Monthly Archives: February 2013

New Destination for Thai Smile


Nay Pyi Taw to offer 10,000 accommodations in 2014

Over 10,000 hotel rooms will be available at the Nay Pyi Taw Hotel Zone in 2014, according to a release from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Hotels and Tourism Minister Htay Aung said earlier this month that there would be over 80 hotels in hotel zone, providing over 10,000 rooms.

Constructed in 2006, there are 31 hotels in Nay Pyi Taw Hotel Zone currently, according to the minister.

The Nay Pyi Taw is expected to have high demand of accommodations when many foreign visitors arrive to attend the Southeast Asia Game at the end of this year and the Asean Summit and other related Summits next year.

According to statistics, Myanmar has a total of 787 hotels with 28,291 rooms.

These include 5 five-star hotels, 18 four-star hotels, 83 three-star hotels, 115 two-star hotels, 103 one-star hotels, and 462 hotels with licenses.

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Classic Journeys Expands Into Myanmar

In a simple neighborhood monastery in Yangon, Myanmar, last December, resident monks offered their views on recent monks’ protests as we discussed the democratic political reforms that have been transforming the former authoritarian country, also known as Burma. As I left, a man by the door told me he had been a political prisoner for 12 years. The meeting had been arranged by my Classic Journeys guide, who escorted me around the city—from the golden Shwedagon Pagoda to a typical middle-class residential area, where the monks welcomed me. The day of touring closed with a gourmet dinner in the garden at Le Planteur, a chic gourmet restaurant that was purchased in 2011 by Felix Eppisser, a Swiss Michelin-star chef.

Late last year, the award-winning global tour operator Classic Journeys established a base in Yangon to be on the cusp of the country’s rapid ascendance as a tourist destination. Though the number of annual visitors is still tiny compared to neighboring Thailand, tourism is growing at an explosive pace since democratic reforms were made. For decades, Myanmar had been isolated from the world, ruled by a brutal military junta that repressed the people while enriching themselves. Westerners, particularly Americans and Britons, shunned the country in protest of the regime. Though corruption is still rampant, and the country faces numerous challenges from education to infrastructure, Myanmar is making progress with core reforms such as freedom of the press, international trade, and elections, which in 2012, awarded the long-held democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi a seat in Parliament.

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Visa-on-arrival now available for 48 countries

Visa-on-arrival is now available for citizens of 48 countries after the government expanded the visa scheme for 22 more countries last week.

Business visa, entry visa, and transit visa have been available at the Yangon International Airport since last June and at the Mandalay International Airport since last November.

Than Win, the officer-in-charge of the Mandalay International Airport said most of the European countries were among the 22 additional countries, including Belgium, Finland, Austria, and Israel.

According to him, the visas-on-arrival program will allow better business opportunities in the country and have more foreign investment.

After visa-on-arrivals were granted to the additional 22 countries on February 1, the Mandalay International Airport has received 70 visitors within five days.

Visas on arrival are only granted to travelers with the necessary documents, including a letter of invitation from their sponsoring company. A 70-day business via costs US$50, a 28-day entry visa for meetings, workshops or events is $40, and a 24-hour transit visa is $20.

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Myanmar named “Top Country” by Wanderlust Travel Awards

Readers of a British travel magazine, Wanderlust, have chosen Myanmar as the top travel destination for the Wanderlust Travel Awards 2013.

According to the announcement released on February 1, Myanmar took the top spot with 96.98% in ranking this year.

Myanmar is followed by Peru, New Zealand, Bhutan, Jordan, Namibia, Chile, Iceland, Vietnam, Botswana, and Chile.

Hoi An, Vietnam was chosen as the top ten city while Bagan, Myanmar stood in the fourth place.

Political changes in the country have resulted in the increase in the tourism industry. According to statistics from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, the country received over 1.6 million visitors in 2012.

Although visitor arrivals have been increasing significantly, tourism industry experts say the country still lacks basic infrastructures and tourism services.

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Visa targets restaurants for point-of-sale rollout

The smell of burning plastic will now enrich the heady cocktail of scents in Yangon’s streets. As of January 31, customers can pay for goods and services at selected outlets using their Visa card.

Visa, which describes itself as the world’s biggest payment network, will offer the service in cooperation with Myanmar Oriental Bank. The credit card company said this would “bring new opportunities for local merchants and banks to participate in the global electronic payments system, and marks the first time international cardholders can make a payment directly to a local merchant with their Visa card”.

Visa signed its first licensing agreements in Myanmar with Kanbawza Bank, Cooperative Bank and Myanmar Oriental Bank on November 3.

Mr Somboon Krobteeranon, Visa country manager for Myanmar and Thailand, said this development was an important step in helping Myanmar develop its electronic payments infrastructure. Mr Somboom, who promised that card transactions would be secure, told The Myanmar Times he looked forward to participation by the other local partner banks at an early date.

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Increase of current international flights to be landed only at night

Direct flight from countries to Yangon would be given priority to land in daytime, Director General of Aviation Department U Tin Naing Tun said.

Most of international flights currently land and take off at night, he said. “We will discuss with all airlines to reschedule. Direct flight would be given priority for daytime and transit flights would be the night time flight,” he said.

Among ASEAN countries, Brunei and Vietnam has discussed to fly direct flights to Yangon as well as the international airlines are being discussed to extend their flights.

In Myanmar, there are 7 international airlines started their directed flights within in 2012 namely; All Nippon Airways, Qatar Airways, Korea Airlines, Asiana, Condor Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

It is learnt that there are 15 direct flights with Myanmar before early September 2012. In the end of last year, there are 22 international airlines.

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Myanmar lets Standard Chartered only Int’l bank in ASEAN

Central bank of Myanmar has granted the globally high prestige UK-backed bank, Standard Chartered to re-operate its banking operation in Myanmar, which makes Standard Chartered the only international bank operating in Southeast Asian countries.

Opening the representative office in Yangon on February 5, Standard Chartered Bank will make the press conference at The Strand Hotel, Yangon. Group Cheif Executive Mr Peter Sands and Group Executive Director & CEO Asia Mr Jaspal Bindra of Standard Chartered will attend the press conference to meet the media groups.

“Standard Chartered has had a history of over 150 years in Yangon and we are delighted at the quick response of the Central Bank of Myanmar in approving our application. We look forward to supporting our global network of clients in their efforts to tap into emerging opportunities in Myanmar, which in turn will help spur further economic growth for the country.” Jaspal Bindra said in his statement.

Although Standard Chartered had operated its banking functions in Myanmar since 1862, its operation was nationalized in 1963 by the Myanmar Govt. Its history in Myanmar again re-established in 1995, but because of international sanction on Myanmar, its operations paused again in 2004.

It is the multinational banking and financial services company, operating over 1700 branches of various kinds and outlets worldwide.

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Mandalay-Bangkok-Mandalay Daily flight by MAI