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Border-Crossing in Southeast Asia: Thailand and Burma

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Border-Crossing in Southeast Asia: Thailand and Burma

Southeast Asia, the corridor of countries that runs from Burma down through Thailand, and beyond, all the way into the Indonesian archipelago, has become incredibly popular as a tourist destination over the years.

While these countries are visited every year by all types of holidaymakers, they have gained a certain reputation as being part of a pilgrimage of sorts that is popular with backpackers.

This way of traveling on a shoestring budget sees them hopping from hostel to hostel across various cities and even countries, often crossing borders by land instead of the more expensive option of flying.

One of the complications with traveling in this manner is border-crossing, especially between Thailand and Burma because it was only a few years ago that Burma was not even an option on this tourist route so misinformation is still common.

Remembering which countries allow travelers to cross borders overland, and how that affects the type of visa they can acquire is key to ensuring that visitors have as smooth an experience as possible when crossing land borders between Southeast Asian countries.

For any travelers looking to enter Burma from Thailand, it is crucial to be familiar with the requirements of the Myanmar visa prior to arrival at their particular port of entry. Read on for more information about how to cross the border from Thailand and enter Burma.

Crossing Into Burma from Thailand

Ever since opening up to the greater outside world, Burma has become a hotspot for intrepid backpackers who wish to see something new. People continue to look for any way possible to enter into the enigmatic country, including passing overland from Thailand.

Those travelers who have planned ahead and have already received permission to enter Burma from Thailand are able to do so in three locations:

The Kawthaung Land Border Checkpoint is located in the very southern tip of the Burmese border with Thailand. To call it a “land border” is a bit of a misnomer as travelers actually have the option to board a boat to be ferried across the short river between the two ports of entry and exit.

There is also a bus, which takes longer and is a cheaper option. The bus is also the only choice during the wet season when the river floods and becomes too difficult to ford

Burma has Areas that are Restricted

The Myawaddy Land Border Checkpoint is in central Burma and is known for being a more hectic border. This is because of the sheer amount of traffic in the region. On foot, the crossing is less chaotic, but arriving may take a long while so it is best to plan ahead

The Tachileik Land Border Checkpoint is a much more complicated and contested border crossing. It is recommended that travelers use one of the other two options listed above should they have the option. This is because Burma has areas that are restricted in terms of who it allows to enter into those regions.

It is required to have an official guide when crossing through those areas, and you must prove that you have the necessary government permit and guide to do so

It is essential to stay informed about the latest information surrounding the borders you are trying to cross as there are often issues that crop up that make it difficult or impossible for people to get across those borders.

To avoid having to turn back, be vigilant about what the situation is before traveling to any of these Thai-Burma land crossings.

Traveling in Burma: What to Do?

For many years, Myanmar’s insolation from the outside world made it an object of fascination for explorers. Now that the country is allowing visitors, the world is discovering more and more about its many marvels.

The Bagan Temple Plain is perhaps the most iconic religious site in all of Burma. The area contains over 2,200 temple structures that date back centuries, offering visitors a glimpse of how modern-day Burma came to be constructed.

Mount Popa offers travelers another perch from which they can examine Burma. After climbing up 777 steps on the dormant volcano, visitors will be rewarded with the opportunity to explore the monastery at the top, which in turn offers them beautiful views of the valley below.

Burma is a blend of the natural and the spiritual. The plains, mountains, and, of course, lakes, such as the iconic Lake Inle, all work together hand in hand to construct the country’s identity. On Lake Inle, tourists can take boat trips to explore the waters and later take a short trip to explore the nearby 2,000 year old pagodas at Kakku.

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