Travel Safety: How Dangerous is Myanmar (Burma)?

Yangon, Myanmar is the former capital of Burma. After years of unrest, many of the conflicts in Yangon have been resolved, and now, Myanmar has been opened to tourism. Although the natural beauty of the Yangon makes the trip worth it, there are a few safety concerns, dangers and annoyances that linger in the city.


Scams:

Most scams committed have to do with getting paid a commission to stir tourist to a particular hotel or taxi service. For example, when you arrive in the city, your taxi driver might give you false information about your chosen hotel just so they can recommend that you stay at another hotel that will give them a commission for the referral. It is best to do your research before you get to the city and stick with your plans.

Diseases:

You should get vaccinated for malaria, hepatitis A and B, rabies and the flu before traveling to the Yangon. The biggest health concerns are diarrhea and dehydration. The local hospitals do not reach the international standards for hospital conditions.

Transportation:

A lot of the roads and sidewalks are hazardous. They are not maintained and can easily cause injury. They have cracks, uneven joints and local buses and trains are usually overcrowded. Taxis are a usually a nicer option. However, many are poorly maintained and have no seat belts.

Theft:

Theft of cash is pretty low in the city. The most reported crime is theft of unattended items. These are non-violent crimes. To avoid theft, always make sure your items are secure and attended.

The Government:

The Burmese government is considered the 2nd most oppressive government in the world, after North Korea.  As a result, your freedom of speech and movement will be severely restricted while you are there.  Be sure not to talk poorly about the powers that be, and especially not with locals.  Also, there are many parts of the country that are currently off limits to tourists.

Bugs & Snakes:

Bugs are a big annoyance for most people. There is a huge population of mosquitoes in the country, and most hotels do not have mosquito nets. Burma also has one of the highest incidence of death from a snakebite. The best way to watch out for snakes is to monitor your every step in a bush, forest or grass.

January 22, 2014