and a couple of things your Lonely Planet doesn’t tell you...
Myanmar was a massive highlight for us on the trip, and much of the reading we were doing before we arrived had us thinking we’d be pretty much as off the beaten track as we were in the North Eastern states of India. Off the beaten track Myanmar is no more, in a few short years, tourism here has exploded, and if you stick to the main sights (which are fantastic and totally worth it), you’ll be there with plenty of others….which is a good reason to get there sooner rather than later.
Even though the tourism industry might be thriving, you are still going to meet some of the most genuine, friendly people, with the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen. Catch someones eye and they will instantly open up into a huge friendly grin. Thailand’s the land is smiles? No way, its Myanmar by a long shot.
If you’re on your way there, you’ve probably read a few things in the Lonely Planet such as being loaded up on pristine new US dollars, or the pre-planning needed to get buses around between main destinations. We found Myanmar to be one of the easiest countries we’d travelled through yet (although we were yet to arrive in Thailand), and its pretty obvious the country has come a long way in the tourism market since they opened their doors fully to tourists in 2010.
It's not Lonely Planets fault that their latest edition has been superseded so quickly with the big changes in the country, but as we found travel blogs and fellow travellers the most up-to-date source of info, we thought we’d add to the bunch with our tips and a few corrections to the Lonely Planet myths.
With our passports still in our hands after visiting the Indian Embassy, we realised we could apply for our Myanmar visa while the first stage of the Indian one was being processed. Handy!
Update from Jan, who crossed the border on 2/01/17 (see comments at bottom of post):
1. No permit for state of Manipur needed, at least not for foreigners. It may be possible that Indians need one, although this isn't confirmed.
For past 60 days or so there have been some political problems in Manipur, so be cautious. Jan had some difficultities organising transport from Dimapur (Nagaland) to Imphal (Manipur). Supposedly government buses travelling to Imphal get burnt to ashes. Jan ended up paying for a pretty expensive shared car (1500rp).
2. MYM government changed the conditions recently, so now you need to pay for a two-way crossing (even though if you only cross once), which $160. Jan went through the same agency mentioned in the post below.
3. Shared taxi from Imphal to Moreh cost Jan 500rp. It should be the local price, his friends from Imphal arranged it, and three passenders shared the van. Our price mentioned below was probably a complete rip off...but it was boxing day, so we didn't have many options.
With India committed to developing tourism in the North-Eastern states (hello living tree-root bridges and hill-tribes) and Myanmar looking to uphold its cooly-undiscovered-but-totally-discovered image for at least another few years, it’s natural that the passage between the two is going to develop rapidly.
Follow the official websites and guidebooks and you’d be left scratching your head wondering how to cross between the two by land. If it wasn’t for travel bloggers out there, we’d think it wasn’t possible.
It is possible. And it’s easy with a bit of planning.
Most articles we’ve read have shown how to cross from Myanmar into India, so we’re adding to the pool of knowledge out there with our experience doing it from India to Myanmar. And we did it on a Sunday - so there were a few extra steps.
Click 'Read More' below to find out how!
EMMA & PETE
We're just two Aussie's who met in London, married in Prague and travelled overland back to Australia.