Burma forum

Crossing Myanmar with own car (Thailand -> India) in Aug or Sep 2014

  • nue_travell-
    ing

    Joined Travelfish
    30th May, 2014
    Posts: 7

    Hello to all the passionate travellers out there!
    My girlfriend and me plan to cross Myanmar with our own car in either August or September this year (2014) as part of our raod trip from Australia all the way back to Germany. According to our current knowledge crossing this beautiful country is not as difficult as it used to be. Mainly it is a matter of money. Since the government still charges high prices on entering with own cars (using a local licensed tour operator is mandatory). These costs can be reduced significantly if enough cars (people) can be found to join the group. We have found such a local licensed tour operator in Myanmar who can organize all kinds of tours with own cars in Myanmar but it is up to us to find other people who are interested in joining us (like I have said to make the high costs of such a tour organization affordable). We want to enter Myanmar coming from Thailand and travel on to India. If you are interested in joining us in the second half of August or in September please contact us: nue.travelling[AT]gmail[DOT]com - if anyone has information about other groups already planning something similar please let us know likewise!
    Kind regards,
    Enrico and Nadine

    #1 Posted: 30/5/2014 - 21:34

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  • nue_travell-
    ing

    Joined Travelfish
    30th May, 2014
    Posts: 7

    Hello to everyone.

    In the meantime we have found another tour operator (www.burmasenses.com
    ) who offers guided tours through Myanmar.
    The price per person for a group of 4 people would be 1080 USD excluding food and fuel.
    The more people, the cheaper of course.

    So setting up a group of three or more cars would make this trip much more affordable.
    If anyone is interested in crossing Myanmar from Thai to India in August or September this year please reply!
    Cheers,
    NuE

    #2 Posted: 18/6/2014 - 03:49

  • nue_travell-
    ing

    Joined Travelfish
    30th May, 2014
    Posts: 7

    UPDATE:
    According to our latest research the crossing is not as expensive as I / we thought it is.
    To quickly summarise:
    Next to the German guy Jörn Schlag whose latest price for an extensive trip through Myanmar was 2000 Euros (~ 2750 US$) per car (independent of the number of cars building the convoy) we already found three licensed travel agencies situated in Myanmar who offer crossings through Myanmar (all following prices are based on a four or five day crossing):
    1st was Tin Maung Shwe from www.brightviewtravel.com who basically provided the following prices (includes everything except of own fuel, any sight seeing and personal expenses): for 1 car / 2 pax : 2163 US$ per pax; for 2 cars / 4 pax : 1287 US$ (costs are getting cheaper the more people join the group)
    2nd was Thar Aye from www.burmasenses.com who offers the crossing as follows: for 1 car / 2 pax : 2000 US$ per pax; for 2 cars / 4 pax : 1060 US$ (costs are getting cheaper the more people join the group). Furthermore we found a
    3rd tour operator whose costs vary significant from those of Tin and Thar Aye:
    His name is Mutu Suresh from www.myanmarexperttours.com and who recommends a six day crossing due to the more difficult road situation on the rainy season for the following (costs are in total, NOT per person!):
    1 Person - 900 US$
    2 People - 1060 US$
    4 People - 1700 US$
    6 People - 2250 US$
    Includes three meals per day and five nights' accommodation. Not included as already mentioned above: own fuel, sightseeing entrance fees on the way, personal expenses and road tax (no more than 50 $US per vehicle).
    I was wondering how this high price difference is possible. But I only found few reviews only of people travelling with him (all were very satisfied with his work) and he assured me that no extra costs would apply (except the ones mentioned). If anyone can give any reviews about Mutu Suresh this would be very welcome!

    So far I found another couple with a 4WD who is willing to join us on the crossing. Furthermore I am waiting for the reply of two motor cyclists who also are interested in joining us.
    That means currently we are four, maybe six people who will do the crossing together. I requested another offer + itinerary for a six day crossing allowing for visiting Bagan and a seven day crossing allowing for Bagan and Mandalay.
    News will be posted.

    So far to our situation.
    Still looking for more people to join us!
    Since we are having travel delays the currently desired departure time (start time) for the crossing will be middle of September.

