Myanmar, or Burma, is a country in Southeast Asia lying to the west of Thailand on the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea coast. There are many attractions such as temples, pagodas and historical sites in Myanmar. Most of the Burmese people are really friendly and do their best to make a fast growing number of tourists feel welcome in their country.
The Burmese kingdom was founded in 849 with the centre of the power being situated in Bagan. During the next millennium, the empire had numerous conquests with Siam (Ayutthaya kingdom). Later Burma was conquered by Britain and became a part British colonial Empire. During the WWII Burma was a major battleground and Japanese constructed the infamous "Death Railway" from Kanchanaburi over the River Kwai for bringing supplies to the front. The railway was built using forced labor and some 16,000 prisoners of war and 90,000 Asian workers died during the construction. Burma attained independence in 1948. Since then, the country has slumped into poverty but it is now slowly changing as Myanmar is getting more open and attracts more and more tourists.
Places to visit in Myanmar
Yangon (formerly Rangoon) — the former capital and economic centre, known for its colonial architecture and Buddhist pagodas, the most important of them being Shwedagon Zedi Daw - more than 2000 years old gilded stupa covered in gold and decorated with diamonds.
Bagan — the capital of the first Burma Empire and one of the richest archaeological sites in Southeast Asia with thousands of ancient pagodas in the area near the banks of the Ayeyarwady River.
Mandalay — the main economic centre of Upper Myanmar and former royal capital of the last Burmese monarchy built around the Mandalay Royal Palace in the middle of XIX century.
Inle Lake — a large shallow lake located in the mountains at over 900 m above sea level with floating villages inhabited by the Intha people and more than 30 hill tribes live in the surrounding mountains.
Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock) - a mystical pagoda with a gold-gilded rock perched on the edge of the hill.
Bago — historic city with numerous Buddhist sights.
Ngapali Beach - 3 km long soft white sand beach on the Bay of Bengal fringed by coconut palms.
Ngwe Saung Beach – 11 km long remote beach with white sand and crystal clear water, famous for seafood.
Most foreigners require a visa to enter Myanmar. Nationals of Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand (only via the international airports) are permitted to enter without a visa for up to 14 days, citizens of Singapore – up to 30 days.
A tourist visa is valid for 3 months from the date of issue and allows you to stay in Myanmar for up to 28 days from the date of arrival.
You can easily get Myanmar visa at the embassy in Bangkok. Visa fees depend on the length of issuance - from 1600 THB for 2 day service to 2290 THB for same-day service. The Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok is open 09:00-12:00 (for submitting visa aplications) and 15:30-16:30 (for taking passports). The embassy is closed for all Thai and Myanmar official holidays.
An e-Visa service is available to citizens of over 100 countries. A single-entry tourist e-Visa costs 50 USD and is valid for entry during the 90 days after issuance, and permits a 28 days stay in Myanmar. The e-Visa permits admission through the following airports and land border checkpoints:
- Yangon International Airport
- Mandalay International Airport
- Nay Pyi Taw International Aiport
- Tachileik Land Border Checkpoint
- Myawaddy Land Border Checkpoint
- Kawthaung Land Border Checkpoint
Getting to Myanmar
From Thailand you can get to Myanmar by plane or by land.
Flights to Myanmar
Flights into Myanmar from Thailand are available only through Bangkok‘s airports.
There are plenty of options to choose from when flying from Bangkok to Yangon International Airport (RGN). This is the only direct route from Thailand to the capital of Myanmar which is served by Myanmar National Airlines, Myanmar Airways International, Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways and low cost carriers AirAsia, Nok Air and Thai Lion Air.
Mandalay International Airport (MDL) receives direct flights from the capital of Thailand. Direct flights from Bangkok to Mandalay are offered by Bangkok Airways and low cost carrier AirAsia.
Traveling to Myanmar Overland
You need a visa for traveling to Myanmar overland as you can‘t get visa on arrival on the border. You need to get a visa from the embassy or via the e-Visa service (not valid at Phu Nam Ron / Htee Khee).
It's possible to enter Myanmar from Thailand by land via 4 border crossings:
- Mae Sai / Tachileik Border Checkpoint - you can enter Myanmar here, but reaching the other open area can only be reached by flight.
- Mae Sot / Myawaddy Border Checkpoint – this crossing is most convenient for traveling from Bangkok to Yangon and other main tourist attractions in Myanmar.
- Htee Khee / Phu Nam Ron Border Checkpoint – border crossing on the most direct route from Bangkok to southern Myanmar destinations (e-Visa can‘t be used here).
- Ranong / Kawthoung Border Checkpoint – Myanmar can be reached by a short boat trip and you can travel to other destinations by bus, boat or plane.
Weather in Myanmar
The cool season in Myanmar lasts from November to February. During this time low rainfall is expected and temperatures can still reach 32°C at noon but at night can fall to around 19°C in Yangon or as low as 13°C in Mandalay and even less in the highlands. The cool season is the peak tourist season in Myanmar.
The hot season in Myanmar lasts from March to April. It’s not unusual for temperatures to get as high as 40°C in Yangon and 37°C in Mandalay. During the hot season little rain is expected.
The wet season in Myanmar lasts from May to October. This season is slightly cooler but temperatures are still around 30°C. Usually Yangon and the area around it receive more rainfall than Mandalay and all Upper Myanmar. The rain traditionally reaches peak levels in July and August.