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Working in Myanmar

Due to Myanmar's domestic conflict, as well as the influence of the pandemic, the country's economy has taken a downward turn. Looking forward, the growth outlook remains poor. That said, with the reopening of tourism and the related service industries, there are still many opportunities for expats looking to work in Myanmar.

Job market in Myanmar

Agriculture, fishing and forestry account for 45 to 57 percent of Myanmar’s GDP and much of the country’s workforce is employed in this sector, either directly or indirectly. Crop production, especially rice, covers more than half of the country’s cultivated land. With the discovery of natural gas and petroleum came foreign investment, which has boosted employment for expats in the oil and gas, mining, and manufacturing industries.

Much of Myanmar’s infrastructure remains largely underdeveloped, and construction is the country's second-biggest employer. Expats moving to Myanmar who have architecture, building and engineering expertise will have no trouble finding employment. The service sector, including tourism and teaching English as a foreign language, is also on the rise.

Work culture in Myanmar

As is usually the case in Southeast Asian countries, Myanmar’s work culture is fairly formal and hierarchical. It is also heavily reliant on building strong personal relationships. Respect is an important part of working in Myanmar, and expats should endeavour to always address their colleagues and seniors by their full titles and names. "U" and "Daw" are used as the equivalent of "Mr" and "Mrs" or "Ms".

The concept of 'face' applies in Myanmar, and expats should avoid public disagreements with their local colleagues as this could cause them to lose face. While expats who are used to more egalitarian cultures may have a difficult time adjusting to the work culture in Myanmar, they will be delighted to find that the local people are generally friendly and honest.

Culture Shock in Myanmar

Famously known as the ‘Golden Land’, Myanmar is a country of many idiosyncrasies that come together to make a welcoming and friendly nation. Still, newcomers are likely to experience culture shock in Myanmar.

As a result of years of isolation, Myanmar is largely undeveloped and much of its population lives in poverty, which may be quite jarring for new arrivals. Nevertheless, expats moving to Myanmar will soon come to appreciate the slow pace of life and the locals’ kindness and trusting nature.

Language barrier in Myanmar

With 135 ethnic groups, Myanmar is a melting pot of cultures. Owing to Myanmar’s huge geographic size, there are approximately 100 languages spoken across the country.

Burmese is the country's official language and is used as a medium of instruction in schools as well as in business settings.  As a result of more than a century of British rule, English is often spoken as a second language in Myanmar, especially in urban centres such as Yangon.

Dress in Myanmar

Myanmar is a conservative Buddhist society, so locals may take offence to suggestive and revealing clothing. Expats should ensure they take off their socks and shoes when entering a holy place or a private home to show respect. Legs and shoulders should be covered when visiting temples and monasteries. 

Religion in Myanmar

Buddhism is integral to Myanmar’s society, and the religion plays a role in both private and public life. As such, monks and nuns are highly regarded and typically offered privileges such as first-class travel on public transport, as well as the highest place at the dinner table. Newcomers should be aware that monks and nuns should not be touched as a sign of respect and reverence.

Social customs in Myanmar

As is the case in most Southeast Asian countries, respecting elders and saving face are important in Myanmar. New arrivals should slightly bow their heads when passing an elder to show respect. They should also avoid confronting or embarrassing their Burmese counterparts in public, as this could cause them to lose face.

Expats must also be aware that the concept of saving face means that locals will generally say yes even when they mean no, and would rather give wrong information than admit they don't know something. It is also critical not to touch anyone’s head or feet, even children, as these are considered sacred parts of the body in Myanmar’s culture.

Couples should avoid public displays of affection. While it is perfectly acceptable and common for friends and family members to embrace in public, it is rare for partners.

Politics in Myanmar

Politics is a sensitive topic that is best avoided in Myanmar. Interethnic and religious conflicts are particularly delicate subjects, especially since the Rohingya conflict and the 2021 military coup. Some parts of the country remain under rebel control and despite talks of holding democratic elections, the political situation in Myanmar is volatile. New arrivals should steer clear from demonstrations and political conversations to stay safe.

