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Summary

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to other parts of 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 travelling to the resort areas of Ngapali Beach, exercise a high degree of caution and fly rather than travel by road.
  • Exercise normal safety precautions within the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Nay Pyi Taw and Inle Lake. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.  
  • 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.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the areas bordering China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh and India, including the authorised land border crossings in these areas. Armed groups operate in these areas and there is an ongoing risk of ethnic conflict, banditry and unmarked landmines.
  • On 25 August 2017, there were fatal attacks on security forces in northern Rakhine State and there are reports of ongoing clashes between security forces and militants. A 6pm to 6am curfew has been announced for Maungdaw town in northern Rakhine State. There is currently an increased level of anti-United Nations and anti-international non-government organisation sentiment in Rakhine State. There may be further protests against the presence and activities of United Nations agencies and international non-government organisations in Sittwe and elsewhere in Rakhine State. See Safety and security.
  • Protests and organised assemblies of people are permitted only with prior permission. Local authorities may not always respond predictably. Avoid all political gatherings, protests, demonstrations and street rallies as they could turn violent. Do not take photographs of demonstrations, the military or police. See Safety and security
  • In 2014, a number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) exploded or were identified in areas throughout Myanmar. In October 2013, there were a number of small explosions in public areas in Yangon, Tuangoo and Sagaing. See Safety and security.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Australians require a visa to enter Myanmar. Apply for a visa at your closest Embassy of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar prior to travel. The Myanmar Government has also introduced an eVisa program which allows tourists and business travellers to apply for visa pre-approval online via the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population website. Travellers are required to print out the eVisa approval letter and present it to Myanmar immigration authorities on arrival.

eVisas may be used to enter Myanmar at:

  • Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports
  • Tachilek, Myawaddy and Kawthoung border crossings.

eVisas cannot be used for entry at seaports. Cruise passengers must arrange visas in advance of arrival in Myanmar.

Be aware of unauthorised websites that claim to offer this service. While some websites will provide a legitimate visa for an additional fee, there are other websites that are fraudulent. We caution against using links in emails or other websites to access the official site.

Travel to parts of Myanmar is strictly controlled by government authorities. Australians have been deported and detained for visa offences.

As 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.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Border crossings

Travel to or from Myanmar by land border crossing is possible, but is restricted to a limited number of crossing points, which are within areas in which we advise you to reconsider your need to 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)      

Since November 2016, foreigners have not been permitted to travel to/via the Muse (Shan State) - Ruili (China border crossing) due to civil unrest in the area.

See the Safety and security section for more information. Border crossings may close with little or no notice.

Travel by road within Myanmar to and from land border crossings is subject to restrictions. The condition of roads in mountainous border areas can be very poor and therefore dangerous. See the Local travel section for more details.

If you choose to use these land border crossings, you must obtain a valid entry visa from the nearest Embassy or Consulate of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar prior to travel.

In order to enter or exit through the Tamu-Morei border crossing, you will 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 via these border crossings you may also be required to exit Myanmar via the same crossing.

 

Customs and currency

Customs regulations are restrictive, and officials strictly limit what is brought into the country. There are strict rules governing the export of local gems, antiques and Buddha images.

Customs authorities are sensitive about the entry of some communications equipment(such as electronic drones or radio networks).

Customs officials may hold undeclared items for collection upon departure.

Foreign currency in excess of USD10,000 must be declared upon arrival. Failure to do so could result in imprisonment.

For the latest advice on customs regulations, exports and imports, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Protests and organised assemblies of people are permitted only with prior permission. Local authorities may not always respond predictably. Avoid all political gatherings, protests and demonstrations as they could become violent. Avoid areas cordoned off by security forces. Do not take photographs of demonstrations, the military or police as this may not be tolerated by authorities. Comply with local authorities' instructions, including regarding curfews.

Acts of political violence can occur. 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 in Myanmar, including in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. In October 2013 there were a number of small explosions in Yangon, Taungoo and Sagaing in which one foreign national was injured.

In the past, there have been incidents of politically motivated violence, resulting in casualties, 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). Other significant events, including the anniversary of the 1988 uprising (8 August) and the anniversary of demonstrations led by monks to protest for political reform (26 September) have traditionally seen an increase of police and security forces in Yangon and elsewhere in the country.

Cities of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Nay Pyi Taw and Inle Lake: Exercise normal safety precautions when travelling within these cities. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.

Northern Rakhine townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung:  Do not travel to these townships 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. 

Ngapali Beach: Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to resort areas at Ngapali Beach in Rakhine State. If you choose to travel to these areas we strongly encourage you fly directly rather than travel by road. Monitor local developments in case the security situation changes.

