In 2011, Myanmar (or Burma) re-opened its borders after being closed by an oppressive regime. This meant that it was slowly possible to explore all of the splendour the country had to offer. And since the international boycott on travel was relaxed around the same time, Myanmar experienced a boom in tourism over the years.
It’s not strange at all that Myanmar became so popular. This country has so much to offer: amazing Bagan and other temples, stunning islands and beaches, incredibly kind people, the Shwedagon Pagoda, the Golden Rock Pagoda on the edge of Mt. Kyaiktiyo and the delicious local cuisine. And then we haven’t even talked about the beautiful lakes – such as Inle Lake – and the incredible nature that you can find here. All great reasons to come visit this interesting country.
Unfortunately, over the last year, the morality of visiting Myanmar has become cloudy again. There have been many stories in the news about the ongoing persecution of the Rohingyas. This has been going on for a long time, and it’s not something new to the country. In 1982, Rohingyas were not recognized as one of the 135 official ethnic groups in the country. The UN has been calling on the Myanmar government to end all military operations against the Islamic minority. But until now there has been no change.
Obviously, this raises the question of whether it’s safe to travel to Myanmar. And also if it’s ethically right to go.
To answer the first question – is it safe to travel here? In general – yes it’s very safe to travel to the country. Places such as Yangon, Inle Lake, Bagan, Mandalay and many more have no travel restrictions for tourists. They pose no risk. And you wouldn’t even know that there are any issues going on in the country. However, and yes there’s always a however in these situations, you should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings. Not only that, as it’s also recommended to avoid all non-essential travel to the Kachin State, Northern Shan State, and Rakhine State (with the exception of the tourist resort of Ngapali, and travel between the resort and the Thanwe airport). Always make sure before travelling if your government has made any changes to their travel advice, but of course BeenInAsia wouldn't let you travel to these places.
So now the question, is it ethical to travel? This is obviously all up to you. As said the issue is not new to the country, but it is something that taints it. The tours and trips set up by BeenInAsia always stay away from the areas that have been marked non-essential, and we always work with local companies so that it benefits local communities. In the past few years local people have invested massively in tourism and they really need tourists to make their investments work and not to face financial problems. In this way, we hope to keep bringing people to this beautiful country, and be a force for good and bringing economic benefits to the communities who are dependent on tourism for their livelihood and their future.
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