Myanmar is a favoured country among global tourists, as it has plenty of sighs to enjoy. For instance, there are the royal cities, travellers can visit Hpo Win Daung, Mount Popa and Inle Lake. However, for all these things, a Myanmar visa is required. This travel permit is mandatory to enter the country.
However, Myanmar also has a darker side. The country is known for its shady casinos and poached tigers. It is therefore advised to avoid certain things in Myanmar, to have as pleasant a trip as possible.
Safety risks in Myanmar
At the borders with China, the Chinese culture is dominant in Myanmar. For example in Mongla or Pangkham. The Chinese customs are widely present there; the local currency is the yuan, the telecom provider is Chinese and most inhabitants of the border regions speak Mandarin.
Of course, this in itself does not make these regions ones to be avoided. However, another Chinese custom can also be found in Myanmar, namely the growing trade in poaching of protected animals. Travellers are advised not to engage with this trade in any way. It is highly illegal and can lead to exceedingly high jail sentences.
Tiger skins and leopard skins are particularly in demand in the border regions with China. They are openly displayed in many shops in Myanmar. Furthermore, ivory hunting is also a frequent occurrence. Finally, you might find rows of rare, protected birds. It is illegal to purchase these birds. Oftentimes, they have been poached.
Avoid the casino
Myanmar has four official casinos. In theory, regular tourists cannot go there. Normal citizens and tourists are not allowed inside the state casinos. All of the other casinos in Myanmar are illegal. Dozens of these illegal casinos can be found in Myanmar.
These illegal casinos are run by shady parties. In fact, these casinos are so dangerous that the government is extremely hesitant to close them. In certain areas in Myanmar the government has very little power. Local mobsters are free to do whatever they want, and they keep the poor far away from their casinos. Rich tourists are lured inside. These casinos are rife with drugs and women offering sex for money. They are best avoided as a tourist.
Avoid the following regions
Travelling in Myanmar is also not safe in all regions. The northern part of the state Rakhine should be avoid. This area has a lot of violent tensions between Muslims and Buddhists.
Do not travel to the south of the state Chin, armed ethnic groups are active there. Also avoid travelling to Kachin and Shan. Conflicts frequently occur between ethnic groups and the military. If you do need to travel to these areas, keep in mind that your government will not be able to offer aid easily.
Myanmar visa application
Of course, there are plenty of places in Myanmar that, while still having some safety risks, are perfectly fine to visit for tourists. This includes Bagan, Mandalay and Bago. To travel to these regions, a Myanmar visa is required. This can be applied for within 5 minutes and costs £69,95 per person. The visa needs to be applied for before departure.
This concerns an electronic travel, a so-called e-visa. The e-visa is an ‘approval letter’, which indicated that the government of Myanmar has granted the traveller permission to enter the country. All costs are included in the price.
Urgent Myanmar visa application
It is also possible to submit an urgent Myanmar visa application. An added fee is charged for this. Generally this visa is then granted within 24 hours instead of the standard seven days.