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Travel Guide > Asia > Burma/Myanmar > Yangon > Yangon

Yangon Health & Safety

  
 
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Health

Yangon's tap water is unsafe to drink. Always buy bottled water. Yangon's warm and humid weather makes it imperative to carry water around.

Tuberculosis and AIDS (known as "A-I-D Five" among locals) afflict a disproportionately high percentage of the people. However, HIV infection is not at the epidemic level (infection rates are much less than 1%). In addition, there is a risk of dengue fever. Malaria is a risk in rural areas.

Medical care

Medical care is limited, but is most expedient at private medical clinics. Government hospitals are usually unreliable and require bribes. Do not seek medical care at the General Hospital (on Bogyoke Aung San Road, sandwiched between Bo Ywe Street and Lanmadaw Street); it is unsanitary and inefficient. Most guest houses and hotels will be able to provide you with the address of a private doctor with experience in treating foreigners. Be sure to take the proper vaccinations before you leave for your trip. Carry a small first-aid kit with you containing at least painkillers, band-aid, ORS and a loperamide-like medicine. Anti-malarial pills and DEET are recommended.

Toilets

Many hotels, shopping centres, and restaurants offer toilets. However, aside from hotels, expect "squat toilets" throughout the city. Try to avoid the need to use public toilets at regularly visited sites, such as pagodas and temples.

Safety

Despite all the poverty, Yangon is generally a very safe city; one of the safest big cities in the world. Most people, including single female travellers, will not have any problems roaming the streets alone at night, and carrying large sums of money around rarely poses a problem. Crimes against tourists are taken very seriously by the military government and punishment is often disproportionately severe. However, there have been isolated incidents involving tourists so it is best to take normal big-city precautions like avoiding lonely areas at night and always being cognizant of your valuables. As with everywhere else in the world, there is no substitute for common sense.

Money-changing scams

The most common crime in Yangon is being short-changed by a money lender, so count your Kyat carefully when you exchange money. Opt to exchange at the Bogyoke market, where the rates may be slightly worse but the jewellery shop owners won't rip you off. Do not fall for the "bad serial number" excuse -- another attempt to con you. (only "CB" serial numbers are bad). Be especially careful with the money changer around Sule Paya - they count the money right in front of your eyes, but will trick you while doing that (they have fast hands!). Travllers are strongly advised not to change money here.

Bombings

Another concern, though this is very unlikely to happen, is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were a number of bomb incidents in 2005 - three bombs left in shopping malls caused numerous casualties in May, and in October, a smaller explosion occurred outside Traders Hotel. The perpetrators have not been identified and there have been no bombings since. In 2007, Yangon was the scene of numerous protests against the country's military junta and these protests were broken up by gunfire and by mass arrests. One Japanese photographer was killed. While it is unlikely that a tourist will be targeted by either the military or by protesters, events in a dictatorship tend to be unpredictable in how they evolve so, in the unlikely event that there are protests during your visit, be circumspect and avoid political rallies.

Prostitution and drugs

Prostitution and drug trafficking are illegal though there are plenty of prostitutes in Yangon, often in bars owned by senior officers of the Army. Drug trafficking is punishable by death.





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