult to buy electronic equipment in Burma (except in Yangon perhaps).

Finally, don't forget to take all your essential toiletry products. You can easily find soap and shampoo in Burma, but this is not true of the other products you normally use. And the fact that most moisturizing creams in Asia contain skin whitening agents makes it all the more important to take your own. Something else to be aware of is that it is impossible to find tampons in Burma. Sanitary pads are available however.

The essentials

  1. Medicines (antibiotics, antidiarrheals, etc.): there are lots of "fake" medicines circulating in Burma
  2. An adapter for US-style electrical sockets
  3. Your essential toiletry products: it will be difficult to find many of the products you normally use once in the country
  4. A flashlight or headlamp
  5. A waterproof bag to keep your camera dry
  6. A fanny pack to keep your money and passport safe
  7. A camera with an extra SD card and a spare battery
  8. A roll of toilet paper: these are very hard to find in Burma
  9. Moist towelettes and a bottle of antibacterial hand lotion
  10. An anti-mosquito product (especially in the wet season)
  11. Hiking shoes or boots if you are planning to go trekking
  12. A pair of flip-flops: easy to remove before entering temples
  13. A fleece and a windbreaker: it gets cold at night between November and February, especially in the area around Inle Lake
  14. A silk sheet (or sleeping bag liner): useful in case you don't trust the cleanliness of the sheets at any point
  15. Sunblock: if you forget it, you can always try thanaka, which is what the Burmese use
  16. It is essential to take sunglasses and a hat: the sun is very strong in Burma
  17. Women should take tampons with them: you can only get sanitary pads in Burma
  18. Light cotton or linen clothing that covers your arms and legs.
Aurélie Chartier
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