Sittwe and the remainder of Rakhine State: Reconsider your need to travel to the remainder of Rakhine State, including the capital city Sittwe, tourist destination Mrauk-U and the town of Thandwe near Ngapali Beach, 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.

On 25 August 2017, there were fatal attacks on security forces in northern Rakhine State and there are reports of ongoing clashes between security forces and militants. There is currently an increased level of anti-United Nations and anti-international non-government organisation sentiment in Rakhine State. There may be further protests against the presence and activities of United Nations agencies and international non-government organisations in Sittwe and elsewhere in Rakhine State.

Curfews are in place in parts of northern Rakhine State. Tensions remain high and protests can escalate quickly. Curfews and restrictions on movement can be imposed at short notice. Follow all instructions issued by local authorities.

Kachin State and the northern and central areas of Shan State: Reconsider your need to travel to these areas due to conflict between ethnic groups and military forces. Armed skirmishes occur frequently. Conflict in northern Shan State and the central area of Shan State escalated in intensity and frequency in 2015, with skirmishes occurring over a larger area. Martial law has been lifted in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone but local authorities still impose restrictions on travel in the Kokang region. There is an ongoing risk of outbreaks of armed conflict in Kachin State, northern Shan State and the central areas of Shan State. Authorities can and do impose curfews and travel restrictions at short notice.

China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh and India border areas: Reconsider your need to travel to these borders, including to the authorised land border crossings. Armed groups operate in these areas and there is an ongoing risk of ethnic conflict, banditry and unmarked landmines. In mid-2015 and late 2014, the roads from Myawaddy to Hpa-An were temporarily closed after low level conflict between ethnic groups and military forces occurred in the area. In late 2014, the border crossing from Mae Sot to Myawaddy was temporarily closed after improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were located in the border town of Myawaddy.

The security situation along Myanmar's extensive border varies considerably. If you choose to travel to border areas, carefully assess the current security situation and familiarise yourself with local curfews and travel restrictions. Movement should be limited to main highways and urban areas.

Terrorism

On 5 September 2017, Myanmar authorities warned of plans by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army to carry out terrorist attacks in major cities in Myanmar to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly in September.

In late November 2016, three small explosions ocurred at two shopping centres in Yangon. No injuries were reported.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

Crime

While crime rates in Myanmar are lower than many countries in the region, there is a risk of crime, including mugging, petty theft and burglary. Ensure your valuables (such as wallets, jewellery, mobile phones and cameras) are secure at all times. Report any theft promptly to local law enforcement officials by telephoning 199 or in-person at the local police station.

Only use registered taxis (those with red licence plates). Take particular care if taking taxis late at night.

 

Money and valuables

Before you go, consider how you are going to access your money. Bring enough cash to cover your expenses for the duration of your stay.

There is a growing number of automatic teller machines (ATMs) throughout Myanmar that are connected to the international banking system and accept foreign cards and provide limited cash advances on credit/debit cards. Check with your bank before you travel to confirm whether your card will work in Myanmar.

Travellers who choose to use ATMs in Myanmar should monitor their transaction records as there have been reported instances of identity theft. International money transfers (including Western Union) are now available through numerous banks in Yangon. 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.

Be aware that 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.

It is illegal to exchange foreign currency except through authorised money changers, which can be found at Myanmar's international airports and at banks.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Myanmar's Water Festival (Thingyan) and New Year is celebrated in April each year. Be mindful of the increased risk of road accidents, caused by drunk drivers, overcrowded vehicles and large unruly crowds celebrating in public places. In previous years the incidence of violent and petty crime has increased during the festival. Exercise a high degree of caution during the festival. Shops, restaurants, banks and government offices all close for Thingyan. Official and unofficial road closures will occur in Yangon and other regional centres and should be considered when arranging journeys to and from airports and bus/train stations. Travellers should take these factors into account when planning their travel.

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.

Foreigners are frequently required to present their passport and visa to authorities, including for domestic air and rail travel and when staying at hotels.

Travel within parts of Myanmar 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.

Driving

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. If you choose to hire cars, motorcycles or any other motorised vehicle, talk to your travel insurer to confirm if these activities are covered by your insurance policy.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 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 the lack of street lighting. While Myanmar law requires vehicles to travel on the right-hand side of the road, there is a combination of both left-hand and right-hand drive vehicles in use throughout the country. This adds to the already hazardous driving conditions.

It is common practice for pedestrians to walk on roads. 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. It is also common for drivers involved in an accident with another vehicle to be detained where there are injuries or casualties. It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident. 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 have been 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. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Outside of major cities, military and immigration checkpoints on roads are common.

