Border Crossing Between Mae Sot (Thailand) and Myawaddy (Myanmar/Burma)
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Now that overland travel between Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) is a reality, travellers are discovering this new way of entering the country in droves. We crossed the border between the towns of Mae Sot and Myawaddy in March 2014 and found it to be one of the easiest border crossings we have ever encountered. Here are some tips to do it yourself:
- Take a songthaew (shared pickup) to the Friendship Bridge
Tuk-tuks will try to charge you 100 baht to take the 5km journey. Instead, save some dollars and walk past the markets and ask the drivers for a songthaew to Friendship Bridge. They will kindly point you in the right direction. Cost is 20 baht and it will leave when it is full. And by full, we mean full!
- Head to the customs office and check out of Thailand
Short walk, nothing stressful! Once you arrive at the office you will see hordes of Thai and Burmese people everywhere. It will be confusing as hell. Don’t worry, someone will point you in the right direction. Once you get to the window, hand over your passport with the visa departure card attached inside. Answer a few questions from the immigration official. If you have your Myanmar visa, they will ask how long you are staying for in Myanmar (Burma). Pick a number under 28 days. If you have overstayed your Thai visa, you will have to pay the 500 baht per day fee.
- Walk across the bridge
The bridge is about 300m long and is frequented by cars, so stick to the footpath. Enjoy the view and take lots of photos!
- Check into Myanmar (Burma)
Again, more mass confusion! People everywhere, misleading signs and noise. So much noise! But luckily you are at the friendliest border crossing in Asia and everyone will direct you where to check in. You will need to go inside a building and fill out a form with some basic details. Don’t worry so much about the “Address In Myanmar”. Just pick your first hotel, or if you don’t have one, make up a name. They don’t check.
With the paperwork filled out and your visa checked, they will take your photo and you are free to leave! Welcome to Myanmar!
- If you don’t have a visa, you will have to pay a $10 (or 500 baht) fee and leave your passport at the border office. You will need to collect this before the 1730 closing time. Myanmar is 30 minutes behind Thailand (UTC +6.30). Be aware that there is no visa-on-arrival so you cannot travel onwards into Myanmar.
- Traffic changes from driving on the left hand side in Thailand to the right hand side in Myanmar. Make sure you look both ways before crossing the road!
- You will need to mention on your form which point of exit you will use to leave Myanmar (Burma). As far as we know, you cannot differ from this except in emergency situations. So plan ahead. If you say you’re going to leave at Myawaddy, leave at Myawaddy.
- If you are planning on spending the night in Myawaddy, be aware that many guesthouses will not accept foreigners (even though they have signs in English). We stayed at Eden Hotel for US$8 a night (8000 kyat). Walk away from the bridge and turn left once you pass the bus terminal. Continue down this road for three or four blocks and it will be a pink building on your left.
- For those who are looking at onward travel into Burma, be aware that the road out of Myawaddy only runs one way on alternate days. “Up” (to Myawaddy) and “down” (to Yangon). In March, the dates heading “down” were odd-numbered days. Dates for the rest of the year (2014), heading down, or towards Yangon, are as follows:
Apr – Even
May – Even
Jun – Odd
Jul – Odd
Aug – Even
Sep – Odd
Oct – Odd
Nov – Even
Dec – Even
Update Oct 2014
According to government websites, the new ASEAN Highway between Myawaddy and Kawkareik will be completed in early 2015. This article here from April talks about the new highway, also known locally as the Asia Highway, being used to bypass the beautiful yet dangerous Dawna mountain range. Trip time will be only 30 minutes, instead of the treacherous 3 hours currently required to make it out of Myawaddy towards Yangon (Rangoon). Once this road is completed there will be no need to watch out for alternating days, as there will be two-way traffic out of Myawaddy, making the Thailand border crossing from Mae Sot much more accessible to tourists and backpackers. Stay tuned for more information as it comes to light.
[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Click on these links to learn more about money in Myanmar and what our budget was for our month travelling there.[/box]
49 thoughts on “Thailand/Myanmar (Burma) Border Crossing – Mae Sot To Myawaddy”
Can you please help me as I need to do a visa run in mae sot.
Could you please tell me how thorough luggage control is on Myawaddy land border? I am bit worried, because I am reading customs info that videocameras are forbidden to bring into the country and I have one which is quite big, so might be under some suspicion.
You should be fine Mike 🙂
I’ve heard that the Myawaddy boarder crossing might be closed. Is there any truth to this?
Thank you for any help!
Not closed, crossed into Myanmar at Mae Sot/Myawaddy 2 days ago.
This site/comments trail was very helpful to us, thanks to contributors. A few points that might be useful:
— we were not asked where we would leave Myanmar from, so no need to worry about that in advance
— eVisa states that you need to have proof of exit flight. Also not needed, as others already said.
