Just received the following from a traveller who just finished up a long jaunt through Burma. While they didn't cross the border themselves, this is based on information they gathered. Hope it is of help.
"It is now possible to cross overland from Tachilek in Burma to Mae Sai in Thailand and Xieng Kok in Laos. While the former has been possible for some time, the crossing into Laos is new. To use the crossing, do the following:
1) Visit the MTT office in Rangoon or Mandalay at least ten days before your intended crossing and arrange a permit (which costs US$50).
2) They will then fax the details of the permit to the Tachilek MTT office.
3) When you arrive in Tachilek, go to the MTT office (T: (084) 51 023) which is located near the bridge and pick up the permit.
4) You'll then have to pay another US$15 for an official "guide" who will take you either to the Thai border at Mae Sai or across to the Mekong River at Wan Pasak.
5) Once at Wan Pasak you can take a boat to Xieng Kok."
Note: While you can get 15-days visa free coming into Thailand, you will need to get your Lao visa beforehand.
Also note: This is a one way crossing -- as far as we're aware you cannot cross in the opposite direction (ie., from Laos to Burma).
Lastly: The person who forwarded us this information did not cross the border in person. Border regulations in this part of the world are very fickle -- be sure to ask around once there -- and post back to Travelfish should you manage to cross this border yourself.
#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,800
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That's incredible! Not just that this is possible now, and not just that this seems to be outrageously expensive, but that there is a fax machine in Tachilek!!!
My main question would be how one gets to Tachilek. Last I heard it was not possible to go there overland. I'm guessing one would have to fly from Heho. I'd be very intrested in finding out.
I went back to the source of the initial report and they came back saying:
"Currently the road between Taunggyi and Kengtung remains closed to westerners. That means to get to Tachicrap you need to fly from either Mandalay (US$90) or Heho (US$75) to Kengtung or from Heho to Tachilek. If they fly to Kengtung, there's another set of permit guff they need for the overland trip to Tachilek."
Hope that helps!
#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,800
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hi there! i'm very new here but this was one of my biggest questions, i'm planning on doing the classical tour in myanmar and end at inle lake, i was hoping to reach the north of thailand through tachilek... but maybe the cheaper way is more interesting for me... what is cheapest, go back from inle lake to yangon to take a flight to chiang mai or to go over land to chiang mai via tachilek? do you have any idea...
thx in advance! F
#4 fredooo has been a member since 18/6/2009. Posts: 3
I haven't done it, but some Irish guys I was traveling with flew from Heho to Tachilek, then crossed into Mae Sae. No problem. That was several years ago, and I understand that things have changed since then, and more than once. The big question is whether or not this is still possible. I heard that the crossing was closed during the "Saffron Revolution." If you can, this would be a time-efficient way of getting back into Thailand. Going back to Yangon is definitely not the ideal way, but if you can no longer fly from Mandalay to Chiangmai, it might be your best bet. Air Mandalay used to fly to and out of Chiangmai, but I don't see it offered these days.
Have been informed that Air Mandalay is going to start flying August 2nd from Chiang Mai. Since my plans are dependent on that information I sincerely hope it happens. I won't be leaving Chiang Mau until Nov.6th so there is plenty of time to verify.
#6 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
I have been in contact with a Burma Travel agency and they offer the next plan for my travel
I will travel from Mae Sai ( from Lao ) to Tachileik and from here to Heho ( Inle Lake ) by flight. The travel agency will help me to gt the permiss for his entry and the Visa in Tachileik , also they offer the Fligt from Tachileik to Heho ..
Service will cost
VOA 20 USD
Total 137 USD ..
My questions are
The travel agency said , that I must take , a flight from tachileik to heho and another includin a sector to Yangoon ...
I want to travel by flight to Tachileik to HEho and the rest of the country by train , bus etc ..visiting only the permited areas .
Anyone can help me , to Know how can I travel independent in Burma .
Is possibel to arrange the hotel and the Burma route there or should I arrange and booking in advanced ?
Thanks for your help and time
If anyone neeed help or information from/ about Spain or Portugal where Im , please feel free to contact me
#7 MariaB has been a member since 23/6/2009. Posts: 1
If anyone is going to try and get the permit, then they should at least visit Kengtung/Kyaingtong before flying onward to Heho or Mandalay. And if coming from the opposite direction, flying from Heho or Mandalay, then again, better to fly into Kyaingtong instead of Tachilek, visit the area and then take a share taxi or bus down to Tachilek to exit into Mae Sai-Thail instead of just flying to Tachilek to exit. I'd flown Mandalay to Kyaingtong back in 2003 to exit at Tachilek, and in 2004 entered at Tachilek to go back to Kyaingtong, flew to Heho, revisited some areas, and then flew back out Heho to Tachilek to exit again into Mae Sai. In 2003 I tried to get an exit permit at immigration in Kyaingtong to exit near Xieng Kok but was denied. But this was before 2005 when they instituted the requires special exit permits for Tachilek.
For a brief period in 2008 right after cyclone/hurricane Nargis, they did allow tourists to exit via Tachilek if I remember correctly.
