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BURMA - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Burma. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the unsettled political situation and the possibility of civil unrest. Burma suffers from prolonged internal conflicts, and acts of politically motivated violence can occur at any time, including in areas frequented by tourists.
Regional Advisory for Rakhine State
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to Rakhine State, except for the tourist resort of Ngapali and travel to/from the resort via Thandwe airport, due to the risk of serious civil unrest. The security situation can deteriorate suddenly and unexpectedly. Be vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
Regional Advisory for areas along the borders with Thailand, China and Laos
Foreign 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 and Shan states. 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. Acts of politically motivated violence may occur at any time, including in areas frequented by tourists and expatriates such as shopping centres, supermarkets, restaurants, markets, hotels, transportation hubs, and public transit (even taxis). Exercise a high degree of caution, avoid concentrations of police and security forces, avoid gatherings and remain informed of current issues.
Inter-communal violence occurs. More than 200 people have been killed in religious violence since June 2012, and more than 140,000 have been displaced (mostly in Rakhine State). 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. Tensions remain high, and further violence is possible. Curfews and restrictions may be imposed or changed on short notice.
Incidents of violence, which resulted in injuries and damage to property, occurred in Mandalay in early July 2014. In late March 2014, violent protests targeting the staff and offices of international organizations took place in Sittwe, Rakhine State.
Bomb explosions have occurred throughout the country, including in major cities such as Yangon (Rangoon), Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw. Further attacks could occur at any time.
There have been incidents of violent crime against foreigners. 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. Some roads can become impassable, particularly during the rainy season. 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.
Local flight schedules can change without notice.
See Transportation Safety 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.
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 of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
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
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.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Southeast Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southeast Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is caused by filariae (tiny worms) spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause a range of illnesses. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for lymphatic filariasis although drug treatments exist.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Southeastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
There have been human cases of avian influenza in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds and in rare cases, it can infect people.
Avoid high risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets including areas where poultry may be slaughtered. Avoid contact with birds (alive or dead) and surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them. Ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs, are well cooked.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
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.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention 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.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Burma. If local authorities consider you a Burmese citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance.See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
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
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.
Yangon - Embassy of Canada
Bangkok - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Yangon and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613 996 8885.
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