Myanmar visa run December 2022: tips and hints

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The Yangon skyline is highlighted by a huge temple complex.

Entry rules
Most foreigners (unless they hold labor permits) must fly to the former capital Yangon, a bustling metropolis of around 7 million people.  30 day visas must be obtained in advance online but require your vaccination record, accommodation booking and travel insurance (no upper age limit) from the state medical authority.  You will also require a covid-free test, stamped by a Thai doctor, not more than 48 hours before your flight.  Your documentation will be exhaustively checked by Myanmar Air International, the health authority on landing and finally by Yangon immigration police.  On returning to Thailand, you will get 45 days visa exempt or, if applicable, you can use a multiple entry visa or re-entry permit.  Applying for a visa at the Thai embassy in Yangon is not said to be a fulfilling experience.


The central railway station has an official complaints bureau in case your train is late.


The safety factor
The much-publicized violence and bombing, since the 2021 military coup, now appears restricted to border regions.  In Yangon, you won’t see any army or police uniforms (not even traffic cops) except at sensitive locations such as the central railway station.  Remoter parts of the country are under curfew, but it is possible to travel domestically to Mandalay by road if you can deal with checkpoints.  Not surprisingly, international tourism in Myanmar is very low key indeed.  There are very, very few western foreigners around and you may well be stared at more often than you are used to.  That said, locals are very friendly but are not inclined to discuss internal politics, except to say that foreigners should visit (and not boycott) as businesses need the infusion of foreign cash.

A typical street scene in Yangon. International tourism currently has a very low pulse rate.

The cost of living
Hotels and luxurious surroundings will cost you the same as in Thailand, but eating out and taxi transportation are around 25 percent cheaper than in Pattaya.  A liter of petrol costs 2,000 kyat (less than one US dollar).  Mobile phone SIM cards are amazingly cheap by Thai standards, but many businesses do not use password security and foreigners, surprisingly, do not need to show their passport when purchasing.  Because Yangon is not touristy, there are very few spas, massage parlors and barber shops.  They cater essentially for affluent Burmese and have high standards of hygiene, skin products and etiquette.  You will be welcome but will pay more than here.

You need an awful lot of kyat to make up US$100. One Thai baht will buy around 6 kyat.

What to do
Myanmar is the land of pagodas and temples, but there are alternatives such as the zoo, the national museum and feeding stale bread to the enormous and ravenous catfish in the park lake.  There is also an axe throwing course, alternative physical therapy, at one of the gymnasia.  If you have seen Kirk Douglas climbing by axe-ladder the castle drawbridge in the 1958 blockbuster The Vikings, you’ll get the general idea.  There are no legal casinos in Yangon.  The city is not noted for its vibrant nightlife, but foreigners have been known to trickle down Padonmar Street where there are several bars and clubs.  They were mostly deserted on my visit.  They must have heard I was in town.











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