Burma - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Burma, also known as Myanmar  is the largest country in Indochina. China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Bay of Bengal, and Andaman Sea border the area. Burma was a democratic republic during the period from 1948 to 1962. Since then, it is ruled by the military junta – pro-democracy efforts continue to be suppressed. Burma has a land area of over 260,000 square miles with a population of just over 50 million making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in South East Asia at around 190 per square mile. Almost half the country is tropical forestland and much of it is well preserved, as economic growth is shunted. Mismanagement and isolation has resulted in Burma being classified as the poorest country in the region with a per capita GDP of just around $1200. It is a ironic to note Burma was the richest country in South-East Asia during British administration. Mining, farming, and timber form the main industry all controlled by the ruling junta.

Travel Resources:

Tourism opportunities are steadily increasing in Burma. Certain parts of Myanmar are out of bounds for tourists. Tourists should be aware that criticizing the regime in public could get them arrested. The best time to visit is definitely during the dry season. There are many scenic and tranquil locations in Burma – Yangoon, Naga-Yone, Pagan, Mandalay, Inlay Lake and its floating gardens to name a few. . Ecotourism is also popular and a large number of National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries offer trekking and safari opportunities. Burmese cuisine is considered among the healthiest in the world. A typical meal is rice accompanied by mildly spicy curry dishes on the side.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma)978-1741047189$17A detailed introduction covering history, culture, itineraries followed by region-wise coverage including Yangon, Southeastern Myanmar, Northeastern Myanmar, Mandalay, Bagan, Central Plain, Western Myanmar, and a special section on the temples of Bagan.
Finding George Orwell in Burma978-0143037118$11The author writing under a pseudonym sheds light into the life and spirit of the common man in the totalitarian regime.
Myanmar Travel Map978-0794603601$9Maps of Bagan Area and Myanmar and city plans of Central Yangon, Mandalay, Old Bagan and Yangon (Rangoon).
Burma Grounded Adapter Plug Kit – GUB, GUD and GUFB001FDA7OA$25


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Burma are overprints on India KGV stamps of from the 1926-36 period with the ‘BURMA’ overprint. They were released in a set of eighteen (Scott #1 to #18) on April 1, 1937. The stamps catalog for around $1000 MNH and around $650 for used. Lower denominations in the set can be had in the dollar price range while the highest two denominations (15r and 25r) fetch over $270 and $520 respectively for MNH. The first original issues were a set of sixteen stamps (Scott #18A to #33) released between 1938 and 1940. The designs show KGVI and local scenes – royal barge, elephant moving teak log, farmer plowing a rice field, and sailboat on Irawaddy River. The 1r and 2r denominations in the set feature a beautiful peacock depiction in the background with the KGVI head in the middle. The set catalogs for around $250 MNH and around $100 for used.

