BURMA - Exercise a high degree of cautionThere is no nationwide advisory in effect for Burma. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the volatile political situation and the possibility of civil unrest.
Regional Advisory for Rakhine StateForeign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to Rakhine State due to the risk of serious civil unrest. Violent clashes occurred in 2012 between Buddhist Rakhines and Muslim Rohingya, and many houses were set on fire. A state of emergency and curfew are in effect, and additional security personnel are present. Be vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
Regional Advisory for areas along the borders with Thailand, China and LaosForeign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to areas along the borders with Thailand, China and Laos due to clashes between the military and armed groups, ethnic conflict, banditry and unmarked landmines. Sporadic fighting between military forces and non-state armed groups is occurring in Kachin, Shan and Karen states bordering China and Thailand. Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced internally and to neighbouring countries.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
The political situation is volatile and there is always a possibility of civil unrest. You may find your security unexpectedly at risk. Exercise caution, avoid concentrations of police and security forces, avoid gatherings and remain informed of current issues.
Inter-communal violence occasionally occurs. Attacks against religious buildings, shops and homes have taken place in several areas, including the regions of Bago and Mandalay, resulting in injuries, deaths and displaced persons. Curfews and restrictions may be imposed on short notice.
Bomb explosions have occurred throughout the country, including in major cities. A number of small bombs have detonated in Yangon (Rangoon), Mandalay, and surrounding areas since October 11, 2013. Further attacks could occur at any time.
Violent crime against foreigners is rare but does occur. There is also a risk of street crime, such as pickpocketing and mugging. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Travel is restricted outside major cities to designated tourist areas only. Permission from local authorities is required to visit certain areas. Military checkpoints on roads are common.
The general condition of automobiles does not meet minimal international standards. There is a combination of both left-hand and right-hand drive vehicles in use throughout the country. Driving can be hazardous, especially after dark. Drivers have little regard for traffic regulations and do not follow safe-driving practices. It is common for pedestrians and livestock to walk on roads. A driver involved in any accident with a pedestrian is always at fault and is liable to be detained.
Public transportation within Burma, including air, rail and sea travel, often does not meet international safety standards. Railway equipment tends to be outdated, and fatal accidents have occurred. Boat and ferry accidents causing deaths are common. Vessels may be in poor condition and overloading is a common problem.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
Tourist facilities are adequate in Bagan, Inle Lake, Mandalay, Ngapali Beach, Yangon and Taunggyi, but limited elsewhere. Good hotel facilities exist in Naypyidaw, but transportation is limited. Foreign tourists rarely visit Naypyidaw and may be viewed with suspicion. Foreigners can expect to pay several times more than locals for accommodations, domestic flights and entry to tourist sites throughout the country.
Telephone services are unreliable in Yangon and are difficult to find in other areas. Long-distance calls can be extremely expensive. There are Internet cafés in Yangon; identification is required, access to certain websites is restricted and records of which websites users have visited are kept. While some websites were unblocked in 2011, many remain inaccessible. Electronic communications, including email, may be monitored by local authorities.
The presence of police and security forces is likely to increase in Yangon and elsewhere in Burma on significant dates, including the anniversary of demonstrations led by monks to protest for political reform (September 26) and the anniversary of the 1988 uprising (August 8).
Landmines are a danger, particularly in border areas.
You are encouraged to register with the Embassy of Australia in Yangon in order to receive the latest information on situations or events that could affect your safety.
Exercise caution at beach resorts in Ngwesaung, Chaungtha and Ngapali as there are strong underwater currents and riptides. There are no lifeguards and drownings have occurred.
Exercise caution when considering diving excursions in Burma. Rented diving equipment may not meet internationally acceptable safety standards and may not be maintained adequately.
Tourists trekking in remote parts of the country have experienced difficulties with military authorities, even after obtaining prior permission.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Burmese authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Burma, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date their visa was issued.
A visa is required for tourism and business purposes. It should be obtained prior to travel at a Burmese diplomatic mission. Multiple entry business visas are available. The Burmese government has created a visa-on-arrival program to allow select business travellers, including Canadians, to obtain a business visa upon arrival at the Yangon International Airport. However, travellers are encouraged not to rely on this option, as the requirements and eligibility criteria for this program remain unclear. It is strongly recommended that all travellers, including business travellers, carefully verify visa requirements and options with the nearest Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar before travelling.
