Home Insider Articles Crossing the Borders: A Myanmar Perspective

Crossing the Borders: A Myanmar Perspective

Most people love to travel, be it for any reasonadventure, relaxation, business or to explore new places and cultures. Travel transforms you. It changes the way you think and the way you feel. People who are avid travelers and are bitten by travel bug often go to far off territories. They don’t mind flying to distant countries to experience new things, places and people. Well, to cross the borders of your own country and entering the other country / territory needs certain rules and regulations. The first and foremost is the visa requirement.

A visa (meaning “paper that has been seen” in Latin)is a conditional authorization granted by a territory to a foreigner, allowing them to enter, remain within, or to leave that territory. Each country typically has a multitude of categories of visas with various names. The most common visatypes are tourist, student, work and transit visas. Then there other types of visas as well. For example, Myanmar citizens can have visa-free or ‘visa on arrival’ access to 46 countries and territories, ranking the Myanmar passport  97th in terms of travel freedom according to the Henley Passport Index.

The significant difference between visa and passport is that Visa is an official permission which temporarily authorizes us to stay in a foreign country and the passport is a document that certifies our identity during our travels. Visas typically may include limits on the duration of the foreigner’s stay, the dates they may enter, the number of permitted visits, areas within the country they may enter or an individual’s right to work in the country in question. With regards to American tourists, some countries require visas, some do not, and some base the need for a visa on your length of stay.

Some visas can be granted on arrival or by prior application at the country’s embassy or consulate. For example, Chinese and Indian passport holders can a get ‘visa on arrival’ for $50 at Myanmar international airports only. Visas can also be applied through a private visa service specialist. These travel or visa agencies are authorized by the foreign authority, embassy, or consulate to represent international travellers, who are unable or unwilling to travel to the embassy and apply in person.  

Myanmar welcomed around 650,000 Chinese visitors in the first four months of 2019, an increase of 30 percent for the same period last year according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. You are permitted to remain in Myanmar for 28 days after the date of entry. Also, you are not to work while in Myanmar. Holders of normal passports issued by Italy, Australia, Russia, Spain, New Zealand, India, Germany, China, may obtain a tourist visa on arrival at Yangon International AirportNay Pyi Taw International Airport or Mandalay International Airport valid for 30 days.

eVisas are issued online for tourism and business purposes only. Myanmar launched the eVisa system on 1 September 2014. In July 2015 business eVisa was also introduced. An eVisa is issued within 3 working days. It is valid for 90 days from the date of issue and allows a stay for up to 28 days (for tourists) or 70 days (for business travellers with invitation). The fee for a business eVisa is US$70, while a single entry tourist eVisa typically costs around US$50. Children under 7 years are issued visas free of charge. Citizens of 100 countries are eligible for Myanmar e-visas. Applying for an e-visa application, one must visit the official website of Ministry of Immigration or evisa.moip.gov.mm. The Myanmar eVisa is currently not an option for travelers arriving by sea on cruises.

Myanmar continues to open up to the outside world after decades of self-isolation. The number of visitors is increasing to this fascinating country with each passing year. The Burmese people are more than ready to welcome international visitors and want the world to experience their beautiful country. According to The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar welcomed 1.84 million visitors in the first five months of 2019 putting the country on course to better its 2018 total of 3.55 million visitors. Myanmar Tourism Marketing, the government body tasked with promoting tourism overseas, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the American Society of Travel Advisors in Yangon last month – providing American travel advisors with the information they need to sell Myanmar as a travel destination.

Recently Myanmar’sBagan city, which holds an immense historical significance and is called ‘the heart of Myanmar’ was listed in the UNESCO heritage list which was a big honour for Myanmar and its people. Myanmar has become a popular tourist destination for the country contains thousands of Buddhist temples and monasteries. It also has pristine white beaches along the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.

Shwemawdaw Paya or the Great Golden God stupa holds the record for the tallest pagoda in the country and is one of the most visited attractions in Mynamar.  It is especially important to Buddhism because it contains several relics belonging to Buddha. Located in Bago, the 1,000-year-old complex is highly ornate with smaller pagodas that also are gold-covered, statues and pavilions. Myanmar’s longest river, the Irawaddy and is fast becoming a popular river cruise destination. The river begins high in the Himalayas, carving Myanmar in half on its way to the Andaman Sea. It is navigable by large ships and boats in the lower elevations.

Citizens of Myanmar are now allowed visa-free visits to Thailand for up to 14 days if arriving by air. Crossing from Thailand into Myanmar by land became an option in August 2013; however, many travellers find that doing so is still a tricky endeavor.Myanmar is bordered by a total of five countries. The western side of the country is bordered by Bangladesh and India while Laos and Thailand border the eastern side. China forms the border to the north and the northeast of Burma. 907 Despite international media coverage of conflicts in Rakhine state and Rohingya crisis, Myanmar remains confident to attract foreign visitors in the months to come.  “Myanmar, be enchanted” rebranding campaign was launched in late 2018. “From this year onwards, Myanmar will mainly focus on tourism marketing by participating in international travel shows, maintaining its current attractions and creating new destinations,” said an official from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Myanmar has also adopted a “Look East” policy to attract visitors from Asia and develop its tourism sector.