Below are other relevant stamp issues of Burma over the years:
  1. A set of four stamps released on May 2, 1946 to mark the Victory of the Allied Nations in WWII. The set (Scott #66 to #69) catalogs for around a dollar MNH or used. The designs show the KGVI head on the right-top inset with the main theme in the middle. They show Burmese man, Burmese woman, mythological Chinze (Burmese Lion), and elephant hauling teak.
  2. A set of fourteen stamps (Scott #102 to #115) released on January 4, 1949 showing Burmese local scenes. The set catalogs for around $25 MNH and around $5 for used. The designs show a ball game (Chinlone – non-competitive traditional sport of Burma), dancer, musician, rice planting, bell, mythical bird, spinning, royal palace, cutting teak, plowing rice field, and throne.
  3. A set of six stamps (Scott #153 to #158) released in 1954 to mark the sixth Buddhist Council in Rangoon. The set catalogs for around $8 MNH and $3 used. The designs show Sangha (community of Buddhist Monks) of Cambodia, Council Meeting, Peace Pagoda; Monks’ Hostels and Meeting-cave, Sangha of Thailand, Sangha of Ceylon, and Sangha of Laos. A sister set of four stamps (Scott #159 to #162) was also released on May 24, 1956 to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the Buddhist Era. The set catalogs for around $5 MNH and $2 used. The designs show marble markers of the fifth Buddhist Council, Thatbyinnyu Pagoda, Shwedagon Pagoda of Rangoon, and aerial view of the sixth Buddhist Council.
  4. A set of twelve stamps (Scott #176 to #187) released on April 16, 1964 in the Birds theme. The set catalogs for around $45 MNH and around $10 Used. The designs show red-whiskered bulbul, crested serpent eagle, Sarus crane, Malabar pied horn-bill, lineated kalij pheasant, and green peafowl. The same set was reissued in changed sizes (Scott #197 to #208) on July 1, 1968. That set is more valuable at around $60 MNH and $10 used.
  5. A set of three stamps (Scott #227 to #229) released on February 12, 1972 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Union. The set is very affordable at around $3 MNH and about a dollar for used. The designs show Aung San Independence Monument of Pinlon, Bogyoke Aung San and people in front of Independence Monument, and Map of Burma with flag pointing to Pinlon,
  6. A set of nine stamps (Scott #244 to #251) released between 1974 and 1978 in the ‘People of Burma’ theme. The designs show children, girl, man and woman, woman with fan, seated woman, and drummer. The set catalogs for around $15 MNH and $5 used.
  7. A set of five stamps (Scott #261 to #265) released on May 1, 1977 to commemorate the centenary of the Burmese Railroad. The designs show steam locomotive, early train and oxcart, old and new trains approaching station, railroad bridge, and diesel train emerging from tunnel. The set catalogs for around $25 MNH and $5 used.
  8. A set of three stamps (Scott #328 to #330) released on March 1 1996 to mark the ‘Visit Myanmar Year’. The set catalogs for around $12 MNH and $8 used. The designs show couple in boat on Inlay Lake with food for Buddha, decorated royal barge on Lake (Kandawgyi - Yangoon), and royal moat.
  9. A set of two stamps released on December 9, 2004 to mark the World Buddhist Summit. The designs show emblem and temples and the same theme in a different design. 
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Burma dates all the way back to the 1st millennium BC. Coins in the market can go as far back as from the Srikshetra Kingdom from around 200AD. Standard coinage denominated in Pyas (4 Pyas = 1 Pe, 2 Pe = 1Mu, 2 Mu = 1 Mat, 5 Mat= 1 Kyat) were issued during the reign of King Mindon from 1853AD. Union of Burma (now Myanmar) Standard Coinage were issued following independence in 1949 until Decimal Coinage (100 Pyas = 1 Kyat) were introduced in 1952.

Numismatic items of Burma include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Ancient Coins$10 and up16th century coins from the period of Pegu Kingdom in VF start around $10. Srikshetra Kindom era silver coinage start around $50.
Other Coins$2 and upCommon UNCs start around $2. 19th century Silver Kyat coins in VF start around $50. Silver proof year sets and commemorative gold coins go well into the 100s.
Paper Money$2 and upCommon UNC banknotes and WWII era banknotes in VF start around $2. Replacement Notes, Recent Bundles etc start around $10. British India Overprints in VF, Older bundles, KGVI overprints etc start around $50. RBI 100 Rupee Notes, and Uni-Face banknotes from the WWI era, etc go well into the 100s and 1000s depending on rarity.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Jade jewelry and curios, puppets, textiles, sandalwood carvings, lacquer-ware, silk items etc.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Jewelry$5 and upJade bangles and rings start around $5. Genuine unheated precious stones go well into the 1000s.
Jade Curios and Mineral Samples$5 and upSmall loose Jadeite beads start around $5. Jade curios start around $25 and can go well into the 100s depending on craftsmanship and size.
Art$10 and up19th century prints showing local scenes start around $10. Kalaga Bead and gemstone paintings start around $30 and can go well into the 100s.
Antiques$10 and upJade pendants and antique bronze bells start around $10. Teak-wood figurines and bronze sculptures start around $100.


Last Updated: 12/2015. 

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