How to Cross the Border Between Myanmar and Thailand

What’s the easiest way to get to Thailand from Myanmar? Avoid complications at the land border crossing with these tips from Will Hatton.

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Misty morning at the temples of Bagan Photo © Will Hatton, thebrokebackpacker.com

To enter Myanmar, you’ll require a printed copy of your approval letter, and a photocopy of your passport. If you don’t have these documents printed, they will turn you around at the border: trust me I know from experience

Myanmar/Thailand Land Border Crossings

There are four land-crossings between Myanmar and Thailand, however only three of them are accessible if you’re entering on a Tourist Visa. The rules and regulations regarding tourism are forever changing, so check the current land-crossing available here.

Before moonlight over Northern Myanmar. Photo credit: Will Hatton, thebrokebackpacker.com

Mae Sai/Tachileik Land Crossing

The Tachileik land crossing is located near Chiang Rai, in the north of Thailand. It’s a popular Thai border run for travelers, as you don’t need a visa to cross into Myanmar if you enter back into Thailand on the same day.

If you’re hoping to use this crossing as your gateway into Myanmar, you may encounter some difficulties, as you’ll need a government permit and guide to travel onwards though the restricted areas.

I tried to exit through this crossing, and it wasn’t possible unless I flew into Kawthaung.

If you want to cross into Myanmar by land, I’d recommend using either the Myawaddy/Mae Sot or Ranong/Kawthaung border crossings. Click here to see Myanmar’s current permitted areas.

Myawaddy/Mae Sot Land Crossing

The Myawaddy/Mae Sot border crossing is located in central Myanmar, and is by far the most chaotic land crossing. The road traffic into Myanmar stretches for kilometers, however you can take a songthaew to Friendship Bridge without having to wait in traffic, and walk across the border.

The bridge is pure mayhem! Traffic changes lanes from left to the right hand side of the road, halfway across the bridge! Once you have your visa, travel onwards along the new highway to Mawlamyine or Hpa An.

Kawthaung/Ranong Land Crossing

The Kawthaung/Ranong land crossing is located in the south of Myanmar, separated by a river. Before departing Thailand, head to the immigration office on the pier in Ranong, before boarding your long tail boat to Kawthaung. The boat ride should take 45 minutes and cost 50 baht – plus a tip for your driver, who shows your passport at various checkpoints along the way.

Once you arrive in Kawthaung, walk to the immigration office located along the promenade to obtain your Myanmar tourist visa. If you’re traveling in high season, you have the option to travel onwards by either boat or bus.

Boats are not available in wet season, but buses run year-round, and are the cheaper option. Just be prepared for a long bumpy ride – the roads in Myanmar aren’t too crash hot. 

Border Crossing Tips

  • Get all your kyat changed to US dollars or baht before leaving Myanmar, as you’ll find it extremely difficult to find an exchange place willing to exchange Myanmar kyat.
  • Double check you have your exit stamp before arriving or departing Myanmar.

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8 Comments

  • Stanley said

    Is their an error in This article ?
    Isn't it Mae Sai/Tachileik ?

  • Niza said

    Letter of approval? Can you please explain to me as I am planning to go to kawthaung and dont want to mess up with Myanmar and er being detained.

  • niza said

    Im kind of baffled with myanmar visa regulation. People said you have to get evisa before entering Myanmar. So is it okay for me to go there via Ranong to Kawthoung and just pay USD10 to enter Myanmar for at least day trip without applying for Evisa?

  • Yadanar Oo said

    The first one should be Mae Sai/Tacheileik, not Mae Sai/Khawthaung

  • Axel said

    Hi, thanks for the article!

    Question: once passed the Ranong/Kawthaung border, it is possible to get to Myawaddy by bus to pass the border the other way around, even if it must take a long time (im in no hurry)? Thanks!

    Axel

  • Amelia McGrath said

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for letting us know about the error! We have updated the border crossing title to read: Mae Sai/Tachileik.

    Axel, try reaching out to our community of travellers, here: https://answers.worldnomads.com/

    Safe travels!

    [email protected]

  • Robert said

    Great guide to visit Thailand's Golden Triangle. Is that safer to have an agency processed my Myanmar Visa?

  • Theo said

    Hey, great article. I did exactly that and had no issue with a single entry visa. I would also recommend taking a guide at the border and then head together to the city of Kengtung. Thats a century back from Thailand and definitely shouldn't be missed.
    I wrote about it here: https://tripcrafting.com/7-cool-places-to-visit-in-northern-thailand/
    Take a look if you like
    Cheers Theo

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