Travelling through a foreign country by car is always a unique experience. However, some countries have strict rules for foreigners who want to drive themselves. This is also the case in Myanmar. Read all about renting a car in Myanmar, including information on how to apply for the Myanmar visa, which is necessary for the trip to Myanmar.
Arrival in Yangon
Most tourist trips in Myanmar begin at Yangon International Airport, located just under 15 kilometres north of the city centre. Myanmar also has two other international airports, in Mandalay and in the capital Naypyidaw, but there are far fewer flights to these airports and the airfares are usually much more expensive. It is possible to rent a car at Yangon airport, but this can also be arranged online before departure.
Driving yourself is not recommended
It is generally not recommended getting behind the wheel yourself in Myanmar. In fact, until 2013, driving a car in Myanmar was forbidden for foreigners. The only possibility was to rent a car with a driver. Although this is no longer the case, it is still not recommended driving by yourself in Myanmar. The traffic in Myanmar is very chaotic. Although people in Myanmar drive on the right side of the road, many cars likewise have the steering wheel on the right side. This makes manoeuvres like overtaking a lot more difficult. This can lead to dangerous situations, especially for tourists.
Moreover, the roads in Myanmar are often of poor quality. Although the government of Myanmar has invested heavily in the road network in recent years, the country is still far behind what people in Europe are used to. Many roads are not paved, but a combination of gravel and sand. This also leads to problems with planning routes. A journey that takes one hour on a map can in practice easily take two to three hours.
Renting a car with a driver
Because of these reasons, tourists are generally advised to rent a car with a driver. These drivers know the roads and traffic in Myanmar like no other, so you do not have to worry about the hectic traffic and bad roads. Renting a car with a driver in Myanmar costs around $100 per day. The price can often be negotiated, especially if you rent the car with driver for a longer period.
Still want to drive yourself? Pay attention to these things
Although it is strongly discouraged, it is possible to drive a car in Myanmar yourself. However, there are some requirements attached. You should at least have an international driving licence. Your own national driving licence is not sufficient. Some travellers report that even an international driving licence is not sufficient, but that you must also apply for a Myanmar driving licence in Yangon. This differs per rental company. Check with the company beforehand which kind of driving licence is required.
In Myanmar, people drive on the right side of the road. However, because in the past people drove on the left according to the English system, many of the roads in Myanmar are built on the basis of left-hand driving. In Myanmar, they have long grown used to this, but for foreigners it can be very confusing, even for Brits.
The speed limit in Myanmar is 48 kilometres per hour in built-up areas. This is not a typo, but a result of converting the old English speed limit of 30 miles per hour into kilometres per hour. This means that in theory, you can be fined if you drive 50 km/h, but this rule is generally not very strictly enforced. Outside built-up areas, the speed limit is 80 km/h and on highways 100 km/h.
Myanmar visa mandatory
Even before applying for an international driving licence, it is recommended first applying for a Myanmar visa. Without a visa, you are not allowed to enter Myanmar to begin with. Both British and Irish travellers are required to have a visa when they arrive. The Myanmar visa is an electronic visa, also called e-visa. This means that it can be applied for completely online, without having to visit the embassy.
To apply for the visa, fill in the online application form. There are some requirements attached to the use of the electronic Myanmar visa. For example, the passport of the traveller must be valid for at least 6 more months upon arrival in the country and at least one accommodation must be booked.
The visa is usually granted within one week. Travellers who leave at short notice can submit an urgent application. These are usually approved within 24 hours, although no guarantees can be given with regards to delivery times.