Is it Safe to Travel Solo in Myanmar (Burma)?

Just because there’s conflict in an area of the world, doesn’t mean it’s a place you should avoid visiting. Often, the best thing travellers can do is to visit these nations, ones that are in need of tourism, and return home with more well-rounded perspective so that we can change perceptions one story at a time. If you do your research and make sure you’re travelling responsibly (so that your money doesn’t accidentally fund the wrong people), you’ll be making a direct contribution to the autonomy of locals.

That’s why if you’ve been thinking about travelling to Myanmar, especially if you plan to travel alone, we definitely encourage it! In fact, the country had been closed to tourism for many years, so it’s a mystery that’s still being unravelled, and who better to investigate its charms first-hand than you? From fresh tea-leaf salads to pagodas on top of golden rocks, Myanmar has plenty waiting to be discovered. But first we must address the burning question: “Is it Safe to Travel Solo in Myanmar?”



Yes, it’s a safe place to visit but of course, there are a few precautions you should take. Take note of the following to keep yourself safe while travelling solo in Myanmar:

1. Follow the travel advisories

Myanmar man paddling at Lake Inle

Lake Inle, Myanmar

Travel advisories are an essential part of the research phase of any adventure abroad. While it can feel similar to watching too many 24-hour news programs, reading your country’s take on your travel destination’s safety and security situation can be very informative. Depending on where you’re from, you can register your trip with your government so they’ll know you’re overseas should a situation suddenly turn into an emergency. You can also find important information like the closest consular assistance options and the details of local emergency services.

As a newcomer to the tourism scene, Myanmar is changing rapidly so I’d recommend checking the latest information through blogs, online forums, and current travel advisories instead of relying on guidebooks. As well, see your travel doctor before departure to get up to date on your vaccinations, and put together a comprehensive medical kit so you can take care of minor ailments. Oh, and get used to drinking tea instead of coffee! Finally relax. Myanmar overall is no more dangerous than the rest of Southeast Asia, just less developed (which is part of its charm). – Marie, Big Travel Nut

2. Avoid large public gatherings and demonstrations

Traffic at Sule pagoda in Yangon city

Traffic on the intersection at Sule Pagoda Road. Sule Pagoda is located in the heart of downtown Yangon City. Yangon, Yangon Division, Myanmar – November 06, 2013

Visiting any country with a tense political climate means that the potential for your average protest to turn violent is a realistic assumption you should keep in mind. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid popular and potentially busy spots like the Shwedagon Pagoda, just keep your wits about you. If you’re walking through the busy streets of Yangon or Naypyidaw, stay alert and avoid getting caught up in any political movements.

3. Check if you need any vaccinations before you travel

Myanmar

Myanmar

Speak with a travel doctor at least six weeks in advance of departing to Myanmar to make sure you have the right vaccinations to enjoy a healthy experience abroad. While there is no risk of yellow fever in this country, you are required to provide proof of vaccination if you are coming from a country (or have transited through an airport) where this particular disease does occur. There are also plenty of wild animals with rabies in Myanmar, so consider getting vaccinated if your trip will include contact with the country’s animal population.

4. Avoid tap water and prepare for some stomach aches

tea leaf salad

Famous tea leaf salad, Myanmar, Burma

This one is pretty straightforward. There are few things worse than getting sick while you’re out on the road, especially when you’re travelling alone. To avoid this, make sure you never drink the tap water and stick to buying bottled water. Food preparation isn’t always up to the standards you might be used to at home so pack some anti-diarrhoea medication and some Diralyte to rehydrate yourself in case you get sick. For the most part, you shouldn’t expect any trouble!

5. Choose the right border to enter and exit the country

airplane over myanmar

Looking over the Pathein River

Border crossings can close with little notice and if you’re doing the backpacking thing, you simply won’t be able to enter the country along Thailand, China and Laos’s borders. Trying is stupid and dangerous. As a general rule, you should only use the same port of entry (Yangon International Airport) to enter and leave Myanmar to avoid problems with immigration.

Travel bloggers beware: if you’re mistaken for a journalist during your entry or exit into the country you might encounter problems, including having your equipment confiscated or being denied entry. There have been reports in the past of tourists being mistaken for journalists and then being denied entry to Myanmar despite having a visa. If you start being questions stay calm and answer any question openly and with patience.

Traveling to Myanmar is one of the memorable experiences on my 3-month backpacking trip in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is a great country for solo traveling because locals are very friendly and accommodating when it comes to helping travelers.

Exploring tourist attractions of the country is a bit challenging financially especially if you’re not into riding motorbikes. The solution for this is to stay at hostels and meet other travelers for you to join tours and split the cost with them. Learning how to ride a bike, or an e-bike, also comes handy when navigating the dirt roads of Bagan. As of the moment, major destinations like Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake are already solo-traveler friendly because of handful of budget accommodation options. – Arjay, RJDExplorer



6. Avoid these areas at all costs

myanmar burma

Burma/Myanmar

As I just mentioned above, you should avoid all travel to areas along the country’s borders with Thailand, China and Laos. This is due to violent tension between ethnic groups, clashes between military and independently armed groups, bandits and the risk of unmarked landmines. You will also absolutely want to avoid Kachin State, Northern Shan State and Rakhine State (except for the resort Ngapali) due to serious civil unrest. Don’t let this dampen your itinerary because there are countless other fantastic spots in Myanmar to explore.



7. If you’re a woman travelling alone, dress modestly

Is it safe to travel solo in Myanmar

Girl in Myanmar

Myanmar is actually pretty safe for solo female travellers, or at least as safe as anywhere else in the world. You are unlikely to encounter any problems but should adhere to the dress code of this deeply Buddhist nation. Cover your shoulders and avoid short skirts or shorts. Also, you can expect to be restricted from specific areas of religious sites like Mount Kyaiktiyo, where you won’t be allowed to touch the golden rock; but you will be generally free to move around as you please. Remember not to physically touch any of the monks however you can still engage in a friendly conversation with them!