As You Land in Yangon

As the aircraft begins its descent towards the Mingladon International Airport of Yangon, a breathtaking view of lush greenery, multiple lakes and hilly terrains enthralls. The city of Yangon seems spread out and vast, but with very few tall structures, and residential areas having sufficient greenery around them. Sparkling gold pagodas are eye-catching and the number is awe-inspiring too. The aircraft glides towards a small airport with just a handful of aircrafts parked, and one feels like having landed at a small hill station somewhere in India. But this is the commercial capital of Myanmar, its largest city and a gateway to exquisite natural sights, untouched wonders not yet ravaged by modernization.
Thankfully, the airport is well equipped and quite modern albeit small, having recently been renovated. It is amusing to cross the aerobridge and see the crowds waiting as you come down the escalator for immigration. The queues are gradually getting longer as the number of tourists increases steadily. Europeans, Americans and others, are enthusiastic to catch a glimpse of this last frontier of Asia before it becomes like any other modern, Westernized country.
The airport is located around 15 kilometers from the downtown area and easily available taxis take you to your destination hotel. Most hotels offer pick up facilities and private taxi drivers hovering around in the arrival lounge offer their mobile phones to stranded passengers to make calls. This is a boon in a country where phones with international roaming may not always work.

Airport facilities

Though small by international standards, the Yangon International Airport does offer all essential services. The two terminals, Arrival and Departure, stand next to each other, a mere five minute walk away, each quite complete in offering the requisite services. Bank ATMs, a money exchange counter, mobile phone SIM rental service, taxi and travel assistance, first aid, postal services, internet kiosks, shopping and food options are all covered, albeit on a simpler, smaller scale.
Foreigners with tourist visas and locals arriving in Yangon can queue up at one of 21 counters, and visitors from 50 countries can take a business or transit visa on arrival at one of three counters opened for the purpose. They are expected to carry a set of documents to be issued a visa. Tourist visas are issued by the Myanmar Embassy in other countries.
With flights of 28 airlines operating out of Yangon International Airport, air traffic and tourist footfalls are steadily on the increase. With ten daily flights to Bangkok and eight to Singapore, besides other cities, Yangon has become conveniently accessible.

A suggestion

Prior hotel bookings are recommended since most hotels are booked weeks, if not months, in advance. Options are somewhat limited and rates unjustifiably exorbitant. Small hotels are mushrooming around the city and as supply increases, room rates should plummet…but this seems a long way off, given the increasing number of tourists. Numerous hotels are in the pipeline including Novotel and Daewoo Amara, and many old, run down hotels are up for sale. In the next two years another few thousand rooms should be added, which will make comfortable stays more affordable.