Exercise a high degree of caution in Myanmar overall due to the uncertain security situation and possibility of further civil unrest. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
Exercise normal safety precautions within the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Nay Pyi Taw and Inle Lake. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
Reconsider your need to travel to Paletwa township in southern Chin State, due to active armed conflict. Fighting between ethnic armed groups and military forces escalated in mid-November 2017. See Safety and security.
Reconsider your need to travel to Kachin State and northern and central areas of Shan State, due to ongoing armed conflict between ethnic groups and military forces, including air strikes in Kachin and northern areas of Shan State. See Safety and security.
Reconsider your need to travel to the areas bordering China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh and India, including authorised land border crossings in these areas. Armed groups operate in these areas and there are risks from ethnic conflict, banditry and unmarked landmines. See Safety and security.
Reconsider your need to travel to Rakhine State (except resort areas at Ngapali Beach) due to an increased level of anti-foreigner sentiment and ongoing conflict in the north. The Myanmar Government launched security operations in the area following attacks on a number of northern Rakhine police outposts in October 2016 and August 2017. The Myanmar Government has restrictions on movement in the area. There is an increased level of anti-United Nations and anti-international non-government organisation sentiment in Rakhine State including Sittwe. If you travel to the resort areas of Ngapali Beach, fly rather than travel by road. See Safety and security.
Do not travel to the Maungdaw, Buthidaung or Rathedaung townships in northern Rakhine State due to reports of ongoing fighting in these areas following coordinated attacks on security forces on 25 August 2017. Myanmar security forces are involved in ongoing security operations in northern Rakhine state. A curfew has been announced for Maungdaw township. See Safety and security.
Avoid all political gatherings, protests, demonstrations and street rallies as they may turn violent and are not permitted without prior permission. Local authorities may not always respond predictably. Do not take photographs of demonstrations, the military or police. See Safety and security.
Be alert to possible unrest and suspicious behaviour. In 2014, a number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) exploded or were identified in areas throughout Myanmar. See Safety and security.
Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
You'll need a visa to enter Myanmar.
Apply for a visa at your closest Embassy of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar prior to travel.
Alternatively, if you are travelling for tourism or business and you'll arrive in Myanmar through an entry point listed below, you can apply for an 'e-Visa' on-line. Avoid being defrauded by going to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population website directly to apply for an e-Visa. Some websites provide a legitimate visa for an additional fee but some websites and links in emails that appear to connect you to official e-visa services are fraudulent. Print out the e-Visa approval letter and present it to Myanmar immigration authorities on arrival.
E-Visas can be used to enter Myanmar at:
- Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports
- Tachilek, Myawaddy and Kawthoung border crossings.
E-Visas cannot be used for entry at seaports. Cruise passengers must arrange visas in advance.
Travel to parts of Myanmar is strictly controlled by government authorities, including through visa conditions. Australians have been deported and detained for visa offences. Check and comply with your visa conditions.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar for up-to-date information.
Travel to or from Myanmar by land border crossing is possible, but is restricted to a limited number of crossing points. All these crossing points are within areas for which we advise you to reconsider travel. These are:
- Tachilek (Shan State) – Mae Sai (Thailand border)
- Myawaddy (Kayin State) – Mae Sot (Thailand border)
- Tiki (Tanintharyi Region) – Sunarong (Thailand border)
- Kawthoung (Tanintharyi Region) – Ranong (Thailand border)
- Tamu (Sagaing Region) – Morei (India border)
Border crossings may close with little or no notice. Since November 2016, foreigners have not been permitted to travel to the Muse (Shan State) - Ruili (China) border crossing because of civil unrest in the area. See Safety and security.
If you plan to enter or exit Myanmar through the Tamu-Morei border crossing, you'll need to obtain additional permission from the Myanmar Ministry of Tourism (through a tour company or your nearest Embassy or Consulate of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar) prior to travel. If you enter Myanmar through this border crossing, you may be required to exit Myanmar via the same crossing.
Customs regulations are restrictive. Officials strictly limit what is brought into the country. Customs authorities are particularly sensitive about the entry of some communications equipment (such as electronic drones or radio networks).
If you don't declare restricted or prohibited items, they may be confiscated. Customs officials may hold undeclared items for collection upon departure.
There are strict rules governing the export of local gems, antiques and Buddha images. If you plan to take something home with you, check that it can be exported legally before you buy it.
Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.
Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.
Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.
By law, you must, as soon as possible:
The currency is the Myanmar Kyat (MMK). Declare foreign currency in excess of US$10,000 on arrival in Myanmar. If you don't, you could be jailed.
It is illegal to exchange foreign currency except through authorised money changers, which can be found at Myanmar's international airports and at banks.
