August 9, 2007
I looked around for the cheapest deal for a VISA RUN, and they cheapest I could find it for, which included the Myanmar VISA STAMP was 1300 baht, but I ended up going with a travel agent that was right next to my guesthouse (Highway 61 Revisited, on Nanai Rd for 300 baht per night for a week with a/c and an automattic bike for rent for 500 baht for a week as well) because he would meet me there the next morning and the bus would pick me up there for 1400 baht. He was an older thai man that has a travel office across the street from my new apartment. He also invited me over to his house the next morning to have coffee with him, which i accepted!!! His travel office is in his house, which is an old apartment looking building, where about 10 other family members live.
August 10, 2007
I arrived at his front porch/office at 5:50AM becuase the mini-bus was supposed to pick me up there from 600-615AM. His wife was still heating the water as I arrived, so i walked across the street to 711 and got some muffins and fish snacks for the ride... We sat and had cofee while it POURED rain for about 30 minutes.... He told me that he usually goes walking every morning unless it rains, so today he would pass.. It was now about 630AM and still no sign of my bus, so he got on the phone and they informed him they were on the way... They pickeed me up about 645AM and packed this bus full of 8 other foriegners that had to do a visa run as well... The bus had good a/c and the driver even played someones cds for us. We stopped at a small thai restuarnant at 930AM and ate a free (included in the price) meal, which was a cafatiera style serving of differnt meats, vegatables, and of course, rice... We stayed there for about 40 minutes, and got back on our way.. Our next stop was at the Thai immigration office, where we got out exit stamps. That was pretty painless. We waited in a small line for about 10 minutes, and when we got up there I decided to ask the officer everything on my mind. He spoke fairly good english, and I asked him how this whole thing works. He said its simple. You stamp out of Thailand, go to Myanmar (Berma) get stamped in and out, and come right back to see him. He also pointed to the sign on the wall that said something about "90 Days" in big bold print. He then explained to me that You can only stay here without a proper visa for 90 days (doing a visa run every 30 days) before you have to leave for 90 days. I also noticed when he stamped me OUT he did it on a blank piece of paper stapled to my passport. I can only assume he did that to save me space on my passport, because once we left Myanmar, it was gone. Im not sure who took it off becuase once we left the Thai Immigration office we ALL gave our passports to our driver's friend/associate and he stacked them all up and took them with us. From there, we all got back in the bus and took a few minute drive to a dock, where there was a small (maybe 50 feet long) wooden motor boat with other people doing visa runs as well on it. Once we got on the boat we took an AWESOME ride to 2 different places. The first stop was about 5 minutes away, and it was a little office on the coast where our drivers friend ran inside for about 15 minutes with all of our passports. I forget what the office said on it, but i think it was clearly a check point or something for Myanmar. Then he got back on the boat and we all went another 20 minutes or so to another dock. This one was clearly marked Myanmar Immigration. Our drivers friend got off the boat first and went inside a small office with all of our passports and we all followed him inside. From there they have all the visa fee charges on the wall, but my fee was already included with the 1400 baht I payed for the trip. The immigration officers went through each passport stamping them with about 3-4 stamps each, and then handing it to another man at a computer who read the name outloud and called you up to the desk to take a picture of you with a webcam. The pic is for the 'visa' i assume. Once they take your pic, they give you back your passport and you go outside where there are about 10 people (some young kids) trying to sell you Viagra, cigarettes, prescription pain medications,viles of katamine, and liquer. Our driver's friend told us we could walk across the razor-wired fence into the city (one small street you could see all the way down with a bunch of shops) and come back in 20 minutes when our boat leaves. I decided not to venture over becuase I was just slightly afraid I would be suckered into paying a fee when coming back across the line, LoL.. Also, the kids on the other side looked pretty desparate for money by any means neccisary. Once we all got back on the boat 2 of the guys working on the boat tried to sell us all Viagra and cigarettes again, but not too pushy so nobody really minded.. The boat ride was really fun!! You get to pass all the Myanmar houses on stilts on the coast, I even saw a pet monkey on a leash on someones front porch!!!!!! You also get to see many 'longtail' boats buzzing around the area too!! The boat ride made the whole day worth it!!!! Once we docked, we took another 5 minute ride in the bus back to Thai Immigration, where they Thai officer we just saw about an hour ago just smiled at us while his friend just stamped us in!! We also had to fill out the Tourist card again that they hardly even glanced at!!! BUT, I did notice them scanning our previous pages on our passports to see how many times we had been there in the last 6 months!!!! Another guy with our group said he had been here 2 months earlier this year and the Thai Immigration officer looked at the stamps and and did some math in his head. He had no problems though becuase he didnt 'violate' the 90 days rule.. After that we all got back in the bus and drove for about 1 hour til we stopped for another included Thai food meal. This one was very simular. We did have to pay 15 baht for a coke though. Back in the bus. We arrived back in Phuket around 7:00PM, and I was dropped back off about 7:30PM. Over all it took about 13.5 hours, which is about what they said it would take.
The ONLY thing I noticed was the '30 days' was based on the DAY I was doing this, not based on my old 30 free tourist visa. Not a big deal to me, it was only a 2 day difference, but I thought I had read in this forum that it is based on your old visa, NOT on the day you were doing the visa run. So based on my experience, you WOULD benefit by waiting until the VERY LAST day of you current visa to do a visa run getting the most days for your money, but I could be wrong....