Jan 23-25, 2020
Exploring Myawaddy, Myanmar
Location: Myawaddy, Myanmar
Why not Myawaddy?
Having received only 14 days on my visa-on-arrival, I am not able to continue my travel into Yangon to do my 10-day Satipatthana (Vipassana) course, which starts on Feb 4. What to do? Wander around Myanmar close to the border so that I can exit to Thailand and then come back fresh for my 10-day course. So, why not spend 2 nights in Myawaddy? No one really stays here. Travelers usually proceed to Hpa-an, Mawlamyine or Yangon. Let's see what this place is all about.
It was almost sundown when I came out of Myanmar Immigration and I still had no place to sleep. My biggest apprehension came true when I found out most of the hotels cannot accept foreigners, and those who do are either too expensive (MMK 30,000/night or $20) or full. With a full load on my back, I walked from the bridge to the western part of the city, covering 2.5 kms, knocking on just about every hotel along the way.
While walking along the streets, I practically took a dust bath. Myawaddy is a very dusty place. The vehicles kick-up the dust relentlessly. You could see more of it at night when you see the headlights illuminate the dust that mantles the city. I was reminded of Kathmandu where I nearly got sick because of the dust.
Ngwe Set Kyar Hotel 2
I was practically on my last leg when I came upon Ngwe Set Kyar Hotel 2. I made them an offer they could not refuse - one-year advertising on my Myawaddy blogs and I even pay them MMK 15,000 for the 2 nights. All I aimed for was to get a deep discount. At least I got it and I could finally take a shower and rest. I was exhausted - 7 hours on the road, lining-up in the cramped Immigration offices of Thailand and Myanmar and walking for nearly 3 hours with a load on my back, looking for a place to stay. Whew!
I only had 1 full day in Myawaddy and I planned to see all of its attraction in one day. The nearest from the hotel was the bustling morning market. It was chaotic and messy, but the energy was alive. Many good eats for breakfast were available. I devoured nearly everything interesting and never had a tummy problem. It was great drinking my favorite sugar cane juice again, only for MMK 500 (US$0.34).
Giant Standing Buddha
You could see the slim Giant Standing Buddha from blocks away. It was towering at 20m with its golden hue.
The temple inscription says that when the area was being cleared for construction in 1448, a small crocodile icon was discovered. A temple built on top of the giant crocodile sculpture makes it unique. The monastery also houses a diorama depicting the life of Buddha.
The night market is a long strip of alley where vendors are lined-up on both sides with the center occupied by more vendors. Lots of food, dry goods and housewares.
Shwe Muay Wan (Golden Pagoda)
This pagoda is the most imposing structure in Myawaddy. It's a gilded bell-shaped stupa with many smaller stupas surrounding it. Unique to the complex is the rattan Buddha.
You don't really need more than a day to see the attractions of Myawaddy. Besides staying longer than that could make you sick from all the dust. I don't see how the locals could be so impervious to it. After 2 nights, it was time to pack-up and head west to Hpa-an.
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Next stop: Kannar Night Market, Hpa-an, MyanmarMYAWADDY
- Exploring Myawaddy, Myanmar Jan 23-25, 2020
- Mae Sot (Thailand) - Myawaddy (Myanmar) Border Crossing Jan 23, 2020
Myawaddy FYI / Tips
- Myawaddy (or all of Myanmar?) lets me fill-up the hotel form every single day that I stay at the hotel, with photocopy of passport. Insane!
- even bus companies want your passport for photocopy (2 copies each!)
- there are many money changers in Myawaddy at fair exchange rates (Wave Money, True Money, etc). So no need to change all your Bath into Kyat before leaving Thailand
- at Myawaddy Immigration, have your departure date and departure exit point definite
- border closes at 8pm, Mon-Fri beginning March 2016
- adjust time 30 mins behind from Thailand (if arriving from Thailand)
- since July 2015, the odd/even days of making trips to and from Myawaddy/Yangon is no longer in effect due to the opening of a 4-lane highway (but still under construction as of Jan 2020)
- not all hotels in Myawaddy can accept foreigners. Best to contact the hotel directly before making a booking
- Myawaddy is a very dusty place. Best to have a face mask when walking about
- there is no centralized bus terminal in Myawaddy. Different bus companies have their own depot and there are a several such bus depots in town
- Myawady to Hpa-An (min 6 hours), B200 (MMK 10k) cramped car or bus, Jeeps or private cars at Baht 500 or MMK 15,000
- Myawady to Yangon (7 hours), B200 (MMK 45k) bus, VIP bus leaves around 9:30am, regular trips 8:30am and 9:30am and 5pm and 6pm: MMK 10k-15k
- Crocodile Monastery (Myikyaungon) - 65m-long crocodile-shape building
- giant Buddha - standing Budha about 15/20m high
- golden bell tower (Shwe Muay Wan) -
- outdoor market -
How to Get to Myawaddy from Mae Sot (Thailand)
Myawaddy is a border town in Myanmar and popular for border crossing into Mae Sot,Thailand. From Mae Sot bus station, take the red songthao (B20 if taken outside the bus terminal and B50 if taken at the bus terminal - it's just a few steps to go out of the bus terminal) to the border bridge, Friendship Bridge and get your papers processed by Thai Immigration. Cross the bridge and step into Myanmar. Go to Immigration. Note, aside from ASEAN people who don't need a visa, there is NO visa-on-arrival at this border. Make sure you already have an exit port in Myanmar and ensure you actually exit using that place unless there is an emergency. From Immigration, you can simply walk into the Myawaddy town proper. There are lots of restaurants and hotels just after crossing the bridge.
USEFUL INFORMATION(as of Jan 2020)
Myanmar FYI / Travel Tips
- accommodation - not all destinations in Myanmar can accommodate foreign travelers. Walk-in hotel guests could be refused. Better make an online booking, or make sure the hotel you wish to stay, at is listed in the online booking sites (Agoda, Booking.com, etc.)
- local time - adjust time 30 mins behind from Thailand (if arriving from Thailand)
- Burmese people - Burmese people are new to what's happening to Myanmar - being opened-up to the rest of the world. They remain friendly, helpful and curious. Tourism being new, the culture is not yet corrupted by it.
General Travel Tips
- 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.
- 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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