    Best regards to everyone,

    Enrico and Nadine
    www.nue-travelling.com

    #3 Posted: 29/6/2014 - 01:58

  • nue_travell-
    ing

    Joined Travelfish
    30th May, 2014
    Posts: 7

    Hello everyone.
    Anyone else interested in joining our group in September?
    Currently we will be 7 to 10 people.
    7 day crossing with one day stop in Bagan.
    Starting at Mae Sot (Thai) - Myawaddy (Myanmar)
    Finishing at Moreh (Myanmar) - Tamu (India) border
    Price: ~ 450 $US per person, excludes own fuel, lunch and dinner and private expanses but includes accommodation, tour operator fees, sight seeing entrance fees (Bagan and Phowin cave) and all government and administration fees
    More participants are welcome til middle of August when booking will be done.
    If anyone else has serious interest please contact me for further details.
    You need to have a Carnet de Passage, proper health insurance, a Myanmar visa and an India visa.

    Cheers,

    Enrico

    #4 Posted: 18/7/2014 - 00:35

  • nue_travell-
    ing

    Joined Travelfish
    30th May, 2014
    Posts: 7

    Hello everybody,

    Since I received several requests from other travellers about prices for the Myanmar crossing I like to provide an update. Most of the others who contacted me reported much higher prices provided by the different tour operators.
    Our tour operator also had to inform us about higher prices due to a miscalculation by himself (we are / were one of his first crossing groups while he used to only offer tours within Myanmar till now) and higher charges by the MTT. Furthermore I forgot to provide information about an additional cost charged by the Myanmar Roads and Traffic Department in my previous posts caused by a misunderstanding between me and Mutu.

    After some discussion we reached a compromise about the price which is still cheaper than what other travellers told me but more expensive than what we got told at the very beginning.

    For a group of six people we achieved a price of 3300 USD + 200 USD per vehicle (Myanmar Roads and Traffic Charge; for motorbikes it would by 100 USD). Dividing the costs equally it comes to 650 USD per person in our case.
    INCLUDED: all kinds of government permission fees, accommodation (mostly 2* or 3* hotels with private bathrooms, A/C), entrance fees for national parks en route and Bagan , tour operator costs
    EXCLUDED: own fuel, personal expenses, lunch and dinner
    Actually the tour operator wanted to charge us 3900 USD + MRTD charge instead of the 2700 USD we knew about at the beginning.
    But I believe that future requests for an offer of the same trip (7 day crossing with stop in Bagan an Phowin Caves) will result in at least 4500 USD for the trip (six people for this example).
    Nevertheless here is a feedback from another traveller who already finished their trip with Mutu (coming from India) which reads very well:
    https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/asia-south-east-asia-mainland/Myanmar/crossing-myanmar-from-india-to-thailand-in-august-2014?page=1#post_21475839

    We will also publish a report after we made it to India (we start our crossing at beginning of October)

    To summarize I just can recommend everyone who is interested in travelling and / or crossing Myanmar with their own cars to early start looking for other people interested in the same to join them and make the costs more affordable. Again here are names and websites of tour operators in Myanmar who offer such guided tours:
    - Tin Maung Shwe from brightviewtravel.com
    - Tar Aye from burmasenses.com
    - Mutu Suresh from myanmarexperttours.com

    Basically you can also contact every other travel agency in Mandalay or Yangon and ask if they offer such tours and can point you some other agency.

