Myanmar (once known as Burma) is opening itself up to world travellers in a big…
Wondering What to Carry On Your Myanmar Backpacking Trip?
My trip to Myanmar was quite short notice, as most things seem to be these days. And I immediately found myself scouring the internet looking for things to wear, things to take and, naturally, I had just a few days to buy them. Despite the research, there were definitely some things I didn’t know I’d need before going, things which would have been incredibly handy to have. If you’re unsure what to wear on your Myanmar backpacking trip or what to pack for its unique culture and landscape, we’ve got you covered.
Myanmar is a beautifully diverse country, they say there are three seasons, hot, hotter, and the hottest; and you can enjoy a nice long monsoon in that to boot.
In reality, it goes something like this:
Hot Season: March to May
Cool Season: September to March – This is also high season when most of the activities like balloon rides over Bagan happen.
Wet Season: June to September – You can get lucky in September with regards to dry weather (like I did) so don’t discount it.
While this is a packing list for Myanmar, most of the items will serve you well if you’re backpacking across the rest of Southeast Asia. So make sure you’re nice and prepared with everything you could possibly need below.
Read More: If you haven’t seen our giant post of the best places to visit in Myanmar yet
What to Wear While Travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is one of the most Buddhist countries in Southeast Asia and while I’m sure that adds to the sense of calm that pervades the whole country, the quickest way to rub someone up the wrong way is to dress scantily in a temple.
One of my favourite things about the country is their wonderful traditional dress, the longyi. It looks so good on both men and women (and it’s slimming too!). It’s essentially a long skirt so you can pick up one of those pretty much anywhere while you’re there to cover up. You can even pick up the long baggy pants at any market, the ones that have become a saviour for anyone travelling in a hot country these days.
Myanmar is still quite a conservative country and you will get a few stares if you’re in strappy clothes so make sure you pack t-shirts, long trousers and skirts and a few scarves to sling over your shoulders.
I recommend taking:
- 2 – 4 T-shirts
- 2 vests
- A lightweight blouse
- Harem style pants (you can buy more there)
- 2 Leggings
- A maxi-skirt or maxi-dress
- 1 rain jacket or a sturdy travel umbrella
For the love of God, take something warm to put on over your Summer clothes. Jetting around on Inle Lake (a part of Myanmar which is several degrees cooler anyway) I was shivering the entire way around. It’s also freezing on the buses and in some restaurants because of the air conditioning so a jumper and a scarf to use as a blanket is a great idea while on your Myanmar backpacking trip.
For keeping warm, bring:
- A lightweight jumper or cardigan
- An oversized scarf – You’ll struggle not to buy loads more scarves when you’re there so one is enough!
When it comes to footwear, you’ll need to walk barefoot in the temples and leave your shoes at the door (which makes for seriously burnt feet occasionally) so easy to remove sandals or flip-flops as well as some wet wipes to wipe your feet after are a great choice. Perhaps a good foot moisturizer and scrub too!
Also, if you’re planning on hiking up in the shan country and around the Inle Lake area then you might find some hiking boots useful. Otherwise, you shouldn’t need them.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Flip Flops or sandals
- Hiking Boots (if needed) or some sturdier footwear for long walks (I could wear my Birkenstocks for days).
If your hair behaves anything like mine in humidity then you’re going to want something to keep that nest in check. Some headbands or wraps should do the job and you’ll look great.
Some hair tamers I recommend:
- Vintage Style Scarf Headband
Don’t forget that Myanmar has some wonderful beaches and hotel pools are fairly standard so make sure you have a swimsuit or bikini tucked away for those leisure times.
- Swimsuit or bikini
- Quick-Dry Travel Towel
Read More: Learn more about Myanmar before you go with these great books.
Must-Have Items on your Myanmar Backpacking Trip
If you don’t want to be buying a ridiculous amount of plastic bottled water then the Grayl, or even a lifestraw and your own reusable bottle, is a great way to avoid all that and keep safe. There’s nothing worse than running out of water on your Myanmar backpacking adventure and not being able to purify any or buy more.
A good guidebook is always handy and I’d definitely recommend taking a phrasebook or downloading some translation apps since the English isn’t particularly good, especially once you’re out of the major cities.
Between temple-hopping barefoot, exploring the lively markets and cities and hopping on and off boats, there are a few things you’re going to need to keep your body in top shape.
- Foot Wipes (biodegradable/ paraben-free)/ Foot Scrub
- Hand Sanitiser
- Sunscreen (Ocean-friendly & Waterproof) + Aftersun – the sun is intense in Myanmar, exploring the Inle Lake area is probably the most burnt I’ve ever been.
Mosquito Repellant: Everyone has their favourite form of mosquito repellant, perhaps you’re a patches person or prefer natural repellents without deet. Whatever your preference make sure you take some with you. There are a few nasty diseases lurking that can be easily avoided by making yourself as unattractive as possible to the mozzies. That being said, I forgot to put any on for about two days and didn’t get bitten even while on the water (not recommended).
- Repel Insect Pump Spray – This is 40% DEET which I always go for because mosquitoes adore me
- Repel Plant-Based Spray
- Pack of Mosquito Repellant Bracelets
Universal Travel Adapter: You’ll definitely need one of these for Myanmar. I was pleasantly surprised to find European plugs when I arrived in Yangon (although I’m from the UK, most of my stuff was bought in Europe or Korea) but then when I arrived in other parts of the country I found UK plugs. Myanmar is developing fast but you’ll occasionally see hints of its colonial past (like the plugs) so make sure you’re prepared.
The Travel Essentials
Here you’ll find your non-Myanmar specific travel items that I’ve grown to love and highly recommend.
- Travel Backpack – Osprey Fairpoint or Osprey Sojourn wheeled luggage
- Packing Cubes – It took me a while to be a packing cube convert but they make packing SO much easier
- Sleep Sheet
- Trtl Pillow – this took me a little while to get used to but makes long haul flights so much easier
- Wireless Headphones
- Travel Pro Hairdryer – One that actually dries your hair rather than just moves it about a bit
- Ear Plugs – not just earplugs, these help with cabin pressure so you blocked ears and pain is greatly reduced
- Passport Cover and Luggage Tag Set – treat yourself!
Travel Electronics for Myanmar
Electronics have made the travel life so much easier that I’m not sure how we managed before. I’m sure you have your favourites but here are some of ours.
- Power Bank with Built-in Torch
- Go Pro 7 Set
- SD Cards
- Canon EOS 200D (I’m a big fan of the Canon 50mm lens for travel photos)
- Kindle – Of course, and this version is waterproof!
Booking Accommodation in Myanmar
Accommodation in Myanmar isn’t hard to come by but can’t get booked up quickly during the high season. Check out our favourite places to stay in Myanmar, featuring the best hostels, homestays and hotels in each of the most popular tourist destinations.
Don’t Forget Your Insurance
Travel insurance is always a good idea but its highly advised if you’re taking a Myanmar backpacking trip in case you get sick or have an accident. You won’t be seen at the hospital until you pay and you may need to be sent to Bangkok if its something serious. Also, you can cover yourself for delays and luggage losses. We recommend World Nomads Insurance.