Myanmar (Burma) Risk Report
Security travel advice for Myanmar (Burma)
Threat level: Medium
The current travel safety warnings is to remain aware and be vigilant during your visit to Myanmar. There are strong recommendations to avoid all but essential travel to the province of Rakhine on the west coast of Myanmar as there remains high tension following the severe civil unrest in 2012 and subsequent outbreaks of violence in 2013 and 2014. You should also avoid the north of the Shan State situated in the east.
In the north of Myanmar (formerly Burma), there is a high risk of armed conflict in the Kachin State and you should avoid travel to this area unless absolutely necessary. In this state, travel between Myitkyina and Bhamo have been restricted to air travel only by the Burmese authorities.
Although there is a large amount of political unrest in the country, it is believed that most tourist visits should be trouble-free providing they follow any advice and cautions both prior to their departure and throughout their trip.
Recent Security Risk Events
There is a high threat of terrorism in Myanmar and previous attacks have been targeted at government buildings, public transport and areas visited by tourists.
Since the 2015 election, internal conflicts in the country have worsened. Many ethnic states formed non-state armed groups in response, causing turmoil in the country. At the end of 2015, around half the armed groups signed a National Ceasefire Agreement with the Burmese authorities but there are still no formal ceasefires in many states.
Political tensions are frequently a cause of demonstrations and rallies in the country. You should not try and get involved in such events and we strongly recommend you do not try and document it through videos or pictures.
There is still a risk of violent clashes in all ethnic states including: Shan, Chin, Kachin, Kayeh, Karen, Mon and Rakhine. There are still sometimes bursts of intercommunal tension and violence in the Rakhine State, you should remain alert at all times.
There still remains strict restrictions on freedom of speech, movement, religion and political activity. Foreign nationals should be extremely cautious when speaking in public as there have been cases where tourists have been arrested, imprisoned or deported for criticising the government in public. The restrictions extend out to workers in foreign embassies too – there is often limited travel outside of Yangon without prior approval. You should be prepared for delays and restrictions in consular assistance.
Public holidays pose a threat for politically motivated violence, and you should remain in high alert if you are in the country on the following dates:
- Armed Forces Day – 27th March
- Martyr’s Day – 19th July
Myanmar’s foreign relations are historically strained. Sanctions from the U.S. and the EU against the military government has led to the withdrawal of almost all U.S. companies and many European companies from Myanmar. However, since 2012 relations with Western nations have improved. It has better relations with its neighbouring states and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Due to an increase in traffic on Yangon’s (Rangoon) roads in the past few years, congestion is regularly an issue in the city and the roads remain in poor condition. Beyond other cars, there are a number of other hazards to which you must remain extremely alert to. These include bicycles, animals and a large flow of pedestrians. Vehicles do not often have seat belts making it even more important to drive with care.
Travel outside of the city is usually via one or two lane roads which have many potholes and poor lighting. Drivers often have little or no regard for other vehicles on the road, which can prove extremely deadly, particularly at night time. It is believe that lorry drivers coming from China are under the influence of stimulants and their driving is reckless. Exercise caution if you come into contact of such vehicles. Military checkpoints on roads are common and certain areas require permission before visiting.
Religion: Theravāda Buddhism
Time now in Naypyidaw:
Most foreign nationals will require a visa to enter Myanmar, as well as a passport with at least 6 months of validity beyond the length of your stay. You can apply for a visa through your closest Myanmar Embassy which should be arranged before entering the country. You are also able to apply for a visa online. Contact your local Embassy if you need any further assistance in applying for your visa.
It is advised that visitors to Myanmar are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus and Polio, which are usually administered when you are a young baby. You may also want to consider Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations.
Although there is no direct risk of Yellow Fever in Myanmar, if you are coming from a country where there is a risk of the disease, or transiting for longer than 12 hours in an at risk country, you will be required to provide a vaccination certificate. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
Outside of Yangon and Mandalay, competent medical advice and facilities may be of poor quality or simply not be available. It’s strongly recommended that you do not engage in intrusive examinations due to the irregular hygiene standards of the country. This includes emergency dental work as the risk of infection is higher than normal.
You will usually be required to make a cash payment before medical treatment occurs so ensure that you have adequate health insurance.
There have been some reported cases of cholera in particular areas of Myanmar, you should drink only bottles water and maintain high levels of sanitation and personal hygiene. Dengue fever is also present in Myanmar, you should make every effort to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. More information on Dengue fever can be found here: Dengue Fever facts
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Myanmar can be subjected to earthquakes as it lies within a seismically active zone. If you are travelling to Myanmar you should ensure you know what to do in case of an earthquake.
U.S. Embassy Rangoon
110 University Ave,
Telephone: +95 (1) 536 509, ext. 4240
Emergency Telephone: +95 (1) 536 509, ext. 4014
British Embassy Rangoon
80 Strand Road,
(Box No 638),
Telephone: +95 (1) 370 865
Telephone: +95 (1) 370 867
Other useful info
Fire emergency: 192
Medical emergency: 191