Visas for Myanmar

Most expats will require a visa to enter Myanmar, and citizens of 100 countries can apply for one through Myanmar’s e-visa portal. Visa-free travel is available for 14 and 28 days respectively for passport holders from eight Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Japan and China.

Myanmar offers business, tourist and express visas for visitors, and new arrivals from a select number of countries are eligible to apply for visas on arrival at international airports in the country. 

Visit visas for Myanmar

Foreign nationals travelling to Myanmar for leisure can apply for a 28-day single-entry tourist visa, either at an embassy in their home country or digitally through the country's e-tourist visa system. Applicants must present a passport that is valid for at least six months, as well as proof of insurance, accommodation and a return ticket.

Expats looking to journey to Myanmar for commercial purposes are eligible to apply for a business visa, which is valid for a visit of up to 70 days within three months of being issued. Businesspeople will need to submit an invitation letter from a registered Myanmar company along with their application.

An express tourist visa is perfect for travellers who need to enter Myanmar within 48 hours. The express visa is typically processed within one to eight hours of application, although applicants will have to pay slightly more than they would for a standard visa.

Residence permits for Myanmar

New arrivals intending to live and work in Myanmar must secure a stay permit, and this can be a taxing process involving multiple government agencies. A stay permit allows foreigners to live and work in Myanmar. 

First-time applicants will enter the country on a business visa and then apply for a stay permit, which is typically granted for an initial six months. Expats working for a Myanmar enterprise will need to have their employer secure recommendation letters from the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Immigration and Population to submit along with their stay permit application.

Thereafter, expats can apply for a 12-month stay permit, which will be assessed on an individual basis.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Work Permits for Myanmar

Expats will require work permits in Myanmar if they intend to live and take up employment in the country. A stay permit must also be acquired. Rules and regulations frequently change, so it's always best to consult with an embassy to ensure the proper steps are followed.

Applying for a work permit in Myanmar

Foreign nationals intending to apply for a work permit must meet the following requirements:

  • Be in good health
  • Hold a regionally or internationally recognised degree in their field to prove their expertise
  • Submit a recommendation letter from their employer

The application processing time can take anywhere between seven days to a month.

Work permits in Myanmar are issued through foreign businesses that want to employ expats with technical or managerial skills. Companies must hold an investment permit and receive an endorsement from the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) allowing them to employ foreign workers.

Foreign employees will need to hold a Stay Permit and a Multiple-Journey Special Re-entry Visa to stay in Myanmar for more than 70 days. This will allow them to leave and re-enter the country during their stay. The Stay Permit is valid for one year, so new arrivals will have to renew their work and stay permits annually.

Newcomers who will be in Myanmar for more than 90 days are also obligated to register their presence with the registration office in their local area. The Immigration and National Registration Department will issue the newcomer a Foreigner Registration Card (FRC), which is typically valid for a year.

*Visa and work permit regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their nearest Myanmar embassy or consulate for the latest information.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Myanmar

The banking infrastructure in Myanmar is still developing, and the country remains cash-driven. That said, with increased foreign investment and renewed trust in banks, Myanmar is making strides in modernising its systems.

Expats are likely to find English-speaking assistants at international banks, but expats looking to set up an account at a local bank should enlist the help of a Burmese-speaking colleague or friend.

Money in Myanmar

The official currency is the Myanmar Kyat (MMK), subdivided into 100 pyas. It is available in the following denominations:

  • Notes: 50 pyas, MMK 1, MMK 5, MMK 10, MMK 20, MMK 50, MMK 100, MMK 200, MMK 500, MMK 1,000, MMK 5,000 and MMK 10,000

  • Coins: 5 pyas, 10 pyas, 25 pyas, 50 pyas, MMK 1, MMK 5, MMK 10, MMK 50 and 100 MMK

The country uses the US Dollar (USD) as an alternative currency, especially for large purchases and payments in hotels and high-end restaurants, although Myanmar is currently phasing out the use of the US dollar. In fact, it was completely banned for domestic payments in 2022.

