Travel Information



Travel Information

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Overland travel from neighboring states to Myanmar is gradually opening up, but the vast majority of international arrivals in the country are by air, at Yangon’s Mingaladon Airport. From there, foreign tourists tend to take a domestic flight to one of several  regional hubs. Hampered by poor infrastruc- ture, travel by road and rail tends to be slower  and more uncomfortable, although plenty of backpackers brave grueling overnight journeys to reach Inle Lake, Mandalay, and Bagan. Hired cars with drivers provide a less  arduous alternative. A more leisurely, and  quintessentially Burmese, form of long- distance transport are the riverboats plying  the Ayeyarwady, whether old government ferries or luxury cruisers. Whichever method of travel you opt for, however, bear in mind that pressure for tickets is particularly intense from December to February (the height of the winter tourist season) and that bookings should be made as far in advance as possible,  either in person or with the help of a depend- able local travel agent

Arriving by Air

Nearly every foreign visitor to Myanmar arrives by air at Yangon, although Mandalay International Airport also hosts flights from Singapore, Kunming in China and Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand. The majority of Yangon flights originate in Singapore or Bangkok, but there are direct flights from Kolkata with Air India, Tokyo with All Nippon, Seoul with Asiana, Hong Kong with Dragonair, Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines, and Doha with Qatar Airways. Larger carriers such as Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines/  Silk Air, and Thai Airways gene- rally rely on smaller sub sidiaries  to fly the connect ing leg from  their hub to Myanmar. The low- cost airline Air Asia also flies  daily from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. This is the cheapest way to get to the country, but may mean a long layover in Thailand or Malaysia. There are no direct flights from the US, the UK, or Europe, only from the Gulf and Southeast Asia.

Air Fares

The cost of flying to Myanmar  varies with the season, the air- line, and the travel agent. The  busiest, most expensive period is from December to January and during the Thingyan festival in April, when lots of Burmese workers travel home to their families. Discounted tickets are usually available during the monsoon (May to September). Usually, the most cost­effective route is to buy a late­availability charter flight to Bangkok from Europe or the US, then fly into Myanmar on a low­cost airline.


Mingaladon International  Airport lies on Yangon’s out- skirts, about 12 miles (20 km)  north of downtown. Arrival, immigration, and cus toms formalities are conducted at a brisk pace by the standards of most of Asia, and the airport facilities are well maintained. Be sure to keep the duplicate cus toms slip handed back to you as it will be needed when leaving Myanmar. Note that luggage is often scanned prior to exiting the airport.

In the arrivals hall is a foreign- exchange facility where visitors  can exchange US dollars and euros for kyat at reasonable rates. There is also a dependable ATM (cash machine) here.

Getting from Mingaladon Airport to Yangon

Visitors on prearranged tours are usually whisked away in  air­conditioned buses or mini- buses, while independent trav- elers rely on local Toyota taxis –  drivers wait outside the arrivals con course. Although they are generally honest, it makes sense to check the correct fare in  advance with your hotel mana- ger or guest house owner when  you book your accommo da- tions as none of the taxis are  metered. Note that the night rate is 30 per cent higher than the day fare. As yet, there are no dedi cated shuttle buses in opera tion. The trip from the airport to downtown Yangon can take as little as 45 minutes on clear roads at night, or a couple of hours during rush hour in the daytime. Cost­conscious travelers on tight budgets may wish to save a few dollars by catching a municipal bus, which costs less than US$1. To do this, turn right once out of the terminal and walk for 10 minutes until you reach Pyay Road. Bus no. 51 runs every 20 minutes from a stop there to downtown Yangon as far as Sule Pagoda from 7am to 10pm.

Overland Travel

It is sometimes possible to enter Myanmar overland at the Ruili–Muse entry point on the Chinese border in Yunnan. The necessary visas and paperwork may be arranged in Kunming.  However, Burmese border offi- cials have been known to refuse  entry to foreigners, or restrict onward travel to Lashio, or insist that travelers leave the country via the same point afterward. Four border crossings with  Thailand are now open to for- eigners, with no special permits  required: Mae Sai–Tachileik; Ranong–Kawthaung; Mae Sot– Myawaddy; and Ban Phu Nam Ron–Htee Khee. From Tachileik,  permit­free onward travel over- land is allowed only as far as  Kengtung, but visitors are permitted to fly onwards from there. The crossings at Kawthaung, Myawaddy, and Htee Khee are completely open. No special permits are needed and visitors can travel onward without any restrictions, other than the usual controls applicable to all tourists. Note, though, that overland travel from Kawthaung to Myeik is not possible; you must take a ferry. Myanmar eVisas are not currently valid for entry at any of these border points; visas need to be arranged in advance, except the one­day permit for a visa run (Thai visas are available at all these crossings). There are no permit ted points of entry by  land or sea from Laos or Bangla- desh. The remote crossing from  India at Tamu is only open to those on special tour packages.

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