A Meditator's Kit
Going off the advice of countless meditators who have come for pilgrimage, meditation courses, extended monastic stay, and various other Dhamma experiences in Myanmar, following is a list of various items that may be useful. Note that this list is not meant to be comprehensive. As listed in Chapters 2 and 3 of Shwe Lan Ga Lay, there are more recommended items, from toothbrushes to bug spray to flashlights, etc. The following list is meant specifically to highlight items which meditators may not be familiar with in their home contexts, and which they may find euseful on such a pilgrimage. Except where mentioned below, the following items are not available in Myanmar, and so should be purchased before if one plans on needing them.
Some meditators choose to bring their own padded cushions, and nothing wrong with this so long as one doesn't mind the bulk and weight. There are also various kinds of inflatable sitting cushions to choose from. One that has received the highest reviews is Mobile Meditator. The advantage of this cushion is that air can be blown into three distinct compartments (the main seat and the two leg supports), allowing the yogi to determine their ideal sitting posture.
Having to deal with mosquitoes becomes part of the Dhamma practice in Myanmar, and different meditators choose to manage this in different ways. Some simply decide to observe, while others go for long clothes or some kind of bug repellent. Another option is a mosquito net. Light in weight and easy to carry, these open up to allow one person to sit comfortably inside. One option is from Tiptop, and a less expensive one can be found at Pariyatti. For those traveling to Thailand, they are available for a much more affordable price at any store selling monastic goods.
Yes, Myanmar is a hot country, but that doesn't mean that cool weather never comes. The nights especially can get cool, for example in Upper Myanmar during cool season or parts of Shan State all year-round. There are a few lightweight suggestions that can help you here. Regarding clothing, in addition to the normal warm items, consider thermal underwear and wool socks. For bedding, a silk liner is excellent for trapping warmth. And for more serious options, consider a lightweight sleeping bag.
Also keep in mind that Burmese rarely sleep on mattresses or pads, but rather on a hard cement or wood, often with just a small bamboo mat. For meditators needing more padding, one option is foam or a rolled up yoga mat. Another possibility is to purchase an inflatable (and portable) air mattress.
Internet, Phones, and other technical matters
Thankfully, it is now painless and inexpensive to get a SIM card with any of the three major providers, giving travelers access to instant internet, email, text, and phone capabilities. To take advantage of this, you'll need a phone that allows a SIM card to be inserted into it. Generally speaking, most Android phones will do so, but you'll need some technical help to do so with an iPhone. Some travelers with an Apple product choose to purchase a very cheap Android smart phone for these purposes.
A power bank is not a bad idea for travelers who plan to use their phones and cameras a lot throughout the day, and can be especially helpful when staying at a monastery with limited power supply. Finally, be sure to bring enough memory cards and/or external hard drives for your video, photo, and other needs.
Footwear and headwear
Given that we'll be on our feet for much of the day, it is important to have footwear that gives adequate support. The most common footwear in Myanmar is simple flip-flops, but if you are unsteady on your feet, nothing wrong with a pair of shoes. As we'll be taking on and off our shoes/sandals when going in and out of pagodas and monasteries, having something that is relatively easy to slip on and off is also an advantage.
Weather can be intense in Myanmar, depending on the season. A fold-up umbrella is always a help, good for sun as well as rain. If in the rain, a good multi-tiered umbrella can keep you more dry. Hats are also quite helpful to shield you from the ever-present sun.