Banking in Myanmar

Myanmar is a largely cash-based society due to years of distrust in the country’s banking system, which led to a lack of development in the infrastructure. Fortunately, large improvements have been made in the past decade and the country now boasts 13 international banks, including the State Bank of India, ANZ and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Banks have recently started promoting digital services, so expats can find a range of financial products on offer. 

Opening a bank account

Expats will need their visa and passport to open an account at a local or international bank in Myanmar. They will also need the minimum deposit. The amount required differs between banks. The visa must be valid for at least three to six months for expats to be eligible to open a bank account in the country.

Credit cards and ATMs

ATMs are widely available in Myanmar’s major cities such as Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay. These ATMs accept international bank and credit cards, so expats needn’t worry about being able to access the local currency. The only limitation in ATM use in Myanmar lies in frequent internet outages, so it's best to keep sufficient cash on hand at all times.

Taxes in Myanmar

Foreigners who reside in Myanmar for 183 days or more are considered tax residents. These individuals are taxed on their income on a progressive sliding scale of between 1 and 25 percent. Expats who are permanent residents will be taxed on their worldwide income as legislated by the Myanmar Income Tax Act, while those who are non-residents are only taxed on income derived from within the country.

Residents who earn an annual salary below the income tax threshold will pay no taxes at all. Expat tax matters in Myanmar can be complex, so it is best to consult a qualified tax specialist if at all unsure.

Cost of Living in Myanmar

The cost of living in Myanmar is fairly reasonable and with lucrative salary packages, expats can live a comfortable life in the country. Mercer’s 2023 Cost of Living Survey ranks Myanmar’s former capital, Yangon, 204th out of the 227 cities surveyed, making it one of the most affordable cities for expats in Southeast Asia.

Apart from housing, utilities and high-speed internet are likely to be an expat’s biggest expenses in Myanmar. The country suffers chronic power outages, which necessitate backup generators. While the internet infrastructure has developed recently, high-speed internet still costs a pretty penny.

Cost of accommodation in Myanmar

Accommodation in Myanmar is one of the most expensive in Southeast Asia, especially in major cities such as Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw. Rent in new buildings is steep, but these new constructions offer luxury features, including gyms and swimming pools.

Price-conscious expats can look for housing in the areas and suburbs further out of the city, although the buildings may be older with varying standards. 

Cost of transport in Myanmar

Buses are the cheapest and most reliable mode of transport in Myanmar, but they are also quite uncomfortable and overcrowded. The rail system in the country is known for constantly being behind schedule as well as its ageing infrastructure, so most expats do not use train services. Most expats in Myanmar will use taxis, which are relatively affordable given that passengers can negotiate a price with the driver before beginning the journey.

Expats looking to explore further afield the country will find that flying is often the best mode of transport and fortunately, flight tickets are priced competitively.

Cost of groceries and eating out in Myanmar

Myanmar has a vibrant and diverse culinary scene, with everything from Japanese, Indian and Italian cuisine on offer. Eating out can be pricey, though, especially in luxury high-end restaurants. Expats looking to get more bang for their buck should consider street food, although these establishments can be unhygienic. 

Basic grocery staples such as eggs, milk and fresh produce are accessible and largely inexpensive. Expats can find imported Western foods at select supermarkets, but these will set them back significantly more than they may be used to.

Cost of education in Myanmar

Public schools in Myanmar are underfunded and Burmese is the language of instruction in these institutions, making them a largely unsuitable option for expats who are in the country on a short-term assignment. For that reason, most expat parents choose to enrol their children in exorbitantly priced international schools. Expat parents should negotiate school fees and the related costs into their relocation package to minimise their expenses.

