Due to the security situation in some border areas (go to about Myanmar for background information), arriving and departing over land is restricted. The situation is changing, but at present it is only possible to travel freely over land between Myanmar and Thailand. The China crossing (at Ruili, Yunnan Province) requires a permit and the India crossing (at Moreh, Manipur State) is highly restricted. Crossing to Bangladesh is not currently permitted for foreigners and Laos has no official border crossing at all.
When travelling over land, you must always obtain your visa at an embassy or consulate beforehand; it is not possible to get visas at the border. You should also avoid overstaying your visa if you are leaving over land.
More information on individual crossing points is provided below. For information on vehicular crossings, go to the bottom of this page.
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.
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.
Foreigners can cross the border into Myanmar at Mae Sai (Thailand, Chiang Rai Province) / Tachileik (Myanmar, Shan State) and travel as far as Keng Tung. 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 (go to swimming, scuba diving and white water rafting for more information) and public boats on to Myeik and further north (go to Kawthaung for more information). Overland travel is possible but extremely slow.
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.
To cross the land border at Muse (Myanmar, Shan State) / Ruili (China, Yunnan Province), you will need to arrange a special package with a travel agent in Yangon or Mandalay in Myanmar, or Kunming in China. Getting the permit to cross from Myanmar to China can be difficult, but from China to Myanmar is usually straightforward. 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 package costs between $200 and $250, and you will be provided with the necessary permits, as well as transportation (by car) between Muse and Lashio. There are many check points, and no public transport available to foreigners, between Muse and Lashio.
The Muse/Ruili border point is expected to fully open to foreigners (with no need for a permit) in early 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.
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 borders 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.
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Thursday 12 December