Public transport

Public transportation within Myanmar, including air, bus, river and rail travel, does not meet international safety standards. Fatal accidents have occurred. Search and rescue assistance capabilities are limited.

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. If you intend to participate in adventure activities, check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. Companies hiring motorbikes rarely have helmets available for rent. Most locally purchased helmets do not meet Australian safety standards. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.

Internet and telephone services

Communication services in Myanmar are improving. Internet services are available, although unreliable outside cities and large towns. The telephone network is also unreliable and limited to cities and large towns. International GSM roaming is now 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.

Airline safety

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. Be aware that 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.

Please also refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Myanmar, including those appearing harsh by Australian standards. 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. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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 you should request immediate contact with the Australian Embassy.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. See our Drugs page.

The death penalty may also apply for other serious offences, including murder, human trafficking and treason.

Homosexual acts are illegal (for men and women). Penalties include fines and imprisonment for up to ten years. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Photographing military personnel and installations is illegal.

Under the Immigration Act, tourists are required to stay in registered hotels, motels, inns, guest houses or resorts. Foreign visitors visiting Myanmar on tourist visas may not rent apartments or houses.

It is illegal to enter and exit Myanmar with religious materials. It is illegal to preach or to distribute religious materials without written approval from authorities.

Under Myanmar law, 'insulting religion' is a serious offence. The mistreatment of images of Buddha is an offence under local law, and is punishable by imprisonment. Travellers with tattoos of Buddha should keep these covered at all times.

It is illegal to drive cars or motorcycles in Myanmar on an Australian or International Driving Licence. You must hold a valid local driving licence.

It is illegal to leave the scene of a road accident.

Drinking alcohol in public places such as parks, religious buildings or compounds is prohibited.

Customs regulations on prohibited imports and exports are often unclear and can change. Seek further advice regarding import and export from your nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. See also Entry and exit.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Local customs

People in Myanmar are deeply respectful of their religious and cultural traditions. Visitors should remove shoes and socks before entering religious buildings and compounds. Wearing short-sleeved garments and shorts is not common and may cause offence, especially when visiting Buddhist pagodas.

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour and you should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

It is considered seriously offensive to touch or pat a child or adult on the top of the head.

Information for dual nationals

The Government of the Republic of the Union of 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. We strongly advise you to travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities

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. In certain serious cases private hospitals are not permitted to accept foreign patients. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the appropriate facilities (usually Bangkok, Singapore or Australia) would be necessary. Costs for medical evacuation could well be in excess of AUD25,000. Upfront cash payment may be required prior to receiving medical treatment or undertaking medical evacuation.

Many pharmaceutical products for sale in Myanmar are counterfeit. Bring adequate supplies of your medications for the duration of your stay. Carry a copy of your prescription, a letter from your doctor and keep all medication in its original packaging.

Health risks

The mosquito-borne diseases malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya fever and Japanese encephalitis are endemic in many areas of Myanmar. Take measures to avoid mosquito bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

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. H1N1 (swine flu) has been reported in Myanmar and can be managed by the annual seasonal influenza vaccine. We encourage you to discuss your vaccination requirements with your doctor before travelling.

Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water with intact seals, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Careful preparation of food and good personal hygiene are strongly recommended. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

The Australian Department of Health recommends that Australians travelling to Myanmar should make sure they are up to date with routinely recommended vaccinations, including polio, as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook. See your doctor if you are unsure whether you are fully vaccinated for polio and seek advice as to whether you may require additional vaccinations, such as for typhoid, rabies, Japanese encephalities and Hepatitis A. 

If you are staying in Myanmar for more than four weeks, you should 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.

Further information is available from the Australian Department of Health polio website.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, 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.

To complain about tourism products or services, contact the provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian Embassy, Yangon

88 Strand Road
Kyauktada Township
Yangon, Myanmar
Telephone: (95 1) 251 810
Facsimile: (95 1) 246 159
Email: austembassy.yangon@dfat.gov.au
Website: myanmar.embassy.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

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. In the event of a tropical cyclone or typhoon, monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. You can monitor the latest information at the Myanmar Department of Meteorology and Hydrology website. You should identify your local shelter if one is available. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available. If you are staying in a hotel, familiarise yourself with evacuation plans. For further information, see our severe weather page.

Most of Myanmar is in a zone of significant earthquake risk. Earthquakes have in the past caused damage to a number of major cities in Myanmar, including Yangon and Bangan. Our Earthquakes bulletin provides further information on travel in earthquake prone areas.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches.

If a natural disaster occurs, travellers should follow instructions from local authorities, monitor media and weather reports, and check with tour operators before travelling to affected areas.

Additional resources