    #5 Posted: 10/9/2014 - 23:41

  • nue_travell-
    ing

    Joined Travelfish
    30th May, 2014
    Posts: 7

    Hello everyone,

    Finally I like to provide some feedback about our successful and great road trip (with own vehicles) through Myanmar hosted by Mutu from myanmarexperttours.com in October 2014.
    Upon booking our travel group consisted of six people travelling in three cars (all 4WD).
    Crossing the border from Mae Sot (Thailand) to Myawaddy (Myanmar) took three hours in total (basically because of slow working customs and queues at the counters). When crossing the bridge you switch from left-hand driving to right-hand driving. Read here why:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-_and_left-hand_traffic#Burma_.28Myanmar.29
    On the Myanmar side we were welcomed by Ye, who is a Burmese travel guide and was hired by Mutu and by the MTT official who also is an experienced and relaxed guy and basically responsible to notify the ministry about our movements. They provided ‘temporary number plates’ which we had to place on the windscreen. After changing some money (change rates for USD in MMK were pretty good) we left Myawaddy and fortunately we were allowed to pass the customs bay behind town without the cars getting checked. We then started the first stage of our tour to Kin Pun, a village at the base of Kyaiktiyo Golden Rock (on the way there we did a short stop at a pagoda near Thaton). The single line road between Myawaddy and Kawkareik which is only open every second day (oncoming traffic the other day) is very windy, often unpaved and trucks are slow and there are only few spots allowing to pass them. You pass several military checkpoints along the way. You definitely have to be at the border very early to actually finish this stage of the tour on time (we arrived in darkness and most Burmese drive without using lights at all!). We skipped visiting the Golden Rock in the following morning and moved on to the capital Nay Pyi Taw with a stop at the market in Waw. The two-lane highway is very good and allows cars to drive 120 km/h. Nay Pyi Daw is a clean city with heaps of empty hotels and roads. Seeing the government buildings was not possible. On the afternoon of our arrival we visited the Uppatasanti pagoda which was inspired by the famous Shwedagon pagoda. As a tourist we found this a very nice place and unlike Shwedagon there are no crowds of people.
    The Myat Mingalar hotel was a nice place to stay and we were almost the only guests at that time. In the evening another participant and I drove by ourselves to a close-by mall to get some beer and food since the hotel’s restaurant was a bit too expensive. The next day we learned that we actually were not allowed to drive without a guide in front even though having the license plate, visa, passport and so on with us. Seeing Nay Pyi Daw as foreigner was interesting albeit surreal. As we learned you cannot get here with public transport (only with a licensed tour operator). On the late afternoon around 5pm we did see a group of road workers who just finished today’s work shift and immediately were picked up by soldiers in an army truck…
    After two nights in Nay Pyi Daw we moved to Bagan with stops at a palm sugar station and driving to the first stupas and watching sunset from one of them. In the evening we got to know Mutu who is a really nice guy, knows a lot about the country and is the perfect mate to have a beer with. The next day we spent the morning with visiting some more stupas, using the hotel’s swimming pool in the afternoon and did a river cruise on the Ayeyarwady in the early evening.
    The next morning we moved on to Monywa with seeing the Phowintaung caves which actually were hundreds of holes in a sandstone outcrop containing carved Buddha statues.
    The following day we went to Kalay via Gangaw (which is the main road between Kalay and Monyaw used most of the time of the year). Along the sometimes very windy and very muddy ‘road’ we passed lots of stuck trucks and also our guides 2WD Toyota Hiace used to have difficulties getting up the hill sometimes (unlike us with our 4WD). For us it was sheer driving pleasure!
    The stage between Monywa and Kalay was the longest and most exhausting one of all but has to be done at once since there are no places with hotels along the way and sleeping in the cars is still strictly prohibited.
    From Kalay we moved on to the border town Tamu where people only have power from 6.30pm til 8.00am in the morning. On the way we crossed the tropic of cancer. Exiting Myanmar took about half an hour while entering India was more time and nerve consuming (read on).
    Finally I can say that all six of us enjoyed the trip very much. Mutu even managed to let one of the participants bring its dog in (and of course out of) the country. Ye was a very nice guy and both Ye and Mutu managed to organize the trip to our full satisfaction. Actually we would have stayed longer but four of us are on a road trip from Australia to Europe and we had to keep the trip short for budget and time reasons. But Myanmar is a very beautiful country with amazingly friendly locals and except of the major tourist attractions like Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake and Mandaly the country is still very unexplored by tourism.
    We definitely can recommend Mutu and his team to everyone who is also interested visiting and crossing the country with his own vehicle.
    Nevertheless Myanmar is still very expensive to travel. Accommodations are more expensive than in its eastern neighbouring countries (also due to USD regularly used as second currency) and the government charges high fees to travellers (sightseeing, permissions to see certain areas, obligation of using a licensed tour operator, …). There are news found online about a Trans-Asian highway to be built through Myanmar to connect India with SE Asia but I hardly believe this project will ever be realized / finished. Furthermore since the government makes a lot of money with tourism possible due to the whole tricky system of ‘special permissions’ and so on it is hard to believe that it ever will be more easy to get in and explore the country. And still there are riots and conflicts going on in the country, like in eastern and northern Mon state and also in the far north of the country which still will make it almost impossible for tourists to travel to these regions for a long time. But if there is a chance to actually visit a certain area as foreigner, Mutu can bring you there.
    Once again about the prices: travelling to Myanmar is and will be expensive. Basically a bigger group with more participants should make such a trip more affordable, but also more exhausting because the more cars / people need to travel along the roads / need to be checked the more time consuming it will be.
    At the end we all were happy with the size of our group (three cars).
    For a group of six people including all permits, fees and so on (excluding food and fuel) one will hardly find an offer charging less than 750 USD per person. But it is definitely worth the trip.
    The following Google Maps link shows our basic route through the country:

    https://www.google.de/maps/dir/Mae+Sot,+Mae+Sot+District,+Tak,+Thailand/Kin+Pun+Sakhan,+Myanmar/The+Myat+Mingalar/Bagan+Umbra/Monywa/22.0429721,94.9862361/Monywa+Hotel,+Monywa,+Myanmar/23.1936636,94.0389935/24.2160391,94.3030753/@20.4783789,95.672865,7z/data=!4m56!4m55!1m5!1m1!1s0x30ddbda33d818e6d:0x30346c5fa8a7750!2m2!1d98.5746649!2d16.7124054!1m5!1m1!1s0x30c3a79df651f5dd:0x166f3f368b6d363!2m2!1d97.0780814!2d17.3998992!1m15!1m1!1s0x0:0x6025ecfb857509ea!2m2!1d96.12023!2d19.721136!3m4!1m2!1d96.054332!2d19.6722733!3s0x30c897e94783a7d7:0xafc4deea9f64c28f!3m4!1m2!1d95.7482257!2d20.8087577!3s0x30c9781dd992cc79:0x4897690f0ea5eb6a!1m5!1m1!1s0x0:0xddbac4ae7822bd2c!2m2!1d94.885354!2d21.184937!1m5!1m1!1s0x0:0xb1175049af2e5c95!2m2!1d95.129121!2d22.120469!1m0!1m10!1m1!1s0x30ca9f24b1b52ed3:0xb1175049af2e5c95!2m2!1d95.129121!2d22.120469!3m4!1m2!1d94.2057064!2d21.94367!3s0x30b4f0f7d5362663:0x3154c684e4fdd585!1m0!1m0!3e0?hl=de

    After we left Myanmar using the bridge over the little river and switching back to left-hand driving we arrived at a military checkpoint where we had to provide Passports and open the cars for a simple inspection. It was around 10am (after time change) and the military pointed us to the police station in Moreh were it took us some time to actually find a present police officer to stamp our passports. To get the Carnet documents stamped he pointed back to the border. The customs office (a white building complex) is situated between the border bridge and the military checkpoint. We then had to wait once more for the customs officers to show up (Indian officials are known for starting working very late at the day). Stamping and checking the cars was done very quickly and at the end we left Moreh. They whole border crossing took us three hours. Mainly caused by non-presence of customs and asking around where to actually find police and customs.
    The road from Moreh makes its way through the mountains (windy but properly paved) and you pass three military checkpoints where one always has to stop and provide personal details.
    Once one makes it into the valley behind the mountains traffic gets more and cows and goats sit, walk and lie everywhere along and on the roads.
    When travelling in Manipur and Nagaland it is not unusual to get stopped by the police and following them to their police station for general interrogation and providing personal details and travel plans. We even were asked to follow a police man to the police station when walking along a main road when looking for a restaurant in Bongaigaon, Assam.

    Finally I hope this information is helpful to anyone interested in visiting amazing Myanmar by own vehicle. I will publish travel reports on my blog www.nue-travelling.com within the next days.

    Best regards to everyone from Delhi, India.

    #6 Posted: 24/10/2014 - 03:26

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