Cost of living in Myanmar chart

Prices vary depending on product and service provider across Myanmar – these are the average costs for Yangon in January 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

MMK 1,626,240

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

MMK 690,870

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

MMK 1,696,860

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

MMK 698,199


Dozen eggs

MMK 2,975

Milk (1 litre)

MMK 3,903

Loaf of bread (white)

MMK 1,618

Chicken breasts (1kg)

MMK 3,966

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

MMK 4,531


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

MMK 76

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

MMK 26,921

Basic utilities (average for a standard household)

MMK 159,183

Eating out and entertainment

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant 

MMK 54,095

Big Mac Meal

MMK 6,334


MMK 4,573

Coca-Cola (2L)

MMK 1,416

Local beer (500ml)

MMK 1,837


Taxi rate per 8km

MMK 13,060

Monthly city-centre transport fare

MMK 20,221

Petrol (per litre)

MMK 1,723

Healthcare in Myanmar

Healthcare in Myanmar is chronically underfunded, and the country is listed as having one of the poorest health systems in the world. The country is fortunately making strides towards improving its healthcare infrastructure. Myanmar's most recent National Health Plan (NHP) aims to ensure access to essential healthcare for the country's population and aims to pave the way towards universal healthcare.

Most expats will find that the public health system is inadequate, and they will need to secure comprehensive health insurance to access private healthcare.

Public healthcare in Myanmar

The 2017-2021 NHP is aimed at increasing access to basic healthcare and financial protection for Myanmar's citizens by reducing out-of-pocket spending. That said, Myanmar spends just 1 percent of its GDP on healthcare, and this has led to a shortage of critical healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses.

Most of Myanmar’s hospitals are located in its major cities, while 70 percent of the population lives in its rural areas. Additionally, the country’s facilities and equipment are also lacking, particularly in rural areas. In some of the most remote parts of Myanmar, healthcare is almost non-existent.

Private healthcare in Myanmar

While the public sector accounts for 86 percent of health services in Myanmar, the country’s private healthcare is rapidly developing. The country allows foreign healthcare practitioners to work in Myanmar, and foreign investment in healthcare is on the rise. This makes for excellent private healthcare services with modern equipment and highly qualified staff.

Most private hospitals in Myanmar are located in Yangon and have English-speaking staff, which caters well for expats. Fortunately, medical costs in the country are relatively affordable, though most expats pay for services through medical insurance.

Health insurance in Myanmar

There are two kinds of health insurance in Myanmar: offshore and onshore insurance, and most expats organise offshore international health insurance before their arrival in the country. 

Depending on individual coverage, international medical insurance offers comprehensive services. These typically include medical evacuation to neighbouring Singapore or Thailand for emergency and critical care.

Expats should ensure their medical insurance covers medical evacuation and provides access to global medical treatment, as health services in Myanmar are limited.

Pharmacies and medication in Myanmar

Most pharmacies in Myanmar are located in Yangon and are generally open late into the evening. There is usually a wide range of medication available, but since the 2021 military coup there have been reports of medication shortages. Myanmar’s pharmacies are also infamous for selling counterfeit drugs, so expats should check medication bought in the country thoroughly before taking it.

We recommend expats bring an extra supply of permitted prescription medication along with a doctor’s note for the first three months of their stay.

Health hazards in Myanmar

Mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, dengue, chikungunya and Japanese encephalitis are endemic in Myanmar. Expats should mosquito-proof their accommodation and ensure all their vaccinations are up-to-date.

Many animals in the country carry rabies, so expats should avoid petting or feeding dogs or monkeys. Other health hazards new arrivals need to be aware of are the increased risks of typhoid, polio, hepatitis A and HIV/AIDs in the country.

Expats should also avoid tap water and raw or undercooked food, as water and food safety in the country is questionable.

Emergency services in Myanmar

Emergency services in Myanmar are inadequate, and it is unlikely that expats will reach an English-speaking operator. Paramedics generally lack training and do not have the necessary equipment for medical emergencies. Private hospitals usually have ambulance services, and expats can call the facility directly to arrange medical transport. Nonetheless, in a medical emergency, expats can call 192.

Transport and Driving in Myanmar

Getting around in Myanmar is fairly easy, despite its large geographical size. The country boasts an extensive public transport network and expats can choose to drive a private vehicle, although this may be a brave choice. Road conditions in Myanmar are poor and the locals’ driving habits are infamous for being unsafe.

Public transport in Myanmar


Buses are the most affordable and fast way to travel in Myanmar, but they are not recommended for expats as the bus signs are not in English. Buses are also often overcrowded, and it’s common to see passengers sitting on the roof. While local buses may be in poor condition and rarely on schedule, Myanmar is introducing luxury express buses to cater for the tourist and expat market.


