How to Get to Myanmar
Most foreign visitors arrive in Myanmar(Burma) by air at Yangon International Airport or Mandalay International Airport. From there, they tend to finish the respective city tours, before taking a domestic flight to one of several regional attractions.
Overland travel between neighboring states is at present tightly controlled. It can be much slower and more uncomfortable, due to poor infrastructure.
Some international cruises stop at Yangon Thilawa Port and passengers may disembark there for tours.
Arriving by Air
Most international flights arrive at Yangon International Airport. Since there are no direct flights from Europe or the US, visitors from those regions need to transfer at some Asian city.
Yangon International Airport
Yangon International Airport remains the primary entry point for most international visitors. Most flights into Yangon from outside are from Bangkok and Singapore.
The airports in Bangkok and Singapore are served by most major international airlines, so it’s easy to make connections. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to fly into Yangon from Bangkok, and 3 hours from Singapore.
Check and see if you need to change airports in Bangkok. The city has two airports: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Bangkok Don Mueang Airport (DMK). The journey between the two takes about an hour by shuttle bus.
From Yangon airport, it takes at least 45 minutes to drive downtown. Local taxis are available. Remember to check the approximate fare with your hotel in advance.
There are regular direct flights to Yangon from:
Kuala Lumpur, with Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia;
Chiang Mai, with Bangkok Airways;
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with Vietnam Airlines;
Guangzhou, with Myanmar Airways International;
Hong Kong, with Cathay Dragon;
Kunming, with Air China;
Kolkata, with Myanmar Airways International;
Dubai, with Emirates; and
Doha, with Qatar Airways.
Mandalay International Airport
Mandalay International Airport offers an increasing number of flights. It hosts direct flights from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Singapore and Kunming.
From the airport, it takes more than an hour’s drive to downtown Mandalay. Visitors on prearranged tours will be picked up by private car, while independent travelers may need to take a taxi, as there is no public transport.
Money exchange services and ATM facilities are available at the airport. It’s recommended to keep some kyat (Myanmar’s unit of currency) for small expenses such as taxi fares.
Airfares vary with the season. The most expensive period is the dry season, from December to January. A good-value option at this time is to have a layover in Bangkok, then fly into Myanmar on budget airlines. Remember to book early, as during the tourist season the pressure for tickets is intense.
Transportation becomes a problem during the Thingyan festival in mid-April, when lots of Burmese return to their hometowns and meet up with their families. It’s difficult to obtain tickets then, as the airlines are mostly fully booked.
Airlines offer discounted tickets from May to September, during the monsoon period. Good deals are often available from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, on low-cost airlines such as Air Asia and Nokair.
Online eVisa System
Currently, visitors with eVisas are permitted to enter at one of Myanmar’s three international airports: Yangon, Mandalay or Nap Pyi Taw.
Applicants only need to follow the four steps below:
- Supply all the necessary information on the visa form online
- Confirm and pay. Verify the information is correct and make online payment with a credit or debit card. An acknowledgement email will be sent to you within 1 hour of successful payment
- Receive a visa approval letter after 3 working days and print it out
- Upon arrival at a Myanmar immigration checkpoint in the airport, present your visa approval letter and passport to have your passport stamped
It’s possible to enter Myanmar overland at various border crossings with Thailand. The Ruili—Muse crossing from China and the Moreh—Tamu crossing from India both require a permit, with applications in advance. There are no permitted points of entry from Bangladesh or Laos.
Entry from Thailand
Myanmar’s eVisa system can currently be used to enter Myanmar from the following three points in Thailand: Mae Sot (entering at Myawaddy), Mae Sai (entering at Tachileik), and Ranong (entering at Kawthaung).
For the Phunaron—Htee Kee entry point, you need to prepare a normal paper visa.
The Three Pagodas Pass is not open to foreigners.
Entry from China
To enter Myanmar at the Ruili—Muse entry point on the Chinese border in Yunnan, you will need to prepare visa and paperwork in advance, at the Myanmar consulate in Kunming. If you do intend to travel from China, it would be a good idea to find a travel agent.
Entry from India
Visitors need to get permits to enter at the Moreh—Tamu entry point on the Indian border.
Arriving by Cruise
Some international cruises stop at Thilawa, a deep river port south of Yangon. We recommend you check with the cruise company regarding visas, as a valid visa is needed for shore excursions in Myanmar.