Tachileik – Visa Run to Myanmar

City of the Golden Triangle
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Do you want to extend your Thailand holiday past the 30 days that you are allowed to stay without a visa? My first time in Thailand was going so well, and I wasn’t ready to leave so, I decided to extend my stay by doing a border visa run to Myanmar. As this was my first time doing this, I had to look for help from other travel bloggers that have done this many times. Now, as I venture into the world as a full-time traveler, here are my tips for going on a border visa run to Myanmar.

Getting There

My home base in Thailand is Chiang Mai, so to get to the northernmost point in Thailand is quite the adventure. First, you need to get from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. You could go directly to the border town of Mae Sai, but we wanted to spend a couple of days in Chiang Rai to explore the temples. I highly recommend buying your ticket online ahead of schedule as we found out, the bus can sell out. The Green Bus has direct routes from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and even Mae Sai. The ride takes approximately 4 hours, and it is on mountainous roads and while we were traveling the streets were under construction, making the ride very bumpy and twisty. If you are prone to motion sickness on buses, I would recommend taking Ginger beforehand or use Sea bands. Unfortunately, I forgot mine, so the ride was very taxing for me. I wished I would have learned my lesson from the drive to the Elephant Nature Park. The other option is to sit as close to the front as possible and have someone traveling with you that is good at distracting you from the motion. Which I was so grateful!

Mae Sai Bus with door open while drivingWe arrived in Chiang Rai at night to enable us to get the bus to Mae Sai first thing the next morning. The bus from Chiang Mai drops you off at the Chiang Rai bus terminal, and this is, also, where you pick up the bus to Mae Sai as well. These buses are a fantastic adventure in themselves. No seatbelts, old bus seats that are too small to hold two people comfortably, no air conditioning, and they drive with the doors wide open down the road. I was in complete awe the entire time of how normal this is for the people living here. These buses are like their taxis, and they get picked and dropped off along the 1.5-hour route to Mae Sai frequently. There is a person that collects the fare from the passengers, which is around 40 THB one-way.

Documents You Need

To get through the Thailand exit and the Myanmar entry process, you need to have the following:

  • Passport
  • Completely filled in Thailand Departure Card
  • USD 10 for Myanmar Single Day Entry Pass

Border Visa Run ProcessMyanmar Border

Walking over the border from Thailand to Myanmar is a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It helps to know what to expect ahead of time. As long as you have all the appropriate documents, the border visa run to Myanmar should go smoothly. The first step is to go through Thai immigration to get your exit stamp for Thailand. Once you have that in hand, you can start walking over the bridge to Myanmar. You have to walk over the bridge on the left side, and then you have to cross over to the Myanmar immigration office, which is on the right side as soon as you enter. They will pull you in the office as a group if you are traveling together. You will have to hand over your passports and the entry fee, which I paid for both of us. Don’t worry. You will be able to get your passports back when you exit Myanmar that same day. In return, they will issue you a single day entry pass allowing you entry to Tachileik. If you want to go further in Myanmar, you will need to get a visa. The same day entry pass allows you access to the Tachileik district only.

Tar Lot MarketTar Lot Market

As we only had a few hours to explore Tachileik, we headed straight over to the outdoor market by the bridge. It was interesting to see what Myanmar offered in their outdoor market compared to the ones I experienced in Thailand. Prices were comparable, but the goods were suspect as to how real or counterfeit they were. I did stop and explore a temple that was right by the market that caught my eye.Tar Lot Market 2

Exploring Tachileik

Flower Garden on Balcony

I love exploring new places. And when they are in a completely different environment than what I grew up in, it is a lesson in a culture that I can’t pass up. Plus, the photographs I capture don’t do these places justice, but I do try my best to show everything. From the buildings, architecture, transportation, and people I love taking these photos to share with the world how different and sometimes how similar we indeed are. From the busy, bustling city of Chiang Mai to the slower and significant drop in income levels of Tachileik. It is eye-opening to experience the difference between the two towns. Old SongthaewSongthaew Relic

Memorial ParkMemorial Park

Another area that was close to the border that we explored was Memorial Park. Memorial Park is right by the roundabout near the border, which was beneficial to us as we didn’t have a lot of time to explore further. The park has a giant golden statue of the Burmese King in the center. There is a donation that is expected to pay when entering the park. Golden Burmese King Statue

Valentine Tea & Food CenterValentine Tea & Food Center

The Valentine Tea & Food Center is a pleasant surprise that is frequented by locals and many of the songthaew drivers. We didn’t know what to expect, but Skye knew some of the foods on the menu. And as I trust him with food choices without question (not really:)), we decided to eat here for lunch. What a great choice! Food was delicious, and the service and atmosphere were so friendly. People at the next table were even offering us suggestions to try. Although we didn’t try everything because once you did, you would have to pay for it. We also admired the Burmese women with the Thanaka on their cheeks. Thanaka is a yellowish-gold paste on their cheeks for beauty, but it also offers protection from sunburn. The things I would never have known if I didn’t travel. Love this world I live in!Lunch at Valentine Tea & Food CenterLunch at Valentine Tea & Food Center 2

Leaving Tachileik, MyanmarSun peeking through the clouds at the roundabout

One last capture of photos of the village of Tachileik before crossing back over the border to Thailand. What was special was that the sun started to peek through the clouds as we were leaving. Almost as if to say ‘Thank you for visiting us here in Tachileik!’ The last step you need to do is to turn in your single-day entry pass to reclaim your passport. This is in the offices on the right side of the bridge. Once you have collected your passport, you can head over to the Thailand Immigration office which is on the left side. You would think that they would have planned this better with what side which office is on the bridge. For non-Thai citizens, stay in the left queue to get your new 30-day Thailand entry stamp. This line can be long so, make sure that you have enough time to get through and pick up the bus back. Leaving Tachileik

Summary

All in all, the border visa run to Myanmar can be quite easy; if you know all the steps and follow them. Plus, spending the day in Tachileik exploring this town will give you a good comparison between the countries of Thailand and Myanmar. And remember that you only get two land border crossings per year for entry into Thailand. I hope that this guide helps you out on your single day in Tachileik.

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Further Reading

If you would like to see more of my nomad travels, check out my post on my first month of traveling full-time: One Month of Nomad Travel. If you are coming to Thailand for a visit, check out these posts:

2 Comments

  • john ball 24July2019 at 3:41 AM Reply

    Tachileik is a town, the best site being the Schwedagon Temple. A poor review.

    • Heather 29July2019 at 9:29 AM Reply

      Thank you for the catch. I have updated that. I’m sorry you feel it was a poor review. As I was only there for a few hours this was my experience and what I saw during my time in Tachileik. I will definitely look into going to the Schwedagon Temple the next time I visit.

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