If you’re thinking of taking the stress of 2020 off with a holiday in Myanmar, you’re on the right path to relaxation heaven.
Here you’ll find idyllic beaches, ancient temples hidden in the jungle, and a welcoming and unique local culture. Not to mention budget-friendly luxury accommodation and mouthwatering cuisine.
But is it safe to go to Myanmar now? Admitting that you can go abroad in the first place, will you risk being locked in your hotel in quarantine?
In this article, you’ll find out about Myanmar safety for 2020 travelers. This includes important information regarding COVID-19 and the country’s response, and general safety advice for Myanmar, including tips for a smooth and hassle-free holiday.
We suggest you to collect more information about how to get a visa for Myanmar before you start planning your journey in the first place.
When all is set up and you are ready to take off on a trip during these wicked times, make sure you follow below mentioned tips.
How has coronavirus affected Myanmar and travel?
The first coronavirus case was recorded in Myanmar in March 2020. Since then, over 5 thousand people have been infected, while deaths remain below 100.
These relatively low numbers were achieved thanks to a prompt and appropriate response to the pandemic. Several measures were taken, including a temporary travel ban for almost all foreigners.
Some restrictions remain in place, it’s advisable to check with the Myanmar authorities and your government whether you can visit.
At the moment, those who need a visa cannot apply online (the electronic visa system will be reinstated once the global pandemic is under control.) The visa on arrival is also unavailable. In all likelihood, you will have to contact a Burmese embassy or consulate abroad to obtain your travel permit.
How to avoid contagion in Myanmar
As mentioned above, coronavirus cases are relatively low in Myanmar at the moment of writing. However, you should still take precautions to stay clear of the virus. These include:
- Follow the instructions of the local government and stay updated with the latest developments
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water, or use antibacterial gel when water isn’t available
- Practice social distancing
- Wear a mask when in public and avoid touching your face, especially the nose and mouth
The Burmese government is monitoring the situation closely and temporary lockdowns and restrictive measures are being applied in towns and regions where there is a high risk of a new wave of contagions. These usually last just a few weeks, until the numbers improve. Although they are not announced frequently, tourists and other international travelers must respect these temporary regulations too.
Temperature is taken in public spaces. Again, this applies to foreigners too.
Myanmar safety advice for 2020
Now that you know all about the coronavirus situation in Myanmar, you may still be wondering about the country’s safety as a whole.
In general, Myanmar is a very safe place to visit, even for first-time travelers. It’s still considered by many an undiscovered gem, due to the long decades of isolation caused by civil war.
Although some rural and remote areas are still experiencing tensions, tourists are virtually unaffected. Destinations such as the former capital Mandalay, the bustling and colorful Yangon, and the breath-taking temples of Bagan are not only extraordinary but also completely safe.
In fact, petty theft and robberies are practically non-existent and crime rates against tourists and foreigners are lower than those of other countries in the area. You are more likely to fall victim of souvenir overcharge than pickpocketing.
Solo travelers are unlikely to face issues in Myanmar. Having said that, it’s always a good idea to take a few additional precautions when visiting a new country on your own. Consider giving a friend or family member back home a copy of your itinerary so that they know where to locate you, you might also want to include addresses of accommodation you have reserved. Most solo female travelers also report feeling safe and welcome in Myanmar.
Some travelers wonder whether it’s ethical to explore a nation that is still experiencing ethnic and religious violence. While some decide to pick a less troubled country, others consider that a sudden lack of international visitors will likely hit the most vulnerable people of Myanmar hardest and that tourism can be used as a form of diplomacy to support local communities and peace.
Food and drink safety in Burma
The variety and taste of the cuisine of Myanmar will easily have you in love in the span of a holiday. You will get to try Burmese curry, nangyi thoke rice noodles, mohinga (the unofficial national dish), as well as plenty of sweet treats.
However, how to make sure to have a healthy and safe experience at the table? Just follow the below food safety advice for Myanmar:
- Choose fruit that can be peeled
- Ask for no ice
- Only eat food that has been thoroughly cooked
- Avoid raw meat and fish especially
- Consume only pasteurised milk products
- Avoid tap water
- Visit establishments, food stalls, and markets where you see a high food turnover
Don’t let the cheap prices put you off. Food in Myanmar is extremely affordable, so the price tag doesn’t necessarily reflect quality. You may have some of the best meals of your life for just a few pounds.
Areas of Myanmar to avoid
When in Myanmar, you should take particular care close to the borders with China, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, and Laos. There are security issues in these areas due to ongoing unrest between ethnic groups and the situation can be unstable.
As a tourist, it’s best to enter and leave the country via Yangon and Mandalay International Airports. After all, most of the places you’ll want to see during your stay are easily accessible from these 2 cities, making them the safest and most convenient ports of entry.
It’s also advisable to avoid the Shan State, southern Chin, Kayin and northern and central Rakhine states. Conflict is likely in these areas and you can expect a heavy police presence.
You should stay clear of any demonstrations and large gatherings in Myanmar. Don’t take photos or videos of police or military either, in case you’re mistaken for a journalist.