An Asia Highlights team has just returned from a 10-day Myanmar(Burma) Inspection Trip early in 2017. From our personal experience and up-to-date information from our local offices, it is definitely safe to travel to all key Myanmar destinations – Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake, Kalaw, Ngapali and Mandalay.
But we do understand concerns about safety. Myanmar just opened in 2010 and is still an unknown destination to most people, especially westerners. Recent (2016) negative news and reports in international media about bombings in Yangon and civil unrest in other parts of the country seemed to depict Myanmar as unsafe.
Such news represents just a tiny fraction of the facts about Myanmar, however! It is unfair to classify Myanmar as unsafe simply because of those incidents. Actually travelers to Myanmar should be more concerned about pickpockets in crowded areas than about their physical safety.
Civil conflict in some parts of eastern and northern Myanmar has been reported. Most no-go zones are in Kachin and Shan States, close to the border with China and Thailand. Those areas are closed to foreigners and far away from the main tourist destinations.
The United Kingdom and Australia still recommend travelers to avoid Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, but Mrauk U in northern Rakhine has been embracing more and more travelers in recent years.
For first-timers, the most famous destinations – Mandalay, Inle Lake, Bagan, Kalaw and Yangon – provide more than enough substance for visiting, experiencing and knowing the real Myanmar. Side-trips to Ngapali Beach, the Golden Rock or Hpa are also optional.
These places will provide first-timers with an enjoyable time in Myanmar. On the safety front there is nothing to worry about if you stay within these boundaries.
What Our Customers Said
Excellent planned and executed Myanmar excursion
Asia Highlights and their local Myanmar partner "mAsia" did an excellent job in planning and execution of a one week trip to Myanmar.The various tour guides and drivers had good knowledge and good command over English.More
Gerd, Jan 2018
Excellent planned and executed Myanmar excursion
They never failed to be at the agreed locations and on time. Cars provided spacious and in very good condition. Hotels booked met our expectations - especially Yangon, Bagan, Lake Inle.More
Gerd, Jan 2018
In good hands with Sam
Sam Ol took very good care of us - lots of information, listened to and answered all our questions, was passionate about the places we visited and about his people and country. He was kind, had a great sense of humor, and made sure we felt safe and comfortable at all times. He helped us to fall in love with Cambodia in 3 short days.More
Carol Jones, Feb 2023
Best tour guide in Cambodia
When we first arrived at the airport in Siem Riep it was so nice to be greeted by Mr Sam Ol. We instantly fell at home when we saw his friendly smile. We were impressed by his great English and knowledge of the temples. On the tour to the temples Sam took care of us every step of the way. He took awesome pictures of us. It felt like we were on a tour given by our brother who is also a professional photographer. Also, we appreciate his humor as well as the fact he had an answer for every question we had. I give Sam 5 stars, best tour guide ever :)More
Len S, Feb 2023
Mr. Sam our guide in Cambodia, he and the driver out standing service they went above and beyond touring, my wife so amazed beautiful country, we're planning back here near the futures. Thank Mr. Sam,We'll feedback the whole trip next week when we be home in USMore
Pho Lover, Feb 2023
We are still in the middle of our trip, but we are just finishing up our time in Cambodia and our guide, Borin, has been AMAZING!!! He has truly made our time here unforgettable and I plan on referring all of my friends and family to come visit this beautiful country! Thank you, Borin, for everything you did to make our trip so fantastic!More
Danielle Blount, Feb 2023
Excellent service and Wonderful Guides
All of our guides have been terrific. Mr. Sam in Siem Reip was especially wonderful. Both he and our driver were polite, safe knowledgable and informative. Sam made our trip memorable and enioyable. We will definitely recommend Sam and Asia Highlights to our friends.More
Kaaren, Feb 2023
Great tour guide Charity at Siem Reap
Our experience in Siem Reap could not have been any better thanks to our outstanding and cheerful guide, Charity. Her very good English speaking made it so easy to learn so much from her. She understood and answers all of our questions.She was relaxed and very knowledgeable. She went out out her way to help us make amazing pano photos of the cotton trees at Siem Reap and on our sunset cruise. She also advised us on Chanrey Tree restaurant—what we found to be the very best vegan restaurant on our first three weeks of our Asia tour. So glad to have vegan meals with very little oil!!! We are not supposed to have oil and is very hard to find vegan with no oil. Went went back the next night.More
Barbara Cornyn, Jan 2023
Low Levels Of Crime In Myanmar
Strict Buddhist culture, with low levels of crime, makes Myanmar a safe country in which to travel. According to our observations, the areas we visited (Mandalay, Inle Lake, Bagan and Yangon) are just as safe whether in the country or in the city! We never heard of any violent crime during our stay.
