Road Conditions and Safety: Rangoon’s roads are generally in poor condition and have traffic congestion throughout the day. Slow-moving vehicles, bicycles, animals, and heavy pedestrian traffic create numerous hazards for drivers on Rangoon’s streets. If you drive in Burma, remain alert to avoid hitting pedestrians. If you are a pedestrian, remain alert even when you believe you have the right of way.
Most roads outside of Rangoon have one to two lanes and are potholed, often unpaved, and unlit at night. Many of the truck drivers traveling between China and Rangoon reportedly travel under the influence of methamphetamines and other stimulants. Drunken and/or drugged drivers are common during the four-day Buddhist water festival in mid-April.
Driving at night is particularly dangerous. Most Burmese drivers do not turn on their headlights until the sky is completely dark. Many do not use headlights at all. Many bicyclists use no lights or reflectors.
Traffic Laws: Vehicles drive on the right side as in the United States. However, a majority of vehicles have the steering wheel positioned on the right. The ?right of way? concept is generally respected, but military convoys and motorcades always have precedence. Vehicles generally lack seat belts. Child car seats are unavailable.
Most accidents are settled between the parties on site, with the party at fault paying the damages. In the event of an accident with a pedestrian, the driver is always considered to be at fault and subject to fines or arrest, regardless of the circumstances. Roadside assistance and ambulances are unavailable.
Public Transportation: Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Burma, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Burma?s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Burma should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at MARAD. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website (https://homeport.uscg.mil), and the NGA broadcast warnings
Most medical facilities in Burma are inadequate for routine medical care. If you are seeking medical care in Burma, you will be asked to pay cash for all health care services and medicines before receiving care; credit cards are not accepted in most health care facilities and insurance will not be billed. Adequate Emergency Medical Services including ambulance care is not reliably available. Patients who are admitted to public hospitals typically need a family member or friend to assist them with care in the hospital, and food and medical supplies must be purchased for use in the hospital. Few medical personnel in Burma are trained to U.S. standards. U.S. citizens needing urgent medical care have been denied treatment at public hospitals due to a lack of funds. In an emergency, you would likely need to be medically evacuated to a hospital outside Burma. Medical evacuation from Burma is expensive and is most often transacted in cash, therefore medical evacuation insurance is advised.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.
Medication: Many pharmaceuticals on sale in Burma are counterfeit or adulterated, or may not be available. Travelers should consider Burmese pharmaceuticals generally unsafe to use and should bring their own medications for the duration of their stay in Burma.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Burma to ensure that the medication is legal in Burma. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
See the CDC?s Burma-specific information on vaccinations and prevalence of the following diseases:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Japanese Encephalitis
Travelers? Diarrhea: Because Travelers? Diarrhea is common, travelers should follow safe food and water recommendations, including eating food that is cooked and served hot and drinking only bottled water. Oral rehydration solution is helpful in severe cases of diarrhea and is usually available in pharmacies.
The following diseases are prevalent:
- Dengue fever
- Other insect-borne infections including chikungunya, scrub typhus, and Japanese encephalitis
- Zika Virus
Zika Virus: Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness, typically transmitted by the day-biting Aedes aegypti mosquito that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby as well as through sexual contact and blood transfusion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other neurological conditions. For general information and the latest updates about Zika and steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual exposure to the virus, please visit the CDC website.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Should you be detained, especially outside of Rangoon, we may not be able to assist quickly. Law enforcement officials do not routinely notify us of the arrest of U.S. citizens, and prison officials have been known to obstruct regular access by consular officers to U.S. citizen detainees.
Dual Nationality: Burmese law forbids Burmese citizens from possessing dual nationality. On occasion, Burmese authorities have detained and pursued criminal proceedings against Burmese-Americans who have returned to Burma on U.S. passports and who have had in their possession evidence of Burmese citizenship, such as a National Registration Card.
Tourists Must Reside in a Registered Hotel or Guesthouse: Burmese law requires that foreign tourists reside in registered hotels or guesthouses. Criminal penalties, including multiple years of imprisonment and deportation, apply for non-compliance. The Burmese government publishes a list of hotels .
Illegal drugs carry severe penalties. Expect long jail sentences under harsh conditions, heavy fines, or even execution for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs.
Insulting Religion: Under Burmese law, insulting religion is a prosecutable offense. ?Insult? is a very broad term that could include tattoos or other religious representations in a non-religious context. Images of the Buddha can be particularly sensitive. In 2016, a tourist was deported for allegedly having a tattoo of the Buddha on his leg. As in any country, visitors are encouraged to be respectful of local customs when visiting religious sites.
Drones: Importing unmanned aerial systems (drones) without prior government permission and flying them in sensitive areas can result in criminal penalties, including jail time and the permanent confiscation of the drone. Sensitive areas include government buildings, famous tourist sites, and religious buildings. Because it is rarely clear what constitutes a sensitive area, all recreational use of drones is inadvisable. Multiple foreigners have recently been detained for flying drones in sensitive locations. If you wish to bring a drone to Burma, we strongly suggest you seek official permission from the Burmese Government.
