How to Travel Safely in Myanmar

How to Travel Safely in Myanmar

How to Travel Safely in Myanmar

Safety tips becomes a prime reason of concern for tourists when travelling to foreign lands. And especially to a country which has seen military regime for most part of its existence, torn by internal civil and ethnic strife. In 2015, the Virtuoso network of travel agents came up with a surprising announcement – they named Burma or Myanmar as one of the hottest upcoming international tourist destination. With Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s coming to power as Myanmar State Counsellor, things have started to look promising.

Myanmar has a lot to offer tourists – community based tourism projects that aim at improving the socio-economic lifestyles of the ethnic communities, a mountain trek to the snow-capped mountains or a lazy vacation at the pristine untouched beaches in south Myanmar. This is one country that even under the military rule or internal strikes, international tour operators have never boycotted it because lots of its tourism related activities are focussed at providing livelihood to the local community there.

Hence, if you have decided to go in for an extensive trip to Myanmar, it is advisable to take the following precautions:-

  1. Most parts of the country are safe for travel and exploration especially main cities of Yangon, Mandalay, Inle Lake and Bagan.
  2. In areas where foreign tourists are less to be seen, local authorities may question and ask for documents.
  3. Tattoos related to Buddha and Buddhism, need to be masked as it is considered offensive and against the local religious sentiments.
  4. Hiring a local guide is advisable. Most reputable tour operators are tied up with reliable guides from the region. Hence it is safe to book with the leading ones.
  5. Night stays need to be booked at authorised and licensed accommodations. Camping is illegal for foreigners if the owner is not registered with the authorities for providing such service.
  6. It is wise to carry mosquito repellents and nets because they are not available in Myanmar. Also it is wise to get the requisite vaccinations before travel.
  7. Beware of snakes as snake bite is a common cause of death in the country.
  8. Beware of monkey and rodents like rats. It is best not to keep food in the room or carry food while walking outside.
  9. Some parts of Rakhine state, Chin state, Kachin state, Kayah state and some part of Shan state are out-of-limits for foreigners because of ongoing civil unrest. Keep following the Burma Travel advisories that are published by the Foreign office of each country from time to time.
  10. Landmines in border areas are a cause of concern and hence best to be away from.
  11. Touts are present everywhere – one needs to be careful of them.
  12. Burma is very popular for its jade and gemstones. Hence while shopping it is best to go to authorised shops or take help from accompanying local guide and the tour operator.
  13. Changing currency on the street is not advisable.
  14. Traffic rules are rarely followed by drivers. Hence one needs to be extra-careful on the streets. With holes and bad lights, night walks on streets may be required to be limited.
  15. Avoid large gatherings and crowds as clashes can start anytime.
  16. Avoid drinking the tap water.
  17. Carry precautionary medications for dehydration, diarrhoea, vomiting etc.
  18. Women travellers should not get into physical contact with monks.

For more information, it is advisable to read dos and don’ts before your trip.