— exchanged baht to kyat with one of the many money traders, and bargained with them over exchange rate. Worth doing so, ended up with a much better rate than at the start
— took car to Mawlamyine (which is lovely). Didn’t need to be in Hpa An, so driver took a shortcut about 55 km before Hpa An. This is in essence a very long unpaved road, which makes for a beautiful ride but also a risky one. In that it had recently rained, and we got stuck in the mud once or twice. Almost to the point of having to retrace our steps, which would have added hours to the journey (as opposed to reducing it from 5 to 4). We didn’t really have a choice, driver spoke no English and just took the shortcut (it’s pretty obvious when he leaves the main road). But would recommend to object if weather is or has been bad.
– paid 950 baht for 3 of us, a tiny bit more than could be achieved if joining others in a full car, but it was just us.
— all in all, super easy and fun experience. Immigration guy on Myanmar side is fantastic.
Thank you for the update Bart. Thank you for the information too. Hope you are having a great trip. 🙂
sorry , who know if have the bus myawaddy to taunggyi ?
think you very mutch for your help .
We are planning on crossing over next week, but we’re struggling to find clear information on bus times going up to Yangon. Some websites say that there are buses at 8am, 9am and 10am, but I’ve seen others suggesting there is one at 8pm…what would be your suggestions at the best way to get up to Yangon?!
Great website by the way!
Hi Liz, I hope your trip went smoothly.
Sorry for the very late reply but I thought I would reply to help others. The buses are definitely in the morning. We organised our transport through the agency in the border office. 🙂
There is a highway now which cuts the time by over half and is much safer. Again the office at the border would be able to help you out and definitely would be morning buses going.
All the best
Hey great website! We are at Mae Sot at the moment and want to cross the border to Myanmar tomorrow morning but we can’t find the place with the shared taxi’s to bring us to the bridge and nobody understands what we are looking for. Could you help us out?
Thanks in advance!
When we walked across we were crowded with people offering us a ride to Mawlamyine and other places as we just passed through customs. There is no taxi place to speak of as its just a big hustle and bustle of traders bringing goods to and from Thailand – Myanmar. So its just a case of speaking to them and trying not to get hustled. Most people want to fill any extra space in their cars/vans with people to make their trip more profitable.
Hey guys, great articles! I just have one question. I have been reading on other websites that you have to provide proof of leaving the country via plane ticket, bus ticket, ect. Was this the case or just at which point you planned on exiting?
We only had to say what port we were exiting at. Didn’t have to show proof of transport.
We came into Myammar over land and flew out to KL so we would of had exit stamps at the airport. Either way though if you exit over land you will have exit stamps before walking out. So I wouldnt worry about it:)
That’s really an interesting info. I was travelling there on February 2015 and I fail to reach myawaddy border city to get to Tahiland. Next time I’ll try again 😉
Next time indeed 🙂
My daughter and I crossed from Mae Sot to Myawaddy today with no problems. The new highway is open and the traffic flows both ways every day now. We came to Mawlamyine and the trip took five hours, mainly due to an inept driver and frequent stops for random reasons (once to get his car washed and once to wipe the windshield in a pouring rain even though the fog was on the inside of the windshield are just a couple of them). Some of the roads were flooded, but, not impassable at this point, the rainy season has just started. It is not hard to find transport out of Myawaddy, but, only pay your driver half of the agreed upon fare up front, the balance when delivered to the right place. Our driver tried to just drop us at the edge of Mawlamyine even though he had agreed to take us to our hotel, he even had an English (minimal) speaking friend explain to us that was as far as he went. I said ok, we would pay the balance to whoever took us to the hotel, and he finally agreed to finish his job.
Thanks very much for the update, Jay.
thanks so much for this very useful info! I’m planning a trip to thailand and myanmar in august/september and was wondering if the ASEAN railway has already been opened by now? I’m very much looking forward to the trip and have already started exploring your website like crazy for tips 🙂
Last we heard the ASEAN Highway has been open, but we don’t think the railway is finished. Happy travels Magali.
I did the visa run today and everything worked out really well!
There is a lot of confusing information about this border because there are two separate things:
1. You go to the Tak immigration office, which is situated on the left side of the bridge. They are only open from monday-friday and are closed on holidays. After some paperwork, they will let you pass the bridge.
2. You do a visa-run and go immediately to the bridge. You go to an office on the left, which is only for foreigners. They first told me that it wasn’t possible, but when I showed my e-ticket from my flight from Bangkok in 13 days, they said that they could give me a 15-days on arrival visa. I overstayed for one day, so I had to pay 500 bath, for which I even got a receipt! The staff was very friendly and we even made some jokes. Then I went over the bridge to Myanmar. Here you need to be on the right site (all the staff will point you in the right direction). I left my passport ( got a card for it in return) and payed 500 bath. And then I was in Myanmar, potentially I could have stayed there for the day. But I decided to go back after an hour, because I still wasn’t sure about my situation. I went to the same office, were they gave me my passport back and l left Myanmar. At the Thai border I directly got a visa on arrival form. Again I showed my flight ticket and I got the 15 days on arrival visa. And then I was back in Thailand! So I’ve read so many scary stories about it, but I guess I was very lucky. Because every now and then the bridge still closes (because Myanmar closes it). This bridge is open every day of the week.
