Going to the Hospital in Myanmar (Burma) – What to expect

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Of course, everyone hopes that they don’t end up having to visit a hospital during their travels (or any other time). But sometimes there is just no way around it and you have to go. It can be helpful to know beforehand what to expect. Especially when going to the hospital in Myanmar (Burma).

In the end, we even had to go to the hospital in Myanmar 3 times, but I will tell you the story later in this post.

In Cambodia, we already had to go to the hospital once after Eduardo got this weird allergic reaction with huge blisters all over his body. And we have been positively surprised by the quality and the service of this Cambodian hospital. Read the whole story here.

Anyway, now I want to share our experience with you about going to the hospital in Myanmar since the experience was way different from going to the hospital at home.

How everything began

Already around two weeks before we had to go to the hospital, the trouble began. We were in Chiang Mai, our last stop in Thailand before crossing the border to Myanmar. That’s when Eduardo got hemorrhoids. It was really bad timing as we were basically planning to walk a lot and take many buses in Myanmar. An ointment from the pharmacy in Chiang Mai remedied a little. Using Google Translator we could describe the pharmacist what the problem was and got what he thought was most helpful.

And it actually helped until our bicycle tour and hiking in Pyin Oo Lwin after spending around 14 days in Myanmar. The next day, we had a 7-hour train ride from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw and Eduardo felt really bad sitting on the uncomfortable seats for such a long time. From now on, it got worse every day.

On the next day, we had a 14-hour bus ride waiting for us from Hsipaw to the  Inle Lake, which for some is considered one of the best three places in Myanmar. We decided to use our time at Inle Lake to relax a little instead of doing the hike from Kalaw to Inle Lake as originally planned.

Inle Lake is a wonderful place to visit in Myanmar, it’s peaceful and perfect for all kinds of travelers, whether you are traveling alone or visiting Inle Lake with kids.

In the end, we didn’t see much of Hsipaw besides our room as Eduardo didn’t feel like walking much.

The Bus ride from Hsipaw to Inle Lake, aka. the worst bus ride we had in Myanmar

We’ve already assumed that a 14-hour bus ride would not be a delight. But what was expecting us, was even worse than we’ve thought. Already while entering the bus, we realized that the air was extremely cold inside. Covered in my jacket and a blanket, we were still freezing a lot and the AC blew the ice-cold air into my face during the whole ride. Eduardo offered me to change seats but since he already felt bad, I refused his offer.

Of course, I didn’t sleep a bit during this ride shaking with the cold for 14 hours straight. Looking outside to watch the landscape was also impossible as the windows were mist in the cold due to the big temperature difference to the outside. Even the locals started complaining about the cold. But it didn’t change anything.

And so we spent 14 hours on an ice-cold bus without being able to look outside our sleep until we finally made it to Inle Lake.

Arrival and first day at Inle Lake

So, the plan for Inle Lake was to relax until Eduardo felt better. Even though we arrived pretty early in the morning we were already allowed to check-in. Finally, we could get some sleep.

On the next morning, we decided to do a boat tour around Inle Lake. We found a driver that was willing to take us around for 9.000 Kyat (ca. 5,40€/ $6,72) per person.

After spending the whole morning in the not super comfortable wooden boat, Eduardo kept feeling worse. And also I started to feel bad. Did I catch a cold?

On the next day, Eduardo couldn’t walk anymore and we had to stop our walk after just 5 minutes. So, we stayed in our room most of the day.

Hospital Number 1 in Myanmar – Public Hospital

When we woke up on our third day, we knew that it was time for Eduardo to see a doctor. By now, I had a strong cold but wanted to accompany him to the hospital nevertheless.

How practical, I remember thinking, the hospital is right around the corner. So Eduardo doesn’t have to walk much. So, we walked to the address we have been given the owner of our hotel right after an early breakfast.

But when we arrived we weren’t that sure anymore. That is the hospital? There were no signs or symbols which would let us know that this actually was a hospital. 

Finally, we found an open door. In front of it, there were already some people waiting. Due to the Opening Times that were hanging in the entrance area, we were right in time. But to our surprise, no one actually seemed to be there.

I remember wondering whether he was actually that bad and whether we should go back to our hotel when looking into this hospital for the first time.

view into waiting room of public hospital in Myanmar I street dog running around

The first thing, I saw was two street dogs walking around the aisle. In the middle of the waiting room, there was a cart with several kinds of medicine, syringes, and different things along those lines without someone having an eye on it. 

The doors to the treatment rooms were left open. In the first room, you could see a young man laying with his leg covered in bloody dressing materials, while his company, another young man, sat on a chair next to him sleeping. At the end of the hallway, there were some pots and someone seemed to peel vegetables. Anyway, we couldn’t ask this person for help as the street dogs started barking as soon as we were trying to approach the hallway. 

Well, let’s just sit down in the waiting room, and let’s see what happens… 20 minutes later, when we were already thinking about leaving, finally a bunch of nurses and two men that seemed to be doctors entered from outside. But directly disappeared in a transparent room which was located directly next to the waiting room.

