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Covering an area of 676,578 square kilometers, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is the largest of the mainland Southeast Asian countries by area. It has a long and complex history. It was once home to one of the most powerful kingdoms in Asia (the Kingdom of Pagan), then it was colonized by the British Empire, became the battleground of Japanese and Allied forces, gained independence in 1948, then became a military junta until 2011. Today, matters are improving and the country is transitioning to democracy.
Myanmar’s economy is growing at a rapid pace and it is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. International visitors usually come to the country to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda and Bagan, while most other destinations in the country are relatively untouched by tourism. Not many people know that besides its magnificent pagodas and UNESCO-listed ancient city, Myanmar also boasts untouched jungles, pristine beaches, and snow-capped mountains.
Myanmar’s former capital, Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon), is possibly the most popular part of the country. It is home to the nation’s largest airport and the commercial and economic hub of the country. This beautiful city has the Shwedagon Pagoda, a 100-meter high gold pagoda that sits on top of a small hill, dominating the city’s skyline. This Pagoda is said to be the most important Buddhist site in Myanmar. Besides Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon is also home to the largest number of colonial-era buildings in Southeast Asia. Another popular tourist attraction in the city is the Bogyoke Aung San Market. This market sells everything from handicrafts and arts to antiques and jewelry.
Aside from Yangon, most people usually come to Myanmar to see the ancient cityမြန်မာနိုင်ငံ၏လူကြိုက်များသောအစိတ်အပိုင်းများ of Bagan, which was the capital of the powerful Pagan Kingdom from the 9th and 13th centuries. In its glory days, over 10,000 monuments were built on the plains that surround Bagan next to the Irrawaddy River. Today, only around 2,000 pagodas remain due to natural disasters. With the vast number of temples, it is almost impossible to visit them all as a tourists on limited visiting time. Fortunately, visitors are allowed to explore the area using cars, bikes, or electric motorbikes, and stop at the pagodas that caught their eyes. Visitors can also fly on a hot air balloon to get a mesmerizing bird’s eye view of Bagan.
A condominium in Myanmar is roughly defined as a building with at least 6 stories that are constructed on collectively owned land and registered in accordance of the Condominium Law. Since the Condominium Law in Myanmar is relatively new, most condos in the country are newly built. They are mostly at the top end of the market, targeting foreigners and wealthy Burmese.
The average condo size in Myanmar is around 118.6 square meters and has 2.5 bedrooms, while some of the largest are usually 213.2 square meters in size. In terms of unit type, condos in the country range between studio condos and one to three bedroom condos. Some of the upper scale condos even provide extra storage room for renters to store extra clothes or other items.
Condos in the country mostly offer top-end amenities to renters, such as gyms, swimming pools, children’s playgrounds, parking spaces, and 24-hour security systems, including security guards, CCTVs, and card or fingerprint lock system on the front door. Some condos are also available in mixed-used development, so renters can have restaurants, shops, cafes, and office facilities right underneath them.
The living standards in Myanmar are fast-improving, which means the cost of living is also increasing. Still, most foreigners can live comfortably with significantly less amount of money because the cost of living in the country is 40% lower than in the United States. In general, a single person needs a minimum of 1,400 USD a month to live comfortably, while a family of four may need a minimum of approximately 2,500 USD.
The official currency of the country is Burmese Kyats (MMK), and the exchange rate for 1 USD is around 1,360 MMK. There are many ATMs available around the country, particularly in major cities. Still, cash is king in Myanmar, but be aware that most people will only accept the crispest, most pristine bills. In some tourist areas, the US dollar is accepted, but foreigners need to make sure that their dollar bills are in excellent condition as well.
The largest religion in Myanmar is Theravada Buddhism, with about 90% of the population identify as Theravada Buddhist. The influence of Buddhism is evident in almost every aspect of life in the country, from its culture, people, customs, and etiquette. Other religions, including Islam, Christianity, Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism, and Animism are practiced by the remaining 10% of the population.
The official and most widely spoken language in Myanmar is Burmese. Many people can speak and/or understand English at a basic level, particularly in major tourist areas. It is advisable that foreigners learn some common Burmese phrases before visiting the country.
To stay or live in Myanmar for an extended period of time, foreigners need to apply for a Stay Permit and Multiple Journey Special Re-entry Visa. The Stay Permit can be issued for a period of three months to a year. Since it is only valid for one entry, foreigners will need to have a Multiple Journey Special Re-entry Visa if they want to leave and re-enter the country while they live there.