Myanmar people are about the friendliest we ever met! Be prepared for smiles all round and for people who are always willing to help out when needed.
Routine precautions should nevertheless be taken, such as depositing valuables in a hotel safe. Pickpockets have been known to turn up in both tourist and non-tourist areas. It is always sensible to keep an eye on your wallet.
Hygiene, avoidance of disease and the availability of medication are major concerns for travelers in Myanmar. As long as routine precautions are taken, you should stay healthy during your trip.
Choose Food and Water Carefully
To the average western traveler, hygiene in Myanmar is terrible.
Bottled water is always best for drinking. Tap water is okay for washing hands, but you’d better never drink it! Keeping hand-sanitizer nearby would be a good way of trying to avoid germs.
Street food is believed to be the main cause of stomach upsets. If you really want to sample the street food, choose the cleanest stalls. It would be a sensible precaution to bring diarrhea remedies, such as lomotil, with you, since most westerners' bowels are not used to such food.
Busy restaurants are generally much better, with food thoroughly cooked and relatively good standards of hygiene. Rinsing spoons and forks before meals may help.
Ice cream and all non-packaged dairy products, which are often not pasteurized, are not recommended, for fear of stomach upsets.
Vaccines recommended for reducing the risk from eating street food: up-to-date Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and typhoid.
Precautions Against Dengue Fever and Malaria
Dengue fever and malaria are the most serious concerns when traveling to Myanmar. Prevention is absolutely the best medicine, as adequate medical care cannot automatically be assumed there. First consult your doctor about vaccines which should be taken when traveling to Myanmar.
We recommend a tetanus vaccine. Malarone is recommended against malaria and doxycycline for issues like tick bites. On taking doxycycline, some people may become more sensitive to the sun, but its effect will not be too serious.
Dengue fever is the main concern. It does not kill you but it will make you feel miserable during your trip and even after the trip. Covering up with long pants and using mosquito repellent are the most effective ways of dodging dengue.
Rabies shots may be necessary, as there are many stray dogs and cats along the street. Lissy in our team was bitten by a stray dog but luckily she was not bleeding. She was quickly taken by our local guide in a private car to the biggest hospital in the provincial city.
A doctor who formerly worked in Malaysia for 7 years, quickly and professionally helped Lissy deal with the bite. She is now in perfectly good health.
Public Medicine Remains Poor While Private Charges Are High
The public health-care system is poorly funded and so is medical education. Yangon has the easiest access to hospitals while Bagan, Inle Lake and Mandalay have clinics. Most accommodation is equipped with an emergency medical kit.
Western medicines can easily be bought in a supermarket or pharmacy. But we would still suggest you bring a full supply of prescribed medicine, according to your personal health situation.
If you need to see a specialist doctor in Myanmar for any emergency, try to look for a doctor with a postgraduate degree from a developed country or who has had work experience in a relatively developed country. Information about doctors can be checked from doctors' list in clinics.
In case of serious illness, transport to Bangkok or Singapore might be advisable. Private hospitals in Yangon are available only at great expense.
Choose to Fly between Destinations
Though there are many and various means of transportation within Myanmar, some strange and others amusing, we suggest you stick to flying!
You may choose to try out some land transportation for the experience, such as a local train or bus. Derailing of trains, however, is still common in Myanmar!
Make Sure Your Insurance Is in Order
You are recommended to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel, especially when traveling to Myanmar or other Southeast Asian countries. The insurance should cover all items planned in the itinerary, along with emergency medical evacuation.
Visit Myanmar with Asia Highlights
We provide interesting tours to Myanmar. Tours typically start or end in Yangon or Mandalay and last approximately 9 days; visiting Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.
You might like:
14-Day Myanmar and Thailand Essence Tour
You might like to read
How to Stay Healthy in Myanmar
9 Things to Know before Visiting Myanmar
Why Travel with Asia Highlights During the Pandemic
- Tailor-made experience: All of your ideas/needs will be carefully considered to create your ideal trip.
- Worry-free planning: Your 1:1 travel consultant in Asia will take all the uncertainty out of your planning, helping you navigate any travel restrictions.
- No-risk booking: 100% refund policy! (prior to 3 weeks before departure, more details)
Get Inspired with Our Sample Itineraries
At Asia Highlights, we create your kind of journey — your dates, your destinations, at your pace. You can have any trip tailor made for your travel.