From Thailand to Myanmar: Visa and open Land Borders

There is no visa on arrival anymore for Myanmar! Also, currently the available E-visas are only valid for entry at Myanmar’s three main international airports: Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. If you want to cross the border by land, you will need to apply for a visa in a Myanmar embassy or consulate in advance to your visit.

How to get a Myanmar visa

In order to get a tourist visa for Myanmar, we profit from the recently opened consulate general of Myanmar in Chiang Mai.

The only other place in Thailand to get a Myanmar visa is the embassy in Bangkok.

In Chiang Mai, the opening hours are

  • 9am – 11am for visa application and
  • 3pm – 4.30pm for visa pickup.

However, the opening hours may change. The visas cost 810 Thai baht for two working day completion. If you need it faster they charge 1035 baht or 1260 baht for next day and same day, respectively.

What you need to bring:

  • two passport photos
  • a copy of the personal details page of your passport (the one with the photo)

The staff is extremely friendly and very helpful when you fill in the forms. Make sure you don’t bump your head at the small entry gate.

Have a look at this great page for more information on getting a Myanmar visa in Thailand.

Open Thailand – Myanmar land border crossings

Currently (November 2015), there are 4 Myanmar/Thailand land border crossings open for tourists:

  • Tachileik/Mae Sai
  • Myawaddy/ Mae Sot
  • Htee Kee/ Phunaron
  • Kawthoung/ Ranong

Due to unstable diplomatic situations, these crossings may close, too. Check again immediately before you go.

Crossing the border – Tachileik

We decide to cross the border from Mae Sai (near Chiang Rai) to Tachileik. The border crossing itself is uncomplicated. You walk through the control posts, fill in a small form and it’s done. You have to change the street sides as in Myanmar you drive on the right side.

Once arrived in Myanmar, you get two first impressions: The tourist density sinks close to zero. The travel comfort level sinks to zero, too.

travel tipp infoIf you want to travel on from Tachileik to Kengtung, make sure you cross the border early morning. The last bus to Kengtung leaves at 12 o’clock, and there is not even a taxi that will give you a ride after 12. Not even for a good price. Why? The answer we got: There are many military checkpoints on the road to Kengtung. The officers ask questions when you have strangers with you. Answering those questions takes hours. The taxi drivers are afraid to get into trouble.

At the bus ticket booth the staff makes several copies of our passports. They stamp them all and hand them over to the driver. For the checkpoints, I guess. Finally, we leave Tachileik on an open-door, bumpy bus ride.

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