Adventurists who are looking to take the scenic route should look no further than Myanmar’s rail system. Trains are much slower and less reliable than buses, and they face a fair few issues, including mechanical problems and flooded tracks.

Expats looking to take a train ride should purchase a ticket from a station at least a day in advance. Myanmar Railways offers five seat classes – ordinary class, first class, upper class, standard sleeper and special sleeper. Though, upper class seats can be just as uncomfortable as ordinary class seats. Still, travelling by rail is an excellent way to interact with the locals and take in the country's majestic natural beauty.

Shared taxis and vans in Myanmar

Shared taxis and vans are less common in Myanmar than they are in other parts of Southeast Asia. They are pricier than buses and trains, though, as each seat is charged separately. Expats who are looking for an affordable and hassle free way to travel should consider this mode of transport because it drops you off directly at your stop. Shared taxis and vans only leave once they are full, and some service offerings have been tailored specifically for expats.

Taxis in Myanmar

Taxis are widely available in Myanmar at a reasonable cost. Local taxis have no meters, so expats must bargain and agree on the price with the driver before beginning the journey. There are also private cars with drivers that expats can hire for the day. Most newcomers prefer this since it’s the most comfortable and reliable way to get around Myanmar.

Grab, the ride-hailing service, is also accessible in Myanmar’s major cities. Ride-hailing services may be more convenient for expats who cannot speak Burmese, as it removes the language barrier element. 

Driving in Myanmar

Driving in Myanmar is no easy feat for expats and locals alike, and the number of road accidents in the country has been on the rise since Myanmar opened up to commercial investment. The country’s road infrastructure is underdeveloped and was built for right-hand drive vehicles, whereas most cars in the country are left-hand drive. Thus, new arrivals may be safer and more comfortable hiring a driver before braving the roads themselves.

Expats who choose to drive will need to apply for a Myanmar driving licence at the Department for Road Transport and Administration. Those who hold an international driving permit or a licence from their home country can exchange it for a local licence without taking a written or practical test. They will simply need to fill in an application form, present two passport photos and pay the processing fee. 

Domestic flights in Myanmar

Most expats prefer flying between Myanmar’s cities, as it is low-cost and a fast alternative. The country offers a few private and state-owned airlines, the latter of which should be avoided due to their low safety record. Major international airports include Yangon Airport, Mandalay International Airport and Nay Pyi Taw International Airport.

Accommodation in Myanmar

Finding accommodation in Myanmar is likely to be one of the most significant challenges facing expats. There are several factors house hunters will have to consider, and for expat parents proximity to an international school and public transport networks will be high up on the list. 

The country also faces frequent water and electricity outages, so newcomers must ensure the property they choose offers access to a generator or alternative energy.

Fortunately, construction in the real estate market is booming and expats will find a range of luxury options available. Though, competition for accommodation in Myanmar’s major cities is rife owing to increased foreign investment.

Types of accommodation in Myanmar

Expats moving to Myanmar will typically stay in one of its major cities, which include Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. Foreigners living in Nay Pyi Taw are required by law to stay in hotels. Otherwise, expats will be spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation in Yangon and Mandalay. Landed properties with gardens, villas, condominiums and serviced apartments are among the popular choices for expat families in Myanmar.

Though Myanmar’s major cities are generally safe, we recommend that expats renting landed properties hire 24-hour security as the political situation in the country remains volatile.

Renting accommodation in Myanmar

Most expats moving to Myanmar choose to rent rather than buy property, as most newcomers are in the country on a short-term assignment. Additionally, foreigners are not allowed to own land in Myanmar but can own property, which also makes it an unattractive choice for expats. Myanmar’s property rental market is unregulated, meaning expats will have to be careful traversing the rental process to avoid falling victim to scams.

Finding rental accommodation

Finding suitable and affordable property in Myanmar can be difficult as a result of the discrepancy in housing demand and supply. The best place to start the property search is online, as expats can familiarise themselves with the market while they are still in their home countries. Rental property websites such as Shwe Property and iMyanmarHouse are some of the most notable property portals that provide information on what expats can expect to find at different price points and areas.

