How to Stay Healthy While Traveling in Myanmar

Years of political isolation in Myanmar may have preserved some parts of the country but has left a few health and safety issues for visitors. Here are a few tips to stay healthy in Myanmar.

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Years of political isolation has preserved a unique culture and welcoming locals, which makes Myanmar a destination unlike any other you'll experience.

That same isolation has also led to health and safety issues for travelers. Here are a few things to consider before heading to Myanmar.

Health and Hygiene in Myanmar

As before any trip, all travelers should be up to date on their routine vaccinations. Additional vaccines or medication can be taken to prevent against some of the most common health issues in Myanmar. It’s a good idea to consult your travel doctor to see which are needed for your personal health.

Mosquitoes can carry infectious diseases such as dengue fever and malaria. Use bug spray protection (20% DEET is recommended), wear long-sleeved clothing, and sleep under a mosquito net or in an air-conditioned room.

Trekking in Burma has become a popular activity. To prevent heat stroke, dehydration, and heat exhaustion, stay hydrated by only drinking bottled water, wear sunscreen, and clothing to protect you from the sun, including a hat and sunglasses. 

Air pollution is particularly bad in Yangon (the former capital city), due to the high number of cars. If you have respiratory problems or begin to feel bothered by the air, only stay for a few days or move to an air-conditioned room.

If you're feeling frisky, always use a condom, to protect against hepatitis B and HIV.

Finding reliable healthcare is difficult in Myanmar, and local healthcare facilities should only be used as a last resort. Your best chance will be in Yangon, but you'll be better off over the border. Travel with any medications from home, and avoid buying over the counter medication in Myanmar altogether.

Insects, Snakes, and Other Bitey Things

Approach all animals with caution, including dogs. It’s best to not touch them, as you have no idea how they will react.

Rabies is common and is usually caused by a bite from an infected dog or monkey. Get pre-travel vaccinations, but if you are bitten, you’ll need to be treated immediately.

Some of the snakes in Myanmar are venomous, while others are completely safe. Avoid touching snakes if you come across them, and wear tall boots and long pants when in rural parts of the country.

Ticks and leeches can also be avoided with the same precautions. Check your mattress for bed bugs along the seams after turning on the light, and before placing any of your belongings on the bed, or sleeping in it.

While there are jellyfish in Burmese waters, most are not harmful.

Food and Water in Myanmar

Travelers most commonly become sick due to diseases spread through food and water. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to make sure you stay healthy and avoid contracting food and water diseases – such as hepatitis A and E, typhoid, and the common traveler’s diarrhea.

Avoid drinking tap water, and ice cubes. Buy only sealed bottled water, which is cheap in Myanmar. Some fresh juices may also contain contaminated water.

There is no reason to completely avoid street food stalls, as food is usually cooked to order in front of you. But use caution when food has been sitting around, such as in a buffet. Only eat fruit that has a skin that can be peeled, and vegetables that have been cooked.

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4 Comments

  • Krishna Sen said

    We went to Burma in September 2014. My one suggestion is, do NOT go looking for the white elephants!! Happy to share more of distressing experience if anyone is interested. :)

  • Ann said

    Having just come back from Myanmar, I thought the most Myanmar-centric health risk I experienced was having to walk barefoot on faeces in some of the temples. Burmese custom dictates that you must remove your shoes and socks in temples. However many temples are open-air and home to stray dogs/monkeys/birds, that do poop everywhere. Usually you can avoid poop by watching where you walk, but the worst place is Mt Popa, where tourists feed the monkeys (really, don't feed wild animals, it's not good for them!) and they poop everywhere, and there are a LOT of tourists, so walking in poop is pretty unavoidable.

  • moth said

    Sure. White elephant stories always welcome.

  • soldier2010 said

    not sure what "white" elephant story is about.jus want to experience culture and women there.

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