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Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is the largest of the Mainland Southeast Asian countries by area and the second-largest in the entire region. The country has a rich and turbulent history. It was colonized by the British Empire from 1824 until the Second World War when it was a battleground between Japanese and Allied forces. It then gained independence in 1984, but after a series of democratic elections in the 50s, the military seized power in 1962 and the country became a military junta until 2011. Today, however, things are improving in Myanmar. It held its first free election in 2015 and it has become an up-and-coming travel destination in Southeast Asia. It is best known for its golden pagodas, UNESCO-listed ancient city, pristine beaches, the Arakan Mountains, amazing waterfalls, interesting culture, and warm locals.
With a population of more than five million people, Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is Myanmar’s most populous city that serves as its commercial hub. It is also considered as the spiritual heart of the country because the most sacred Buddhist pagoda among Burmese, the Shwedagon Pagoda, is located in this city. It is home to the Sule Pagoda as well. Besides its pagodas, Yangon has plenty of other things to offer tourists and expats alike, from sampling traditional Burmese meal and hanging out in its trendy bars to admiring the colonial architecture and shopping for traditional handicrafts at the Bogyoke Market.
Many people come to Myanmar to see the magnificent Bagan, the UNESCO-listed ancient city that was once the capital of the powerful Pagan Kingdom. In its glory days, Bagan used to house over 10,000 Buddhist temples, monasteries, and pagodas. Due to natural disasters, only around 2,200 temples and pagodas survived to this day. Many visitors begin their exploration of Bagan by watching its beautiful sunrise, then rent a bike or an electric motorbike to explore the pagodas. Hot air balloon rides are also available, giving visitors a mesmerizing bird’s eye view of the ancient city.
Those who want to enjoy the country’s natural beauty can go to Ngwesaung Beach, 6 hours west of Yangon. This beach has soft sand and warm, pristine water where visitors can spend a peaceful and fun time under the sun.
Semi-detached, detached, bungalows, shophouses, and mansions are some of the most common house types in Myanmar.
Semi-detached houses can be found in numerous areas of the country. They share a common wall with the houses beside them and the layout usually mirrors the other. Detached houses (also known as standalone houses) do not share any wall with other houses, giving renters a lot more privacy.
Bungalows and mansions are very similar to detached houses, but both usually have bigger land and are surrounded by gardens. Mansions are the most luxurious type of houses, with top-quality appliances and luxury furniture. They may also feature swimming pools, in-house cinemas, and game rooms.
Shophouses can also be an option for renters. These used to be a hybrid of a shop at the ground level with homes on the second level, but today they have been refurbished and made entirely as homes.
As with many other countries in Southeast Asia, living in Myanmar is relatively affordable for most foreigners. The cost of living is about 40% lower than in the United States (excluding rent). Though most foreigners can live very well with a smaller amount of money, do not expect the country to be cheap since rents and prices of items have increased significantly since the country opened up to international visitors in 2011. On average, a single expat needs approximately 1,900,000 MMK a month to live a comfortable life, while a family of four need 3,300,000 MMK.
The official currency of Myanmar is Burmese Kyats (MMK) and the exchange rate from 1 USD is about 1,360 MMK. ATMs that accept international cards are becoming more widespread in the country, particularly in major cities and tourist destinations, such as Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan, US dollars are accepted for goods and services in some tourist areas, but they usually accept pristine dollar bills.
Numerous indigenous languages are spoken in Myanmar, but the official language is Burmese. Most people have at least an elementary knowledge of English, so the language is spoken and understood to some extent in the country.
Theravada Buddhism is the largest religion in Myanmar. Approximately 90% of the population adhere to this religion, which is why the culture and people in the nation have deep Buddhist roots, which can be seen in their customs and etiquette. The remaining 10% of the population practice Islam, Christianity, Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism, and Animism.
Foreigners who want to live and work in Myanmar for an extended period of time need a Stay Permit it is issued for a period of three months to a year, but it is only valid for one entry. Therefore, foreigners need to apply for a Multiple Journey Special Re-entry Visa to be able to leave and re-enter the country while they are residing there.