Is it safe to travel to Myanmar in 2023? The short answer is that yes it is, so long as you are staying in the main tourist areas, namely Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan for example.
For travel to other areas, such as anyone bordering China, the Shan State, or the area populated by the Rohingya people it is not only not safe, but not possible to do se legally, unless you are a Non-Governmental-Organization.
When was it safe to travel to Myanmar?
From the transition to democracy and the opening of the country in 2012 until Covid-19 there was a sort of golden period for tourism to Myanmar. Said golden period was also one for democracy, with Myanmar at the time allowing free protest.
One might even argue that despite the army still holding considerable sway it was for a time one of the most democratic countries in South-East Asia.
At their peak 6 million tourists visited the country and an infrastructure and tourist industry were duly created.
This of course was curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic and later the coup.
The 2020 Myanmar Coup
In 2020 there was a fairly enexcped coup in Myanmar which saw the military take over from the largely popular Aung San Suu Kyi
What shocked many about this coup was that the army were still largely respected, in power to a degree and heavily represented in industry. Of course the usual reasons were gibe such as stability, but many have suggested it was more about the control of resources.
Since then the nation has been plagued by what is essentially a civil war that now combines ethnic armies with those fighting for democracy in what is quite a strange coalition of groups, one which is known to suffer its own infighting.
How can you travel to Myanmar in 2023?
The country reopened in June, but has hardly seen any tourists compared to before. This is despite the fact you can now get an e-visa. Part of this is linked to safety, with many people assuming the whole country is at war, but also the putative “Covid insurance”.
Said insurance required visitors to purchase a faulty useless $60 insurance for Covid. According to those involved in tourism this has put off many, particularly from other ASEAN countries.
If you can though negotiate these parts then it is as simply as flying into Yangon, formerly Rangoon, or even Mandalay, both of which have international airports.
Is it safe to travel to Myanmar?
How safe travel to Myanmar is will depend on what you want to do, where you want to go and who you want to go with. Travel through the three main tourist areas in Myanmar is fine, as are buses and trains, but there are always risks of fighting and protests extending to these areas.
This has been one thing that has put many off of travel to Myanmar, in that despite the country being largely peaceful, that there are regular reports of war have put people off. This in some respects similar to travel to Ukraine in 2023 – which if you stick to Kyiv and Lviv is largely uneventful.
This is though not to say you should not bar careful when you travel to Myanmar. It should always be kept in mind that things can and indeed do change. Protests always have the possibility of turning nasty and indiscriminate terrorist attacks can happen anywhere.
We though ourselves believe in safe travel to Myanmar and are currently planning a 2024 trip as part of our South-East Asia program.
It is though of course a situation that we are constantly monitoring.