Nywoman--you mentioned that Air Mandalay is supposed to have started up flights between Chiang Mai and Mandalay. Do you know if that's the case yet?
MariaB--that's great that a Burmse travel agency will get you the special permit but I'd ask them if you can go up from Tachilek to Kyaingtong first for a visit and fly Kengtung to Heho.
Once you're back into Burma proper/central Burma, it's no problem to travel independently to non-restricted areas and I don't think you'll need to book hotels in advance. Easy enough to take local buses, the Bagan Expres boat, or shared taxis. I've visited mulitple times and had no problems getting rooms or tansport.
#8 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136
They are flying as of now Sundays and Fridays. The winter schedule is not set yet. www.malaysiaairlines.com To see the schedule.
#9 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
Please disregard the link I was not thinking properly it is airmandalay.com
#10 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
Thanks Nywoman. That's great!
#11 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136
Just wanted to forewarn you that I've been trying to verify the Chiang Mai to Mandalay flights resumption by Air Mandalay but thus far have not been able to.
I've come across several news reports that Air Mandalay was to resume their Yangon to Chiang Mai flights but no news on Chiang Mai to Mandalay.
There are multiiple news reports on Yangon to Chiang Mai but none that I've been able to find Chiang Mai to Mandalay. I hope I'm wrong.
#12 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136
You are absolutely correct. I checked the airline site and only Yangon shows up. Must have gotten my facts wrong again. Sorry about that.
#13 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
:( these are the news I got this morning.
Many greetings from Air Mandalay.
I regret to inform you that we will not be having to/from Chiang Mai (CNX) flight in Nov’09.
We hope we could be having in early next year, 2010
Thank you for your contact.
I am going to be in Chiang Mai before going to Burma. Are there any other solutions, except flying back to BKK?
#14 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
Well, you could try to arrange a permit which would allow you to enter at the Mae Sai -Tachilek border crossing into the eastern Shan State, and travel from Tachilek to Kengtung/Kyaingtong/XiangTong before flying to Heho/Inle Lake area or Mandalay. BUT, again this needs to be arranged by a Burmese travel agency in advance of the border. If you're going to fly inland, you'll need to have a 28 day visa in advance too, before crossing into Tachilek.
Otherwise, since you're already in the Chiang Mai area, I'd recommend visiting Kyaingtong without a 28 day tourists visa and just getting a 2 week travel permit when you enter at Tachilek. They'll give you a 2 week travel permit and keep your passport at the border. You'll have to file an itinerary for the towns/villages that you visit in this Tachilek to Mongla corridor (Mongla is a Burmese bordertown to the China
known for it's casinos which the Chinese used to cross for gambling). Not my idea of a town to visit and I'm not sure if the Chinese government's crackdown on gambling by their nationals closed off Mongla for a while or not.
Anyways, Kyaingtong is well worth a visit and great for day trekking since you're not allowed to overnight in surrounding villages. But the ethnic minority groups in this area are very different (except for the Paluang) from the western Shan State around Inle area or further north towards Kyuakme and Hsipaw). The town itself reminds me a bit of Luang Prabang or Lanna Thailand before development. Very sleepy but great to explore by bike and there's a lake that serves as a social center for the town.
Then back to Chiang Rai or Mai for an inexpensive flight to Bangkok for the usual roundtrip Air Asia flight to Yangon. The benefit of getting that special permit for the Tachilek/Kyaingtong area is that it provides you the opportunity of 'open-jawing' flights into Myanmar and the cost is something like less than U$100 but saves tons of time and cost in the long run.
I believe that there are even overnight VIP buses that run from the bordertown of Mae Sai to Bangkok if you're seeking a budget alternative.
And if you find yourself needing to spend a night at the border, GET accomodations in Mae Sai rather than on the Burmese side of Tachilek. Mae Sai has far better accomodations and ammenities for the money than Tachilek. Myanmar is considerably poorer than Thailand.
Hope it all works out for you and have an excellent trip!
#15 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136
Does anyone have an update on the status of this crossing for 2010? I'm struggling to find any other info on this.
#16 Kate54321 has been a member since 31/3/2010. Posts: 1
I'd like to hear if anyone has crossed to Xieng Kok from the other side. This is a locals' only crossing according to what I was told there in Fall 2011.
"And if you find yourself needing to spend a night at the border, GET accomodations in Mae Sai rather than on the Burmese side of Tachilek. Mae Sai has far better accomodations and ammenities for the money than Tachilek. Myanmar is considerably poorer than Thailand. "
On the other hand, Mae Sai is full of Thai tourists or expats up for a quick stamp. They all tend to stay in Mae Sai and quickly go across for a stamp and perhaps a walk through the market. The rest of Tachileik does not see many of the Thai or western tourists, so it's quite untouched. There is also very good food, English is much more widely spoken on the Burmese side of the border, there are nice tea-shops, etc. It's a nice place on its own, if you like the off-the-beaten-track spots. I'll try to gather more information about the possibility of flying into Tachileik from Mandalay then exiting to Mae Sai when I'm in the area next month. Thanks.
#17 squarethecircle has been a member since 19/10/2011. Posts: 133