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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Visa-Run to Tachileik, Myanmar Sep 28, 2019

Visa-Run to Tachileik, Myanmar

Location: Myanmar-Thailand Border

Visa Run
It's that recurring episode again - the dreaded visa-run. Where to go? What if I get denied entry? Worse, what if I'm blacklisted? My last visa-run to Hanoi proved difficult and there was no reprieve on the horizon as far as Thai Immigration was concerned. Lately, foreigners who never had difficulty before were either denied entry or blacklisted. I could either go to the nearby Immigration Office for a one-month extension and pay B1900 or leave and get a free 30-day visa on arrival as an Asean passport holder. I chose the latter, crossing by bus into Tachileik, Myanmar.

Tachileik, Myanmar
I've done this before in 2016 and it wasn't pleasant. But this time, I know exactly how to prepare for it - onward flight booking, hotel booking and financial statement. I took the Green Bus at the Bus Arcade for the 5-hour trip to Mae Sai, then the short songthao ride to the border. I made the most of the ride by listening to an audio book by Joe Dispenza, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.

Visa-Run to Tachileik, Myanmar
crossing the bridge into the Thai-Myanmar border

The Crunch
This added pressure. The earliest departure from Chiang Mai was 8am, arriving MaeSai 1:30pm. But the last trip from MaeSai to Chiang Mai was 3:30pm. This means I had only 2 hours left to do everything - ride the songthao to the border, go past Thai Immigration (who did most of the screening), pass Myanmar Immigration (who charged B500 and took my passport), have lunch in Tachileik (to while away the time coz I can't immediately exit after entering), exit Myanmar (get my passport back), enter Thailand (back to Thai Immigration for the visa), and finally, ride the songthao back to the bus station. Any delay on the process could cause me to miss the last trip, which means I have to take transport to Chiang Rai and see if I can catch a bus for Chiang Mai. Fortunately, everything went well. I was just in time to catch the 3:30pm bus! Interestingly, all the foreigners riding with me from Chiang Mai were the same foreigners riding with me back to Chiang Mai!

Joe Dispenza's Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself
Again, to make the most of the 5-hour trip back, I continued listening to Joe Dispenza's audio book. This is priceless information and call-to-action. I've attempted several times to listen to this, but always, I would drift away and not continue. This time, I had no choice as I was stuck on my seat. The book is all about reprogramming yourself to be the better you - in a pragmatic and doable way. Despite the 10 hours, I still did not finish the book.

Ending Thoughts
Perhaps, if I were to do this again, I would spend a few days in Chiang Rai - just to break the long trip and also to enjoy the trip. Upon my return to Chiang Mai, I once again felt just how special this place is to me. The sheer thought that I could have been denied entry or blacklisted would have meant an end to all this abundance in paradise. For now, I'm just glad all over to be back home. Home sweet home, Chiang Mai. And as if in celebration, I was just in time to catch Pat play One More Cup of Coffee at the Corner Bistro for its open-mic jam. How cool is that?

In my very humble opinion: There has been a crack-down on foreigners lately. They are either given a hard time at the entry border, denied altogether, or even blacklisted for having stayed repeatedly in Thailand. I understand the apprehension. The presumption is, foreigners are working here and displacing the local work force. But from what I had been seeing, this is not the case. And there are many imperatives why Chiang Mai should relax its immigration enforcement for the following reasons:

