Is Myanmar safe to visit?
Myanmar, a Southeast Asia country that is rich in culture and natural beauty, has been making negative headlines in the international press since the Rohingya crisis and more recently the take over of the Military coup. This has led many people to wonder: is Myanmar safe to travel to?
The answer is complicated. Myanmar is in the midst of a military coup, and the situation is very fluid. However, at this time, Myanmar is reopening its doors to tourism. Yes, of course, there are areas of the nation that are off-limits to travellers but there are areas international tourists and locals can travel to and help local communities with their livelihoods by spending money, sustainable and with positive impact towards people, local monitoring group and their communities as well as the planet and the environment. So if you are considering traveling to Myanmar, Here are some things you should know.
Myanmar's Tourism sector
Domestic Tourism Industry
Myanmar's domestic tourism industry has dealt with a severe blow in recent years, first by the coronavirus pandemic and then by the country's political instability. As a result, the number of foreign arrivals has been significantly decreased. However, there are signs that domestic travel is beginning to recover, with domestic traveler numbers increasing during the Thingyan holiday period in April 2022. Popular destinations like Bagan, Kyaiktiyo pagoda, popular beaches such as Chaungthar, Ngwesaung, and the Myeik Archipelago were filled with visitors during these Thingyan holidays. Moreover, travelers also went to Shwe Settaw, Inle Lake, and Pyin Oo Lwin and Kalaw. And more recently, there was a significant number of visitors on many pagodas around Myanmar on the full moon day of War-So which is a religious holiday. These events all indicate that Myanmar’s domestic tourism sector is slowly starting to recover.
The global pandemic has had a devastating impact on local tourism businesses in Myanmar. Many tourism related businesses including hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, travel agencies, small businesses and tour guides have all been affected. Many hotels and tourism businesses have been forced to close their doors, and unemployment levels have soared. Even those hotels and tourism businesses that are still open have seen a drastic decrease in business. So, local businesses are desperate for any form of income, and they are all looking forward to the arrivals of international travelers. Recently, there has been some relief for local tourism businesses as the government has announced plans to reopen international borders. This news has given hope to many local business owners who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat. With the reopening of international tourism, local businesses will finally be able to start picking up the pieces and get back on their feet. However, it remains to be seen how soon the sector will recover. Only time will tell if the local tourism industry in Myanmar will be able to bounce back from these setbacks.
Moreover, local businesses are not the only one that have been affected. Many international businesses have also been struck. Covid pandemic and the following military takeover have also dented business, with many international firms pulling out of the nation.
Red Alert Zone
If you're planning to travel to Myanmar, it's important to be aware of the red alert zones. These are the areas of the country that are subject to heightened civil unrest or armed conflict, huge protests for democracy and it's not safe to travel there. The red alert zones include;
- Matupi township in Chin State,
- Bhamo and Mogaung townships in Kachin State,
- Hopang, Hseni, Hsipaw, Mongkaung, Namhsan, Namtu, and Nanhkan townships in Shan State,
- Shadaw township in Kayah State,
- Paletwa township in Chin State,
- Hpakan, Mansi, Momauk, Sumprabum, Tanai, and Waingmaw townships in Kachin State, and
- Hpapun township in Kayin State.
In addition, Konkyan, Kutkai, Kyaukme, Laukkaing, Matman, Mongmao, Muse, Nam Phan, Pangsang, and Pangwaun townships in Shan State and some parts of Rakhine state are also included in the red alert zone.
For more detailed information, be sure to check here.
Safe places to travel
While there are some off-limit areas due to ongoing conflict, these areas are clearly marked and easy to avoid. Many major tourist attractions are safe to visit, especially in business capital, Yangon and Mandalay. Tour operators are still running trips across the country, from Yangon and Mandalay to Bagan, Inle Lake, Pyin Oo Lwin, Ngwe Saung beach, Chaung Thar beach, Ngapali beach, and the Myeik archipelago. However, be vigilant wherever you go, be sure to do your research before you go and plan your trip with tour operators, they will ensure you'll have a safe trip.
