- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Myanmar overall due to the uncertain security situation and possibility of further civil unrest. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
- Protests and organised assemblies of people are permitted only with prior permission. Local authorities have limited experience in dealing with legal protests and may not always respond predictably. You should avoid all demonstrations and street rallies as they may turn violent. You should avoid taking photographs of demonstrations, the military or police as this may not be tolerated by authorities.
- Myanmar's Water Festival (Thingyan) and New Year will be celebrated from 11-20 April 2016. Travellers should 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. Travellers should 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 (Local travel).
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Rakhine State, including the capital Sittwe, Mrauk-U and areas near Ngapali Beach, given serious civil unrest and ongoing tensions. If travelling to Ngapali Beach which is rated as exercise a high degree of caution, we recommend you fly there.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Kachin State and northern and central areas of Shan State, due to ongoing tensions and sporadic armed conflict between ethnic groups and military forces.
- We advise you to 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.
- Bomb attacks have taken place in major cities across Myanmar, including in Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw. In recent years, a number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have exploded or been identified in areas frequented by tourists and expatriates. Further attacks could occur.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy,
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive email updates each time it's reissued
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Australians require a visa to enter Myanmar. Visa information for travellers from Australia is available on the ‘Visa’ section of the website of the Embassy of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Canberra. The Myanmar Government has introduced an eVisa program which allows tourists and business travellers to apply for visa pre-approval online via the website of the Ministry of Immigration and Population. You should be aware of unauthorised websites that may claim to offer this service. We caution against using links in emails or other websites to access the official site.
Travel to and within 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, you should always contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar for the most up to date information.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
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:
- Muse (Shan State) – Ruili (China border)
- Tamu (Sagaing Region) – Morei (India border)
- 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)
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 Muse-Ruili or Tamu-Morei border crossings, you will need to obtain additional permission through a tour company or your nearest Embassy or Consulate of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar prior to travel.
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 images of Buddha. In the past, customs authorities have been sensitive about the entry of communications equipment. If you are entering Myanmar with prescription medication, you should carry a copy of your prescription, a letter from your doctor and carry all medication in its original packaging.
Customs officials may hold undeclared items for collection upon departure.
Foreign currency in excess of USD$10,000 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/political tension
Protests and organised assemblies of people are permitted only with prior permission. Local authorities have limited experience in dealing with legal protests and may not always respond predictably. You should avoid protests and demonstrations as they may become violent. You should also avoid areas cordoned off by security forces. Avoid taking photographs of demonstrations, the military or police as this may not be tolerated by authorities.
Acts of political violence can occur. Bomb attacks have taken place in major cities in Myanmar, including in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. Attacks have occurred or have been planned in public areas frequented by tourists and expatriates, including shopping centres, supermarkets, restaurants, markets, hotels, transportation hubs, and on public transport, including taxis. In October 2013, there were a number of small explosions in Yangon, Taungoo and Sagaing in which one foreign national was injured. Further attacks could occur at any time.
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.
Ngapali Beach: We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to resort areas at Ngapali Beach in Rakhine State. If you choose to travel to Ngapali Beach we strongly encourage you fly directly to the resort area. You should monitor local developments in case the security situation changes.
Remainder of Rakhine State: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the remainder of Rakhine State, including the state capital Sittwe, popular tourist destination Mrauk-U and the town of Thandwe near Ngapali Beach, due to the risk of further serious civil unrest. In March 2014, there were violent protests directed against the staff and offices of international organisations in Sittwe, Rakhine State. Protests continue to occur.
Inter-communal violence in central and northern Rakhine State has led to widespread displacement and segregation. In mid-2012, authorities announced a curfew across much of Rakhine (including the Sittwe and Mrauk-U) and sent additional security personnel to the area in response to inter-communal violence and the burning of homes. In late 2014, the curfew was lifted in the majority of Rakhine townships, however tensions remain high, protests occur and can escalate quickly. Curfews and restrictions on movement can be imposed at short notice.
Kachin State and the northern and central areas of Shan State: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to these areas due to ongoing tensions and conflict between ethnic groups and military forces. Skirmishes occurred throughout 2014 and into 2015. Tensions in northern Shan State and the central area of Shan State escalated 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: We advise you to 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, you should 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.
We continue to receive reports that terrorist elements in the region are planning attacks that could take place in any location within Myanmar, including Yangon.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.
There is a risk of crime, including mugging, petty theft and burglary. There have been incidents of violent crime directed against foreigners. Local law enforcement officials have a limited capacity to respond to crimes.
Money and valuables
Before you go, you should consider how you are going to access your money. You should 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. International money transfers are now available through numerous banks in Yangon. Travellers who choose to use ATMs in Myanmar should monitor their transaction records. Credit cards are accepted in a growing number of establishments in Myanmar. Power outages and unreliable internet services can impact on the availability of credit card services.
You should 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 money except through authorised money changers, which can be found at Myanmar’s international airports, at banks and in government stores.
Foreign currency (US dollars, Singapore dollars and Euros) can be exchanged for local currency, the Myanmar Kyat (MMK). There is no legal way to change Australian dollars to MMK.
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.
Myanmar's Water Festival (Thingyan) and New Year will be celebrated from 11-20 April 2016. Travellers should 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. Travellers should 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 in the border areas.
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 Myanmar is restricted to officially designated tourist areas. There are limitations on how travellers can access some destinations. Travellers intending to visit areas beyond popular tourist destinations should seek advice regarding access permits from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism counters located at Yangon and Mandalay international airports. The Ministry of Immigration and Population includes a list of restricted destinations on their 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.
You must have a valid Myanmar driver’s licence to drive cars and 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.
Driving in Myanmar is dangerous because of 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 regarded to be at fault and is likely to be detained. It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident.
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 transportation within Myanmar, including air, bus, river and rail travel, often 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, you should check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. You should 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, you should use another provider.
Internet and telephone services
While communication services in Manmar are improving, internet service is unreliable and not readily available in many parts of the country. The telephone network is also unreliable and limited to cities and large towns. It is difficult and costly to make international calls. International GSM roaming is now available for a limited number of Australian mobile phone carriers. It is now possible to send or receive text messages from some Australian mobile phone carriers to mobile phones inside Myanmar.
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. You should 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 instead 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.
You are subject to the local laws of Myanmar, including ones that appear 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. Penalties include fines and imprisonment for up to ten years. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Photographing military personnel and installations is illegal.
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.
The mistreatment of images of Buddha is considered a serious 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.
Customs regulations on prohibited imports and exports are often unclear and can change. You should 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.
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.
We strongly recommend that you 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.
It is important to 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.
The standard of medical facilities in Myanmar is extremely limited, particularly outside Yangon. You should 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 AUD$25,000. Upfront cash payment may be required prior to receiving medical treatment or undertaking medical evacuation.
Most pharmaceutical products on sale in Myanmar have been smuggled into the country, and many are counterfeit or adulterated. You should bring adequate supplies of your medications for the duration of your stay. You should also carry a copy of your prescription, a letter from your doctor and carry all medication in its original packaging.
The mosquito-borne diseases malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya fever and Japanese encephalitis are endemic in many areas of Myanmar. We recommend you 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. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water with intact seals, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. 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 against polio, including a booster dose if required, as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook. Please see your doctor if you are unsure whether you are fully vaccinated for polio.
Australian travellers planning to visit Myanmar and staying for periods greater than 4 weeks, are encouraged to carry documented evidence of having received a dose of polio vaccine within 12 months prior to arrival. If you do not have documented evidence of polio vaccination within this 12 month period, 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 services, contact the service 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
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to Myanmar, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
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.
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, you should 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. 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. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.
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.