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Is Myanmar Safe?

Myanmar's safety for tourists is a complex issue. While petty crime is relatively low, there are risks of civil unrest, political tensions, and occasional terrorist attacks. Certain regions like Rakhine State should be avoided due to ongoing conflicts. Travelers should exercise heightened vigilance, especially in urban areas, and follow government advisories closely. Adequate travel insurance and contingency plans are highly recommended.

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Safety & Security

Myanmar is generally safe for travelers, but there are some risks to be aware of. Petty crime like bag snatching and pickpocketing occurs in crowded areas, so remain vigilant. Violent crime rates are relatively low, but disputes and scams targeting tourists have been reported.

  • Civil Unrest: There is ongoing civil unrest and political tension in parts of the country. Avoid protests, demonstrations, and areas of conflict.
  • Terrorism: The risk of terrorism exists, particularly in Rakhine State and areas near the Thai border. Attacks have occurred at tourist sites.
  • Robbery: Armed robbery has been reported in remote areas, especially along the Thai-Myanmar border region. Avoid isolated areas when possible.

While most areas are relatively safe, it's advisable to exercise increased caution, monitor local news, and follow the advice of local authorities. Enrolling in your embassy's traveler registration program is also recommended.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Myanmar should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the country has made progress in improving healthcare, medical facilities may be limited, especially in rural areas.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, and consider additional vaccines like hepatitis A, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis, depending on your travel plans.
  • Mosquito-borne Diseases: Malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus are present in some regions. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and consider antimalarial medication.
  • Water and Food Safety: Drink only bottled or purified water and avoid raw or undercooked food to prevent waterborne and foodborne illnesses.
  • Air Pollution: Major cities like Yangon and Mandalay can experience high levels of air pollution, which may exacerbate respiratory conditions.
  • Medical Facilities: Quality medical care may be limited, especially outside major cities. Travelers should purchase comprehensive travel health insurance and consider medical evacuation coverage.

Natural Disasters

Myanmar is prone to several natural disasters that travelers should be aware of. The country experiences tropical cyclones and heavy monsoon rains from May to October, which can lead to flooding, particularly in coastal and low-lying areas. Earthquakes are also a risk, as Myanmar lies along major fault lines.

  • Cyclones: The coastal regions are vulnerable to destructive cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. These storms can bring damaging winds, storm surges, and heavy rainfall.

  • Monsoon Rains and Flooding: The monsoon season from May to October brings heavy rainfall, which can cause widespread flooding, especially in the Irrawaddy Delta region and other low-lying areas. Landslides are also a concern in mountainous regions during this period.

  • Earthquakes: Myanmar is located in a seismically active region, and earthquakes can occur without warning. In 2016, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Myanmar, causing significant damage and casualties.

  • Droughts: Some regions of Myanmar, particularly in the central dry zone, are susceptible to droughts during the dry season, which can impact water supplies and agriculture.

It's advisable for travelers to monitor weather conditions, follow local advisories, and be prepared to adjust their plans accordingly. Staying informed about potential natural disasters and taking necessary precautions can help ensure a safer and more enjoyable trip.


Transportation in Myanmar can be challenging for travelers. While major cities have public transportation options like buses and taxis, services may be unreliable and road safety is a concern.

  • Road Conditions: Roads, especially in rural areas, are often poorly maintained and lack proper signage or lighting. Potholes, debris, and stray animals on the roads pose risks.

  • Driving Culture: Aggressive driving, disregard for traffic rules, and overloaded vehicles are common. Pedestrians and motorcyclists frequently weave through traffic, increasing the risk of accidents.

  • Public Transportation: Buses and trains are generally overcrowded and may lack proper safety standards. Taxis, while available in cities, may not have meters or follow consistent pricing.

  • Rental Vehicles: Renting a car with a driver is a safer option, but rental companies and vehicles may not meet international standards. Self-driving is not recommended due to the challenging road conditions and driving culture.