There are a number of inconveniences that travellers should be aware of before visiting Myanmar. Travel time is now much longer because of security checkpoints. The security checks can make it more difficult to get around the country. Secondly, Access to ATMs are not possible at the moment and few businesses accept international credit cards. So, it's best to have cash on hand in the local currency, Kyat, because currently most of the tourism businesses only accept local currency in cash. And finally, in some areas, power cuts and high diesel prices are common, so be prepared for disruptions. While these Inconveniences add some extra planning to your journey, it is possible to have a safe trip to Myanmar and enjoy this country without the crowds and give a big support to local communities who have been suffering hard in the last few years.
The right way to spend your travel money? Is boycotting Myanmar a good idea?
As international pressure mounts on the Myanmar military coup, some have called for a tourism boycott of the country. However, such a boycott would likely have little impact on the military government while causing significant harm to economy of local businesses and people.
Impact spending that has positive effects in other countries of the world, are also helpful in Myanmar. Stay in locally owned hotels, eat in locally owned restaurants and travel slowly. Avoid airplanes and book a car with a tour operator instead. While booking with a tour operator, check their websites, are they focusing on local communities ? Are they sustainable? In MLP, we have set up a star rating to help you identify tourism companies with a positive impact to help you spend your money as a force for good. By traveling and meeting and interacting with locals in Myanmar instead of boycotting Myanmar outright, visitors can support the local economy by patronizing businesses that are using their businesses to create positive change in the world.
By spending their money at local businesses, travellers can send a message that they stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar. This will not only help to ensure that businesses continue to thrive, but it will also provide much-needed support to those who are most vulnerable and hit by the conflict.
Again, it is important to remember that international tourism boycotts can have a negative impact on innocent people who are trying to make a living.
Use MLP to spend your money with impact, and research online for other sources on what are the best ways of spending money in Myanmar,
But it's not only about money, interaction between people helps to understand each other, learning about communities, learning to appreciate their knowledge and traditions, nature teaches us how beautiful and interconnected the eco systems in the world work, and learning how to be careful with it. Traveling teaches communities that travelers see beauty in their daily life, something to be proud of, which helps youngsters to preserve their culture.
In short, peacebuilding and prosperity starts with travel. That’s why we would love to invite all adventurers who want to see the beauty of Myanmar and contact Myanmar tour operators to help them show this unique country in a safe and extraordinary way that will be on your top experiences ever.
Flight Info (international flights)
International commercial flights to all Myanmar’s airports had been canceled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but finally reopened in April 2022. You can buy flight tickets from your country's service providers or book online. Whether you're looking to fly into Myanmar for business or pleasure, be sure to check out the flight information and schedules in advance so you can plan your trip accordingly. You can check the daily flight schedules of Yangon International Airport here.
Covid 19 Travel Requirement
Myanmar has updated its Covid-19 entry requirements for all international arrivals. All visitors traveling to Myanmar are required to have a negative Covid-19 PCR tests result. The test result needs to be issued no more than 48 hours before arrival, and visitors must carry a printed copy of the certificate with them when they travel. Children under the age of 6 are exempt from this requirement. In addition, all visitors are required to take out Covid-19 medical insurance before traveling to Myanmar. Insurance must be obtained through a specified provider, and visitors must carry a printed copy of the insurance document with them when they travel. For up-to-date information on Covid-19 travel requirements, please check out here before planning your trip.
Myanmar has recently announced that it will be easing visa requirements for international visitors from select countries. Here is what you need to know about getting a visa for Myanmar. There are two types of visas available for Myanmar; tourist and business. The requirements and fees vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for. Tourist visas, for example, are valid for 28 days and cost $50 USD. Business visas are valid for 70 days and cost $70 USD.
If you are planning to visit Myanmar, be sure to check the visa requirements of your home country first. Citizens of some countries, such as the United States, can apply for an e-visa online prior to their arrival in Myanmar. For other nationalities, it may be necessary to obtain a visa through a Myanmar embassy or consulate. For further information on visa requirement and visa application, check here.
Thanks for reading! Hope that these pieces of information are useful for you as you consider Myanmar as a potential travel destination with astonishing histories and breathtaking nature..
However, make sure to check your country's travel advisory before you come to Myanmar.