Locals don’t seem to understand the difference between the 1 and 2 as I pointed out above. I tried to gain some information, but everybody said something different. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this border, as it closes sometimes. It depends on the situation your in, but for me it worked! I would definitely not recommend you to gain information with locals. Good luck to all 🙂
Thanks for the awesome update Kimberley!
We just did this border crossing and got picked up by a local guy called Kookan who was really nice, we then got driven to Mawlamyine. Crossing over is a real adventure and so much cooler than flying if you are coming from Thailand. Kookan told us the new road should be open in June 2015.
Thanks for the update, James, and glad you got to meet a cool local to take you to Mawlamyine.
Tried to do a visa run today at Mae Sot to Myawaddy border and was denied entry….I would not reccomend this border for anyone doing a visa run
Why were you refused entry? I am thinking about doing a visa run here in a month.
Did you have a valid visa for Myanmar, or have they stopped doing temporary visa-on-arrivals?
Articles above will be a big help.. Planning to visit Myanmar this yr I am still looking and checking for a better flight from manila, but thanks
Glad to hear that the article has helped, Mejas. Hopefully you can find those cheap flights and get to Myanmar soon! Happy travels.
We’re going to cross into Myanmar from Mae Sot on Jan 24, 2015. I picked up from irawaddy newspaper Jan 8 2015
From Wikitravel, there is further hint that the road is passable if you can find a driver. This entry is from the other direction, but would apply.
“From Mawlamyine you can get a shared taxi. If there is 4 of you, you will be charged 10.000 kyat each and the taxi driver will bring you to Myawaddy in just 5 hours. Then you just cross the bridge by foot and you are in Thailand. From the bridge you can get a tuk tuk to Mae Sot city center (10 bath). They are just building a new road (there is no asphalt yet so is very dusty) from Mawlamyine to Myawaddy so you basically skip the old super winding road.”
I’m thinking that once we cross that drivers will appear and will be willing to take us through the new road. Unfortunately, we won’t be arriving in Mae Sot airport until 2PM flight so will get thru the border about 3PM that day. If anyone is interested in joining in to hire a car for a drive down to Mawlamyine, should the opportunity arise, look for two boomer guys, one with a green MEC pack, the other with a Federer like tennis bag slung over his shoulders. John and Carl
I should mention read the newspaper article to be fully aware of possibilities
Thanks so much for the tips. Interesting situation that is happening on the border. Hopefully it will be resolved soon. Really appreciate you bringing these details to light for our readers. Cheers John.
Hello! thanks for your info! Can i know if i can cross into Myanmar from Thailand by walking? Cheers!
You sure can, Marcus. That’s how we crossed over. Just get dropped off near the checkpoint, and walk over the bridge. Enjoy Myanmar!
Hi! Thanks for all the great info! I’m hoping to get my same day visa on Friday and then head to Mae Sot on Saturday. I can’t seem to find any info online about the current status of the ASEAN highway – or 2015 ‘up’ and ‘down’ days out of Myawaddy if the highway isn’t finished. Do have any info resources on this?
Thank you so much,
No worries at all Eira. As far as we are aware the ASEAN Highway is not open yet. It should be early 2015 though. When you get to Myawaddy, if you find out any information please let us know 🙂
As for which way the bus is running, it alternates day to day. In January it should be heading TO Yangon on odd days (so the 1st of January, 3rd, 5th, etc).
I am guessing you got the Myanmar visa in Bangkok? How many days did it take to process? Cheers
Hey Jub, it took us two working days. Check out our article on getting your visa in Bangkok here: https://www.nomadasaurus.com/getting-your-myanmar-visa-in-bangkok/
Hello, Do you know what days the traffic will be heading up from Yangon to Myawaddy in January? I was also wondering if we get caught out and have to spend an additional night somewhere on the Burma side – is there accommodation freely available or do we really need to make sure that we get it right?
Should be heading to Myawaddy on even days in January, Antonia. And if you get stuck in Myawaddy for a night there are a few places to stay. Check out our post to see where we bunked up: https://www.nomadasaurus.com/myanmar-accommodation-where-we-stayed-how-much/
Tkanks for sharing to you two!!
Is there an ATM on the Burma-site? We plan to cross without kyat!!
Sure is buddy! Just up the road from the border crossing.
Check out this article we wrote about the money situation in Myanmar: https://www.nomadasaurus.com/money-in-myanmar/
Super useful post. Thanks! Crossing over tomorrow and feeling much more comfortable with it!
You’re most welcome, Camilla. Hope the border crossing went smoothly for you 🙂
Good to know all of this information! Thank you guys!
You’re welcome 🙂
Hi! I was in Myanmar earlier this year but I flew to Mandalay. Next time in the beginning of next year I plan to cross overland so thanks a lot for the info. Happy travels, Cheers
Maybe by the time you want to cross over the new highway will be built. Will make a huge difference in both time, and safety.
Thanks for the awesome info! They’re reassuring 😉