Foreign journalists have had difficulty obtaining visas, and some have been denied entry upon arrival despite having received a visa. In the past, journalists, and tourists mistaken for journalists, have been denied entry when travelling on tourist visas, have been harassed, and have had film and notes confiscated upon leaving the country.
Tourist Visa: Required (valid for 28 days)
Business Visa: Required
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
Port of entry
You should use the same port of entry (Yangon International Airport) to enter and exit Burma to avoid problems with immigration services.
There are few land border crossing points, and permission to cross these borders may be required in advance, through a process separate from the required visa application. Some government-authorized tour companies may be able to secure the appropriate permission from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
Border crossings may close with little or no notice, and entry may be restricted to the nationals of the bordering states and/or to the immediate area or border town. Although travel to or from Burma via a land route is possible, an official Travel Advisory is in place against all travel to the border areas with Thailand, China and Laos.
Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.
The Agency strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before departure.
The Agency publishes travel health advice for Burma.
Medical facilities are available in Yangon (Rangoon) but are very limited elsewhere. Doctors and hospitals may demand immediate cash payment for health services. Serious injuries may require medical evacuation. Foreign prescription drugs are often counterfeit and are unsafe to use.
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention FAQ for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect imprisonment or a death sentence.
Political activism (including the dissemination of printed materials), protests, demonstrations and unauthorized assemblies are not tolerated in Burma.
Freedom of speech and political activities are highly circumscribed, and the Burmese government is very sensitive to any expression of opposition to its rule. Foreigners criticizing the regime in public may be arrested or detained.
You must show your passport and valid visa at the airport, train stations and hotels.
Customs officials strictly limit what is brought into the country. Customs regulations are restrictive and rigorously enforced. Baggage may be searched upon arrival. It is illegal to enter or exit Burma with religious materials. Foreign currency in excess of US$10,000 must be declared upon arrival; failure to do so could result in imprisonment. In the past, importation of communications equipment such as mobile phones and laptop computers has been restricted. Laptop computers have been taken from tourists and held at the airport until their departure. Customs regulations on prohibited imports and exports are often unclear and can change. Further advice regarding imports and exports should be sought from the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
A permit is required to purchase or possess cultural or archaeological artifacts. It is illegal to export gems. Foreigners have been arrested, searched and imprisoned for attempting to take Burmese gems out of the country.
Photography of scenes or people that could be considered politically sensitive such as military installations, security personnel or demonstrations is prohibited. Offenders could be arrested, deported, and have their equipment confiscated.
Missionary activities and the importation of religious materials are illegal without the written permission of the Burmese authorities.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
International Driving Permits are not recognized in Burma. It is illegal to drive without a Burmese driver’s licence.
Exercise common sense and discretion in dress and behaviour, particularly when visiting religious sites. Dress conservatively and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
The currency is the kyat (MMK). U.S. currency is widely accepted; however, only new and undamaged bank notes are accepted. Other foreign currencies are not normally accepted. Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs), which have the same face value as the U.S. dollar, are issued by the Burmese government. FECs can be exchanged for MMKs or used in place of cash to pay for goods and services where FECs are the accepted form of payment, although such places are increasingly rare. There are a few official currency exchange offices in Yangon, including one at the Yangon International Airport. It is illegal to exchange currency at unauthorized locations. Neither FECs nor MMKs can be converted to any other currency.
Carry enough cash to cover all of your expenses while in Burma. Credit cards are rarely accepted. Debit cards and traveller’s cheques are not accepted. There are no internationally linked automated banking machines (ABMs) in Burma. Neither cash advances via credit or debit card nor cheque-cashing services are available.
Natural Disasters & Climate
Burma is located in an active seismic zone.
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from June to September in the southwest and December to April in the northeast. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides. Typhoons usually occur between April and October. These storms can result in significant loss of life, extensively damage infrastructure and hamper the provision of essential services. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.
In 2011, heavy monsoon rains caused isolated flooding in many areas of the country and flash flooding that killed hundreds of people.
Consult our Typhoons and Monsoons page for more information.
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