For many travellers like myself, the challenge of travelling overland is often much more enjoyable (and affordable) than flying.
It’s an experience that you just can’t get when flying into major airports.
Rather than spending hours waiting at an airport only to take a short flight before arriving at another airport, crossing borders overland allows you to see parts of the world that you otherwise would never stop and see.
And crossing the border overland from Thailand to Myanmar is no different.
In this article, I’m going to show you step by step everything you need to know when crossing the border so that you have one of those “once in a lifetime travel experiences” that you tell all of your friends about.
1. Getting A Myanmar eVisa
For anyone wanting to travel to Myanmar, they’re going to need a Visa.
The easiest type of visa that you can get for Myanmar is an eVisa. You can apply for your eVisa online here and it usually takes only a couple of days to process.
In my case, it took less than 24 hours and cost $50USD.
Make sure that you fill out the information correctly as there are no refunds if there are any mistakes.
If you’re worried, you can get iVisa to do the application for you but they usually charge a small fee.
2. Bus From Chiang Mai To Mae Sot
Now that you have your visa ready, you’ll need to get to the border via bus.
We took the bus from Chiang Mai, but you can also get a bus from Bangkok.
The easiest way to do this is by taking a bus using the Greenbus company.
You can book a ticket on their website and pay for the ticket at a local 7-eleven by showing them a screenshot of the booking that you made.
It’s easier than it sounds.
The tickets cost 490baht each.
The bus departs from the Chiang Mae Bus terminal 3. Make sure you give yourself a bit of time to get there as it’s a little out of town.
3. Stay The Night In Mae Sot or Continue To The Border
Rather than getting off the bus at Mae Sot bus station, get off one station before and you will be in the centre of Mae Sot where there are plenty of hotels and hostels to choose from.
This is recommended if you don’t want to wait in long queues to cross the border and spend the night in Myawaddy where it is more expensive. We also didn’t want to use one of our days of the 28 day visa staying the night in Myawaddy.
So, we got off at the Mae Sot station and walked 2km back to town in the heat with our bags. I suggest looking on your maps as you’re coming into town.
The bus stops three times in Mae Sot and you want to get off at the second stop if you don’t want to walk in the heat or pay for a taxi back to town.
The other tourists on the bus decided to go straight to the border and took a share taxi for 40baht each.
We spent the night at the Sleep Nest Hostel in Mae Sot.
It costs 400 baht for a double bed (two people) and 300 baht for a single bed (one person). There are 16 beds in a single room with curtains. It was extremely hot during the night with the curtains closed as the air con didn’t go through.
4. Reach The Border via MiniBus
The cheapest way to get to the border is by catching a minibus. Just go to the market (where the pin is above) and hop in one of the many minibuses.
This shouldn’t cost you more than 20baht per person.
The other alternative is to get on a minivan with A/C for 50baht. However the journey is less than 10 minutes so you can probably do without A/C for that long.
5. Go Through Immigration
It’s best to get to the Thai immigration office earlyish (7-8am) as the lines can get quite long later on.
Go to the immigration office number 9 which is specifically for foreigners.
This only takes a few minutes while the officers look at your passport and make sure you haven’t overstayed your stay in Thailand.
6. Cross The Border
There is a bridge that crosses a river to Myawaddy, which is in Myanmar. Once you arrive on the other side, you have to go to the Myanmar immigration office, fill in a form and show them your passport and eVisa
The whole process from arriving at the Thai border at 8am to coming out of immigration on the other side in Myanmar took less than an hour.
However, there were several cars and trucks waiting and crossing the bridge by vehicle would have taken hours.
The borders are busier in the afternoon and evenings so I recommend going early in the morning between 7am-8am.
7. What Next
Now that you’re in Myanmar, you’ll have 28 days to enjoy this beautiful country
Myanmar instantly became one of my favourite countries with its charm and beauty which is so untouched compared to the rest of South East Asia.
Rather than travelling directly to Yangon, take a share taxi for 250baht to Hpa An and explore its sacred caves.
You could also climb Mount Zwegabin. It is a difficult walk, but you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Hpa An that are second to none.
From there, the world is your oyster.
Crossing the border overland from Thailand to Myanmar is easier than many think and is an experience that you won’t forget.
By choosing this way to enter Myanmar, you’re able to see parts of the country that you otherwise might not have time to see with your 28 day eVisa if you were to fly into Yangon or Mandalay.
In fact, some of my favourite experiences in the whole of Myanmar were my first few days crossing the border into Myanmar, visiting the caves in Hpa An and climbing Mount Zwegabin.
Myanmar is a country that is relatively untouched compared to the rest of South East Asia and I recommend crossing the Myanmar border overland for an experience that you may not have anywhere else.
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