Banks, money changers and commercial establishments in Myanmar occasionally refuse foreign currency on the basis of reports of counterfeit currency in circulation. US currency is widely accepted at commercial establishments, but notes with marks, folds, creases or tears are not accepted. Other foreign currencies and travellers cheques are rarely (if at all) accepted for payment at hotels or for the purchase of goods or services, including airline tickets.
There is a growing number of automatic teller machines (ATMs) that accept foreign cards and provide limited cash advances on credit and debit cards. Check with your bank before you travel to confirm whether your card will work in Myanmar.
Credit cards are accepted in a growing number of hotels, shops and restaurants in Myanmar. Power outages and unreliable internet services can impact on the availability of credit card services.
International money transfers (including Western Union) are now available through numerous banks in Yangon.
Safety and security
Civil unrest and political tension
Protests and organised assemblies of people are permitted only with prior permission. However, these rules are sometimes ignored. Local authorities sometimes respond to demonstrations with force. Incidents of politically motivated violence, resulting in casualties, also occur, particularly on or around public holidays such as Armed Forces Day (27 March), the Water Festival (Thingyan) and Myanmar New Year (both in April) and Martyrs Day (19 July).
- On 9 May 2017, police fired warning shots to disperse crowds following a clash between Buddhist and Muslim groups in downtown Yangon.
- In 2014, small improvised explosive devices (IEDs) exploded in public areas in major cities, including in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw.
- In 2013, explosions in Yangon, Taungoo and Sagaing resulted in injuries, including of a foreign national.
Significant events, including the anniversary of the 1988 uprising (8 August) and the anniversary of demonstrations led by monks (26 September), have traditionally seen an increase of police and security forces in Yangon and elsewhere in the country.
- Avoid all political gatherings, protests and demonstrations.
- Avoid areas cordoned off by security forces.
- Do not take photographs of demonstrations, the military or police.
- Follow all instructions of local authorities, including regarding curfews.
- Monitor the media and other sources for news of possible unrest and avoid affected areas.
- Be particularly wary on and around public holidays and other significant dates.
Some areas of Myanmar are more prone to civil unrest, politically-motivated violence and conflict between ethnic groups and military forces than other areas. Take this into account when planning your travel.
Do not travel to the northern Rakhine townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung due to an escalation in fighting between security forces and militants, including a series of coordinated attacks on border posts on 25 August 2017. A 6pm to 6am curfew has been announced for Maungdaw town in northern Rakhine State. There are reports of increased anti-foreign sentiment in the region. Tensions remain high and protests can escalate quickly. Curfews are in place in parts of northern Rakhine State. Curfews and restrictions on movement can be imposed at short notice. Follow all instructions issued by local authorities. Tensions remain high and protests can escalate quickly.
Reconsider your need to travel to the remainder of Rakhine State (except resort areas at Ngapali Beach where you should exercise a high degree of caution) due to the risk of further serious and unpredictable civil unrest following fatal attacks on security forces on 25 August 2017 and earlier attacks on a number of northern Rakhine police outposts in October 2016. Myanmar Government restrictions on movement are in place.
Reconsider your need to travel to Paletwa township in southern Chin State, due to active armed conflict. Fighting between ethnic armed groups and military forces escalated in mid-November 2017.
Reconsider your need to travel to Kachin State and northern and central areas of Shan State. Armed conflict between ethnic groups and military forces is ongoing and includes air strikes in Kachin and northern areas of Shan State and frequent armed skirmishes. Martial law has been lifted in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone but local authorities still impose restrictions on travel in the Kokang region. Armed conflict could resume at any time in Kachin State, northern Shan State and the central areas of Shan State. Authorities impose curfews and travel restrictions at short notice.
Reconsider your need to travel to the areas bordering China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh and India, including authorised land border crossings in these areas. Armed groups operate in these areas. Ethnic conflict, banditry and unmarked landmines all pose risks to your safety. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were located in the border town of Myawaddy in late 2014.
The security situation along Myanmar's extensive border varies considerably. If you choose to travel to border areas despite the risks, carefully assess the current security situation and familiarise yourself with local curfews and travel restrictions. Stick to main highways and urban areas.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. On 5 September 2017 (local time), Myanmar authorities warned of plans by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army to carry out terrorist attacks in major cities in Myanmar to conincide with the United Nations Assembly in September. Be alert to possible threats. In late November 2016, three small explosions occurred at two shopping centres in Yangon. No injuries were reported.
- Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
- Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
- Keep an eye on the news for any new or emerging threats.
- Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
- If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.
More information: Terrorist Threat Worldwide
Crime rates in Myanmar are lower than many countries in the region but you could encounter mugging, petty theft and burglary.
Some ATMs may have skimming devices or similar installed.
- Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in crowded areas.
- Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
- Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
- Hold bags and backpacks in front of you or in ways that make them harder to snatch.