Social Media: You may be prosecuted for posting negative or derogatory comments on social media, including Facebook, under the 2013 Telecommunications Law, which criminalizes ?extortion of any person, coercion, unlawful restriction, defamation, interfering, undue influence, or intimidation using a telecommunications network.? If convicted, you may face a fine and/or imprisonment.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal under section 377 of the Burmese penal code, which has provisions against ?sexually abnormal? behavior and entails punishments up to life imprisonment. Laws against ?unnatural offenses? apply equally to men and women. These laws are rarely enforced. However, LGBTI persons have reported that police used the threat of prosecution to extort bribes. LGBTI activists have also reported allegations of rape by security forces in some cases, arbitrary arrest (for example for loitering), detention, and broad societal and familial discrimination.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Individuals with disabilities should be prepared to face difficulties throughout Burma. Roads and sidewalks are often difficult to cross. Ramps or handicapped-accessible facilities are rare.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Messages regarding security-related events are posted on the Embassy?s website.
Fighting between the Burmese military and various ethnic armed groups and militia forces continues in several border regions including parts of Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Shan, Rakhine, and Chin states. Travelers should exercise caution when traveling to these areas.
The destinations frequented by most U.S. citizen visitors, including Yangon, Bagan, Kalaw-Inle Lake region, Ngapali Beach, Naypyitaw, and Mandalay are not affected by this fighting. See our Travel Advisory (LINK) for more information.
Land mines and unexploded ordinance: Conflict-affected areas are of greatest concern, particularly areas of Shan, Chin, and Kachin States. The location of landmines is often not marked or otherwise identifiable. In April 2016, two German tourists were injured by shrapnel when they triggered a mine near rural Kyaukme Township in northern Shan State.
All of Chin State, and parts of Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Rakhine, Shan, and Tanintharyi states have poor, limited infrastructure. U.S. citizen travelers experiencing a medical emergency will have difficulty receiving adequate treatment and evacuating in a timely manner.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism publishes information on restricted areas.
Due to travel restrictions placed on U.S. diplomats by the Government of Burma, our ability to assist U.S. citizens affected by incidents in remote and/or conflict-affected areas of Burma may be limited.
Crime: Crime rates in Burma, especially involving foreigners, are lower than those of many other countries in the region. Nevertheless, the crime rate has been increasing, particularly home burglaries and petty crime. Violent crime against foreigners is rare, but there have been incidents involving attacks by taxi drivers and muggings. Citizens are advised to take particular care when taking taxis late at night.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 199 or in person at the police station in the district where the crime took place, and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(95) (1) 536-509, ext. 4240, Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(95) 1 500-547. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide information on victim?s compensation programs in the United States
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
- Cyclones and Tropical Storms: Travel conditions deteriorate significantly and cyclones may occur in two, three-month seasons peaking in May and November, respectively. In addition, intense rainfall and squalls may occur during the rainy season (approximately June to October annually). Travelers are encouraged to prepare for cyclone emergencies and monitor local news stations when cyclones are forecast. The Myanmar Department of Meteorology and Hydrology has a color- coded system for storm systems: red for storms approaching landfall in Burma, orange for storms moving towards Burma, yellow for developing storms, and brown for current storms. Additional information on storm preparedness may be found on our Tropical Storm Season – Know Before You Go webpage.
Earthquakes: Earthquakes can occur throughout Burma. Check here for information about earthquake preparedness.
The Department of Homeland Security?s page has numerous resources on emergency kits, preparing for disasters and developing emergency plans: https://www.ready.gov/.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, hospitals are able provide urgent medical treatment, though very serious injuries often require medical evacuation. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
The Government of Burma controls travel to, from, and within Burma. To enter Burma, you must have a valid passport with at least six months remaining validity and a valid visa. You should apply for your visa at a Burmese embassy or consulate abroad before you arrive in Burma. In Burma, you will be required to show your passport with a valid visa at all airports, train stations, and hotels. Security checkpoints are common outside of tourist areas.
Visa Information: The Government of Burma’s eVisa program
allows tourists and business travelers to apply for a visa online rather than physically applying at an embassy or consulate:
- You are generally notified within a few days whether you have been pre-approved for a visa.
- You must present the approval letter at Immigration when you enter Burma.
- Once you are approved for the visa, the visa needs to be used within three months.
- Apply at: Myanmar eVisa (Official Government Website). Be aware that non-official websites may be scam websites.
The Government of Burma has a visas-on-arrival program for certain business travelers. The program is available only to those with a formal letter of invitation from a business registered with the Burmese Ministry of Commerce, NOT to tourists.
There is also a meditation visa for visitors planning long-term studies at monasteries and meditation centers.
You can get information about entry requirements as well as other information from the Embassy of Burma?s website. The Embassy is located at 2300 S Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. Telephone: 202-332-4350. The Permanent Mission of Burma to the UN is located at 10 East 77th St., New York, NY 10021. Telephone: 212-535-1311 or 212-744-1271. Fax: 212-744-1290.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Burma.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Burma for information on U.S. ? Burma relations.