Jan 23, 2020
Mae Sot (Thailand) - Myawaddy (Myanmar) Border Crossing
Location : Myawaddy (town), Kayin (state), Myanmar
There are many misleading information online about the border crossing from Mae Sot to Myawaddy. Some because the information is too old, some because Immigration practice has been inconsistent and some because the information is only partial. I had to be ready for the worst. These are some of my apprehensions:
- no visa-on-arrival except in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw airports - but as an ASEAN, I don't need a visa to begin with. Does that mean I can't use this Myawaddy border?
- odd days only to go west, from Myawaddy to Yangon - the road is so narrow, it's only a one-way road. But reports say a new 2-lane highway has already been opened.
- only 4-5 star hotels in Myawaddy can accept foreigners - Shwe Pyi Taw Hotel messaged me that they cannot accept me because I'm a foreigner. That only 4-5 star hotels are allowed. Whoa! That would be very expensive. It means I'll have to go Myawaddy with no hotel booking and might actually have to go back to Mae Sot if only 4-5 star hotels are bookable.
- visa required even if ASEAN - to clarify things, I went to the Myanmar consulate in Chiang Mai. The staff didn't know anything. All he said was to read the website. But he also said something troubling - that I still need a visa ($50) despite being an ASEAN member. I left the consulate more confused than ever.
- 14 days stay for Tourist Visa - the website clearly said that Ordinary Passports get a 14-day stay on a tourist visa. Not 30 days? This really messes things up. I will enter Myanmar on Jan 23 and by the time my Vipasanna ends on Feb 13, I would have stayed 21 days! Should I now enter Myanmar on Jan 23 and go back to Thailand on Feb 2, and return to Myanmar on Feb 3 to make it in time for my 10-day Vipassana on Feb 4? This was really getting messy.
Arriving Mae Sot, Thailand
It was a long but comfortable bus ride from Chiang Mai to Mae Sot - 7 hours! From the bus terminal, there is a songthao mafia that charges B50 to the border. If you want a faster ride, a motorcycle will accept B60. I met 4 travelers (French couple and Italian couple) and we all decided to walk out the bus terminal and flag-down a B20 songthao ride - it's only a few steps. However, we came upon a tuk-tuk, and with some bargaining, we agreed to a B150 fare for all 5 of us, or B30/pax. Not bad.
The money changers in Chiang Mai had no Myanmar Kyat and I was advised to change my money at the border. So first thing was for me to change my Thai Baht into Myanmar Kyat before going to immigration. Not trusting any of the touts, I went to the police station to ask where the money changer was. I was pointed to a restaurant where the owner gave me a good rate - Baht 1: MYR 47. Not knowing if I would even be accepted into Myanmar with no visa, I only changed Baht 1000.
Thai Immigration for foreigner was at Window 9 and just at the entrance of the Friendship Bridge. It was cramped lining up outside, but orderly. I was still with the 4 travelers. No issues. We all walked across the bridge and entered Myanmar Immigration (window 9). It was more cramped. We were lined up along a narrow passage and waited for our turn. First casualty was the Italian couple - they had no visa, and Immigration wasn't granting visa-on-arrival to foreigners. Obviously, they didn't do their research. Last time I saw them was on their phone frantically applying for an online eVisa. Good luck! The French couple came away good. Now, my turn.
The Immigration Officer asked me for my visa. I told them I was ASEAN and that I get a FREE visa-on-arrival - that I didn't need a visa. He gave me a puzzled look and consulted with a colleague. Apparently, apart from the Thais who frequently cross that border, ASEAN people don't use this border. I was nervous. But finally, they gave me visa-on-arrival, but only for 14 days. I was jubilant for getting in, but concerned that I don't have enough time to finish my 10-day Vipassana course. I will have to go back into Mae Sot and come back again into Myanmar to have ample time for my course.
It wasn't perfect, but at least, I am able to get into Myanmar and have 14 days to play with. I won't even bother going to Yangon. I'll just explore the nearby areas. But for now, I needed a place to sleep.
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
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Next stop: Exploring Myawaddy, Myanmar
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.
- Exploring Myawaddy, Myanmar Jan 23-25, 2020
- Mae Sot (Thailand) - Myawaddy (Myanmar) Border Crossing Jan 23, 2020
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.
Border Crossing Stories
- Mae Sot (Thailand) - Myawaddy (Myanmar) Border Crossing Jan 23, 2020
- Visa-Run to Tachileik, Myanmar Sep 28, 2019
- Border Crossing - Mae Sai (Thailand) to Tachileik (Myanmar) Apr 23, 2016
- Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Chiang Mai April 9-10, 2016
General Travel Tips
- 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.)
- 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 journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
- 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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