Southeast Asia forum
Burma-Myanmar can a british tourist visit this country?
25th May, 2009
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Hi all, me and a few friends traveling from thailand wishing to enter Burma...
Is it possible. Do we need visa? where to get visa from?
Is it safe to enter the country?
#1 Posted: 26/5/2009 - 03:51
27th December, 2008
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If you are already in Thaland, go to the British Embassy and ask them what precautions you need to enter Myanmar.
After that go to the Myanmar Embassy and apply.
If you are stll in the UK, go to the Myanmar Embassy and ask there.
The difficulty you will face is that overland travel from Thailand to Myanmar is really only possible from Mae Sot (with Myanmar gov't papers in hand) and the bus system is not what you'd like. The 'best' way is to enter via air. That said, you may not like the travelrestritions placed on you by the Myanmar gov't.
#2 Posted: 26/5/2009 - 07:09
I looked into going to Myanmar last year but decided not to. As far as I understand, there's no onward travel from the Mae Sot crossing. Now I may be wrong on this (Bruce usually seems to be pretty on point with his info), but I had thought that from the Mae Sot crossing you may only go into the border town on the other side for shopping (and to say you've been to Myanmar) but will not be allowed to travel into the country. I had thought that air is the only option for (legally) entering at this point. Air Asia offers a cheap flight to Yangon from Bangkok. You defenitly need a visa, and the application is more lengthy than most...
Beware, especially with the recent developments regarding Aung San Suu Kyi's trial, that western tourists (especially from US or UK) may be watched, questioned, and/or intimidated by the Myanmar authorities. Aung San Suu Kyi has asked people who support her cause not to come to Myanmar. Just by entering the country you will be contributing $ to the country's military junta, which is well known to be one of the world's worst regimes (bloody massacres of peaceful protests, countless political prisoners detained, ongoing war - some would say genocide - on ethnic minorities, refusal to give power to democratically elected leaders, countless human rights abuses... I could go on and on and on...)
That being said, I understand that the country is relativelly safe crime-wise - I've read even more safe than Cambodia as far as violent crime. And as far as I know, the government is still pushing the tourism industry, so if you stay on the beaten tourist path you'll probably be fine. I would love to see Shwedagon Pagoda, Pagan and the other great sites, but my conscience won't allow it. In the Burma part of the message board there's some good info from an experienced Burma traveller and Travelfish member in response to my questions about it last year.
#3 Posted: 26/5/2009 - 18:29
I only just saw this post so it might be a bit late for you, but Burma is perfectly safe for tourists (less so for its own people). I'm a Brit and I had no trouble getting a visa there a few years ago and an American friend was there recently, no problems either.
You have to fly there. AKAIK you can't enter overland from Thailand except to do visa runs etc...you can't travel far inland from the border crossing points.
Sorry DLeuk but I'm going to have to disagree with you a bit. I've yet to see anyone who's actually visited Burma coming back saying "support the tourist boycott". This is because when you get there you see how many desperately poor ordinary Burmese people need your money too.
The xenophobic govt isn't terribly keen on foreign visitors anyway. They are the eyes and ears of the outside world, they pass on information. There are notices everywhere telling people not to talk to foreigners, although they do of course. You risk nothing as a tourist but be aware that the person you are talking to can be thrown in prison for speaking to you. They know better who might be listening than you do so wait for them to initiate any conversation involving criticism of the generals.
If you do go than I bet every single local you meet will tell you they want foreign tourists to be there...independent tourists that is...what people DON'T want are organized tours and package tourists because then the money does indeed go straight into the government coffers.
Aung San Suu Ki asked foreigners to boycott Burma back in 1996 during "Visit Myanmar Year". At the time visitors had to change $300 US into govt monopoly money aka FECs on arrival and hotels and transport had to paid for in FECs. This is no longer the case because FECs were abolished back in 2003. It's quite easy now to minimize the amount of your money that the junta gets and try and get as much of it as you can to ordinary people eg, stay in private GHs, don't fly anywhere, use private transport whenever you can, never ever change money in banks or at the airport.You need to take absolutely pristine dollar notes BTW...and no $100 notes with CB serial numbers. (There may be other serial numbers that aren't accepted anywhere but CB definitely isn't)
Wikitravel has more info.
I've got some pics of Burma on my flickr site if you are interested too. It's an extremely photogenic country but getting places can be a bit grueling sometimes ...think 24 hour bus rides on very clapped out buses and some terrible roads. The local food is rather an "acquired taste" too!
#4 Posted: 15/6/2009 - 06:13
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