Real-estate agents are likely to be the best option for expats, as they can eliminate the language barrier when engaging with landlords. They are typically also highly knowledgeable about local real estate and can show expats properties that are not yet on the market. Expats should keep in mind that real-estate agents will require commission equivalent to one month’s rent.

Furnished vs unfurnished

There are both unfurnished and furnished housing options in Myanmar, with the latter being the priciest. Most of the long-term accommodation in Myanmar is unfurnished, but will typically be equipped with light and bathroom fixtures. Unfurnished accommodation also typically doesn’t include appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, air conditioners, ovens and water heating units.

Furnished properties, typically serviced apartments and villas, will include everything from beds and sofas to appliances and cutlery. However, the furniture and appliances may not be as modern as new arrivals are used to. Expats must note that ovens and dishwashers are generally only provided in high-end properties.

While furnished properties may be on the pricier end of the market, these are mainly the most convenient option for expats who are in Myanmar for the short term. That said, expats who are keen on furnishing a property simply need to negotiate with the landlord to have the existing furniture removed.

Short lets and temporary housing

Short lets and temporary housing are favoured by the expat population in Myanmar. These allow newcomers to enjoy the comfort of home while enjoying luxury hotel amenities, such as cleaning services and access to swimming pools. There are a few temporary housing providers in Myanmar that are available in major cities, including AirBnB and MagicStay.

Signing a lease

To secure a rental property, expats will need to sign a lease agreement. Rental agreements in Myanmar are typically signed for a minimum of six months and a maximum of 12 months. A contract extension can be negotiated at the end of the term. To avoid early contract termination by tenants, landlords require rent upfront for the full term and most of them will only accept cash payments in US dollars, although this is slowly changing.

Most landlords will also require one month’s rent as a holding deposit should expats want to secure accommodation before arriving in Myanmar. This is non-refundable should the tenant decide against moving into the property. Expats will also have to pay a one-month deposit. The disadvantage that comes with paying the rental fee upfront is that real-estate agents and landlords generally become unresponsive to a tenant’s needs after receiving full payment.

Expats should take a full inventory including pictures before signing a lease agreement and ensure it is clear who will be responsible for utilities and maintenance. Newcomers looking to rent accommodation in Myanmar must provide proof of their legal right to live and work in the country.


There are a few pet-friendly service apartments in Myanmar. Expats who rent landed properties and villas can negotiate with their landlord if they would like to keep a pet on the property. It is important to include these details in the rental agreement.


Utilities such as water, electricity, internet and gas are typically for the client’s account unless expressly stated otherwise in the rental contract. Expats should budget carefully for these as they are quite costly in Myanmar.

Termination of the lease

Landlords in Myanmar are legally required to give tenants two months’ notice if they wish to terminate the lease early, and leaseholders must give the landlord at least one month’s notice.

Tenants should leave the property spotless, remove their possessions and take all meter readings to avoid forfeiting their deposit. It is recommended that expats are present for the final inspection to return all the keys and ensure that the landlord begins the process to return the deposit. This will depend on whether there is damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear, and the deposit will usually be returned within two weeks.

Education and Schools in Myanmar

Despite its political struggles, Myanmar's society values education and boasts one of the highest literacy rates in Southeast Asia. The country's education system has undergone significant developments since its independence from British rule. The language of instruction in public schools changed from English to Burmese, making public education a largely unsuitable choice for expats.

Expats looking to live and work in Myanmar will likely have to enrol their children in one of the private or international schools located in Yangon, although competition for space is quite fierce due to the growing expat population. 

Public schools in Myanmar

Myanmar’s education system is still based on the British system, and English is offered as a second language in schools. Preschool begins at age two until five and schooling becomes compulsory with primary school education from Grades 1 to 5. Thereafter, students enter secondary school, which comprises middle and high school.

While public schools in Myanmar may be free to attend, the quality of education is far below what most expats are used to. Schools are under-resourced and have ageing infrastructure, while teachers are underpaid due to poor government spending on education. As a consequence of the ongoing political crisis in the country, many children stop attending school after primary school.

