Updated August 2016: You can now apply for the Myanmar visa online. More on that below in the post.
I bet you rarely read or heard something about Myanmar five or 10 years ago. The country was mostly hidden behind a veil of bans, tight borders, and a military government that kept most travelers out of the country. Lately though, as Myanmar changed its government and loosened it tight regulations towards tourism and the outside world, travelers have flocked into the country trying to get a glimpse of a still unsullied destination.
From this premise, I thought getting a visa to Myanmar would be another complicated and mysterious process. Boy, was I wrong! Turns out this has been one of the easiest visas I’ve applied to this date, especially since I applied from the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok.
There are two major beneficial points to applying for your visa in Bangkok:
- The visa process is much less complicated, requires fewer documents from your part, and it is faster than in most other Myanmar Embassies in other countries (especially the one in the US).
- Flights from Bangkok with AirAsia are very cheap, costing around $40 each way (around what I paid).
Update 2016: As I mentioned before, now you have the option of applying online, so a visit to the embassy is no longer required. Having said that, if you have the time and will be in Bangkok, applying at the embassy will be cheaper than applying online. The eVisa costs $50 on the official website and can take around five business days to be approved (mine was approved within 12 hours, though). On the other hand, applying at the embassy will cost you anything from $23 to $36 (depending on the current conversion and if you require same day processing or one or two days processing).
So, here’s how you can apply for your visa to Myanmar:
Before I go into the steps, you should know that in Bangkok you will get a Tourist Visa allowing you 28 days in the country, single entry. The visa is valid for three months from the date of issue. You can also apply for a Business Visa, but I’ll focus on the Tourist Visa on this post. See the requirements for business visas here.
- You need to fill out the form, front and back, given at the embassy. It’s just the basic personal information, your hotel address in Myanmar, your work history, and purpose of travel.
- Tip: Try not putting “journalist” or “photographer” as your occupation. It is probable you will get denied should they consider you as visiting on a “media trip”. It is also known for the embassy to Google people’s background, so don’t lie either. Just keep it a bland as possible.
- Two 2×2 pictures (either ID or passport pictures): One photo will be clipped to the application and the other will be glued. You do this at the embassy, but they provide scissors, glue, and paperclips next to counter 4. Should you not have two pictures, you can take them at the store across the embassy.
- Your original passport and a copy of your passport showing the page with your information. Again, you can make the copies at the copy shop nearby.
- Cash in Thai Baht. The embassy offers three visa services with the following prices (current at the date of publishing):
- Same day: 1260 baht (for which you will have the extra requirement of providing an airline ticket receipt)
- Next day: 1035 baht
- Two days: 810 baht
How to get to the embassy:Embassy’s address: 132, Sathorn Nua Road, Bangkok 10500 Phone numbers: (662) 234-4698, 233-7250, 234-0320, 637-9406 Working Hours: Monday to Friday (except holidays) from 9:00am to 12:00pm for visa application, and from 3:30pm to 4:30pm for visa collection. (for current contact information, please check here)
It is very easy to get to the embassy. If you don’t want to spend too much on a taxi or tuk-tuk, you have two options to get there: Ferry through the Chao Phraya River (great option if you are staying around Khao San), or the BTS sky train or MTR metro.
If you take the ferry, you can just head to any of the ferry stops (I’m pinning below on the map the one I used from Khao San) and take the ferry towards Sathorn Central Pier (when you buy the ticket, just say Sathorn. It will cost you around 15 baht one-way). Once in Sathorn, you can either walk down Thanon Sathorn (walking away from the river) or take the BTS sky train to Surasak (one stop). From then, you can take exit 3 and walk a couple blocks along the road (keeping the Sky train tracks to your right-hand side).
You’ll see the embassy on a corner next to Thanon Pan (Thanon is “street in Thai), from where you’ll make a left on that street. You will see the uninviting grey wall with a steel door. That’s the entrance for visa applications, not the entrance from Sathorn.
The Visa Application Process
Go there as early as possible, even 8:30 am if you can. People will be lining up already to submit their application. (Some people go crazy by queuing since 7:00 am or so, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I got there at 9:00 am, did a queue of about 40 people and was out at about 11:30 am to wait for the visa collection in the afternoon)
Simply pick the form and fill it (or have the one already printed), then make the line for counter #4. Once at the counter, the official will check that all your documents are ok and the form filled correctly. He will return your documents, along with a red card containing a number. Then you have to sit down and wait for your number to be called to proceed to counter #2. There you will finally submit your documents, decide for a same day, next day, or two days visa processing, and pay for the visa (they give change if you have big notes). Upon payment you will be given a yellow receipt you’ll use to pick up your visa on the appointed date.
When it is your day to pick up your visa, you have from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm to do so. Here I do recommend arriving 30 minutes before time as people do queue to get out fast. Simply do the queue on the line for the counter indicated on your receipt, collect your passport with your visa by presenting your receipt, and that’s it!
The Copy Shops Nearby
There are a few places to make copies or take photos near the embassy. I went to the one that is about 100 meters from the embassy if you walk along Thanon Sathorn with the sky train on your right. The shop is on the second floor and you can enter through the overpass from the sidewalk (you’ll recognize it easily). From there (or other shops) you can get a copy of the application form, should the embassy not have any available.
Please have in mind:
- Check the embassy holidays beforehand as they observe both Thai and Myanmar holidays.
- Once you obtain your visa, verify it before leaving the embassy to make sure all your information is correct.
- Since recently, you are allowed to cross the border by land once you have a visa in hand, instead of just flying, but verify that the border you intend to cross by land permits it.
- All the information provided here was correct at the time of publishing. Always check with the embassy as requirements and regulations can change at any time.
Enjoy your trip to Myanmar!!