- Avoid using ATMs in exposed locations – opt for ATMs in banks and shopping centres instead.
- Check ATMs for skimming devices before use.
- If you use ATM, debit or credit cards, closely monitor your bank transaction records.
- Report any theft promptly to local police. See Where to get help.
Travel within parts of Myanmar, including to and from land border crossings, is strictly controlled. Travellers intending to visit areas beyond popular tourist destinations should refer to the list of restricted areas on the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population website.
Due to the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar's restrictions on the travel of Australian Embassy officials, providing emergency consular assistance to travellers in remote areas may be restricted or delayed.
Unmarked landmines are a danger in parts of Myanmar, particularly the border and conflict-affected areas. In April 2016, a landmine explosion injured foreign tourists trekking in Kyaukme township in northern Shan state.
Myanmar New Year and Water Festival
Myanmar's Water Festival (Thingyan) and New Year is celebrated in April each year. There is an increased risk of road accidents, caused by drunk drivers, overcrowded vehicles and large unruly crowds celebrating in public places, at this time. In previous years, the incidence of violent and petty crime has increased during the festival. Pay particular attention to your personal security at at this time.
Shops, restaurants, banks and government offices all close for Thingyan. Official and unofficial road closures occur in Yangon and other regional centres. Plan your travel carefully at this time.
Foreigners are frequently required to present their passport and visa to authorities, including for domestic air and rail travel and when staying at hotels.
Local safety standards
The safety standards you might expect of service providers, such as hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, transport and tour operators, including for adventure activities, are not always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed.
If you plan to participate in adventure activities, first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. Don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.
Internet and telephone services
Communication services in Myanmar are improving. Internet services are available but are unreliable outside cities and large towns. The telephone network is also unreliable and limited to cities and large towns. International GSM roaming is available for a limited number of Australian mobile phone carriers. It is possible to send and receive text messages from some Australian mobile phone carriers to mobile phones inside Myanmar. Many travellers choose to buy a local SIM card upon arrival and top up with credit as needed.
You are four times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Myanmar than in Australia. Driving in Myanmar is dangerous because of traffic congestion, aggressive driving practices, poorly maintained vehicles and roads, livestock on the road and a lack of street lighting. Roads in mountainous border areas can be particularly poor. It is common practice for pedestrians to walk on roads.
Myanmar law requires vehicles to travel on the right-hand side of the road but there is a combination of both left-hand and right-hand drive vehicles in use throughout the country. This adds to the hazardous driving conditions.
It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident. A driver involved in an accident with a pedestrian is always considered to be at fault, regardless of the circumstances, and is likely to be detained. Drivers involved in an accident with another vehicle are usually detained if there are injuries or casualties. Legal proceedings to resolve traffic matters can be lengthy, and can have implications for a person's visa status. Financial settlements are often expected.
Australian Embassy staff are advised to avoid driving at night in the countryside of Myanmar wherever possible. This includes travelling on the Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw highway. In addition to the driving hazards listed above, many drivers travelling in regional areas do not use their headlights at night.
Outside of major cities, military and immigration checkpoints on roads are common.
Before driving or using any other motorised vehicle:
- talk to your travel insurer to confirm you will be covered
- get a local licence
- familiarise yourself with Myanmar traffic laws.
If you drive,
- drive defensively
- don't drink and drive
- don't leave the scene of an accident.
More information: Road travel page.
You must have a valid Myanmar driver's licence to drive cars or motorcycles in Myanmar. It is illegal to drive cars or motorcycles in Myanmar on an Australian or international driving licence.
Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet. Companies hiring motorbikes rarely have helmets available for rent. Most locally purchased helmets do not meet Australian safety standards.
Only use registered taxis (those with red licence plates), preferably those booked through your hotel. Unofficial taxis may overcharge. Make sure that the fare is agreed with the driver before you depart. Take particular care if taking taxis late at night.
Public transportation, including bus, river and rail travel, does not meet international safety standards. Fatal accidents have occurred. Search and rescue capabilities are limited.
The safety record of domestic airlines is not publicly available, nor is information on the oversight of maintenance standards of domestic airlines by local authorities. This lack of transparency raises concerns about airline safety. Airlines operating in Myanmar sometimes use aircraft from outside their own fleet. Passengers are not advised in advance when this is the case.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Myanmar.
More information: Air travel
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Australian consular officers do not usually receive timely notification of the detention, arrest or deportation of Australian citizens in Myanmar. If you are arrested or jailed, request immediate contact with the Australian Embassy.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. More information: Drugs
Myanmar applies the death penalty for serious offences, including murder, human trafficking, treason and drug offences.