Private schools in Myanmar

Private schools are a fairly new concept in Myanmar and typically offer the national curriculum with a distinct focus on English. These schools are mainly targeted towards middle-class families and offer smaller class sizes and a wider range of extracurricular activities at a much more affordable rate than international schools.

Teachers at private schools are legally required to register with the government under the new private school law.

Since their inception in 2012, private schools have enjoyed consistently high levels of enrolment, as they offer an excellent standard of education and allow students to develop their English-language proficiency. Expat children are also likely to experience less culture shock than they would at public schools.

A significant percentage of children also attend monastic secular schools, which are run by monks. These schools focus on literacy and arithmetic proficiency. Historically, monastic schools only admitted boys. They have since evolved to provide education to all children from villages who cannot access government schools. 

International schools in Myanmar

Expat parents moving to Myanmar who wish for their children to continue in their home country’s curriculum or learn a global curriculum should consider an international school.

International schools have long been permitted to operate in Myanmar and are mostly based in Yangon. The English National Curriculum and American curriculum are the most popular offerings, with many schools also offering the International Baccalaureate programme. Though not as common, French and Singaporean curricula are also on offer in Myanmar.

These schools offer expat children an opportunity to retain their home language and culture while meeting other expat families and still learning about Myanmar’s rich heritage.

Special-needs education in Myanmar

Myanmar implemented an Inclusive Education policy to ensure the integration of children with special educational needs into mainstream public schools. That said, this rarely happens due to a lack of enforcement of the policy and inadequate resources.

Nevertheless, children with mild support needs are permitted by law to be accommodated in mainstream schools. Children with visual, physical and hearing impairments and developmental impediments have access to one of 12 specialised schools in Yangon and Mandalay.

Private and international schools are the best alternative for expat children, as they are more likely to have the resources to adapt the learning environment and curricula to suit a child's needs. Parents should contact international and private schools to find out about the respective accommodations offered at each school.

Tutors in Myanmar

Tutoring is extremely popular in Myanmar and is often used as a substitute for public education. School going children in Myanmar typically have 20 hours of tutoring a week to help with preparation for matriculation or international board examinations.

Tutors can also be an invaluable resource for expat children, since they can help them learn a new language or maintain proficiency in their home language. They can also help with adapting to a new curriculum and language through online or in person lessons.

The recommended tutoring companies in Myanmar, include TeacherOn, Tutoroo and Apprentus.

Moving to Myanmar

With more than 100 ethnicities, Myanmar is a rich tapestry of cultures that assemble to create what is fondly known as the ‘Golden Land’. Myanmar is a country of contrasts, where traditional Buddhist pagodas punctuate colonial British architecture while opulent modern cities are juxtaposed by relatively untouched villages.

While moving to Myanmar may not be for the faint of heart, expats moving to the country will find that the hospitality of the Burmese people more than makes up for the lack of modern conveniences.

Living in Myanmar as an expat

After more than 40 years of being closed off from the world due to ongoing conflict and military rule, Myanmar remains largely undeveloped. The country is one of the region's poorest, and almost 70 percent of its population still lives in rural areas. That said, Myanmar is continually developing and is currently a recognised emerging market that is attracting foreign investors in droves.

In Myanmar’s lush central basin is the country’s newly built modern capital, Naypyitaw, which serves as the administrative centre. Expats working in diplomatic and humanitarian roles are likely to be stationed here. Thanks to the discovery of natural gas and petroleum, expats with engineering, commerce and management experience have the opportunity to work in some of Myanmar’s most lucrative industries.

As one of Southeast Asia’s largest countries, Myanmar’s sheer area could come as a shock to expats from smaller countries. As a result, travelling times can be long and with a fairly extensive yet inadequate public transport network, most expats choose to fly across the country or hire a car and a driver.

Cost of living in Myanmar

Though fairly reasonable, the cost of living in Myanmar is still higher than one might expect. Accommodation in Myanmar’s major cities is especially costly owing to the discrepancy in supply and demand. The standard of housing in the country varies considerably, and expats will have to fork out for newly built Western-style apartments or detached houses to enjoy modern luxuries. Myanmar also suffers daily power outages and frequent water shortages, while high-speed internet is pricey. Thus, utilities are also set to take a large chunk out of expats’ salaries.

