When there’s a question mark behind the possibility of visiting a place, immediately, there’s an air of mystery surrounding it. The world is a global village these days. Why should you not be able to visit some places? So, can you visit Ramree Island?
Ramree Island lies off the coast of Myanmar and is an open tourist destination, despite the country living under military rule since the 2021 coup. Until recently, the island had a large population of saltwater crocodiles, infamous for their attacks on people, which led many to believe it was dangerous to visit.
Where In The World Is Ramree Island?
Ramree Island is situated in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of Rakhine State, Myanmar. A bridge built over the 490- foot strait connects it to the mainland. Ramree is the largest of the country’s islands, covering an area of 520 square miles.
Can You Visit Ramree Island?
In April 2022, Myanmar again opened its doors to tourists after a two-year shutdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak. If you’re keen to visit this area, theoretically, nothing is standing in your way. However, due to political instability and complex international relations, your decision won’t be without its complications.
What Political Issues Affect Travel To Ramree Island?
In February 2021, a military junta led a coup against Myanmar’s democratically elected government. The country is still under this dictatorship and embroiled in a civil war. The Human Rights Council is concerned about crimes against humanity inflicted on Myanmar’s people by the dictatorship.
The USA has issued two Level 4 travel advisory cautions regarding visiting Myanmar and Ramree Island by association. The first warning is regarding armed conflict and civil unrest. The situation in the country is volatile and unpredictable.
Protests and demonstrations against the regime are common. The military often reacts with violent, indiscriminate force against protestors and bystanders alike. The US government has a limited capacity to assist in these situations. Travel to Myanmar is discouraged, and those that do go must exercise extreme caution.
Does The Infrastructure Support Travel To Myanmar?
The Myanmar infrastructure has taken a significant knock since the 2021 coup. Businesses have shut down due to economic pressure or because owners have vacated the country. Military leaders are now in charge of tourism, which doesn’t encourage a leisurely view of spending time there.
There are also periodic blackouts and internet shutdowns, making it difficult for visitors to keep in contact with relatives, which is imperative in a country with a volatile political climate.
Can You Travel To Ramree Island Responsibly?
Traveling to Myanmar can cause an ethical dilemma for some people. While there may be many reasons to enter the country, many would question whether they can do so without supporting the military dictatorship. Is it more responsible to boycott tourism?
According to a former adviser on responsible tourism in the country, there are still some businesses that are not owned by the military, but many of these are in rural areas. Travelers will need to do their homework to find establishments that can be ethically supported.
What About Covid-19 Restrictions And Health Matters?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not consider Myanmar a high-risk area for Covid-19, naming it a Level 1 region. However, tourists must ensure that their vaccines are up-to-date before they embark on their journey.
The second Level 4 warning regarding travel to Myanmar concerns healthcare and resources. There are critical staff shortages in the medical field, and medicines are not always available when needed.
Are Crocodiles A Problem On Ramree Island?
Until fairly recently, Ramree island has been home to the world’s largest man-eating predator, the saltwater crocodile. These reptilian giants can reach a whopping 20 feet long and weigh up to 2200 pounds. The mangrove swamps around Ramree island are the perfect habitat for these monsters.
Initial internet searches may make you conclude that you can’t travel to Ramree Island because of the thousands of saltwater crocodiles ready to devour you the moment you set foot on their territory. However, by the 1980s, evidence suggested that only a few crocs were left on the island.
What Happened In The Ramree Island Crocodile Massacre?
In January 1945, the British landed on the Japanese-occupied Ramree Island to establish an airfield. The six-week battle between the forces ended with the British separating about 1000 Japanese soldiers from the rest of the troops and demanding their surrender.
But the Japanese soldiers chose to attempt an escape through the mangrove swamps rather than surrender. The British knew the dangers and waited on the other side for the survivors. The saltwater crocodiles picked off an inconclusive number of Japanese soldiers, with only twenty said to have made it out.
What Guinness World Record Was Set On Ramree Island?
The well-known naturalist, Bruce Stanley Wright, participated in the Battle of Ramree Island and wrote an account of the night the crocodiles were supposed to have massacred the Japanese troops. It was recognized in the 1968 Guinness World Records as the “most fatalities in a crocodile attack.”
Was The Guinness World Record Amended?
Evidence has suggested that only 10-15 soldiers were killed by crocodiles while crossing Min Chaung Creek close to Ramree town, and hundreds of others died from dysentery, injuries, starvation, drowning, and dehydration. In 2017 The Guinness World Records took the record out of circulation.
The official British report of the incident states that most of the casualties of that fateful night were inflicted by soldiers rather than crocodiles. But with the vast number of bodies in the channel, the colony of saltwater crocodiles emerged as one to clean up the beaches the next day, giving rise to the myth of the crocodile massacre.
What Are The Tourist Sights On Ramree Island?
Kyaukpyu Viewpoint is the most popular attraction in this town on Ramree Island. It has a fantastic view of the Bay of Bengal and the mouth of the Kyaukpyu (Thanzit) River.
Gant-gaw-taw is a sacred Buddhist shrine and well-known attraction on Ramree Island. Another nearby temple is Kyauk-ta-lone Phaya.
What Other Places Of Interest Are On Ramree Island?
Ramree island is also the site of a pipeline that transports gas and oil to China. The oil hails from the Middle East, and the gas comes from Myanmar’s coast. It is an important source of income for the Myanmar government.
What Advice Must Be Followed If Traveling To Ramree Island?
Ramree Island is a stunning tourist destination, but one should embark on a visit with much caution due to the civil unrest in Myanmar and consider the following travel tips:
- Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which sends you alerts and helps to locate you in an emergency.
- Familiarize yourself with the situation in the country.
- Keep your family updated regarding your location and activities.
- Don’t touch any strange metal objects or veer off well-used paths due to the possibility of disturbing unexploded landmines.
- Familiarize yourself with the country’s laws.
- Have a contingency plan to leave the country.
- Have a pre-set communication plan with your family, employer, or host organization.
- Ensure your devices and social media pages are free of any sensitive images, comments, or materials that could seem provocative to the local authorities.