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Best price guarantee Best price guarantee
Best price guarantee Best price guarantee
Best price guarantee

We want you to pay the lowest possible rate for your room. If you have reserved a hotel room through Agoda, and then show us that you could book the same room, for the same dates, at a lower rate, that is viewable and bookable on another website, agoda will either match that rate or beat it.

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Visit Myanmar (Burma) with Your Eyes Open 26 Feb 2013 Beginners Guide | 1 comments

A day will come soon when Myanmar won’t be getting headlines for all the wrong reasons—ethnic strife, government malfeasance, economic woe, and the like.

These are important matters, though, and anyone considering Myanmar (Burma) as a travel destination in 2013 ought to read up on them. The wisest traveler is the informed one. When issues are complex—as they are in Myanmar—the more information the better is the best advice we can give.

Acceptable Risk

We obviously encourage you to come. We feel that on the whole the risk-reward scenario is more than acceptable. We just want you to be totally educated to ensure you make decisions with your eyes open so you can stack the deck in favor of having an incredibly positive experience without problems.

Photo credit: mikecogh / / CC BY-SA

Anywhere in the world, bad news sometimes is reported at the expense of good news, but an experienced traveler knows how to sort that out and get a clear picture. We do our best to present all sides about the situation here. Ultimately, the surest way to the truth is to look for it in several sources.

So, yes, Myanmar is in transition. It is moving away from a hunkered-down period that alienated the outside world and aggravated relationships inside its borders. The repercussions of those years still are being felt. Reform of the central government is a work in progress. Restoration of viable economic principles is in an early stage.

How Does This Affect You?

What does this mean for you, a visitor? To help you evaluate the situation for yourself, here is an overview of some of the major challenges facing Myanmar, some of which could affect your visit if you were unaware of them. While some issues affect everyone, certain challenges are associated with mostly remote parts of the country from which most tourists stay safely clear.

Photo credit: brianholsclaw / / CC BY-ND

  • Medical facilities are inferior everywhere. Many of the medical facilities are deemed to be inadequate for routine health needs. The U.S. State Department warns Americans traveling to Myanmar to have medevac insurance in case a health crisis arises and a tourist must be transported outside the country. Foreign drugs in the country may have been smuggled in and may be adulterated, so visitors are encouraged to carry enough medicines to supply their needs while in the country. As a health measure, visitors are warned not to drink water from a faucet, instead buying bottled water to avoid dysentery and other water-borne diseases.

  • Infrastructure is substandard everywhere. A combination of willful neglect of public transportation and energy policies, and poor economic choices left Myanmar in a shambles. Bad roads, inadequate electricity generation, nonexistent water treatment plants, outdated airline and train service—these and other public conditions are obstacles to prosperity and everyday living. They also pose major inconveniences for travelers. The administration is addressing the issues, with reliable generation of electricity being the top priority, but things will be rough—and flickering—for a while.

  • Public protests happen sometimes. A major incident occurred in December after police harshly put down a protest by villagers who opposed expansion of a copper mine in northern Myanmar. About 70 people were injured. The monks and central authorities have a tense relationship generally, with monks in the forefront of a 2007 Saffron Revolution that challenged military rule. The reformist government of President Thein Sein is working to mitigate the tensions.

  • Ethnic battles are going on in remote areas. Since independence from Great Britain was won in 1949, ethnic groups mostly located on the borders of the country have fought for their independence from Myanmar. The central government naturally resists this and atrocities on both sides have resulted. Furthermore, some of the ethnic groups live where the nation’s mineral and gem resources are located, so laying claim to the wealth is an underlying factor. Active guerrilla fighting units represent the Karen (Kayin), Kachin, Karenni, Chin, Mon, Rhakine, Shan, and Wa minority groups. Ceasefires are in place with most of them and talks have begun, with Thein Sein acknowledging that “equal rights for all” is the lodestone that must pull together people of goodwill on both sides.
  • Religious strife periodically flares up. Myanmar is about 90% Buddhist. Christians account for about 4% or the population, and Muslims 4%. Internecine battles occur between religious groups. In coastal Myanmar, Rohingya Muslims and Rhakine Buddhists continue to have violent sectarian clashes. In March another fracas led to deaths on both sides, a disheartening and deadly development. In  central Myanmar in Meiktila, Muslim and Buddhist communities fought in March 2013, leading to curfews. In Northern Myanmar, fighting has been on and off between government army and Kachin rebels. The Kachins are mostly Christian and were the last of the many ethnic minority factions still actively fighting Myanmar’s army. The central government so far has not completely resolved the violence in these places, but is working hard to stabilize the situations. As mentioned above, tourists regularly visit Myanmar and simply avoid remote areas where violence occurs. In fact, the government restricts travel to dangerous areas, so visits to those areas are out of the question.  
  • Drug crops and drug use worsening in remote northern border area. Myanmar produces opium, mostly in northern border areas where farmers are desperate for any kind of income. Drug use—including increasing heroin injections—has increased, leading to rising rates of HIV/AIDS from dirty needles. The government strictly enforces illicit drug-use laws, but is less effective in providing prevention and treatment programs—and in giving farmers economic alternatives. The northern border area is distant and extremely hard to reach, so it is unlikely visitors will be anywhere close to it.

In reality, staying home also can be hazardous to your health, and the risks listed here are worst-case scenarios. Despite these challenges, the world’s international travelers are voting with their feet and running to Myanmar for a fascinating, uplifting, and safe experience. We hope you will come, too.

If you're on your way and are looking for a place to stay in Myanmar, be sure to check out our featured hotel recommendations.

Start exploring our What to See & Do section for more ideas on where to go and what to do while you're in Myanmar!

What do the travelers say?

fishhook, Japan
March 26, 2013
now is actually the best time to come, once it becomes obviously no problems, it will get overidden by tourists, now is still like going back in time and it wont be like that much longer. have you seen flights in BKK and SGN to Yangon? its crazy, totally booked out, and a lot are young backpackers

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