  1. local jobs - foreigners will not take-on local jobs because the pay scale is too low for them. So the local workers are safe about keeping their jobs. Foreigners who stay here are mostly digital nomads who earn from the global marketplace, but spend their money here in Thailand. It helps the local economy - the residential homes and hotels, restaurants, bars, transport companies, travel agencies, etc. The trickle-down benefit cannot be ignored.
  2. global competition - Chiang Mai's tourism (I cannot speak for all of Thailand) is suffering. Hotels in high season are nearly half full only. New destinations are being opened-up the rest of the world. Vietnam alone is very aggressive in developing new destinations that lure the same tourists who might have come to Chiang Mai. DaNang for example - the hand bridge? Phu Quoc Island - now developed as the next Macau with its own international airport. Now, more than ever, Chiang Mai (or Thailand) should encourage tourism by being easy on the foreigners who come in - whether repeat visitors or not. The ones who are already staying here encourage their global friends to come. Without these foreigners, the entire tourism industry which supports a huge chunk of the national economy is at risk.
  3. burning - this year's burning season in Chiang Mai was horrific - the worst ever. It was labeled the most polluted place on the planet and the media couldn't get enough of it. The traveling public was scared shitless coming to Chiang Mai. Hotel cancellations were pervasive. Even though the burning season only lasts 2 months, the traveling public still hold it in their minds that Chiang Mai is polluted - and would not come. Again, decrease in visitors is almost alarming. This again is terrible for tourism and can put many local industries at risk. Immigration should be encouring more people to come instead of tightening entry.

...just my humble opinion.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

Border Crossing Stories

  1. Visa-Run to Tachileik, Myanmar Sep 28, 2019
  2. Border Crossing - Mae Sai (Thailand) to Tachileik (Myanmar) Apr 23, 2016
  3. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Chiang Mai April 9-10, 2016

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Next stop: Movie Review: Hail Satan? (2019)

Mae Sai FYI / Tips

How to Get to Mae Sai

Things to do, Places to go in Mae Sai

  1. Mae Sai Market - the expansive market is really the main draw of Mae Sai apart from being a visa-run destination
  2. Fish Cave aka Monkey Temple at Wat Tham Pla - you can feed the monkeys and carp. Food can be purchased at the temple for B20
  3. Cross into Myanmar - tourists can pay B500 to cross into Myanmar and take a peak at their daily life. There is also a big market across the border, selling mostly fake stuff imported from China
  4. Tum Luang-Khun Naam Naang Norn Forest Park - water fall, rock pools, swimming
  5. Wat Phra That Doi Wao aka Skorpion Temple - panoramic view of Myanmar from the Golden Triangle

Mae Sai Cost Index

backpacker places (US$1 = Thai Baht 35.15 = Php 46.74 = MYR Ryat 1168.80 as of Apr 25, 2016)
Google Map

Chiang Mai, Thailand

important places in Chiang Mai IMPORTANT PLACES
Chiang Mai Bus Station Bus Station
Chiang Mai Train Station Train Station
Chiang Mai airport Chiang Mai International Airport
Nong Buak Hard Park Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily

hotels in Chiang Mai HOTEL
Chiang Mai Arun Dara Villa Arun Dara Villa - 7 exclusive rooms, 1 swimming pool for every room, grand opening
Chiang Mai Nawa Sheeva Hotel Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big rooms, high ceiling, salt-water pool, restaurant, cafe
Chiang Mai Nawa Saraan Hotel Nawa Saraan Hotel - low density (4 spacious rooms), stone garden setting, Koi fish pond, Old City location
Arun Suite, Chiang Mai Arun Suite - 3 bedrooms in a 3-storie guesthouse within Old City, ideal for families

birds nest restaurants in Chiang Mai RESTAURANT
La Pizza Chiang Mai La Pizza Chiang Mai - Italian pizza, pasta, wine, dessert, coffee
Chiang Mai birds nest restaurant Natural Bird Nest by Burapa - authentic bird's nest soup

Thai massage in Chiang Mai WELLNESS
ITM  International Training Massage School ITM - International Training Massage School - Chiang Mai's most prestigious massage school
Float Chiang Mai Float Chiang Mai - sensory deprivation float pod
Chiang Mai, Royal Thai Lanna Massage Zira Spa - upscale authentic Thai massage and spa treatment

motorcycle rental in Chiang Mai MOTORBIKE RENTAL
Chiang Mai birds nest motorcycle Tawan Bike - motorcycle rental | +66 91 635 2863 | Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200


Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
  • crop-burning season in Chiang Mai is between late Feb to early April. But laws change everytime. This year, 2019, there is a 61-day ban on burning so the farmers started burning early. When my plane was approaching Chiang Mai on Jan 24, 2019, there was already a thick blanket of smog covering the entire city (and beyond). But within the city itself, you won't feel it (but that doesn't mean the air is healthy). To monitor air conditions in real time, refer to site: Chiang Mai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)
  • hot season begins March and lasts until June
  • wet season begins July and lasts until September
  • best time to visit Chiang Mai is mid-September to mid-February - after the monsoon and before the burning
  • you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
  • the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in the Old City
  • to exchange your dollars to Thai Baht, the Super Rich Money Exchange give the best rates. There are many branches scattered around Chiang Mai
  • get a red cab (songthao) outside the train station for Baht 50 (instead of paying B100 if inside the train station) to Old City - if you haggle nicely enough...I did!
  • shared red taxi (songthao) - B30 standard fare plying all over Old City
  • for only B50/day, best to rent a bike to go around the Old City - it's a 2.5km2 with lots to discover
  • FREE daily yoga classes from 9:00am to 10:15am at Nong Buak Hard Park (southwest corner of Old City). Resident and passing-through teachers take turns conducting yoga classes.
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
  1. North Gate Pub - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session, Blues on Sundays by the 11pm band
  2. Taphae East - 88 Thapae Rd. (just north of Night Bazaar). Fridays at 9:30pm by Chiang Mai Blues Band
  3. Boy Blues Bar - at the Night Bazaar. Mondays at 9:30pm is open mic
Chiang Mai Cost Index
  • B60 Chiang beer
  • B250 1 hour drop-in yoga session
  • B200 one hour Thai body massage at WAYA Massage (highly recommended)
  • B50 noodle soup with meat
  • B50 coffee
  • B40 pad thai
  • B30/kilo wash-only laundry
  • B50/kilo wash+iron laundry
  • B100-150 dorm bed/night
  • B250 fan room/night
  • B30 internet cafe/hour
  • B170-190 Movies Sat-Sun and public holidays
  • B130-150 Movies weekdays
  • B100 Movies Wednesdays (movie discount day)
  • B750 1/2 day Thai cooking lessons
  • B900-1000 1 full day Thai cooking lessons
  • B400 Muay Thai boxing ticket
  • B2500 starting room rate at the luxury hotel, Nawa Sheeva (highly recommended)

  • Transportation
  • B450 bus, Chiang Mai to Bangkok
  • B160-180 bus, Chiang Mai to Pai
  • B1250 bus, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
  • B1650 slow boat, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
  • B210 bus, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 3-4 hours
  • B360 Green VIP bus, Chiang Mai to Mae Sai (Thai border town for visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar)
  • B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
  • B200 motorbike rental, 24 hours
  • B273 #51 sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • B638 #7 a/c train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • B50 red taxi fare from point to point
  • B100 red taxi fare from train terminal to city

  • Tours
  • B2000 full day elephant sanctuary
  • B750 Chiang Rai one-day tour
  • B1500 mountain biking scenic ride
How to Get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok by Train from Bang Sue Train Station

For more train info: Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains - departing from Hua Lamphong - MRT (Bangkok)

(I'm using Bang Sue as a starting point because I was closer to it, but you may be closer to the Hua Lamphong station)

