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Safety in Myanmar: is it safe to travel to Myanmar?

by Juan José Herranz | July 23, 2019
Hot air balloons in Bagan Myanmar

A few years ago Myanmar became one of the favorite tourist destinations in the world. Formerly known as Burma, this country has a lot to offer you. However, as with most countries, it is good that you follow some basic security guidelines to make sure you have a perfect holiday.

Routes in Myanmar

First, find out about the area you are going to enter and, preferably, hire a guide. Do not enter restricted areas for tourists and try to always be with at least one other person. 

Camping in the hills is not technically legal, since foreigners must be registered every night by the local authorities on behalf of the owners of "authorized accommodations". If the weather is bad or the terrain is difficult, do not risk it.

woman carrying crops in Myanmar

Insects and animals

It is recommended to be very careful when walking in bushes, forests and pastures. Snake bites can be very dangerous and even deadly. Rodents can also appear, especially in rural areas. 

You should always wash your hands before sleeping and leave any food you have outside your room to avoid the spread of diseases. 

Last but not least, bring some mosquito repellent with you as they are everywhere and can be very intense. 

What about crime?

The theft rate is quite low. Locals know that sanctions for theft, particularly from foreigners, can be severe.

Insurgents and landmines in Myanmar

Much of the north, east and south of the Shan state, as well as areas in the states of Kachin, Kayin and Rakhine, are out of reach for travellers due to the ongoing fighting between the Burmese army and several armed ethnic organisations. In addition, landmines in restricted border areas are a threat.

Is scamming a frequent problem?

Myanmar scammers are a fairly small group compared to others in the region. However, it is possible that when you get to the bus station someone will offer you to give you a ride, be careful and do not be fooled. Likewise, do not be fooled by irresistible offers, for example, of gems. They tend to be nothing, but rocks with no value.

When it comes to currency, you must have all the information about the Burmese kyat and how to use it. 

Mobility in Myanmar

The poor state of road and rail infrastructure and the lax safety regulations and procedures for flights and boats make travel sometimes dangerous. Safety often seems to be the last consideration for both drivers and pedestrians. Therefore, be very careful when crossing any road, especially in cities. Do not expect drivers to follow traffic rules.

man praying in Buddhist temple in Myanmar

Tattoos and buddha images in Myanmar

The representations of Buddha are considered inappropriate or offensive by Buddhists and have caused serious problems for tourists. If you have a tattoo, a piece of clothing or a something with the image of Buddha, do not show it. In 2016, a tourist was deported when the monks in Bagan saw that he had a Buddha tattoo on his leg.

In short, if you travel to a site for the first time, remember to educate yourself and follow the recommendations, your safety is the most important. And if you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s our guide for the most important cities of Myanmar.