Local laws and customs

Respect religious customs when visiting Buddhist religious sites. Shorts and sleeveless tops will cause offence. You should remove shoes and socks before entering a pagoda or monastery. These and other local customs are explained on this website run by the Burmese government and Burmese Tourist Federation

Under Burmese law, insulting religion is a prosecutable offence. Insulting religion is a broad term, and can include any disrespectful depiction or image (including tattoos) of Buddha or other religious representation, or wearing any tattoo of Buddha anywhere below the waist.

Penalties for drug trafficking range from a minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and can include the death penalty.

Homosexuality is technically illegal in Burma, although these laws are rarely enforced in practice. These laws can carry punishments of up to life imprisonment and apply equally to men and women. There have been reports of police using threats of prosecution to extort bribes and allegations of arbitrary arrest and detention, although these have primarily been reported by Burmese nationals.

LGBT people are rarely open about their sexuality or gender identity publicly, and LGBT communities are more likely tolerated than accepted within Burmese society. There have nonetheless been small pride festivals that have taken place in recent years. Public displays of affection, whether heterosexual or LGBT are frowned upon in Burma’s conservative culture

International organisations have reported high rates of HIV prevalence within the LGBT community in Burma. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Burma is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Over 800 species of animals and plants are banned from international trade and a further 30,000 are strictly controlled by CITES and EU legislation. You should consider the restrictions on the export of endangered species under CITES when deciding whether to buy exotic souvenirs, including those made from turtles.