  1. take the MRT train to Bang Sue Station. Take the #1 Exit to the north provincial trains
  2. Proceed to Counter 2. You will see an information booth, a train schedule chart and the ticket counter. Choose the train and pay at the ticket counter.
  3. daily train schedule:
    • 8:48am - #7 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:30pm, not sleeper, B638
    • 2:06pm - #109 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 4:05am, sleeper
    • 6:31pm - #9 Premium Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:15am, sleeper, B938 upper deck, B1038 lower deck
    • 7:56pm - #13 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 8:40am, sleeper, B768 upper deck, B838 lower deck
    • 10:22pm - #51 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 12:10pm, sleeper, 3rd class B270 (non sleeper), 2nd class B438, B728 upper deck, B798 lower deck
Chiangmai Blogs by TheLoneRider
  1. Ling Mudra Oct 17, 2019
  2. Movie Review: Official Secrets (2019) Oct 15, 2019
  3. Jalandhara Bandha Mudra Oct 7, 2019
  4. Learning Thai with Cee Oct 13, 2019
  5. Uddiyana Bandha Mudra Oct 10, 2019
  6. Nabho Mudra Oct 9, 2019
  7. Movie Review: Joker (2019) Oct 8, 2019
  8. Maha Mudra Oct 7, 2019
  9. 20 Essential Mudras by T. Krishnamacharya Oct. 6, 2019
  10. Mindfulness Gong Bath by Vee (Veerayuth Pongsiri) Oct 3, 2019
  11. Cuddle Party by Abundant Love CM Oct 1, 2019
  12. Vayu Mudra Oct 1, 2019
  13. Movie Review: Hail Satan? (2019) Sep 29, 2019
  14. Visa-Run to Tachileik, Myanmar Sep 28, 2019
  15. Sankalpa Mudra Sep 27, 2019
  16. Surya Pradarshini Mudra Sep 26, 2019
  17. Movie Review: Ad Astra (2019) Sep 25, 2019
  18. Movie Review: Rambo 5 Sep 22, 2019
  19. Eye-Gazing at Heart Space Sep 20, 2019
  20. Vayu (Pranic Wind) Sep 20, 2019
  21. 2-Week Yoga Challenge by Agnese Erba Sep 17, 2019
  22. Movie Review: Farewell Song (2019) Sep 16, 2019
  23. The Mudra Project Sep 13, 2019
  24. Movie Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) Sep 12, 2019
  25. Sunday Vinyasa Flow with Marina Forster Sep 8, 2019
  26. Shamanic Breathwork by Rachel Constantino Sep 4, 2019
  27. Movie Review: Yesterday (2019) Sep 3, 2019
  28. The Conscious Peoplescape of Chiang Mai Aug 31, 2019
  29. Movie Review: Midsommar (2019) Aug 28, 2019
  30. Of Winos and Yogis Aug 26, 2019
  31. Movie Review: Ready or Not (2019) Aug 22, 2019
  32. The 9 Jhanas of Buddha Aug 22, 2019
  33. Full Moon Ceremony at Heart Space Aug 15, 2019
  34. Yin Yoga - Water Element by Martina Barabas Aug 15, 2019
  35. Movie Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019) Aug 14, 2019
  36. Hatha Mix Yoga with Christin Aug 13, 2019
  37. Boy Blues Bar Rocks Chiang Mai Aug 5, 2019
  38. Back to my Beloved Chiang Mai Aug 1, 2019
  39. Kaleidoscope of Chiang Mai's Peoplescape July 27, 2019
  40. Secret Sunrise: Nelson Mandela International Day July 17, 2019
  41. Movie Review: Anna (2019) July 15, 2019
  42. Farewell Picnic with Alan and Nicola July 15, 2019
  43. Movie Review: Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019) July 4, 2019
  44. Secret Sunrise: Water July 3, 2019
  45. Hotel Review: Arun Suite June 27, 2019
  46. Movie Review: Rocketman (2019) June 25, 2019
  47. Bruce Lipton: Epigentics to Transcend Genes June 24, 2019
  48. Optimizing Life thru Heart Math May 8, 15 and 22, 2019
  49. Movie Review: Aladdin (2019) June 13, 2019
  50. Connective Cacao and Sound Journey June 12, 2019
  51. Movie Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) June 6, 2019
  52. Chiangmai BLUES June 6, 2019
  53. Movie Review: John Wick 3 - Parabellum (2019) June 4, 2019
  54. Hatha Slow Flow with Neil Jefferson June 3, 2019
  55. Meditating with One Million Meditators Movement June 1, 2019
  56. Vinyasa Happy Flow Series by Vaida May 31, 2019
  57. Muay Thai at the Chiang Mai Boxing Stadium May 30, 2019
  58. Yoga Flow Through the 7 Chakras May 30, 2019
  59. The Outsiders (people you need to push out of your sacred circle) May 31, 2019
  60. Fascinating Peoplescape of Chiang Mai May 22, 2019