Luckily, expats will be able to save on transport and grocery costs, as these are mostly inexpensive. The second largest expense facing expat parents is the eye-wateringly expensive international school fees. Expats will also need to budget for comprehensive private healthcare insurance to ensure they are covered for medical evacuation, as the standard of healthcare in Myanmar is lacking.

Families and children in Myanmar

Myanmar offers free compulsory primary education – but Burmese is the language of instruction, making it unsuitable for most expats. The country’s education system is also underfunded, so the quality of its public schools may be subpar. Fortunately, Myanmar passed a law in 2011 allowing private schools to operate in the country. These schools teach the national curriculum in the English language and offer a more affordable alternative to public and international schools.

Still, most expats send their children to international schools. This allows their children to continue in their home country’s curriculum or learn a global curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate programme.

Expat parents will also not run out of things to see and do with their little ones during their leisure time due to the abundance of majestic natural landscapes, temples and green spaces in Myanmar.

Climate in Myanmar

The weather in Myanmar is distinguished by three seasons. With a tropical monsoon climate, Myanmar experiences the cool (November to February), hot (March to May) and monsoon (June to October) seasons. Flooding is a common occurrence during the monsoon season, and expats are advised to follow news on flood warnings. Generally, though, temperatures in Myanmar are warm with the occasional cool evening.

While expats moving to Myanmar will undoubtedly experience a level of culture shock, the country’s natural splendour and friendly people can go a long way towards making acclimatising easier and enjoying an enriching once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Fast facts 

Population: More than 54 million

Capital city: Naypyitaw (Yangon is the country's largest city)

Neighbouring countries:  Myanmar is bordered by China and Laos to the northeast, Thailand to the east and southeast, India to the north and Bangladesh to the northwest. 

Geography: Myanmar is a country of hills and valleys. It is nestled between a few mountain ranges, with the Arakan Mountains on the west and the Shan Plateau dominating the east. The country's long coastline borders the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal and is another distinguishing geographical feature. 

Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic (although a military junta is currently in power) 

Major religions: Theravada Buddhism is the leading religion. Various forms of Christianity and Islam also have a significant following in the country. 

Main languages: Burmese (official language), English and Mandarin Chinese

Time: GMT +6

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Plugs in Myanmar have two or three pins or three flat blades.

Money: The Myanmar Kyat (MMK) is the official currency, and it's divided into 100 pyas. The US Dollar (USD) is currently the most used currency, even though it was banned for domestic use in 2022. As Myanmar is still a cash-based society, credit card use is few and far between. 

International dialling code: +95

Internet domain: .mm

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road. Expats often find driving in Myanmar risky and avoid driving their own vehicle, especially in the bigger cities, where it’s possible to get around quite easily using a taxi or public transport. 

Emergency numbers: 199 (police), 192 (ambulance), 191 (fire). Emergency services are extremely limited or non-existent outside the major cities.

Weather in Myanmar

Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar has a tropical monsoon climate. The weather in Myanmar is characterised by three distinct seasons: the cool, hot and monsoon seasons.

The cool season is from November to February and is distinguished by warm to hot temperatures, but cool air masses from China can sometimes lower night temperatures to around 50°F (10°C). 

The hot season (March to May) is scorching hot with little rainfall. The temperatures can reach approximately 100°F (38°C) along the southern coast, 104°F (40°C) in Yangon and up to 113°F (45°C) in the inland areas.

June to October is the monsoon season, during which parts of Myanmar experience persistent periods of rainfall. During this period, flooding is common and expats are advised to follow flood warnings and the authorities’ instructions closely.

As Myanmar is a large country, temperatures across the country can vary considerably. Higher altitudes often bring lower temperatures and humidity, as in the Chin and West States in eastern and western Myanmar.

Expats should ensure they pack lightweight clothing, an umbrella or raincoat and a jumper or two for the cooler evenings.