Yangon is not a particularly cheap or convenient city for a quick visa run from Thailand, but if you’re looking for a single-entry Thai tourist visa and have the time to spare, you can combine your embassy visit with a trip to one of the most interesting countries in South East Asia.
Mark Weins covers a lot of the details in this post from 2011, but some of the details have changed so I thought there was worth in sharing my experience.
The flight from Bangkok to Yangon is a little over an hour and can be found for less than $100 return. Of course, you’ll need a tourist visa for Myanmar – easily available in Bangkok for around 800 Thai baht. Yangon has great transport links around the country, but in general, you’ll need your passport and visa for things like checking into hotels and buying train tickets. A copy may suffice, but since the turnaround time for the visa in Yangon is one day – you drop it off in the morning, and collect it the next working day – you would do best to arrange it before moving on.
This does mean that you should try and plan your visit with two consecutive working days – drop your passport on a Friday, and you won’t be able to get it until Monday afternoon. Mondays are likely to be the busiest day to drop your passport and be aware of both Thai and Burmese public holidays since the embassy will be closed on these days.
Next, make sure you have all your documents ready in advance. There is no photo booth or copy shop in close proximity to the embassy; if you’re not prepared, it’s likely you’ll be turned away and have to come back the following day. The latest list of requirements is available on the Thai Embassy website, but broadly you must bring:
– Your passport. Of course!
– Two photocopies of the photo page of your passport
– A copy of a confirmed flight to Thailand
– Two 4.5 x 3.5 cm passport photos
– $40 US in modern (2009 series or later bills), unfolded, pristine bills. They check closely – the notes must but be spotless. You should try to have the correct change.
– Your completed application form (download here)
– A pen (there will be additional paperwork)
– Paperclip or staples to hold it all together
The embassy is located near to the Shwedagon Pagoda. Any cab driver should be able to get you there – the fare from downtown will be 2500k+ and probably more first thing in the morning when the traffic is bad. I paid 4500k from the eastern side of the city. If you can fathom the buses, that would be a cheap option – the 43 and 204 leave from Sule Paya in the city centre, just tell them “Shwedagon Pagoda” and walk from there. Check this post for more info.
You could also walk from downtown – it should take around 30 minutes. The embassy accepts applications until 11:30am, so no need to rush.
I arrived at 8:50am on a Friday morning to around 20 other people waiting in line (mainly locals with a couple of other westerners). The doors opened at 9:05am and, despite some of the people in line having multiple passports, moved very quickly. People will be allowed in groups – it’s all kept very orderly, unlike the Burmese consulate in Bangkok – first into a shaded outdoor courtyard, and then into the visa office itself.
Strangely enough, there will be some pop music playing to keep you entertained. I lined up to the latest Busta Rhymes. Someone should give you further paperwork to fill out – you’ll need to record the serial numbers from the bills you are paying with.
There are three desks to visit in order. First, you drop off your application and confirm the type of visa you are applying for. Next, you pay your fee – again, the lady will inspect your money closely. It must be flawless. Finally, you get your receipt with a date and time to pickup your passport. I was in and out in less than 25 minutes.
I returned the next working day – the timeslot given was from 13:30 to 15:00. Arriving at 13:45, I walked straight into the embassy with no waiting and swapped my receipt for my passport with a shiny new Thai tourist visa! No waiting, no fuss.
Once you’ve got your visa, Feel Restaurant is around a five minute walk away!