  • Alternative Options: For shorter distances within cities, ride-sharing services like Grab can be a more reliable and safer option. Domestic flights are also available for longer distances, but schedules and availability can be limited.

Cultural Norms

Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country with rich cultural traditions. As a traveler, it's essential to respect local customs and religious practices. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites, and remove shoes before entering temples or monasteries. Avoid public displays of affection, as they are frowned upon. During religious festivals, be mindful of your behavior and refrain from disruptive actions.

  • Bagan: This ancient city is home to thousands of Buddhist temples and stupas. Respect the sanctity of these sites by dressing modestly and following the guidance of local guides or signage.

  • Shwedagon Pagoda: This iconic golden stupa in Yangon is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Myanmar. Dress conservatively, remove shoes and socks, and avoid pointing your feet towards the stupa.

  • Inle Lake: When visiting the lake and its floating villages, be respectful of the local Intha people's way of life and traditions. Ask for permission before taking photographs.

  • Festivals: Myanmar celebrates numerous festivals throughout the year, many of which have religious significance. Thingyan (Water Festival) and Thadingyut (Festival of Lights) are two major events where visitors should be mindful of local customs and traditions.

  • Monasteries: If invited to visit a monastery, dress modestly, remove shoes, and follow the lead of your guide or the resident monks regarding appropriate behavior.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Myanmar are limited, especially outside major cities. The availability and reliability of emergency services can vary greatly depending on the location. In general, emergency response times tend to be slow, and the quality of services may not meet international standards.

  • Medical Facilities: While major cities like Yangon and Mandalay have hospitals and clinics, the quality of medical care can be inconsistent. Many travelers opt for medical evacuation to neighboring countries like Thailand or Singapore for serious medical issues.

  • Police and Fire Services: The police and fire departments in Myanmar are often understaffed and underfunded, leading to potential delays in response times. Travelers should exercise caution and prioritize personal safety.

  • Tourist Police: Some tourist areas have dedicated tourist police units, but their presence is limited. These units are primarily focused on assisting tourists with minor issues and providing information.

  • Private Security Services: Many hotels and resorts employ private security personnel to ensure the safety of their guests. However, the quality and training of these services can vary.

It's advisable for travelers to research and understand the limitations of emergency services in their specific destination within Myanmar. Carrying comprehensive travel insurance and having contingency plans in place for emergencies is highly recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Myanmar safe for tourists?

Myanmar is generally safe for tourists, but caution is advised due to ongoing conflicts in some areas. Avoid border regions, follow local advice, and be aware of potential protests or unrest. Petty crime occurs, so take precautions with valuables.

Is Myanmar safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers should exercise caution in Myanmar. While many areas are safe, harassment and cultural norms may make some women uncomfortable. Dress modestly, avoid isolated areas, and be aware of your surroundings.

Is Myanmar safe for families?

Myanmar can be a rewarding destination for families, but some precautions are necessary. Avoid conflict areas, take care with food and water, and be prepared for basic amenities. Cultural sites and natural beauty offer enriching experiences.

Is Myanmar LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are technically illegal in Myanmar, though laws are rarely enforced. LGBTQ+ travelers should be discreet in public. Major cities are generally more accepting, but discrimination and harassment can occur.

Do you need a visa to go to Myanmar?

Most visitors require a visa to enter Myanmar. Tourist e-Visas are available for many nationalities, allowing stays up to 28 days. Passport validity of at least 6 months is required. Check requirements for your specific nationality.

Can you drink tap water in Myanmar?

Tap water is not safe to drink in Myanmar. Bottled or purified water is recommended, even for brushing teeth. Avoid ice cubes and raw foods washed in tap water to prevent illness.

What is the currency in Myanmar?

The Myanmar Kyat (MMK) is the official currency. US dollars are widely accepted, especially in tourist areas. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and businesses, but cash is preferred.

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