The people that have before waited outside of the door came in now and sat down as well. So, one nurse came to receive their personal data. Anyway, when it was our turn she skipped us without even looking at us and went on to the person next to us.

Maybe the others have an appointment… We didn’t say anything as we didn’t want to be impolite.

In the meantime, another nurse came into the waiting room starting to load some syringes without wearing gloves or disinfecting her hands beforehand. When she was done she just left the syringes on the card which still stood in the middle of the waiting room and went back into the nurse room. Also, the other nurse suddenly seemed to have more important things to do than collecting our personal data, and also she left as well.

Did they really overlook us? Obviously, they haven’t, because now some of the nurses stood at the glass-window pointing at us, talking and laughing. 

Maybe, they don’t want to talk to us because they don’t speak English… And when the second time a nurse started pointing at us, we decided to just wave back – No reaction. Great!

After another 20 minutes waiting to be noticed by the nurses, Eduardo decided to just knock at their door and ask. But before that, we translated his symptoms with our translator app, so he could make them understand why we were there. 

But when Eduardo started talking to the nurses, I could hear the head nurse answering him in fluent English. So I guess, the problem was not about the language. This is a hospital. Only for people with emergencies. We are just dealing with people here being sick or having pain. (I wasn’t quite sure what kind of answer she expected to that: Oh ok, nevermind then. We just like hanging out in hospitals and we saw the open door and thought like why not?!)

After Eduardo told her that he actually was suffering from the pain she started making notes asking him about all details of his symptoms only to get to the conclusion: We don’t have anyone here that can take care of such things.

At least she gave us an address of a private clinic that was at the other end of the village. To be honest, we were not too disappointed that Eduardo didn’t have to be treated under those conditions that the hospital provided. However, now we had to hurry to get to the other hospital because they were about to close.

Hospital Number 2 – Private Clinic

After we walked through the whole village, we finally arrived at the other clinic still on time. Besides being super small, everything here looked way more professional and clean. After we made our way through the overcrowded waiting room the secretary told us that their doctor couldn’t deal with such symptoms and we’d have to go to the nearest hospital. After informing her that they actually sent us here, she gave us the address of another hospital which was around a 1-hour car ride away from Inle Lake. She also mentioned that she couldn’t understand at all why the hospital would send us to their clinic.

On the way  to Hospital Number 3

At first, we went back to our hotel. The nice owner of the hotel called the hospital for us asking whether they could treat us. Just to be sure, you know 😉 And actually, they said, they have someone being able to help. So we called a taxi getting ready for the 1-hour ride to the 3rd hospital of the day. 

During the ride, I felt worse and worse and I realized that I was getting a fever.

Hospital Number 3

medicine I different kind of pills I blue background

This hospital had nothing to do with the two others we have been to before. It looked so much more modern and professional. Right after arriving, an English-speaking doctor was taking care of us, offering to check me as well, as I wasn’t looking good. And the best was: No street dogs running around the hallways of that hospital! 🙂

Everyone was super nice and helpful. And they actually did a professional medical examination with us. Eduardo got a bunch of pills and other medicine while I was diagnosed with tonsillitis. Thaaanks, Bus-AC!

The pharmacy

Now we just had to stand in line at the pharmacy within the hospital to get our medicine. It’s funny to see how they count every little pill they give to you instead of giving you the whole package how they usually do it in Europe. On every blister, they staple a little paper that tells you when and how many of the pills you have to take.

That was close

When arriving back in our hotel, the owner came to us surprisingly excited asking whether we were ok. Apparently, right after we left the hospital, a fire started in one of the houses next door. She informed us that the local news channel was reporting about it. Luckily, we didn’t see any fire.

The Happy-Ending

Two days later we were already feeling much better and were finally able to continue our trip. The next stop was Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw. Little did we know that another crazy experience was waiting for us there.

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9 thoughts on Going to the Hospital in Myanmar (Burma) – What to expect

  1. Wow! What a bummer that you had to traipse all over the city to get care, but I’m glad to hear that things worked out for the two of you in the end. It’s always really nerve-wracking to get sick abroad, especially when you don’t speak the local language. Thanks for sharing your experience, wishing you happy and healthy travels!

  2. Oh my gosh what a crazy experience! I’m currently in a remote area and my companion went to the hospital and it looked straight out of a 1950 horror film. On too of that they lost the skin sample they took and any record of the surgery! It really makes me thankful for the type of care we receive in a modern country. Glad it worked out in the end!

  3. I also had to go to the hospital in Myanmar but couldn’t get the help I needed! I couldn’t find bandaids anywhere to care for a huge cut I got from a bike accident.

  4. Oh wow! What a story. I’m so happy it all worked out in the end but I know how difficult to navigate feeling ill and trying to get help while in a foreign country.

  5. Oh my gosh what an experience! I had to take my friend to the hospital in Barcelona and while it was busy, a long wait and very hard to communicate at least the facilities were good and they took us seriously!


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