While perhaps legal in some countries, the following activities are illegal in Myanmar:
- homosexual acts (for men and women). More information: LGBTI travellers
- photographing military personnel or installations
- rent of an apartment or home by someone in Myanmar on a tourist visa – tourists must stay in a registered hotel, motel, inn, guest house or resort
- entering or exiting Myanmar with religious materials
- preaching or distributing religious materials without prior written approval from authorities
- 'insulting religion'
- mistreatment of images of Buddha – if you have a tattoo of Buddha, keep it covered at all times
- driving a car or motorcycle without a valid local driving licence
- leaving the scene of a road accident
- drinking alcohol in public places such as parks, religious buildings or compounds.
Customs regulations on prohibited imports and exports are often unclear and can change. Seek advice regarding import and export from an Embassy or Consulate of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child pornography
- child sex tourism
- female genital mutilation
- forced marriage
- money laundering
More information: Staying within the law
Myanmar does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of Australian officials to provide consular services to Australian/Myanmar dual nationals who are arrested or detained. If you're an Australian/Myanmar, dual national, travel on your Australian passport at all times.
More information: Dual nationals
People in Myanmar are deeply respectful of their religious and cultural traditions. There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour. Wearing short-sleeved garments and shorts is not common and may cause offence. It is highly offensive to touch or pat a child or adult on the top of the head.
- Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
- Always remove shoes and socks before entering religious buildings and compounds.
- Avoid wearing short-sleeved garments and shorts, especially when visiting Buddhist pagodas.
- Never touch another person on their head.
Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.
Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.
- what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
- that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.
More information: Travel insurance
Physical and mental health
It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be illegal or a controlled substance in other countries, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and seek advice from an Embassy or Consulate of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar on any quantity restrictions that may apply. If your medication is illegal in Myanmar, consult your doctor about alternatives.
Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Keep all medication in its original packaging. Always carry on your person a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.
Many pharmaceutical products for sale in Myanmar are counterfeit.
More information: Prescription medicines
Polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases
The Department of Health recommends you make sure you're up-to-date with routinely recommended vaccinations, including polio, as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook before you travel to Myanmar.
- Consult your doctor if you are unsure whether you are fully vaccinated for polio.
- Discuss your travel plans and other vaccination needs with your doctor before you travel. Ask specifically about your need for typhoid, rabies and Hepatitis A vaccines.
If you're staying in Myanmar for more than four weeks, carry documented evidence of having received a dose of polio vaccine within 12 months prior to arrival. If you do not have this evidence, you may be encouraged to be vaccinated prior to departure from Myanmar.
More information: Polio (Australian Department of Health)
The mosquito-borne diseases malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya fever and Japanese encephalitis are endemic in many areas of Myanmar.
Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:
- ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
- take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
- take prophylaxis against malaria where necessary
- get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis before you travel.
HIV/AIDS is prevalent in Myanmar. Take appropriate precautions if you engage in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
Other infectious diseases
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, typhoid, rabies and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.
- Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water with intact seals.
- Avoid ice cubes.
- Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
- Pay close attention to your personal hygiene.
- Make sure any food you consume is prepared hygienically.
Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.
The standard of medical facilities in Myanmar is extremely limited, particularly outside Yangon. Avoid any surgical procedures, (including dental work) due to the danger of infection, including hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, from unsterile dental and medical instruments.
Private hospitals are not permitted to accept foreign patients in some cases.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to a destination with the required facilities. Air evacuations, usually to Bangkok, Singapore or Australia, could cost more than A$25,000.
You may need to pay upfront and in cash before receiving medical treatment or medical evacuation.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
- Firefighting and rescue services: 191
- Medical emergencies: 192
- Criminal issues, contact police: 199 or contact the local police
Always get a police report when reporting a crime.
Tourism services and products
For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular assistance, contact:
Australian Embassy, Yangon
623 Pyay Road
Telephone: (+95) 1 230 7410
Facsimile: (+95) 1 230 7425
Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The monsoon season is from May to October. Heavy rains can cause flooding and landslides. Severe weather can often precede the monsoon season.
Cyclones can occur between April and October. The Myanmar Department of Meteorology and Hydrology website provides up-to-date information on conditions.
Earthquakes can occur in Myanmar. In the past, earthquakes have caused damage to a number of major cities in Myanmar, including Yangon and Bagan.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but Myanmar and its neighbours' susceptibility to earthquakes makes destructive tsunamis more likely.
- Keep an eye on media, weather and flood level reports, especially during the monsoon season.
- Check with your tour operator for the latest information on disruptions.
- Take official warnings seriously.
- Don't enter areas affected by flooding, landslides or other natural disasters without first seeking advice from local authorities.
- Know your hotel's evacuation plans.
If there is a natural disaster:
- secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
- contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
- closely monitor the media, other local information sources and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
- in the case of a cyclone, identify your local shelter if one is available - in some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available.
- follow the advice of local authorities.