Saturday, 21 June 2014

Myanmar land border crossing

It is now possible to travel freely over land between Myanmar and Thailand, China and India as long as we have a special pre-processed permission documents issued by Myanmar Government.

When travelling over land to Myanmar, you must always obtain your visa at an embassy or consulate beforehand; it is normally not possible to get Myanmar visas at the border.

More information on individual crossing points can be seen at the Burma Senses Travel & Tours website.

Thailand crossings

Four Thai/Myanmar border points are now officially open to foreigners for through travel, although permission is subject to change from the Thai and Myanmar authorities. Infrastructure on the Myanmar side of the border crossings is very basic, and roads can become impassable during the rainy season.

Thailand offers visa-free travel for the citizens of many countries, but the length of the stay period depends on what country you are from – varying from 14 days to 3 months.

Mae Sot/Myawaddy

The Mae Sot (Thailand, Tak Province) / Myawaddy (Myanmar, Kayin State) crossing point is the most practical place to cross for onward travel into Myanmar, because of its relative proximity to the main Myanmar transport network and places of interest such as Mount Kyaiktiyo (the Golden Rock), Hpa An and Mawlamyine.

At the passport control points (located on either side of the ‘Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge’ river crossing), there are separate windows for foreigners – you do not have to stand in the same (sometimes long) line as the locals. The border is located about one kilometre from Myawaddy bus station on the Myanmar side and five kilometres from Mae Sot town on the Thai side; there are usually plenty of motorbike taxis on both sides. Mae Sot has daily direct flights and frequent buses to Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Mae Sai/Tachileik

Foreigners can cross the border at Mae Sai (Thailand, Chiang Rai Province) / Tachileik (Myanmar, Shan State) and travel as far as Keng Tung in Myanmar. To travel over land further than this you may need a permit, or you may not be allowed at all. However, Keng Tung does have an airport with internal flight connections to destinations such as Mandalay and Yangon.

Tachileik’s economy is based on cross-border trade and tourism, and Thai baht – not Myanmar kyat – is the main currency. To find out more about onwards travel from Tachileik into Myanmar, go to Keng Tung.

Phunaron (for Kanchanaburi)/Htee Kee

This remote border crossing allows access between Phunaron (Phu Nam Ron) (Thailand – nearest town Kanchanaburi) and Htee Kee (Myanmar, Tanintharyi Division – nearest town Dawei).

There are four buses per day from Kanchanaburi to the small border town of Phunaron (70 baht), which has one guest house. The Thai and Myanmar border posts are separated by six kilometres of no-mans land that can only be crossed by vehicle (walking is not permitted); you can take a motorbike taxi (around 100 baht) or try to hitchhike.

From the Myanmar side of the border, it takes 4 to 5 hours to get to Dawei. There are usually cars or minibuses waiting, costing around K30,000 (bear in mind that if you arrive late in the day there may be no transport, and the road can become impassable during the rainy season).


The crossing between Ranong (Thailand, Ranong Province) and Kawthaung (Myanmar, Tanintharyi Region) offers options for further travel in Myanmar – both cruises in the Myeik Archipelago and public boats on to Myeik and Dawei. Overland travel may be possible, but is extremely slow.

There are regular longtail boats between Ranong and Kawthaung, taking 20 minutes and costing around 100 Bhat.

If you are on a short stay or visa run from Thailand, you will not need a Myanmar visa, but you will need your passport and a copy of the photo page, plus US$10 in crisp notes.

Sangkhla Buri/Payathonzu – the Three Pagodas Pass

Currently the crossing at Sangkhla Buri (Thailand, Kanchanaburi Province) and Payathonzu (Myanmar, Kayin State) is not open to foreigners. Even when it has been, it has only been on the Thai side, with foreigners not allowed to travel further into Myanmar.

China crossing

To cross the land border at Ruili (China, Yunnan Province) / Muse (Myanmar, Shan State), you will need to arrange a special tour package by filling out this form; the package will include a guide and mandatory private transportation. An alternative is to go to a travel agent in Kunming.

Getting the permit to cross from Myanmar to China can be difficult, but from China to Myanmar is usually straightforward – although you will need to apply at least one month in advance of your travel date. The Myanmar consulate in Kunming may tell you that the border is officially shut, but this, in fact, will probably not be the case.

The Muse/Ruili border point is expected to fully open to foreigners (with no need for a permit) sometime in 2014.

Yangon, Mandalay and Kunming all have embassies or consulates where you can apply for the relevant visa (Myanmar or Chinese). For details, go to embassies and other useful information. The Mong La border crossing is currently shut.

India crossing

In the remote north of Myanmar, a crossing exists between Moreh (India, Manipur state) and Tamu (Myanmar, Sagaing Division). Locals are allowed to travel between the countries at this point on day trips, but currently foreigners require special permission from a Myanmar embassy, which can be difficult to obtain. However, permission is no longer required for foreigners to travel in these parts of Sagaing Division (Myanmar) and Manipur State (India) in general.

The Bangladesh and Laos crossing

Border crossings at Bangladesh and Laos are currently shut.

Entering Myanmar with your own vehicle

Crossing into Myanmar with your own vehicle (motorhome, car or motorbike) requires special permission which can be difficult to obtain and is expensive (likely around $10,000 – although costs can be reduced with larger groups). You will also have to be accompanied by a tour guide and a Ministry of Hotels and Tourism liaison officer. Self-drive motor tours can be arranged by filling out this form.

Burma Caravan Tour
Myanmar Adventure Tours
Burma Off Beaten Track Tour
Burma Package Tours

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