  61. World Meditation Day at Heart Space May 21, 2019
  62. Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame (2019) May 14, 2019
  63. Movie Review: Arctic (2018) May 13, 2019
  64. Abs Yoga May 12, 2019
  65. Kundalini and Vinyasa Yoga with Nicola Symons May 10, 2019
  66. Secret Sunrise Interactive Dance May 9, 2019
  67. Tok Sen Massage from Ying May 8, 2019
  68. Bruschetta: Nawa Saraan Style Apr 22, 2019
  69. Thai Cooking at Pra Nang Thai Cookery School Apr 20, 2019
  70. Movie Review: Hellboy (2019) Apr 15, 2019
  71. Bonding with the Elephants in Chiang Mai Apr 11, 2019
  72. Ziplining in Chiang Mai with Eagle Track Zipline Apr 10, 2019
  73. Movie Review: Shazam! (2019) Apr 4, 2019
  74. Movie Review: Captive State (2019) Mar 27, 2019
  75. Getting Thai Massage from Chiang Mai's Best (Lar Thanakrit Khamtanong) Mar 21, 2019
  76. Movie Review: Captain Marvel (2019) Mar 19, 2019
  77. Being the Soul of Nawa Saraan Hotel Mar 18, 2019
  78. Peoplescape of Chiang Mai Jan 24 - Mar 13, 2019
  79. Movie Review: Vox Lux (2018) Mar 2, 2019
  80. Movie Review: The Favourite (2018) Feb 25, 2019
  81. Curing Cancer with Yoga? Feb 21, 2019
  82. Movie Review: Alita Battle Angel Feb 19, 2019
  83. International Training Massage School (ITM): Level 1 Feb 11-15, 2019
  84. Sandesch Album Launch by Christoph Joerg Feb 13, 2019
  85. Movie Review: Spider-Man - Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Feb 3, 2018
  86. Movie Review: Green Book Jan 30, 2019
  87. Meditation in a Sensory Deprivation Tank at Float Chiang Mai Jan 29, 2019
  88. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Jan 27, 2019
  89. Movie Review: Aquaman Jan 26, 2019
  90. Reiki Share at the Mastermind Brain Spa Jan 26, 2019
  91. Resuming Life in Chiang Mai Jan 24, 2019
  92. 4 Days in Chiang Mai at Nawa Saraan Hotel Jan 2-6, 2019
  93. Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
  94. An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
  95. Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
  96. Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
  97. Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
  98. Laughter Yoga with Saffiya Arnous July 31, 2018
  99. Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
  100. 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
  101. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  102. Chiang Mai's Amazing Peoplescape Apr 9-23, 2016
  103. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  104. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  105. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Chiang Mai April 9-10, 2016

Travel Tips for Thailand

How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days

    60-Day Thai Tourist Visa

    NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.

  1. Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
    a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
    b) flight booking to Thailand
    c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
    d) filled-in tourist visa form
    e) 2 passport pictures
    f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
    g) passport with at least 6 months validity
  2. After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
  3. NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.

    30-Day Extension

    NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.

  1. bring the following to the Immigration Office:
    a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
    b) Baht 1900
    c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
    d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
    e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
  2. submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
  3. when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
  4. when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
  5. when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!

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